Persistence and weathering of Exxon Valdez oil in intertidal mussel (Mytilus trossulus) beds in Prince William Sound (PWS) and along the Gulf of Alaska was monitored from 1992 to 1995. Beds with significant contamination included most previously oiled areas in PWS, particularly within the Knight Island group and the Kenai Peninsula. In sediments, yearly mean concentrations of total petroleum hydrocarbons ranged from <60 mg/g in reference beds to 62,258 mg/g wet wt., or approximately 0 to 253 mg/g dry wt. total polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (TPAHs). In mussels, mean TPAH concentrations ranged up to 8.1 mg/g dry wt. Hydrocarbon concentrations declined significantly with time in some, but not all mussels and sediments, and should reach background levels within three decades of the spill in most beds. In 1995, mean hydrocarbon concentration was greater than twice background concentration in sediments from 27 of 34 sites, and in mussels from 18 of 31 sites.
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Persistence of oiling in mussel beds after the Exxon Valdez oil spill