Examining spatial patterns in polycyclic aromatic compounds measured in stream macroinvertebrates near a small subarctic oil and gas operation

  • J. B. Korosi
  • D. C. Eickmeyer
  • K. S. Chin
  • M. J. Palmer
  • L. E. Kimpe
  • J. M. Blais


The Cameron River runs through a small, remote petrochemical development in the Cameron Hills (Northwest Territories, Canada). In order to evaluate the exposure of aquatic biota to contaminants from oil and gas activities, we measured polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) in macroinvertebrates collected from sites and tributaries along the Cameron River, including upstream and downstream of the development, and sites located near drilled wells (developed). Macroinvertebrate tissue PAC burdens ranged from 0.2–2.8 μg g−1 lipid for unsubstituted compounds, and from 4.2–63.2 μg g−1 lipid for alkylated compounds, relatively low compared to similar studies from more industrialized regions in North America. There was no significant difference in tissue PAC burdens between upstream, downstream, or developed sites (p = 0.12), although alkyl PACs in five out of seven developed sites were higher than the regional average. Petrogenic PACs were dominant in most samples, including alkyl fluorines, alkyl phenanthrene/anthracenes, and alkyl dibenzothiophenes. Minimal changes in PAC composition in macroinvertebrate tissues were detected along the Cameron River, with the exception of the two sites furthest downstream that had high concentrations of C3-C4 naphthalene. Overall, our results suggest that oil and gas development in the Cameron Hills has not resulted in substantial increases in PAC bioaccumulation in stream macroinvertebrates, although the potential that alkyl naphthalenes are being transported downstream from the development warrants further attention.


Petroleum extraction Polycyclic aromatic compounds Plecoptera Bioaccumulation Northwest Territories, Canada 



We acknowledge Paramount Resources Ltd. and the Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation (KTFN) for logistical and field support, as well as Cyndy Desjardins (University of Ottawa), George Simba (KTFN), and Melaine Simba (KTFN) for participation in field work and Nahom Berhane (University of Ottawa) for laboratory assistance. Chief Lloyd Chicot of the KTFN and Peter Redvers of Crosscurrent Consulting were instrumental in the early stages of this research, and this project is a result of their commitment to better understand the influence of upstream oil and gas development on the traditional territory of the KTFN. Funding for this research was provided by the Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program (Government of the Northwest Territories), the Polar Continental Shelf Program, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. B. Korosi
    • 1
  • D. C. Eickmeyer
    • 1
  • K. S. Chin
    • 2
  • M. J. Palmer
    • 2
  • L. E. Kimpe
    • 1
  • J. M. Blais
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program, Environment and Natural ResourcesGovernment of the Northwest TerritoriesYellowknifeCanada

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