Not all oil spills are equal. Edible oils spill from vegetable oils generated in oil seed crush plants behave quite differently from petroleum oil spills. The behavior of vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, olive, and castor oils is largely limited to sinking, shoreline coating and to a lesser degree biodegradation which may be competitive to other oxidation processes including polymerization.
In most recorded spills, the vegetable oil largely spread out, coated shorelines, and then sank. Evaporation, water-in-oil emulsification and chemical dispersion were measured for the vegetable oils and found to be nearly zero in stark contrast to petroleum oils, for which the most important transformation mechanisms are evaporation, water-in-oil emulsification. and oil-in-water emulsification (dispersion).
These findings concerning edible oils spill underline the need to maintain an oil spill alert system which is capable not only of detecting an oil spill, but also analyzing the type of oil and it s behavior in the water, in order to optimize the response.