“Marine biota suffocated.” Oceanologist – about the consequences of the accident on the Potokah

Story Sanctions against Russia and RF retaliatory measures

On 26 September, both lines of the gas pipeline were damaged in the territorial waters of Denmark

"Nord Stream — 1″ and one of two lines of Nord Stream — 2". These destructions, in addition to the obvious economic ones, will also have environmental consequences, because tens of millions of cubic meters of gas were thrown into the Baltic Sea.

Filip Sapozhnikov, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Candidate of Biological Sciences

strong> told aif.ru what the consequences were.

«She simply hadn»

Dmitry Pisarenko, aif.ru: — What do you, as a specialist, know about this accident?< /p>

Philip Sapozhnikov: — Powerful explosions on the bottom of the Baltic were spotted by Swedish seismologists. The destruction occurred on two pipelines — on "Nord Stream — 2″  to southeast of Bornholm Island, where the current moves to the east of the Baltic Sea, and  "North Stream — 1″ to the north-east of the island, where the current goes westward, towards the Danish Straits.

Several tens of millions of cubic meters of gas got into the sea. He was in pipes under pressure of 300 atmospheres. In "Nord Stream — 2″ the pressure dropped to 7 atmospheres, and considering that at the depth of 75 meters, where the pipes are laid, the water pressure is 8.5 atmospheres, it had to enter through the holes formed into the pipeline and fill it.< /p>

It is clear that this is not a natural disaster. Pipe Diameter — almost 1.5 meters long, the pipeline was designed to withstand any natural disasters that could occur in the area, according to the statistics of many decades and even centuries. There was no movement of the earth's crust there, so there is no doubt that this is a diversion. The explosion led to the formation of large holes in pipes, and gas under high pressure began to escape into water.

— How dangerous this gas is for natural environment and marine fauna?

— "SP-2" was filled with technical gas, and "SP-1" — natural. Technical gas — it is a gas accompanying, for example, oil production. It consists of light hydrocarbons, mainly of methane. A natural gas, which was in "SP-1" — it is a mixture of propane, butane, methane, there was also oxygen, carbon dioxide. This mixture burns effectively, and it's good that no ignition occurred when it came to the surface.

— And could?

— Let me remind you that during the Crimean earthquakes of 1927 the Black Sea burned — then hydrogen sulfide came out on the surface, which is very abundant in its depths, and lightning strikes, and also just saturation processes in the drive layer, led to a fire. L fortunately, this hasn not happened now.

Once in the water, the gas rushed to the surface in huge bubbles. What was happening? The gas expanded, the bubbles grew in volume, collided with each other, crushed. The gas rapidly rose up and went out into the atmosphere, but partially dissolved in the water column. And those marine organisms that were within a radius of several hundred meters from this fountain»received a chemical burn — gas poisoning.

These organisms had to experience severe stress: they fell into a powerful and voluminous “gas chamber”, from which they could not get out and inevitably died. While the gas "siphon" from the bottom, he was supposed to kill zooplankton, phytoplankton, jellyfish, fish, and possibly marine mammals, if they were there. All this marine biota suffocated because the gas balance of the aqueous solution changed and it simply did not have enough oxygen.

Deadly “cloud” off the coasts of Denmark and Sweden

— If part of the gas dissolves in water, what will happen to it?

— "Cloud" dissolved gas moves downstream, stretching out into a long and narrow strip. I repeat, the flow from "SP-1" goes to side the Danish Straits, from "SP-2" — to the east of the Baltic Sea. This gas will gradually escape into the atmosphere, but there is a lot of it.

Wherever this “cloud” goes, it brings dead plankton with it. Everything that died will gradually settle down and create blockages at the bottom. They are fraught with prolonged decay and the formation of additional methane and hydrogen sulfide. In principle, the Baltic Sea has its own exclusion zones, where hydrogen sulfide is at depth and organic rots, so it isn the worst thing.

The fish that will meet such a gas “cloud” must go to the side — she feels well the change in the concentration of gases in the water. So she can be saved. But for marine mammals and birds living on the surface, there is a danger. And the reason is that this gas is odorless. These creatures will not feel the gas coming out of the water, and may suffocate.

— Is there a threat to humans?< /p>

— Yes, if they boat over this "cloud". They can simply inhale the gas and get poisoned. It was not in vain that shipping was immediately restricted in the area of ​​the accident. Firstly, if  a ship got into  the zone of action of the gas "fountain", beating from the bottom of the sea, it could cause poisoning of the crew. Secondly, in the  zone of such a rarefaction of the water, the ship could easily fail, losing its buoyancy.

It is not yet clear whether this plume will reach the Danish Straits. But it is unlikely to will pose a danger to the coast and people living on it (and these are the territories of Denmark and Sweden), because it is far from the coast. But some traces of the “cloud” can reach the Danish Straits. Then and nbsp; there, poisoning of bottom biota is possible, which will fall into the zone of its influence in shallow waters.

— What's next? Will the gas eventually come out of the water? How long will this last?

—         Bacteria inhabit              those very dead-end zones that I said about are inhabited by bacteria that oxidize hydrocarbons, feed on them, and reproduce actively. They absorb them at the physiological level. The spores of these bacteria are all over the sea. Now they will begin to process the gas contained in the water. I think its final disposal will take about two weeks.

— What are the conditions in this region of the Baltic to be able to repair the gas pipeline?

— The weather conditions there are going to be generally bad. In autumn, the weather deteriorates, strong storms begin. Given the sanctions and the current political environment, repairs could take many months. If they take him at all.

Emergency Nord Streams

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Emergency Nordic flows”

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