Oil eating plants can help to clear up spills

January 2nd, 2009 - 1:51 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 2 (ANI): Scientists have suggested that oil spills could be cleaned up with the help of organisms that grow at the bottom of the worlds deepest lake in Siberia.

According to a report in the Telegraph, in this regards, a team of scientists is investigating how microbes eat naturally occurring crude oil that seeps into the bottom of Lake Baikal in Siberia.

Baikal has microbes that absorb this oil so it does not spread through the lake. This could have huge implications for environmental disasters, said Dr Mikhail Grachyov, an expert on the flora and fauna of the 5,400ft-deep lake.

The scientists believe that the microbes convert the crude oil into methane and other by-products, but they do not yet understand how.

It is important that we study these processes more thoroughly, said Dr Grachyov.

Samples that were gathered in two mini-submarines will be analyzed over the coming years.

In 1996, hundreds of sea birds were killed along with fish and other marine wildlife when the Sea Empress oil tanker ran aground off the Pembrokeshire coast, spilling 72,000 tonnes of crude.

According to Dr David Santillo, senior scientist with the Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter, Further investigation of these unusual microbial communities in Lake Baikal will be valuable.

However, while microbial action might help deal with some oil spills, we need to place far more emphasis on preventing such spills from happening in the first place, he added. (ANI)

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