Examination for oil spill response

Examination for oil spill response

July 31, 2009

Preparedness and technology for cleanups after oil spills has been in focus after several recent shipwrecks near the coast.

An accident in Ofoten in spring became an examination for the prevailing techniques.

Diesel spill in freshwater

On March 21, 2009 a helicopter dropped a barrel containing 1000 litres of diesel in Lake Strandvatnet in Bogen in Ofoten. As the accident was well documented, and represented technical challenges with ice and snow, Arctic Spill Control and Norut Narvik assessed it was an interesting opportunity to study and follow up.

Summary from the responsible authorities

The authorities responsible reported a successful cleanup operation, which was based on three assumptions:


  • that the majority of the diesel was collected using a special absorbent
  • that the remainder of the diesel will evaporate quickly after the cleanup
  • that the amount of contamination was not substantial


Our assessments after the studies

Studies carried out by Arctic Spill Control AS and Norut Narvik AS do not support these assessments. The majority of the diesel was not collected by the tree bark sorbent that was used. At least 50 % of the remaining diesel did not evaporate, and the amount of diesel that remained represents a serious contamination.

The cleanup measures undertaken after the accident in Lake Strandvatnet are assessed as insufficient.

Possible improvements

Measures that should have been considered:


  • The use of sorbents with better capacity than tree bark
  • The removal of snow and ice containing diesel before it melts
  • The construction of barriers to prevent further spreading
  • Arrangements for biological decomposition


It is still possible to implement decontamination measures at this stage, but the task is more complicated now that it would have been a short time after the accident.

Contact person: Research Scientist at Norut Narvik Ross Wakelin