31 Oil Pollution Facts: Why We Need To Stop Spills From Happening Now! | Kidadl


31 Oil Pollution Facts: Why We Need To Stop Spills From Happening Now!

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Crude oil spills are some of the major oil spills that have been reported in the Gulf of Mexico in the Mediterranean Sea.

Oil spills pose a considerable threat to the environment as oil products tend to remain on the surface for several years or even decades. A crude oil spill is essentially an accident caused by fire or manual errors.

When oil is spilled on the water, it leaves a shiny substance on the surface that makes it impossible for marine animals to survive, this substance is called oil slicks. Although it is widely accepted that artificial forces are to blame for significant oil leaks, tectonic phenomena can also trigger oil spills. Both of these elements can harm the health of living organisms in the surrounding region. In some scenarios, the oil spill may get to the ocean floor too, which is a bigger cause of concern.

After reading about the impacts of oil spills and actions taken by oil companies to mitigate the impact, also check beach pollution facts and air pollution facts.

Facts about oil spills?

In 1991, Iraqi soldiers released about 1135.62 million L (300 million gal) of oil into the Persian Gulf as part of the Gulf War offensive.

In April of 2010, the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, exploded. This BP spill was one of the largest oil spills in history. 794.93 million L (210 million gal) of oil were spilled due to the explosion. The impact on the Gulf of Mexico and other communities is still being felt today.

Ixtoc 1, a well off Mexico's coast, exploded, spilling 140 million gallons of oil into Campeche Bay.

In 1983, the Spanish ship Castillo de Bellver caught fire off the coast of Cape Town, spilling nearly 78 million gallons of oil into the sea surface.

The oil killed over 300 sea birds and 150 endangered sea turtles from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Largest Oil-Tanker Spills In History

Mentioned below are some of the largest oil spill accidents that have been reported in history.

The Persian Gulf War Oil Spill (1991)

Iraqi forces spilled hundreds of millions of gallons of oil from Kuwait's Sea Island terminal into the northern Persian Gulf before hostilities to dissuade the coalition from landing marines and other amphibious troops in the north of Kuwait and southern Iraq.

BP’s Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (2010)

On April 20, 2010, a burst of natural gas broke through a cement well cover that had recently been erected to seal a well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon oil platform, resulting in the world's most accidental oil spills. The gas went up the rig’s riser to the platform, where it ignited, killing 11 and wounding 17.

The Ixtoc 1 Oil Spill (1979)

Between June 1979 and March 1980, the Ixtoc 1 oil spill in Mexico spilled up to 529.95 million L (140 million gal) of crude oil into the Bay of Campeche. Some sources consider the Ixtoc 1 catastrophe the second-worst oil leak of all time, mainly to the uncertainty around how much oil was released during the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Exxon Valdez

The Alaska North Slope Exxon Valdez, which spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's pristine Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, was one of the most well-reported oil accidents of the time. Within 24 hours, an NOAA HAZMAT team arrived at the spill site. HAZMAT scientists assisted the Coast Guard, the State of Alaska, and the responsible parties with the massive cleanup and damage assessment by giving forecasts, guiding airborne observers, making cleanup recommendations, and monitoring the recovery of oiled coastlines.

Oil-Spill Damage

Spills can be caused by a variety of factors such as people committing mistakes or acting irresponsibly, breakdown of equipment in oil rigs, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, and terrorists, nations at war, vandals, and illegal dumpers committing purposeful acts.

The consequences of an oil spill are extremely dangerous for marine animals. The oil can stick to the skin of the animals or the wings of the birds. As a result, these animals lose their insulation properties and can die due to hypothermia. If the oil is inhaled by whales and dolphins, there is an adverse impact on their reproductive system as well as their overall immunity. The effects visible on fishes and other shellfishes are equally destructive.

Oil-Spill Cleanup

Oil spills are hazardous and harmful to the environment and can create health problems for us. They must be contained and cleaned as soon as possible.

The Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency are the two agencies cleaning up oil spills in the United States. When an oil spill happens, the oil floats to the ocean’s surface and forms a millimeter-thick layer. To stop the slick from spreading, you must act quickly.

There are some fundamental methods for cleaning or containing an oil spill, and workers choose the best one based on the spill's location, potential risks, weather conditions, waves, and currents.

If done correctly, controlled burning can efficiently minimize the amount of oil in water. It can, however, only be done when there is little wind, and it pollutes the air.

Bioremediation uses microbes or biological agents to break down or eliminate oil, such as Alcanivorax bacteria or Methylocella silvestris.

Due to the invasive nature of aided methods of cleanup, natural attenuation of oil may be the most suited in some circumstances, particularly in ecologically sensitive locations such as wetlands. There are natural and artificial substances used to absorb oil too.

Oil Spill And Marine Life

Shellfish, a variety of fish species, marine birds, and marine mammals,  are affected by oil spills.

Oil damages the insulating capabilities of fur-bearing mammals like sea otters, as well as the water repellency of a bird's feathers, exposing these animals to the elements. Hypothermia affects birds and mammals who cannot resist water and protect themselves from the cold water.

Oil can also pose a grave danger to juvenile sea turtles, who may eat it for food. Oil inhaled by whales and dolphins affects their lungs, immunological function, and reproduction. When birds and animals try to clean themselves, they eat oil, obviously poisonous for them.

Shellfish, fish, and corals may not be affected right away, but if oil is mixed into the water column, they may come into touch with it – shellfish can also be exposed in the intertidal zone. Grown-up fish exposed to oil may have stunted growth, enlarged livers, altered heart and respiration rates, fin erosion, and reproductive problems. Fish eggs and larvae are the most vulnerable and have near-fatal effects. Even if no harmful effects are seen, oil can make fish and shellfish dangerous to eat for people.

Oil Spill And Birds

Oil affects birds in the most obvious way by coating their plumage in a sticky, greasy sludge. The birds’ feathers are perfectly aligned and designed to give excellent waterproofing and insulation.

However, oil in the feathers will mat them and misalign the tiny barbs that maintain the feathers in place. Even a minor misalignment can lead birds to lose vital body heat, exposing them to potentially lethal temperatures and weather conditions. Oiled birds lose their natural buoyancy due to air pockets formed by appropriate feather alignment, and they can sink and drown in polluted waters.

An oil leak can occur anywhere oil is drilled, transported, or used.

How can you help?

As an employee at any oil-related organization, you can make sure to do your work with utmost care and concern.

NOAA experts may be called in when oil spills happen in the ocean, the Great Lakes, on the shore, or in rivers that drain into these coastal waters. The Office of Response and Restoration aims to create scientific ways for preserving coastlines free of oil, chemicals, and marine debris.

After each oil spill, NOAA scientists do the same thing: they assess what happened, consider the consequences, and then create restoration efforts to aid the ocean's recovery. The terms "restoration" and "cleanup" are not synonymous. Actions such as creating marshland or preserving bird breeding habitat are required to improve the environment actively.

Restoration initiatives are critical because they reduce the time it takes for various species and habitats to recover. In addition to habitat restoration, the spill's perpetrators may be held liable for restoring access to natural spaces by building parks, boat ramps, and fishing piers.

Who is responsible for oil spills?

Because the effects of an oil spill are so long-lasting, it frequently comes up in discussions over who should be accountable for clean-up efforts in policy and legislation. Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1990, the United States Congress passed the Oil Spill Act, establishing the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

It was established in such a manner that oil firms contribute to a pool of funds (meaning they are taxed) so that in the case of an oil leak, the money put aside will be utilized to clean up if a responsible party cannot be located or refuses to pay.

While this appears to be a commendable effort toward sustainability and accountability, it's worth noting that Congress set a limit on individual firms' liability for probable causes of an oil spill at $134 million. Scientists and environmentalists have criticized this cap as being absurdly low. It's worth emphasizing that oil spills that cause death or are determined to be reckless, criminally or otherwise, will almost certainly cost more than the capped sum.

Consider the expense of Deepwater Horizon cleanup activities. Cleanup costs were expected to be around $61 billion seven years after the disaster. The difference in fees is 191%. BP is, thankfully, accountable for the majority of the massive bill. As a result of the accident, it lost about a third of its market capitalization.

When an oil spill happens, there are evident laws concerning who pays for the immediate response, the cost of assessing environmental damage, and the cost of performing the necessary rehabilitation. The legacy of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill is the Oil Contamination Act of 1990, which states that those responsible for the pollution are responsible for all cleanup expenditures.

Like vehicle insurance companies, insurance companies aren't going to start paying checks without first investigating the conditions. When oil strikes the water, though, timing is of importance. While insurance companies work out the legal (and hence monetary) details, the United States Coast Guard can set up an immediate source of financing for federal, state, and tribal agencies and tribes who support the oil spill cleanup, which pays for their contributions to the cleanup.

If the polluter is responsible for the leak, they must compensate the US Coast Guard for all costs. In other words, the polluter is liable for the expense of the oil spilled.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for oil pollution facts then why not take a look at soil pollution facts, or thermal pollution facts.

Hemant Oswal
Written By
Hemant Oswal

<p>With global experience in marketing and business development, Hemant is a seasoned professional with a unique perspective. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from the University of Delhi and a Master's degree in Marketing from The University of Adelaide in Australia. Hemant's work in China, Hong Kong, and Dubai has honed his skills and provided valuable experience. He broadens his understanding of the world through reading non-fiction books and watching documentaries.</p>

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