Bioremediation of the Exxon Valdez oil in Prince William Sound beaches

Michel C. Boufadel, Xiaolong Geng, Jeff Short

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Oil from the Exxon Valdez laden with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) has persisted on some beaches in Prince William Sound, Alaska, > 20 years after these beaches became contaminated. The degradation rate of the total PAH (TPAH) is estimated at 1% per year. Low oxygen concentrations were found to be the major factor causing oil persistence, and bioremediation through the injection of hydrogen peroxide and nutrients deep into four beaches in PWS were conducted in the summers of 2011 and 2012. It was found that due to the treatment, the TPAH biodegradation rate was between 13% and 70% during summer 2011 and summer 2012. The results also showed high efficiency in the delivery of oxygen and nutrient to the contaminated areas of the beach. However, the approach has an environmental cost associated with it, and stakeholders would need to conduct a rigorous net environmental benefit analysis (NEBA) for pursuing the bioremediation of submerged contaminated sediments, especially in higher latitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-164
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 15 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


  • Beach bioremediation
  • Exxon Valdez oil spill
  • Oil persistence
  • Pore water data
  • Prince William Sound
  • Subsurface


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