Fears that dumping marine mud from the coast outside Tower Haven could destroy vital microorganisms – Dagsavisen

Fears that dumping marine mud from the coast outside Tower Haven could destroy vital microorganisms - Dagsavisen

whose: Knut Rudy

what: Microbiologist at NMBU

Why: He criticizes plans to dump impure sediments in the deeper waters of the Oslofjord

Hi Knut! I was abroad recently Dagbladet criticized plans for experimental dredging and sea disposal On the coastal path to Burg Haven. She named the galimatias scheme and compared it to forest burning in the Amazon.

The basis for this is that I see things from my point of view. And I wonder if they did the research that they could and should do in microbiology.

Are these strong words?

– Yes, maybe he is. But I actually mean it. I haven’t seen anything in the studies that included microorganisms. Benthic fauna was examined in the sediment samples, but bacteria or other microorganisms were not. I mean, when we have the technology and the tools to do that, it amazes me that they don’t pay attention to it. There is a danger to the environment of microorganisms, in the process that they intend to perform.


– It destroys the micro-communities on the sea floor when it gets rid of the sediment there. The general concept is that the sea floor is rich in life, not only the large organisms that we can see, but also the microorganisms that live there. When they are about to start very difficult operations, it is very strange to me that they do not include it in the investigations. The consequences for microorganisms need to be checked, and a look at what they’re actually doing down there, like they’re producing vitamins for the food chain in the sea, among other things.

After all, there are large amounts of mass to get rid of, perhaps one wouldn’t think of doing the same on nature above sea level, also called “on land”?

– No, it seems pointless. One would think that everything there should be stable. dead and stable. Then you empty the blocks, and put a layer of sand on top of them, then they become what is called inert and do not affect their surroundings at all. But that is not true. It was not possible to do the same on Earth! What is being done here will wipe out all forms of microbiological life. If the same actions were taken on Earth, it would have affected the larger things, plants and animals that we see, so exciting! This he would never allow but when we don’t see him, that’s okay.

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Out of sight, out of thought?

– the correct. But nature conservation isn’t just about what we see. It’s about everything that’s out there. What we don’t see can be completely critical to nature.

There is more than 700,000 cubic meters of block to be excavated. Parts of it must therefore have been deposited offshore in Svaleskier and Mokalacete, where there are deep channels or gullies in the terrain. Is there a lot of life out there that we don’t see?

Yes, it is one of the most important areas for marine life. Bellona took video underwater when they threw the crowd at Malmøkalven. There were a lot of fish that had just disappeared into that cloud of mud, which rose to 30 meters from the surface. In retrospect it is established that there is almost nothing left of the landfill at Malmøkalven. When you don’t take it in yourself… If you read the reports now, it’s written that everything is fine and wonderful, and those who criticized the scheme were only accused of playing on people’s feelings. There have been a lot of lawsuits. And then it is presented as successful. Then something is terribly wrong.

What are the motives for this, if any, in your opinion?

– I can’t say anything about it. But it’s just so weird not to go into hindsight and learn from things that go wrong. And in the new project Comprehensive action plan for the Oslo Strait Landfills and microorganisms are not mentioned in a word. There’s talk of denitrification, which is all well and good, but it doesn’t take into account other things, like what’s happening at Bourg Harbor and the deepwater landfill. This is done on a fail basis from my point of view, and I think you haven’t done your job yet. Dumping tons of sludge is a very drastic measure. They did calculations for the currents and took some biological considerations into account, but they didn’t look at the microorganisms, and how they interact. It may certainly be true in some cases that the mercury in the sediment will react with the sulfides and create an insoluble material that will sink to the bottom, but the mercury will still be available for the microbiological reactions of which I would be particularly afraid.

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– The reaction I would be afraid of is the methylation of mercury in toxic methylmercury, as methylmercury is very toxic. Without this being my area of ​​expertise, I found an article from 1985 where they saw a link between sulfate reduction and formation of methylmercury if organic carbon was present, as would be expected in mud from the port of Bourg. Since this is a very old article, I expect the Norwegian Environment Agency to have a good answer as to why this is not the case with the mercury in the sediments from Borg Harbour. Another reaction that I fear is denitrification because of too much nitrate and organic matter, nitrous oxide can be formed which destroys vitamin B12, and that denitrifying microorganisms will outcompete vitamin B12 producing microorganisms. This in turn can It causes the death of fish and other animals. This is the premise we’re working on.

The landfill will be located in deep waters on the border between Fredrikstad and Hvaler, a nature reserve area with, among other things, coral reefs?

– I think very few investigations of the depths have been carried out, and I fear that this too will have consequences for coral reefs. Masses should be dropped there with long tubes. At Malmøkalven we saw that the mobs were spread over the whole fjord, and a third of them were gone at once. It seems to me that it is completely useless. I do not vote for the Greens, but on this one I fully agree with them that the masses must be assimilated, segregated and buried.

In addition to dredging and storing sediment, it will destroy many coral reefs. How could it affect fish stocks and life in the fjord?

– Now I am a microbiologist, and this is exactly what I say as a layman. But we do know that coral reefs are important breeding grounds for fish, and that the act of blasting — dumping them underwater — itself kills the fish.

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What made you become a microbiologist?

– I really wanted to be an ecologist. And look at the big stuff! It was really by accident that I became a microbiologist. Now I think it’s very interesting to see everything we don’t see. It can explain things that seem unexplainable. We can see that birds and fish suddenly start dying, and then we don’t understand why. But then the explanation could be microorganisms that have disappeared from producing vitamins for the food chain. I think this is important and interesting to research.

As with cod, which is vitamin b12 deficient?

– That might be part of it. Things often do not have a single explanation, but are shaped by many factors in an explanatory model. We know that the production of vitamins by microorganisms disappears. But we don’t know what its importance is for the food chain.

Microorganisms look like sea heroes! Who was your childhood hero?

– I was very fond of the Indians. There were no specific names, but they were persecuted, kept in sanctuaries and never seen. I remember seeing the Battle of the Little Bighorn, which made an impression on me. They fought against a superior force – and won.

I have changed my mind. Microorganisms must be sea Indians.

– Maybe there is something in it, that it is the same way of thinking. Out of sight… It’s important to give them a voice.

Do you have a hidden talent?

– The only thing I can think of is that I’m a good scuba diver. In the old days, I could swim under water for a long time. I was really good at holding my breath and once swam 62.5m underwater.

Who will you be stuck in the elevator with?

– I think Barth Eddy can tell him all about the Oslofjord.

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