DECC to include NCIMB toxicity tests as preferred method of offshore discharge testing

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UK – Toxicity tests developed by microbiology and chemical analysis specialists at NCIMB Ltd. have been recommended by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) as part of the preferred approach to the UK’s implementation of a risk-based approach (RBA) to testing of produced water discharges from offshore installations.

The recommendation for an RBA, which combines examination of the exposure resulting from produced water discharge and the sensitivity of the environment, was adopted by OSPAR in 2012, with full implementation to be achieved by Dec. 31, 2018. OSPAR manages international cooperation on the protection of the marine environment of the northeast Atlantic.

While companies have already been undertaking chemical analysis as part of the biannual testing program, toxicity testing is a new requirement. 

NCIMB’s MARA and LumiMARA bioassays, which include an array of selected microorganisms, have been recommended in preference to single-species microbial testing. The microorganisms provide a rapid and cost-effective analysis of produced water toxicity and have been trialed on samples from 15 offshore installations as part of a wider DECC coordinated study to assess the role of whole effluent toxicity (WET) testing.

“All substances present in produced water will contribute to the total environmental risk, and WET testing measures not only the effects of substances known to be present but also the impact of unknown substances and the combined effects of all components,” said Dr. Carol Phillips, NCIMB’s CEO. “Using MARA or LumiMARA as an alternative to toxicity testing with a single species of bacteria is a very simple and feasible means of increasing the breadth and genetic diversity of toxicity testing, and may give more robust results.”


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