Observations from the Torrey Canyon episode indicate that seawater-oil emulsions are formed which make it difficult to estimate oil loss by evaporation. The oil itself had little injurious biological effect. The major biological damage was caused by detergent treatment. The biological damage was primarily on the shoreline and in the sublittorial zone. These findings were confirmed in the case of the Arrow accident on the Novia Scotia coast in 1970. There is evidence that natural microbial population are active in the degradation of spilled petroleum. The feasibility of using bacterial systems for cleanup is discussed, and a brief discussion is presented on the effect of pollution in the ocean. Preliminary studies in Alaska and Louisiana Preliminary studies in Alaska and Louisiana indicate that bacteria normally found in the ocean are capable of petroleum degradation even at low temperatures.


Today there is considerable discussion on the topic of the environment and the pollution of it by human forces. This is not a new topic for discussion since man has always been a polluter of his environment. In the late 13th polluter of his environment. In the late 13th century, Florence, Italy, had a vigorous enterprise consisting of wool and grain merchants and moneylenders, all of this bringing the city immense riches and a bustling economy. The city had schools, paved streets, well-run hospitals and ordinances against unsanitary butchering and against smoke nuisance from burning coal. These may have been among the first pollution ordinances enacted to protect the environment. The scientific, as well as the lay communities, have become polarized on this issue in 1970. There are those who spell the doom of mankind at the one pole, and at the other pole those who claim the whole business of environment and pollution is just a fad that it is hoped will pollution is just a fad that it is hoped will soon pass away. As with any polarized situation there is a middle which separates the two extremes.

The subject of marine pollution was brought to the attention of the general public early in 1967, when the Torrey Canyon was grounded off the English coast, with the release of 117,000 tons of crude oil. Since 1967, this episode is usually referred to as the "Torrey Canyon disaster". A rather complete account is available in the report of the Plymouth Laboratory of the Marine Biological Asso. of the United Kingdom.

Some of the findings from this episode were that the formation of emulsions with seawater made it difficult to predict the rate of oil loss by evaporation, but that the drift of the oil could be easily predicted. The oil in the open water was found to have little biological effect except for the destruction of sea birds.

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