Lemon Oil Turned Sour

SESL Australia

Not all contamination investigations involve hazardous chemicals. Sometimes we are asked to investigate the impact of inadvertent spills involving food grade products too!

 A recent example was a spill of ‘lemon oil’, used as a candle fragrance or food flavouring. A small quantity was accidentally spilled when a damaged drum leaked onto an exposed area of soil, near a stormwater drain. The majority of the spill was cleaned up by a Hazardous Materials team, with the a sweet lemon odour remaining as the only evidence of the incident. Following attendance from Council, the site was required to demonstrate that there was no contamination from this lemon oil spill.


 Although only a minor impacted area, SESL had the challenge of finding a way to test for these unusual products and determine what concentrations could be considered safe for the site users and the environment. Teaming with NMI, SESL used a similar oil compound as a reference standard for the laboratory test, and were able to provide a semi-quantitive test for the lemon oil. 

 Through the adoption of modified sampling techniques appropriate to the unusual compounds, SESL quantified the impacted area and devised remedial options for ensuring the spill did not cause any environmental harm.


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