Issues and background

Oil pipe leakage in Iraq

In 2006, in Iraq of pollution with crude oil have
the total amount of oil spilled is 565,149 m³ and the quantities of liquid and
dry gas leaked were 3560 tons as a result of 113 sabotage accidents of the
pipeline in 7 provinces. Most of the incidents were in Baghdad, Kirkuk,
Salahuddin, and Basra. On the other hand, fire accidents are continual in an
average of 20 days during 2006 and mostly in January, August and
September.  The contaminated soil with crude
oil looks like black film or oil droplets splashing from the pipes that have
been blown up. The percentages of hydrocarbon compounds in soil samples in
light polluted soil were 0.02-0.08% and 0.49-13.2% in highly polluted soils.
These percentages decreased with the depth of soil (Ghazi, M.M. and Aqeel, R.L., 2014)


Impact due to pipe leakage

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Soil fertility


The toxicity of the
hydrocarbon components that can affect the soil properties and plant growth can
be identified as follows:


i. Lack of oxygen
in soil caused by high concentrations of hydrocarbon gases and carbon dioxide
that will affect biological processes of plant roots and microorganisms. This
will result in the infertile soil.


ii. The heavy
hydrocarbon blocks soil pores and consequently decreasing the permeability or
porosity and water movement, and increase the difficulty of plant’s roots
penetration. The plant can’t grow in this particular polluted soil.


iii. Spoilt the
soil structure and decreasing water holding capacity. Thus the soil dry and are
not suitable for living organism. Lack of water will result to die as water are
an important component in all living organism.


iv. The nutrients
that should be used by plants due to element competition and pH variation will
be depleted. In Iraq, an experimental study was conducted on plates of clay
soil that contaminated with kerosene and gas oil (5% contamination), refer
Al-Azaawi (Al-Azaawi, D. F. 2000). The results showed that these two materials
have adversely affected the production of yellow corn. In the experiment, it
was found that the increase of the production is related to the decomposition
rate of the oil products, and the decreasing of the infiltration rate to the
decreasing of the pollution concentration. Meanwhile, there was no variation in
the pH and electrical conductivity of polluted soils. (Al-Khafaji, A.A., Askar,
S.R., and Kasal, S.M., 1986; Ellis, R., and Adams, R.S., 1961). Thus proving
that this problem will give some impact in the future by decrease the soil


Water source

The hazardous
character of oil mostly due to its toxicity and compounds that do not degrade
or chemically breaks up easily. Some of them are circling into the food chain
and accumulates in living organisms while others are very complicated and not
easily transmitted and have low toxicity. However, the presence of oil on the
surface affects the seed germination rate and water absorption by the
plant.  There are a big number of
chemical compounds used in the petroleum industry such as the additives in the
drilling process, oil refining and which is used in the removal of fat and
deadly lichens, fungi and so on. Their movement direction must be traced
because most of the compound have harmful effects and negative impact on the
environment, especially on agricultural production. Crude oil and the
associated materials contain large amounts of salt, such as sodium chloride and
calcium chloride together with the materials that are added during drilling
operations. These salts can contaminate the soil during leakage or
spillage.  The clay waste resulting from
drilling operations can also pollute the environment as it contains heavy
metals. These metals are not easily decomposed by nature and can transport to
long distance by water. Most of these heavy metals are harmful to humans
through drinking water or food, and their effect can be a cumulative and toxic
(Al-Khafaji, A.A, 1994; Al-Omar, M.A., 2001; Kiely, G., 1996).


Future effect on human activities


Based on the
experiment on how the oil pollution affected the soil fertility by using the
Atterberg limits of clay soil test using hydrocarbons liquid instead of water
show that soil may loss viscosity and behaves as a coarse soil (dry and
infertile soil). This happens as hydrocarbons liquids are neutralized,
non-polarized and cannot contain clay particles (as water) (Fernandez, F., and
Qualgly, R., 1989; Foreman, D.E., and 
Danial,  D.E., 1986; Uppot, J.,
and Stephenson, R., 1989). When mixing the hydrocarbons liquid (low isolation
rate) with clay soil, it causes shrinkage of the double layer, which contains
soil particles and reduces their fluctuation and consequently reduces the speed
of settlement.  In case of compaction
using organic hydrocarbons liquids, it was found that the permeability is
directly proportional to the isolation rate, because of the variation of the
double layer thickness that contains the particles of the soil (Foreman, D.E.,  and 
Danial,  D.E., 1986 ). In Iraq,
Nashat and Dalaly (1998) have conducted an experiment to study the influence of
some oil products on the engineering properties on clay and silt soil. The
results show a negative effect on the soil as can be seen in Table 1.



Table 1 Effect of the Kerosene and gasoline on
soil properties (Nashat, A. H., and Dalaly, N.K., 1998).

























































































































Liq.=Liquid, Pls.=Plastic/Plasticity,















In order to understand
the oil impact on the soil properties, a simple laboratory experiment was
performed to study the effect of mixing used motor oil (10%) with clay soil.
The mixture then burned in a furnace at a temperature of 700-800 degree
Celcius, simulating burning as one of the methods used in the treatment of
oil-contaminated soils. The results as shown in Table (2) match with the
results of the experiment conducted by Al-Azaawi (2000), and Nashat and Dalaly
(1998). It was found that the used oil increase the Atterberg limits for both
mixed soils and burned soils. Thus, oil has a negative impact on the soil
properties which may affect the plant production. This two experiment provide a
basic hypothesis that oil spillage impact to the soil fertility will worsen the
soil condition in the future and will also affect the human diets as the toxic
chemical might accumulate in the food chain increased. The insoluble chemical
will be accumulated in the food chain while the soluble chemical might affect
the water quality. Thus both ways, this will give a bad impact in the future.


Table 2 The impact
of motor used oil on the soil properties before and after burning.





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