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Researcher lends expertise to oil spills panel

Queen’s University professor Peter Hodson has joined a new Royal Society of Canada panel that will study oil spills and their impacts on freshwater and marine environments.

Peter Hodson has been named to a new Royal Society of Canada panel dedicated to studying the impact of oil spills.

Dr. Hodson, an expert in the area of toxicity of crude oil to fish, joins five other experts tasked with examining strategies and regulatory requirements for spill preparedness, spill response, and environmental remediation.

“If there is a spill and you can’t contain it, the panel is going to study where the oil will go and what effects it will have,” explains Dr. Hodson (Biology, Environmental Studies). “My expertise is focused on species that live in water and their responses to spills of crude oil.”

The panel, set up in response to a request from the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, will endeavour to answer a number of questions including:

  • How do the various types of crude oils compare in the way they behave when mixed with surface fresh, brackish or sea waters under a range of environmental conditions or when chemically treated for spill remediation?
  • How do the various crude oils compare in their toxicity to organisms in aquatic ecosystems?
  • Given the current state of the science, what are the priorities for research investments?
  • How should these scientific insights be used to inform optimal strategies and regulatory requirements for spill preparedness, spill response and environmental remediation?

To answer these questions, the panel will hold a series of scientific stakeholder consultations and prepare an expert report for release this fall.

“We are developing this document to really highlight areas we don’t know a lot about,” says Dr. Hodson. “There is a lot of publicity and concern about the potential effects of oil spills associated with oil production and shipment by pipeline and rail, and it’s critical to emphasize these areas of research.”

For more information on the panel, visit the website.