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Friday, May 17 • 10:00am - 10:30am
(Architecture) Preparing For the “Dilbit” Disaster: New Techniques For Oil Spill Response At Cultural Heritage Sites

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As considerable amounts of crude oil circulate North America by truck, rail, and pipeline, spills are inevitable. Such incidents lead to indiscriminate contamination of surrounding environments, including cultural and historic sites. Despite the physical and chemical damage associated with crude oil contamination, little is understood about how best to respond to this type of spill. Relative to professionals in the cultural resources sector, oil spill responders are much more familiar with the properties of crude oil and the products designed to clean or contain it. Yet, few of the methods preferred by first responders, including power washing and acidic cleaners, are appropriate for historic buildings. The situation is further complicated by oil spill response protocol, which requires that products be selected from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Contingency Plan Product Schedule in order to be applied in situ. Beginning in January 2018, this 2 year project aims to identify (1) commercial products from the EPA NCP Product Schedule and (2) application methods best suited to remove crude oil contamination from historic buildings. Viscosity is the primary property used to classify crude oil and also an indicator of how it will interact with materials. While light oils penetrate the porous surface of a historic substrate, heavy oils sit primarily on the surface, creating a barrier that may trap moisture in the system. Both effects will cause long-term damage to the material and each situation may demand different oil remediation tactics. The specific demands of each substrate relative to crude oils of varying viscosity, including heavy diluted bitumen, are considered in the development of a treatment protocol. The growing production of diluted bitumen from the oil sands in Western Canada has increased the volume and distance circulated in the United States. Rising levels of transportation increase the risk of related spills. Diluted bitumen or “dilbit” describes bitumen that is extracted from oil sands and diluted with lighter density hydrocarbons to facilitate travel by pipeline. The unique composition of this conglomeration of heavy bitumen and lighter condensates poses its own set of challenges, as the condensate evaporates rapidly, a heavy bituminous residue remains. As oil companies continue to direct money and resources towards further expansion of dilbit facilities, the present examination of treatment application, products, and timeline becomes increasingly important. Historic architectural materials are chosen based on frequency and proximity to crude oil with the intention of building a broadly informative study. By necessity, the research explores methods for conservators to classify oil spill response agents, simulating the process of oil contamination in a laboratory setting, and new tools for poultice application in architectural conservation. Success is measured by data describing the color, gloss character, surface roughness, and aptitude for water vapor transmission of materials before and after exposure to oil as well as after successive treatments. This research is being carried out by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training as part of the U.S. Department of the Interior Inland Oil Spill Preparedness Project (IOSPP).

avatar for Elizabeth Salmon

Elizabeth Salmon

Research Associate, National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
Elizabeth Salmon is a Research Associate in Materials Conservation at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. She is an alumna of Vassar College where she studied Anthropology with an emphasis on tools and technology. Her previous studies in conservation include... Read More →

avatar for Jason Church

Jason Church

Materials Conservator, National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT)
Jason Church is a Materials Conservator in the Materials Conservation Program at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) in Natchitoches, LA. NCPTT is a research and training office of the National Park Service. Jason divides his time between original... Read More →
avatar for Mary F. Striegel

Mary F. Striegel

Chief of Materials Conservation, National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
Mary F. Striegel is Chief of Materials Conservation at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.  She heads up basic and applied research that focuses on evaluation of preservation treatments for preventing damage to cultural resources.  She and her staff undertake... Read More →

Friday May 17, 2019 10:00am - 10:30am EDT
Salon A1, Uncas Ballroom Sky Convention Center, Mohegan Sun
  Specialty Session, Architecture
  • Track Architecture
  • Ticketed Included in Main Registration
  • Authors in Publication Order Elizabeth Salmon, Dr. Mary Striegel, Jason Church
  • Abstract ID 18714
  • Tags new techniques,new tools for conservation,disaster preparedness,historic buildings,architectural materials,architecture