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Mar Pollut Bull. 2004 Jan;48(1-2):12-25.

Drill cutting accumulations in the Northern and Central North Sea: a review of environmental interactions and chemical fate.

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Scottish Association for Marine Science, Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory, Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA Scotland, United Kingdom.


The exploration and production of North Sea oil and gas reserves has resulted in the accumulation of large quantities of drill cuttings on the seabed surrounding drill sites. This complex mixture of man-made and natural substances contains higher concentrations of certain metals (Ba, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn) and hydrocarbons than are observed in background sediments. With decommissioning of older platforms underway, an evaluation of the environmental interactions and chemical fate of the drill cuttings accumulations is required. This review concentrates on contaminants within drill cutting accumulations in the Northern and Central North Sea (56 degrees N-62 degrees N). Present literature reviewed reveals that hydrocarbons within the cuttings piles remain relatively unchanged with time. A considerable proportion of the associated contaminants are likely to remain within the cuttings pile unless they are disturbed which will then increase exchanges of porewater and solids back to the seabed surface resulting in pathways of exposure for organisms.

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