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Researchers recreate oil spill in the North Sea in an effort to study the environmental impact

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Monday, August 11, 2014, 8:32 PM - Researchers are trying to understand the devastating environmental impacts of oil spills by recreating one in the North Sea.

A team of scientists partnered with emergency response officials to recreate a 4 cubic metre oil spill in a shipping portion of the North Sea, 200 kilometres off the coast of the Netherlands.

They believe the study will provide greater insight into the impact spills can have on marine life.

The controversial study has raised eyebrows among environmentalists, but researchers say the experiment is necessary because there is limited understanding of how oil behaves immediately after a spill.

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That's because most of the oil evaporates immediately after coming into contact with the water.

"In its new environment, the oil immediately begins to change its composition, and much of that change happens on the first day," Samuel Arey, a researcher at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and Eawag in Switzerland, said in a statement.

The paper, which is focused on how hydrocarbons behave in the first 24 hours after an oil spill, has been published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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