Following the recommendation by the Environmental Committee to look into the scientific problems associated with DNA tagging of oil, Heriot-Watt University have made some interesting progress on the work, which is due to be completed by the end of September.

An update of the work so far has revealed that the DNA tags can easily be recovered from a host of domestic oils and that the techniques currently being used to extract the DNA are workable on most domestic oils. However, the greatest challenge will be the work in the next two months where the focus will be on the two main polluting oils, heavy fuel oil and lube oil.

The independent study by the University will assess how easy it is to extract the tags from the oils. It will also look into the effects that the oil will have on the DNA and how the DNA may be affected by natural weathering to simulate when the oil is discharged into the sea.

Contact: Tim Wilkins on e-mail