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Mar Pollut Bull. 2002 Dec;44(12):1388-96.

Sea transport of animal and vegetable oils and its environmental consequences.

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  • 1Centre de documentation, de recherche et d'exp√©imentations sur les pollutions accidentelles, des eaux (Cedre), BP 20413, 29604 Brest Cedex, France.


The increasing production-and therefore sea traffic--of vegetable oils has regularly led to spillages during the past 40 years. The accident of Allegra, on October,lst, 1997, in the English Channel gave rise to a spillage of 900 tonnes of palm nut oil. The drift of this solid vegetable oil was followed by aerial observations. Samples of oil were collected in order to analyse its chemical evolution. This study, associated with several bibliographic cases of pollution by non-petroleum oils, shows that drifting oils can mix with floating material to sink or form a crust. They can also be oxidized or disperse and/or be degraded by bacteria. They may also polymerise. The coating properties of vegetable oils act as crude oils to affect sea life, tourism and yachting. As a result, it is necessary to quickly collect the oil after a spillage, using usual equipment (booms and pumps).

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