An extremely valuable study is happening North of Bemidji. 30 years of research results from a site of an oil spill have benefited scientists worldwide. Tuesday, the Beltrami County Board reviewed the yearly updates as the U.S. Geological Survey Site Manager discussed what kinds of research are to come this summer.
After a pipeline transporting crude oil ruptured in 1979, researchers saw this property as a place to study the natural breakdown of petroleum in the environment. One key finding was how native microbes converted petroleum compounds into carbon dioxide and other biodegradation products. Discoveries such as these allowed scientists to focus on what products can remain after a spill.
This year, five programs have been funded to further this 30-year research. One program will determine what active members of the microbial communities are naturally degrading petroleum compounds. Other programs will look at remedies to diminish water replant soil, and the association of arsenic with iron minerals.
Tens of millions of dollars have been put into these kinds of studies. Beltrami County is one of four organizations that directs funding expenditures; however, because the research site is on tax-forfeited land, county taxpayer dollars are not going into the research programs.
More than 30 researchers from around the world will participate in the 2014 field session this month at the oil spill site.