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U-M experts available to discuss Gulf oil spill impacts and cleanup

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The University of Michigan has several faculty experts who can comment on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and its likely ecological impacts, as well as the challenges related to cleanup.

The U-M experts include:

Peter Adriaens, professor of environmental engineering, is an expert on using microorganisms to clean up oil spills. Adriaens served as a consultant on cleanups of the Exxon Valdez and Gulf War oil spills and has taught on the subject for 10 years. He can explain how oil breaks down naturally, how microorganisms decompose it, and how long that process takes. He can also discuss how the shore cleanup of the subtropical Gulf Coast spill is expected to differ from the sub-Arctic Exxon Valdez situation. Because warmer temperatures lead to faster evaporation and hungrier microorganisms, the Gulf spill should be quicker to resolve than the Alaskan spill was, once it reaches land. Adriaens is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the School of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ross School of Business. He can be reached at (734) 763-8032 (office), (734) 709-0065 (cell) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Allen Burton, director of the Cooperative Institute for Limnology & Ecosystems Research, is an expert on ecological risk assessment. He can discuss the adverse effects of contamination on aquatic life, particularly bottom-dwelling organisms associated with sediments. Some of the oil from the Gulf spill will settle onto those sediments and persist for long periods. Burton is a professor at the School of Natural Resources and Environment and director of CILER, a partnership between the University and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Burton can be reached at (734) 763-3601 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Donald Scavia, director of the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute, is an aquatic ecologist who has spent years studying the oxygen-starved "dead zone" that forms each spring and summer in the Gulf of Mexico when oxygen levels drop too low to support most life in bottom and near-bottom waters. Scavia is familiar with Gulf fisheries and can discuss likely ecological impacts of the oil spill. In addition to being director of the Graham Institute, he is Special Counsel to the U-M President on Sustainability, a professor at the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Scavia can be reached at (734) 615-4860 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..