Oil Spill, Status and Solution

Topics: Oil spill, Petroleum, Exxon Valdez oil spill Pages: 14 (3789 words) Published: May 27, 2013



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An oil spill is the discharge of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activities, and is one form of pollution. An oil spill occurs when a vehicle, vessel, pipeline or drilling rig releases petroleum products into the environment uncontrollably. The first major oil spill on record happened when the Thomas W. Lawson schooner became beached in the Isles of Scilly in 1907, spilling 58,000 barrels of paraffin oil into the sea.

This term is usually applied in the aspect of marine oil spills, where oil is discharged into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land. Oil spills may be because of 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.


Spilt oil punctures into the structure of the plumage of birds and the fur of mammals, reducing its insulating ability, and making them more vulnerable to fluctuations of temperature and much less buoyant in the water. Cleanup and recovery from an oil spill is difficult and depends upon many factors, including the type of oil spilled, the temperature of the water (affecting evaporation and biodegradation), and the types of shorelines and beaches involved. Spills may take weeks, months or even years to clean up.



Crude oil and refined fuel spills from tanker ship accidents have damaged natural ecosystems in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, the Galapagos Islands, France and many other places. The quantity of oil spilled during accidents has varied from a few hundred tons to several hundred thousand tons (for example : Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Atlantic Empress, Amoco Cadiz) but is a limited barometer of damage or impact. Smaller spills have already proven to have a great impact on ecosystems (Exxon Valdez oil spill) because of the inaccessibilityof the site or the difficulty of an emergency environmental responses.

Oil spills at sea are generally much more damaging than those on land, since they can spread for hundreds of seagoing miles in a thin oil slick which can cover beaches with a thin coating of oil. This can kill sea birds, mammals, shellfish and other organisms. Oil spills on land are more readily containable if a makeshift earth dam can be rapidly bulldozed around the spill site before most of the oil escapes, and land animals can avoid the oil more easily.

Largest oil spills, ordered by tons

|Spill/Tanker |Location |Date |Tons of crude oil |Barrels | | | | |(thousands) |(thousands) | |Kuwaiti oil fires |[pic]Kuwait |January, 1991 - November, |136,000-205,000 |1,000,000-1,500,000 | | | |1991 | | | |Kuwaiti oil lakes |[pic]Kuwait |January, 1991 - November, |25,000-50,000 |1,050,000-2,100,000 | | | |1991 | | | |Lakeview Gusher...
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