Goverment gets oil spill advice from UC expert

Jun 3, 2010

A news reporter from the Sacramento ABC affiliate interviewed UC Davis environmental toxicology professor Ron Tjeerdema yesterday about his role in the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Tjeerdema and a team of experts are advising the federal government about abating the environmental disaster.

The story (a minute and 18 seconds long) appears on the TV station's website. In it, Tjeerdema explains that officials are using a dishwashing liquid-like material to disperse the oil.

"It takes oil off the surface so it's less capable of oiling beaches and wildlife," Tjeerdema said on camera.

Tjeerdema estimates it will be August before the oil discharge is squelched, but the environmental impact will be felt for years.


Ron Tjeerdema


A story on Fox 40 TV in Sacramento earlier this week said Tjeerdema has studied the effects of the chemical dispersant - COREXIT - for 25 years. The material has been successfully used for breaking down crude oil in water, but Tjeerdema considers it the lesser of two evils.

COREXIT is a potential risk to plankton, oyster larvae and fish, but the alternative is allowing untreated crude to wash up onto marshlands and endanger wildlife.

"The best case scenario is to continue using dispersants even though it's not a perfect situation," Tjeerdema said. "Neither option is perfect, but when you look at cost and benefits, the benefits out weigh the costs."

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist