The oil poison fish and mussels

30 October, 2023

The ship Marco Polo has run aground three times. Now even more oil is spilling into the sea in the Pukavik Bay.

– This cleanup will take a long time and you must keep track of environmental toxins in fish and mussels in the area, says environmental scientist Maria Granberg.

The birds are directly affected by the oil spill, which gained new momentum on Monday. In the long term, environmental toxins can end up in edible fish and mussels. Picture from last week when the first oil leaked into Hanö Bay. Foto: Johan Nilsson/TT

She states that the oil spill is a disaster and that it is not at all good that even more leaks into the sea after the latest grounding. In the acute stage, it is the oil that floats on the water that affects the most.

Shells die

Birds that are smeared can be injured by the thick and sticky oil. As it enters the shallow water and towards the shoreline, it can cover breeding grounds for fish. Shellfish and plant life are killed if the oil settles on top of them.

– But it is in any case an advantage that it occurs in the autumn. In the spring, the oil would have affected larvae and snails, fish fry, chicks and birds that lay eggs, says Maria Granberg, who is an expert on oil spills at the IVL Swedish Environmental Institute.

– The oil contains toxic substances such as heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, she describes, and they have other and more long-term consequences.

The cleanup work will take a long time. Foto: Johan Nilsson/TT

Decontamination will take one year

The cleanup will last for perhaps a year, believes Maria Granberg, even if the quantities decrease. She also says that you need to keep a close eye on the levels of environmental toxins in fish and mussels that people eat.

– The latest I’ve heard is that some oil will end up on the bottom and then it can start to break down there. These toxins break down slowly, the metals never break down, but they can be bound in the bottom sediment.

“Unnecessary and outdated”

At the county administrative board in Skåne, the water officer Charlott Stenberg still does not know when and how the release will affect the county’s water and coast.

– The oil drops now when it gets cold and then we don’t know where it ends up when it gets warmer again. I have requested to know more about the environmental effects, she tells TT.

Environmental researcher Maria Granberg believes that the oil spill in the bay is both unnecessary and outdated.

– We must have a change in the ship fleet, it must move away from fossil fuels, she says.

Text: Lena Blomquist/TT
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

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