Oil spillage may occur in water or on dry land. When oil gets spilled on the water, it first spreads on the water surface, depending on its density or composition. Some oil may evaporate, dissolve in water or sink with the residue matter. The remaining oil forms sticky tar balls, which may disintegrate, and biodegrade with time. Many oil spillage instances could have occurred through either accidents or intentional release of oil into the environment. The greatest accidental oil spill remains to be the Persian Gulf Oil Spill that involved 240 million gallons of oil. This happened near Kuwait and Saudi Arabia when tankers and storage tanks got destroyed during war operations. The following report explains about oil spillage and how it affects the wildlife, marine life and human activities in a region. It describes the measures that can be used to control and prevent oil spillage. It also explains the methods that can be used to fix and clean up an oil spillage.
Oil spillage refers to an accidental release of petroleum into the environment. In addition, careless dumping of petroleum can cause oil spillage. Oil spills can be localized when they happen on land, and thus their consequences can be reduced quite easily. However, oil spills in marine habitats can spread over large areas and cause serious environmental consequences. The main source of accidental oils seems to be associated with oil transportation using tankers and pipelines. Production and offshore drilling may also contribute to oil spillage. The ecological risk of an oil spillage depends on the amount and oil involved. Oil spill may affect the environmental aspects such as fisheries, wildlife and recreation facilities. Marine oil spill can cause enormous harm to the Deep Ocean and coastal fisheries. Immediate consequences of toxic oil waste can be mass mortality, fish contamination and food species contamination. Long-term ecological effects can affect marine organic substrate, interrupting the sea creatures’ food chains and affect their reproductive success. Commercial fishing work may be affected permanently (Davidson, Lee & Cogswell, 2008, p. 83).
Effects of Oil Spillage on the environment
Other wildlife such as reptiles, mammals, amphibians and birds could be affected by oil spillage. The cause for such consequences could be due to toxic effects of exposure and ingestion. Wildlife may get injuries such as smothering and deterioration of thermal insulation. Also, damage could occur in their reproductive systems, patterns and behaviors. Chemicals found in the oils may damage the airways of birds and animals. Long term effects include interruption of the food chains due to destruction of organic substrate. This can be harmful to animals such that the populations may change or disappear. The environment, recreational activities, other human activities and their related facilities can be severely affected. Fishing, swimming, scuba diving, beaches, nature-parks, other resident, and tourist attractions can be affected by oil spillage. The long-term effects of such consequences that affect human activities may lead to deteriorating economy and society (Burger, 1994, p. 51).
Controlling and Preventing Oil Spillage
Oil spillage can be prevented and controlled significantly. This can be done through several ways. One of these ways is the use of secondary containment that involves preventing the release of oil and hydrocarbon into the environment. Another way of preventing oil spillage is double hulling of vessels used in the transportation or storage of oil. The existing single-hull containers or vessels can be modified to become double hulls. Building of double hulls into vessels can significantly reduce the severity of spillage and reduce the risk of a grounding or collision. The other way of preventing oils spillage could be the use of measures laid down by United States Environmental protection agency. This can be through the Oil Spill Prevention Containment and Countermeasures program (Tom, 1984, p. 77).
Oil Spillage fixing and clean up
Fixing and cleaning up of oil spillage can be a difficult task that depends on the composition of the oil spilled and the temperature of the water involved. The temperature may affect biodegradation and evaporation. One method of recovery is bioremediation by the use of biological agents and microorganisms that break down or remove the oil. In addition, bioremediation accelerator may be used to chemically or physically bond to insoluble or soluble oil products. To reduce the amount of oil in water, controlled burning of oil can be used. In certain cases, oil’s natural attenuation may be used especially in ecologically sensitive environment (Gunner, 1983, p. 67). Detergents that cluster around globules and allow the oil globules to get carried in the water could be used. This method can be used to improve the appearance of the surface though research shows that certain dispersants could be toxic to the corals. Another method of coping with oil spillage is the use of solidifiers that absorb and adsorb. They do this by altering the physical state of oil from liquid form to semi-solid form. They seem to be non-toxic to wildlife and aquatic life. The solidifiers remain insoluble in water, which makes the removal of the oil easy, and the oil does not leach out. Lastly, centrifuge and vacuum may be used to suck up the oil together with the water. The centrifuge then separates the oil from the water, leaving the tanker filled with pure oil. Mostly, the separated water is returned to the sea.
Oil spillage caused by accidents may be reduced significantly by putting in safety and control measures. In case the spillage occurs, there exist several methods that can be used to fix, clean-up and recover the oil spillage. By doing this, there should be a reduction of pollution in the aquatic life, wild life and the environment at large.