GRACE - Integrated oil spill response actions and environmental effects (ESA)

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Projektlaufzeit: 2016 - 2019


Kirsten Jørgensen, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
Tarmo Kõuts TUT
Jaak Truu UTARTU
Thomas-Benjamin Seiler RWTH
Kim Gustavson AU
Susse Wegeberg AU
Maria Koski SYKE


Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Henner Hollert
Dr. rer. nat. Thomas-Benjamin Seiler (auch Management)


Dr. rer. nat. Thomas-Benjamin Seiler
Sarah Johann M.Sc.
Leonie Nüßer M.Sc.


Sarah Johann M.Sc.
Leonie Nüßer M.Sc.


EU Horizon 2020 grant no 679266


- Finnish Environment Institute, Finland (coordinator)
- Aarhus University, Denmark (Susse Wegeberg)
- University of Tartu, Estonia (Jaak Truu)
- Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia (Tarmo Kõuts)
- RWTH Aachen University, Germany (Thomas-Benjamin Seiler)
- University of the Basque Country, Spain (Ionan Marigomez)
- Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway (Bjørn Munro Jenssen)
- Norut Narvik, Norway (Christian Petrich)
- Greenland Oil Spill Response A/S, Greenland (Lonnie B. Wilms)
- SSPA Sweden AB, Sweden (Björn Forsman)
- University of Manitoba, Canada (Feiyue Wang)
- Lamor Corporation Ab, Finland (Rune Högström)
- Meritaito Oy, Finland (Seppo Virtanen)


1. Oil spill detection, monitoring, fate and distribution
2. Oil biodegradation and bioremediation
3. Oil impacts on biota using biomarkers and ecological risks assessment
4. Combat of oil spill in coastal arctic water - effectiveness and environmental effects
5. Strategic Net Environmental Benefit Analysis
6. Management, Dissemination, and Communication

The project GRACE focuses on developing, comparing and evaluating the effectiveness and environmental effects of different oil spill response methods in a cold climate. In addition to this the partners will be developing a system for the real-time observation of underwater oil spills and a strategic tool for choosing oil spill response methods. The results of the project will be made available for use to international organizations that plan and carry out cross-border oil spill response cooperation in Arctic sea areas.
The overall objectives of the project are to explore the true environmental impacts and benefits of a suite of marine oil spill response technologies in the cold climate and ice-infested areas in the northern Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea. The response methods considered include mechanical collection in water and below ice, in situ burning, use of chemical dispersants, natural biodegradation and combinations of these. Furthermore, the partners aim to assess in particular the impacts on fish, invertebrates (e.g., mussels, crustaceans) and macro algae of naturally and chemically dispersed oil, in situ burning residues and non-collected oil using highly sensitive biomarker methods, and to develop specific methods for the rapid detection of the effects of oil pollution on biota.
The main contribution to GRACE carried out at RWTH Aachen University will be conducted in work packages 1 and 3.
In work package 1 we will contribute a novel biosensor for oil spill detection that is based on the behavioral response of zebrafish larvae. Within this work package pilot studies with novel sensor systems and platforms will be undertaken with the most appropriate strategy to enable comparisons to old practices in terms of sensitivity indices and assessments. Critical comparisons will be made in the Baltic Sea but may be widened in some extent also to the Northern Atlantic. Accurate and effective techniques for rapid detection of oil in ice are vital in order to be able to control and mitigate the consequences of potential spills in remote Arctic and other ice infested sea areas.

In WP3 we will determine the impacts of oil and dispersant on biota using effect-based tools and ecological risk assessment. Biological effects of one crude oil will be investigated, carefully selected as model representatives of oils transported across the study regions. Laboratory experiments will be carried out also with mixtures of oil and commonly used oil dispersants. Additionally, different weathering stages of the crude oil will be investigated.  This approach will enable us to (a) achieve knowledge on the biological impacts and adverse outcome links elicited after oil spills and oil spill responses in different environmental and biological conditions at a regional scale, (b) develop, adapt and optimise bioeffect-based tools for oil pollution monitoring and assessment of the efficiency of each oil spill response method, and to (c) produce scenario-targeted environmental risk assessments (ERA).

Further information on the project's website.