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UTEP Oil Expert To Analyze BP Spill During Special Seminar On Campus

Russ Chianelli, Ph.D.,an expert on oil spill cleanup efforts and the lead scientist during the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, will analyze the BP oil spill during a special seminar at the University of Texas at El Paso.

The free event is scheduled for noon, Thursday, June 17 at the Centennial Museum, first floor, at the corner of University Avenue and Wiggins Road. The public is invited to attend.

Chianelli, a UTEP chemistry and environmental science and engineering professor, formerly worked at Exxon?s Corporate Research Laboratory. He headed the world?s largest successful bioremediation project to clean up the beaches in Alaska.

During a seminar titled, ?Gulf Oil Spill Dj Vu: Oil Spill Cleanups, Past and Present,? Chianelliwill speak about the environmental impact of the BP spill. He also will compare the current spill to the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill and the 1979 Ixtoc blowout.

?People remember the Exxon Valdez spill, but they don’t realize that it wasn’t the biggest tanker spill; that would?ve been the Amoco Cadiz accident in 1978 off the coast of France in Brittany. The Amoco Cadiz was about five times larger (approximately 220,000 tons vs. approximately 40,000 tons). However, the largest oil spill in the world before the Gulf War was the 1979 Ixtoc Blowout in the Bahia de Campeche, Mexico,? Chianelli said in a news release.

According to Chianelli, 2 million to 12 million tons of petroleum naturally seeps from the ocean floor every year. The oil is consumed by microorganisms called hydrocarbon degraders, which produce more of themselves, and in turn are consumed by higher organisms, such as plankton. Chianelli and his team were able to successfully clean up the beaches in Alaska by using hydrocarbon-eating microbes (hydrocarbon degrading organisms).

Chianelli?s expertise has led him to appear on national news networks such as CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and CNBC.

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