Pipeline Spill

One spring, a client had a pipeline release of crude oil into fresh water river.  The initial response to the spill was fast and free product was quickly recovered.  The high water levels during the release carried the oil into side channels and overland in areas staining the trees and shrubs.  By Summer’s end, the surficial (visual) part of the release was effectively complete.  Now what…  The next hurdle is to demonstrate that the spill had no long lasting measurable impacts on the river system thru effective long term monitoring.  Chemistry Matters Inc. was retained as technical and scientific lead for development and interpretation of data from long term monitoring of the oil spill.
Dr. Sandau was responsible for supervising consultant activities, reviewing technical information and reports and conducted in depth forensics analysis of results to identify data inconsistencies and provide in depth interpretation of contaminant source identification and conducting independent sampling programs on water, soil and sediment as required.  The most integral part of the work was data interpretation.  Interpretation required every aspect of our professional training to tease apart PAH concentrations and patterns that could have easily mislead others that the spill resulted in measurable impacts in the river system.  Instead, it could be shown thru chemical fingerprinting and advanced statistical analysis that sediment PAH data and fish PAH biomonitoring data were a result of alternative anthropogenic upstream sources.  Finally, Dr Sandau was responsible for summarizing the technical information and presenting the results to regulators and other stakeholders.  As a result, the client was able to end the LTM program just two years post spill.


  • Routine water analysis
  • Petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs)
  • Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes (BTEX)
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs; included benzo(a)pyrene, BaP)


  • Environmental forensic investigation
  • Multi variate and univariate Statistical data analysis and interpretation
  • Soil sampling
  • Sediment sampling
  • Water sampling
  • Fish biomonitoring

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