An oil spill can be described as the release or accidental spill of petroleum products such as crude oil, gasoline, etc., from tankers, ships, offshore platforms, drilling rigs, and wells into the ocean, sea, or even land. It can have disastrous consequences for the ecosystem and society; economically, environmentally, and socially.
Oil spills are likely to take place where oil is extracted, transported, or used. They can be of small quantities and large quantities. Small quantity oil spills occur while refueling a ship etc. Large quantity oil spills happen when pipelines break, big oil tanker ships sink, or drilling operations go wrong. Oil spills are likely to take place where oil is extracted, transported, or used.
The largest oil spill to date was recorded in Kuwaiti Oil Fires in the year 1991. An estimate of 605 and 732 wells were set ablaze, due to which 42,000,000 US gallons of oil were burned. It took over ten months to bring all the wells under control.
What are the effects of Oil Spill on Ocean Life?
Oil spills affect ocean life mostly in two ways:
1. Fouling or Oiling
Fouling or oiling occurs when oil harms an animal or plant. For example, oil can strip away the insulating parts of sea otters’ fur or coat birds’ wings and leave them unable to fly, putting them at risk of hypothermia or hyperthermia. Animal chances of survival are impacted by the degree of oiling.
2. Oil Toxicity
Oil consists of many different harmful compounds. Ingestion of oil can cause severe health problems like heart damage, stunted growth, immune system effects, and even death.
How to Control Oil Spills?
The primary measure to control oil spills is to prevent the spilling of oil. This can be achieved by standard practices and training teams working on tankers, ships, offshore platforms, drilling rigs, and wells.
What are Oil Spill Cleaning Methods?
The methods of cleaning the ocean after an oil spill takes place are:
- Employing oil booms.
- Use of skimmers.
- Use of sorbents.
- Burning of spilled oil.
- Using dispersants to break oil into small droplets following an oil spill.