Minnesota Water Science Center
Bemidji Crude-Oil Project
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Bemidji Crude-Oil Research Project
Andrew Berg, John Greene, and Jared Trost installing an array of sensors in the unsaturated zone over the north oil pool. These sensors measure soil carbon dioxide and oxygen concentrations above the oil every half hour.
The objective of the project is to improve the understanding of the mobilization, transport, and fate of crude oil in the shallow subsurface. The U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program began an interdisciplinary research project in 1983 at the site of a crude-oil spill near Bemidji, Minnesota. Research is conducted within four broad disciplines by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and from several academic institutions. Currently, about 10 research projects are active. A fact sheet describing results from the Bemidji Toxics project is available.
The spill occurred in 1979 when a pipeline transporting crude oil broke. After cleanup efforts were completed in 1980, about 400,000 liters of oil remained in the unsaturated zone and near the water table. This continues to be a source of contaminants to a shallow outwash aquifer. The oil is moving as a separate fluid phase, as dissolved petroleum constituents in ground water, and as vapors in the unsaturated zone. Native microbes are converting the petroleum derivatives into carbon dioxide, methane, and other biodegradation products.
Bemidji Project in the news - 2014
At an old Minnesota oil spill site, scientists discover oil-eating microbes - Minnesota Public Radio
2014 Request for Proposals
The U.S. Geological Survey Minnesota Water Science Center, in collaboration with Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership, Beltrami County, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is soliciting proposals for projects to be conducted after June 1, 2014, at the National Crude Oil Spill Fate and Natural Attenuation Research Site (Site), located northeast of Bemidji in Beltrami County, Minnesota. Research proposals that have a short or long term potential for matching funds are especially encouraged from academic institutions and private industry.
Funding available for 2014 is $15,000. Proposals may be for projects 1 to 2 years in duration, or for longer term projects that can leverage the available equipment and resources at the site. Proposals are due by midnight (Central Time) on January 27, 2014. For complete proposal instructions, refer to the Request for Proposals. Contact Mindy Erickson with questions regarding the RFP.
Monday, June 11, 2012, was the date of a symposium titled "Terrestrial crude oil spills: decades of science from the Bemidji, Minnesota Research Site." The symposium focused on sharing research results from the National Crude Oil Spill Fate and Natural Attenuation Site, Bemidji, Minnesota, and was held at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul campus. The symposium was followed by a site tour on June 12. The symposium hosts were the U.S. Geological Survey, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership, and Beltrami County, with financial sponsorship from the American Petroleum Institute.