oil spills and there impact

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oil spills and there impact

Category: Article Review

Subcategory: Sociology

Level: College

Pages: 10

Words: 2750


The term oil spill is the act of release of liquid petroleum products into the marine ecosystem due to human activities. Oil can be spilled from drilling rigs, oil wells, offshore platforms or even tankers. Oil spills have great negative impacts on marine ecosystems, human welfare and also change the economic activities of surrounding communities. Those significantly affected are communities living near coastlines who rely on the aquatic environment for subsistence. Regaining their balanced states, ecosystems that have been affected by oil spills takes a long time, but other measures are used such as the use of chemical dispersants but which prove to have further adverse impacts on the marine ecosystems. Oil spills can be adequately managed by careful study of previous oil spill cases thereby coming up with proper measures. Below are case studies of previous oil spill disasters and their impacts on marine ecosystems and human communities.
People living in the coastal area of Louisiana have survived hundreds of years of hurricanes and tens of years of oil spills, but their ability to go back to normality after such events have made them continue staying in the place. The coastal areas of Louisiana are inhabited by Acadians, African-Americans, Filipinos, Cambodians, Dalmatians and Vietnamese making it a diverse population. These communities live in villages along rivers or small coastal ports and, therefore, depend on marine resources for both commercial and subsistence activities.1
These communities have learned how to survive metrological dangers through mobility, ingenuity, and social networks. The movement has enabled the individuals to move to other places that are safe or to change their income generating activities. Since early 20th-century oil spills have been the largest constant threat to livelihoods compared to hurricanes. Oil spills in the 1930s showed dependence on resilience practices, but those after the year 2000 in the Gulf have led to the adoption of risky practices.2
The society absorbs the impacts hurricanes and bounces back to its functional state through social networks such as churches and tight family ties, movement from one area to another and adapting. Previously existing systems provide links that lead to the providence of temporary shelters or income-generating activities for those affected by oil spills. Mobility regarding the place and economic activities enables people to move areas that have not been disturbed and hence continue with their activities. Oil spills mainly affect fishermen who have a difficulty in finding markets for their products that are from polluted sources. Geographical mobility is applied so as to acquire marine products from areas that have not been polluted until the ones affected by oil spills have recovered. Oyster beds can be renewed although this takes a long time to recover. Companies whose rigs suffer oil spills also take part in a clean-up activity, and the government conducts an environmental impact assessment to see the condition of the surrounding and also the Oil Pollution Act was established in 1990 to protect people and the surrounding.
Crude oil is a valuable natural resource in modern society, and it has numerous benefits, but it is toxic to the environment. It can harm the marine environment, the air through smoke or even the soil and plants hence translating to significant destruction to the economy. The Persian Gulf is endowed with abundant oil resources hence a high potential for oil pollution especially during transportation.
Khark Island is the largest terminal for oil export in Iran and oil is transported by five pipelines from offshore and mainland oil fields. This area has a high probability of oil spills from pipelines due to corrosion and geological activities such as earthquakes. From an Oil Spill Contingency and Response (OSCAR) model system, an oil spill can be predicted in the island. OSCAR applies the following in the research procedure; advection, volatilization algorithms, entrainment, surface spreading, the fate of surface and emulsification so as to establish the levels of pollution from the expected oil spills.3
From the OSCAR study, light oil spills do not have much effect the environment as compared to massive oil spills that remain in the environment and also the marine environment. Most of the light oil spills evaporates and approximately 5% is left behind. A major part of the oil blowout is deposited on the seabed causing stable dispersion of oil in the water.4By use of mechanical recovery equipment, potential environmental consequences can be reduced.
From the OSCAR model, oil spill effects on the environment can be reduced by a quick response in the first days after the spill of oil. Therefore, dispersant aircrafts and vessels can help to reduce effects that are likely to happen on the surface.
Many communities are at risk of calamities arising from oil spills due to the high movement of oil globally. Oil spills are triggered by both natural and social factors hence posing threats to water bodies, aquatic life, human health and the general environment if not on the economy. This summary will focus on oil spills that arise due to transportation due to the focused growth of oil trade across regions worldwide. To plan effectively for oil spill disasters requires knowledge from previous occurrences but this faces challenges of the particular area, ecology of the area and socio-economic activities of the locals.
One of the factors to consider during a spill is the place. Spills that happen closer to the coastline or where human beings are located tend to bear greater monetary influences, and their cleanup is quite expensive. Oil spill cleanup near shorelines costs more than collecting oil spills in water bodies. The quantity of oil spilled and the degree of spillage should be under
consideration. Slow oil spills over time have greater damages compared to faster oil spills. The rate of response to disasters involving oil spills and also the technology put in place influences the damages caused.
There are various methods used to clean up oil spills in aquatic environments; this is done by either applying chemicals that disperse oil by breaking it down into small droplets.7 Another method is the use of fire by a process called scorching. The third method is absorbing or skimming oil from surfaces, and the last method is washing off oil from the shoreline by use of hot water under pressure in pipes. The negative thing about the methods mentioned above is that the marine environment is further degraded hence increasing the time ecosystems take to recover. Human efforts to remove oil spills tend to be destructive compared to natural processes such as wave action and oil eating bacteria.
Marine ecosystems are affected by oil spills in numerous ways even though some organisms are not affected by the oil spills. Marine creatures could get oil in their digestive systems, the genetic material of organisms could be damaged, contaminants could accumulate in the tissues of organisms and immune disorders could arise. Other impacts include the mass death of eggs and larvae, breathing in vapors and heart diseases. Species have different responses to oil spills depending on morphology and physiology. Some marine creatures such as urchins and sea lettuce tend to increase after an oil spill.
The human society gets to be affected by oil spills either health wise or economically. Human health is affected by either consuming contaminated seafood, inspiring vapors or through
Stress is arising from economic losses. Financial losses result due to interference with the daily human activities after oil spills.
Oil spills have impacts on both the environment and human society. Most of the impacts are negative and tend to be long lasting.
Dispersants are mostly used during oil spills because they lessen environmental effects of oil by enhancing dilution and promoting biological breakdown. The use of dispersants is affected by the characteristics of oil, conditions of the atmosphere and the sea, and what financial benefits are to be derived from their use. The toxicity levels of the dispersants need to be put into consideration so as to assess its impact on the marine ecosystem.6
Oil can be dispersed naturally by either winds or currents and, therefore, no need to use chemical dispersants. Toxicity tests for both naturally or chemically dispersed oil can be conducted by the use of bioluminescent bacteria. Results from tests show that oil that is dispersed mechanically has high toxicity and coastline oiling impacts. Study of oil dispersant toxic levels is crucial in decision making and coming up with policies regarding oil spills.
Use of chemical dispersants in open waters is advised because toxic levels reduce due to dilution effect facilitated by advection hence the effects are not long-lasting as those of physical
dispersal. The standard of toxicity varies depending on the chemical makeup of oil source, the level of mixing of solutions used in measuring the degree of toxicity. Others are the hotness or coldness of the places where the toxicity tests are conducted so as to get accurate data during toxicity tests, standard conditions are set and the environmental conditions simulated.
Marine organisms are exposed under both physical and chemical oil dispersal and, therefore, can get oil into their cells hence suffer from narcosis, or they could swallow oil droplets into their digestive tract. The use of dispersants increases the number of oil droplets in water bodies, but this cannot be attributed to high levels of toxicology in marine organisms. Dissolved oil particles are directly linked to toxicity.
To analyze toxicity data about oil spills, decisions should be made in regards to experimental designs that simulate the actual environment. Toxicology tests will also help in making future decisions about oil spills and the best ways to handle the disasters.
Macondo well location is one area where oil and natural gas was released into seawater from a depth of about 1.5 kilometers. This experience had not been experienced before. Chemical oil dispersants were applied at a depth, and the results were emulsions, the formation of microdroplets and oil was dissolved.7 More than half of the 4.9 million barrels of natural gas
And oil released during the blowout remained the water column. Methods applied to disperse oil from the water surface resulted in oil getting into the water column hence being deposited on the seabed. The oil deposits on the seafloor were affected corals and ecosystems in soft-sediments found in the Gulf of Mexico at a depth below 400 meters.
A brown flocculent material protects corals affected by the oil spill; they release a lot of mucus and are prone to loss of tissue. The Macondo oil spill is responsible for coral loss in most of the areas. However, studies conducted later indicate that some coral communities are rejuvenating this is attributed to the decrease in coral communities covered in flock matter. Corals also face another challenge of colonization by hydroids where moderate spills occurred. Hydroid colonization creates boundaries between corals hence creating a patchy network of corals some characterized by dead tissues. Coral communities located further from the Macondo oil spill and that are deep below were less affected compared to those near the good site.
The soft sediment in most deep seabed contains a broad range of fauna that play a crucial role in maintaining ecosystem balance and health. The infauna act as energy sources for organisms high in the trophic level, they play a role in nutrient cycling and lastly they are involved in bioturbation. Some fauna is opportunistic and tends to increase in abundance after oil spills, and they can be used as indicators impacts arising due to human activities.
Oil spills tend to affect the relationship between corals and fauna. Most fauna is found closer to coral communities in deep water bringing resources by altering flow patterns and also
Act as shelter to the fauna. Studies conducted in corals found near oil spills show reduced number of fauna and also affects the communities of fauna by creating dominance. Oil spills can also alter fauna by affecting the reproductive system and high energy losses so as to deal with toxicity.
Human-centered activities tend to influence marine ecosystems hence affecting corals and fauna negatively. Humans, therefore, distort the balance in marine environments and policies should be placed to ensure marine ecosystem resilience.
The Hebei-spirit was a great tanker oil spill in Korea that had adverse impacts on coastlines, marine environments and communities living near coastal areas. There had been previous tanker oil spills that affected coastal communities economically and socially. It was a tanker disaster that received significant media attention, and it contributed to the implementation of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships in the year 1973.9
Most coastal communities depend on fishing and tourism for their daily sustenance. Fishermen allow tourists to their fishing areas or they could even hire their boats to them as a means to generate additional income. Others operate seafood cafeterias and tend to use their homes for tourist accommodation. During the cleanup activity after the Hebei-spirit spill, Korea did not put into consideration the fishing or tourism activities in the area. The oil dispersants used may have opened up waters for tourism but affected fisheries in a great way.
Fishing is affected by the bans that are introduced and when beaches are closed after oil spills. A marine national park, 15 beaches, and an aquaculture location were changed. The government also closed all fish processing industries and no one was allowed to fish during the ban. This fishing closure led to significant economic losses because all related industries such as fish processing and transportation were affected. Tourism was affected because of a decrease in visits to the areas that had experienced spills. Other economic losses can be attributed to falling in income at eateries and recreational places.10
In cases of financial losses arising from oil spills, people can be reimbursed by the Protection and Indemnity Club or the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund.
Indemnified are those in the fishing industry and other related industries such as tourism. Food points located near the coastline of the oil spill can get compensated, but that happens if what they do is for subsistence.
For coastal communities to bounce back into their original conditions after an oil spill disaster depends on how the cleanup procedure is carried out, indemnity and how the locals view the accident and what practices they put to ensure recovery of the ecosystem.11
Oil spills have direct adverse impacts on both marine ecosystems and the human communities living along coastlines. Disturbances caused by oil spills because changes in the marine environment and this can take years to bounce back to their original states. Human beings can be affected economically, or health wise by inhaling vapors or consuming contaminated seafood. The cleanup procedures to be put in place after an oil spill disaster should put into consideration human activities such as fishing and tourism. From the above studies, models and
Measures can be created so as to deal wisely with future oil spills without having to degrade other marine environments. It can be understood that most disasters are anthropogenic, and, therefore, humans are to blame for the dangers they pose to their environments, health, and economic activities.
1. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990
This policy was passed so as to protect the coast of the U.S. from oil spills and also to mitigate effects of oil spills. This law states that oil companies must put in place plans that will prevent oil spills from occurring and on what cleanup method to be used after an oil spill.
2. Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund.
This fund is under the Marine Liability Act of Canada that is for compensation of those affected by oil spills.
3. The Turkey Oil Spill Response Policy.
Turkey is an oil producing country, and it is located at the center of the Middle East, North Africa and Caspian area making it a convenient transit point of the oil. Therefore, Turkey has the policy to protect itself from disasters that are likely to arise due to oil spills during transportation.12
4. The International Convention to prevent pollution from marine vessels of the year 1973/1978
This convention protects all forms of pollution arising from vessels in marine ecosystems. It puts into consideration oil spills, chemicals, sewage or any toxic substances packed in marine vessels.
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