Introduction

The total length of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline is 1,760 km. The pipeline will provide crude oil from the Caspian Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli oil deposits to the terminal at Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. The length of the pipeline across the territory of Georgia is 249 km, with a diameter of 115 cm. The territory which is crossed by the pipeline is seismically active and there is risk of oil spills. Also, the pipeline crosses several sensitive areas in Georgia including ground water deposits. Apart from the above, the pipeline corridor crosses numerous small rivers and springs of surface water with substantial seasonal flow fluctuations. There are a number of wetlands in the high mountainous volcanic areas and a large volume of high quality underground water (e.g. Dazbashi spring) and curative mineral waters (e.g. Borjomi).

The Borjomi Gorge, which is covered with large areas of forest and wetlands, has a diversity of ground, surface, potable and mineral waters. Also, following from the climatic conditions of the gorge and the very

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unstable hydrological profile of the mountain rivers expressed by intense flooding, any oil spilled from a damaged pipe will quickly mix with the river water; it is impossible to calculate precisely the concurrence time of an accident and peak moment of the flood.

It is planned to construct permanent facilities equipped with five permanent tanks and six block valves on six tributaries of the rivers. The structure of each facility is designed in the following way: (1) the riverbed will be consolidated and an accumulating tank will be constructed to dampen the flood; (2) in order to prevent filtration from the accumulating tanks, its bottom and sides will be covered with water-resistant membranes, while the riverbanks will be consolidated with gabions.

Despite construction of these pipeline safety facilities, the risk of oil spills still exists, which is more dangerous for water ecosystems in sensitive areas. In our research, we carried out a specific methodology of bioindication and remediation of water ecosystems which would be used for emergency response in case of an oil spill in the sensitive areas along the pipeline. The water ecosystems are characterized by a wide diversity of biota, but priority should be given to study of phytoplankton algae species and their response to oil spills, as they are basic for primary production (Nelson-Smith, 1977).

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