In-situ burning was used to remove approximately 100–200 barrels (bbls) of Louisiana Sweet Crude (API 33.8) from an intermediate marsh of the Mississippi River delta oiled during the 2005 hurricanes. The marsh was heavily and moderately oiled (approximately 1.6–2.46 hectares and 5–6.5 hectares, respectively). Chevron conducted two burns on October 12 and 13, 2005, 6 weeks after the initial spill. A cooperative monitoring effort was established to quantitatively evaluate recovery in three areas:

  • Oiled and burned;

  • Oiled and unburned; and

  • Unoiled and unburned.

Chemical analyses demonstrated that marsh surface soil concentrations of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) and total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons declined at similar rates after eight and five months, respectively. A variety of operational and environmental requirements were needed for a successful burn. This paper will:

  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the site for conducting a burn;

  • Discuss the rapid decision-making process to approve the burn during significant post-hurricane response activities;

  • Describe pre-, during- and post-burn operations and observations;

  • Report lessons learned; and

  • Highlight recovery endpoints measured during the monitoring study.

This site represents a successful case study for using in-situ burn safely, effectively, and strategically.

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