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Oil Spill Disaster


What is Oil Spill Disaster?

An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially the marine ecosystem, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is usually given to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land. Oil spills may be due to releases of crude oil from tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel) and their by-products, heavier fuels used by large ships such as bunker fuel, or the spill of any oily refuse or waste oil.

Oil pollution is most common in large water bodies like seas and oceans. Oil spill occurs due to the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the aquatic environment. Marine water is especially affected by this form of pollution. Oil pollution is primarily a man-made disaster and is a result of human irresponsible activities.


Cases of Oil Spill Disaster

The ship BW Maple (UK flag), an LPG tanker, rams the petroleum tanker Dawn Kanchipuram (Indian flag) at 17kmph (nine knots), just two nautical miles off the Kamarajar Port at Ennore near Chennai at 4 am on Saturday. The collision ruptures the water ballast tank and a part of the crew cabin, while also snapping the fuel pipeline. Heavy fuel oil begins to leak into the sea even as Ennore port officials spring into action. Port claims no damage done to environment. No injury or casualties reported.



Causes of Oil Spill Disaster

Human Causes: War, attack, sabotage, human mistakes leading to a collision or some technical reasons.


Effects of Oil Spill Disaster

On Humans

Direct exposure can have varying effects depending on the toxicity and chemicals involved in the spill.

Humans get exposed to toxicity through breathing gaseous oil compounds and/or oil compounds adsorbed on particulate matter (dispersed through the air). Exposure can also happen due to the activities in the contaminated ground (e.g., soil) or through skin absorption when touching spilled material.

There is a huge economic cost attached with such disasters.

On Birds

Many birds die due to drowning or inability to eat due to oil sticking to their body.

On Marine life

The most affected organisms are those which float near the surface like turtles, fishes, crabs etc.

Sea animals caught in an oil spill, on being exposed to toxic petroleum products often results in lower reproductive rates, organ damage, and death. The effects remain for a long period of time.

Fishes die due to inability to swim or breath.

This time was core breeding period for olive ridley turtles and due to oil slick sticking to the gut mother turtles may find it difficult to lay the eggs.



Safety tips from Oil Spill Disaster

Drilling should only be done by highly skilled and trained people. This will prevent the otherwise unwanted oil pollution.

Government of all countries worldwide should treat oil pollution seriously and come up with a suitable disaster management plan to deal with this problem. Local environmental agencies should also step up their action plans towards the recovery of polluted water bodies.

The oil spills in the water bodies can be cleaned up the chemical way. Using sorbents (big sponges which absorb oil) oil spills can be cleaned. Also, chemical dispersants effectively break down oil into its corresponding chemical constituents.



How to stop Oil Spill Disaster

Oil Zapper is a cocktail of bacteria that feed on the oil and degrade the hydrocarbons.

Newer methods and technologies like Nanosheets that could revolutionize oil spill clean ups and water purification needs to be deployed. It has following major benefits:

  • Recyclable.
  • Absorb 33 times their weight in oil.
  • One gram of nanosheets has the equivalent area as nearly 5.5 tennis courts – so a lot of surface for absorption.
  • Saturated nanosheets can be simply heated in air for two hours for cleaning purpose. The absorbed oil burns off, leaving the nanosheets clean and free to absorb again.
  • Easy to build and affordable.



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