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  • Writer's pictureDev Trivedi

Oil spills

The effects of oil spills on oceans are considerable in both economic and ecological terms. Oil on ocean surfaces is dangerous to numerous forms of submarine life because it prevents sufficient quantities of sunlight from entering the surface and reduces the level of dissolved oxygen. Crude oil ruins the insulating characteristics of feathers and fur, and therefore birds and marine mammals may die from hypothermia. Tourism and commerce may be oppressively affected, as may power plants and other utilities that either draw on or discharge into seawater at the shore if beaches and populated shorelines are fouled. A lot of industries like fishing are affected by oil spills. Major oil spills are constantly followed by the immediate suspension of marketable fishing.

The cost of paying compensation to individuals and communities damaged by oil spills has been a major encouragement to reduce the chances of similar events taking place in the future. As yet, no comprehensively satisfactory system has been developed for cleaning up major oil spills, though there have been great advancements in technology. Responses to oil spills seek to contain the oil and remove enough of it so that profitable activity can proceed and natural recovery can take place. Floating booms can be placed around the source of the spill or at entrances to channels and harbours to reduce the spreading of oil over the ocean surface.

Skimming, a method that, like the use of booms, is most effective in calm waters, involves varied mechanisms that physically separate the oil from the water and place the oil into collection tanks. Another approach is to use various sorbents that absorb the oil from the water, chemical solvents may be spread over a slick to accelerate its dissipation into the ocean. Onshore removal of oil that has entered sandy beaches is a strenuous and arduous affair. It involves huge groups of workers operating heavy construction- type equipment to scrape up polluted debris and haul it away.

Two astronomically important oil-tanker spills that took place in European waters were the Torrey Canyon disaster (119,000 metric tons of oil were spilled) and the Amoco Cadiz disaster. (220,880 metric tons of crude oil and ship fuel were spilled). Both events led to lasting changes in the regulation of shipping and the association of responses to ecological emergencies similar to oil spills.

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