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Gulf war oil spill update.

Last year, from June to October, investigators with the International Atomic Energy Agency marine environment lab in Monaco sampled sediment, fish, and shellfish at Persian Gulf sites from Kuwait south to Oman. Their goal: a mapping and quantification of environmental damage attributable to oil released as a result of last year's Persian Gulf war. In the Aug. 20 NATURE, they now report finding that "severe oil pollution was restricted primarily to the Saudi Arabian coastline within about 400 kilometers from the spillages."

Elsewhere, the team observed less oil contamination than they had witnessed in prewar surveys of the same area. They attribute this to a war-related curtailment of normal oil production and transport--activities that typically dump some 2 million barrels of oil into Gulf waters annually.

Finally, the researchers found that even in the most heavily contaminated sediments, levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) -- here used as a marker of combustion products spewed from oil wells ignited during the war -- "were relatively low." Indeed, they found that the PAH levels were "comparable" to those recorded in the Baltic Sea, along the northeastern U.S. coast, and in United Kingdom estuaries.
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Title Annotation:environmental damage investigation in Persian Gulf areas by International Atomic Energy Agency
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Aug 29, 1992
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