Toxicity on Laboratory Grown Plankton by the Oils Released from the Hebei Spirit Spill with Emphasis on a Dispersant Used in the Aftermath

  • Choi, Keun-Hyung (Korea Institute of Coastal Ecology, Inc.) ;
  • Lim, Sang-Min (Department of Marine Biotechnology Anyang University) ;
  • Lee, Sung-Mi (Department of Marine Biotechnology Anyang University) ;
  • Park, Gyung-Soo (Department of Marine Biotechnology Anyang University)
  • Received : 2009.08.31
  • Accepted : 2010.01.22
  • Published : 2010.04.30


The in vitro toxicities of three crude oils of the Hebei Spirit were examined on laboratory grown plankton, with a focus on the effects of a dispersant. The specific growth rate of phytoplankton and the mortalities of two zooplankton were measured in response to exposure to various concentrations of water accommodated oil, dispersant or both. The effects of the oils varied among the plankton, but were generally low within the range of the oil concentrations used, with little difference in toxicity among the three oils. Such low toxicity appeared to be associated with weathering of the crude oils. Exposure to the dispersant, however, dramatically increased the mortality of zooplankton, with complete inhibition of phytoplankton growth. No synergistic toxic effect was observed with the crude oil and dispersant combination. A better decision making process could be crafted for future application of dispersant in the event of an oil spill in Korean waters to better protect the marine plankton community from the excessive use of dispersant.


Hebei Spirit;Oil spill;Plankton;Toxicity;Dispersant


  1. Ahsanullah, M., Edwards, R. R. C., Kay, D. G., Negilski, D. S., 1982, Acute toxicity to the crab Paragrapsus quadridentatus (H. Milne Edwards), of Kuwait light crude oil, BP/AB dispersant, and an oil-dispersant mixture, Aust. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res., 33, 459-464.
  2. Albers, P. H., 1995, Petroleum and individual polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. in: Hoffman D. J., Rattner, B. A., Burton, C. A., Cairns, J. Jr. (eds.), Handbook of Ecotoxicology, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, 330-355.
  3. Al-Yamani, F., Al-Rifaie, K., Al-Mutairi, H., Ismail, W., 1998, Post-spill spatial distribution of zooplankton in the ROPME Sea Area, in: Otsuki A., Abdulraheem, M. Y., Reynolds, R. M. (eds.), Offshore Environment of the ROPME Sea Area after the War-Related Oil Spill, Terra Scientific Publishing Company (TERRAPUB), 193-202.
  4. Anderson, J. W., Neff, J. M., Cox, B. A., Tatem, H. E., Hightower, G. M., 1974, Characteristics of dispersions and water-soluble extracts of crude and refined oils and their toxicity to estuarine crustaceans and fish, Mar. Biol., 27, 75-88.
  5. Barnett, C. J., Kontogiannis, J. E., 1975, The effect of crude oil fractions on the survival of a tidepool copepod, Tigriopus califonicus, Environ. Pollut., 8, 45-54.
  6. Bellas, J., Thor, P., 2007, Effects of selected PAHs on reproduction and survival of the calanoid copepod Acartia tonsa, Ecotoxicology, 16, 465-474.
  7. Berdugo, V., Harris, R. P., O’Hara, S. C., 1977, The effect of petroleum hydrocarbons on reproduction of an estuarine planktonic copepod in laboratory cultures, Mar. Pollut. Bull., 8, 138-43.
  8. Bobra, A. M., Shiu, W. U., Mackay, D., 1983, Acute toxicity of fresh and weathered crude oils to Daphnia magna. Chemosphere, 12, 1137-1149.
  9. Boesch, D. F., Hershner, C. H., Milgram, J. H., 1974, Oil spill and marine environment, Ballinger Publishing Company, 124.
  10. Cho, S. G., Kim, B. H., Bak, D. S., 2008, Winter zooplankton community structure in the oil spill area of Taean Marine National Park, 2008 Conference of Korean Society of Marine Environmental Engineering, 142.
  11. Committee, 2005, Oil Spill Dispersant: Efficacy and Effects. National Research Council, 400,
  12. Cowles, T. J., Remillard, J. F., 1983, Effects of exposure to sublethal concentrations of crude oil on the copepod Centropages hamatus, Mar. Biol., 78, 45-51.
  13. Dalla Venezia, L., Fossato, V. U., 1977, Characteristics of suspensions of Kuwait oil and Corexit 7664 and their short and long-term effects on Tisbe bulblsetosa (Copepoda: Harpacticoida), Mar. Biol., 42, 233-237.
  14. Di Toro, D. M., McGrath, J. A., Stubblefield, W. A., 2007, Predicting the toxicity of neat and weathered crude oil: toxic potential and the toxicity of saturated mixtures, Environ. Toxicol. Chem., 26, 24-36.
  15. Duke, T. W., Petrazzuolo, G., 1989, Oil and dispersant toxicity testing. Proceedings of a Workshop on Technical Specifications Held in New Orleans, 139.
  16. Fingas, M., 2008, A review of literature related to oil spill dispersant especially relevant to Alaska,
  17. Fleeger, J. W., Chandler, G. T., 1983, Meiofauna responses to an experimental oil spill in a Louisiana salt marsh, Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 11, 257-264.
  18. Gordon, D. C., Prouse, N. J., 1973, The effects of three oils on marine phytoplankton photosynthesis, Mar. Biol., 22, 329-333.
  19. Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit, 2008, Rapid Environmental Assessment Hebei Spirit Oil Spill. Republic of Korea, December 2007, 38.
  20. Kannan, N., 2009, Hebei Spirit oil spill in Korea,
  21. Lee, S. M., Park, G. S., An, K. H., Park, Y. S., Lee, S. H., 2008, Application of the ecotoxicological standard method using population growth inhibition of marine phytoplankton, J. Korean Soc. Ocean., 13, 112-120.
  22. McGinnis, D. R., 1971, Observations on the zooplankton of the eastern Santa Barbara Channel from May, 1969, to March, 1970, in: Straughan, D. (ed.), Biological and Oceanographical Survey of the Santa Barbara Channel Oil Spill 1969–1970, Alan Hancock Foundation, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 49-53.
  23. Michel, J., Shigenaka, G., Hoff, R., 2005, Oil spill response and cleanup techniques,
  24. MOERI, 2002, Post-accident management of oil pollution of the Sea Prince, Korea Ministry of Land, Transportation, and Maritime Affairs, 296.
  25. Naidu, A. A., Feder, H. M., Norrell,S. A., 1978, The effect of Prudhoe Bay crude oil on a tidal-flat ecosystem in Port Valdez, Alaska. Tenth Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, Texas, 97-104.
  26. O'Brien, W. J., 1989, Toxicity of Prudhoe Bay crude oil to Alaskan Arctic zooplankton, Arctic, 31, 214-228.
  27. Oguri, M., Kanter, R., 1971, Primary productivity in the Santa Barbara Channel, in: Straughan, D. (ed.), Biological and Oceanographical Survey of the Santa Barbara Channel Oil Spill 1969–1970, Alan Hancock Foundation, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 17-48.
  28. Park, G. S., Lee, S. M., Han, T. J., Lee, J. S., 2008, Establishment of standard methods for marine ecotoxicological test, J. Korean Soc. Ocean., 13, 106-111.
  29. R Development Core Team, 2006, R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for statistical computing, Vienna, Austria,
  30. Seikai, T., Nakamuro, K., 2002, Effects of spilled oil from tanker, Nakhodka, and dispersant on the embryonic stage of marine fish and zooplankton, in: Tasaki, K, (ed.) Towards Eco-responsibility, Earth Sense, Kanazawa University, 105-122.
  31. Shin, C. H., Chang, J. I., Choi, J. Y., 2009, Estimate of the Environmental Damage of Oil Pollution Accident by the Hebei Spirit. Korea Maritime Institute, 24.
  32. Shin, Y. S., 2008, Taean oil leakage accidents and future challenges; Taean oil leak and restore the environmental effects of the accident, Monthly Land, 325, 15-24.
  33. Ustach, J. F., 1979, Effects of sublethal oil concentrations on the copepod, Nitocra affinis, Estuaries, 2, 273-276.
  34. Varela, M., Bode, A., Lorenzo, J., Alvarez- Ossorio, M. T., Miranda, A., Patrocinio, T., Anadon, R., Viesca, L., Rodriguez, N., Valdes, L., Cabal, J., Urrutia, A., Garcia-Soto, C., Rodriguez, M., Alvarez-Salgado, X.A., Groom, S., 2006, The effect of the "Prestige" oil spill on the plankton of the N-NW Spanish coast, Mar. Pollut. Bull., 53, 272-286.
  35. Walker, C. H., Hopkin, S. P., Sibly, R. M., Peakall, D. B., 2001, Principles of Ecotoxicology; 2nd ed., Taylor and Francis, 309.
  36. Wilson, K. W., 1977, Acute toxicity of oil dispersants to marine fish larvae, Mar. Biol., 40, 65-74.
  37. Wolfe, M. F., Schlosser, J. A., Schwartz, G. J. B., Singaram, S., Mielbrecht, E. E., Tjeerdema, R. S., Sowby, M. L., 1998, Influence of dispersants on the bioavailability and trophic transfer of petroleum hydrocarbons to primary levels of a marine food chain, Aquatic Toxicol., 42, 211-227.