Effects of Oil Pollution to the Environment and the Preventive Measures - Paper Example

Published: 2021-08-15 22:52:46
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The planet has enormous oil and gas reserves trapped beneath the surface. These reserves develop cracks and cause the oil or gas to seep out to the surface. This is a natural occasion that rarely causes much damage to the surface. However, the times when the same problem is caused by human interference result in significant losses to the earth surface, i.e., land and marine ecosystems ("Effects of oil spills - Conserve Energy Future"). The issue of oil spills has been a vital topic over the years and its effects and the environment and the living organisms in it. Oil spills occur when liquid petroleum in released into the atmosphere by machinery, i.e., vehicles, vessels, and pipeline among others. It happens on a large scale and is quite evident in large water bodies. There are various sources of spills such as tankers on the land surface and drilling rigs, offshore oil platforms in water bodies. The effects of oil spills can be experienced from refined petroleum and waste oil from large scale industries. Some of the notable environmental damages caused by oil spills include:

Damage to marshlands, beaches and fragile aquatic ecosystems.

Oil spills resulting from damaged pipelines, tankers, and offshore oil rigs coat everything they touch or flow over. The result is an unwelcome and long term detrimental effect on the ecosystem. The oil coats and clings on every rock and sand grain. It spreads to the coastal marshes, wetlands, mangrove forests, grasses and fibrous plants which absorb the oil, damaging the crops and make the area unsuitable for inhabitation.

Despite the intensive efforts displayed by Exxon Valdez oil spill to prevent the occurrence, research conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2007 showed that 26,000 gallons of oil were still trapped in the sand surface along the Alaska shoreline (West, Larry).

Death to birds and flying animals.

Oil covers birds when they land on surfaces covered by oil spills. This is a practical symbol of how the environment is damaged due to oil spills. Some species of birds often relocate once they sense danger in their situation. However, sea birds which need to swim and dive to get their food are profoundly affected. In the event of a spill, they are usually covered in oil when they jump to get some food. The oil on their bodies makes it cumbersome for them to swim out of the water, resulting in suffocation and death of the birds.

The spills damage the birds nesting grounds thereby affecting the entire species. The BP Deepwater horizon offshore oil spill in the Mexican gulf in 2010 took place during the prime mating and nesting period resulting in significant consequences to the bird and marine animal species. It also alternates the migratory patterns by contaminating the areas where the birds usually stop.

The oil coats the birds feathers making it impossible for them to fly and destroying their natural insulation and waterproofing capabilities. These activities expose them to overheating and hypothermia (West, Larry). They swallow some oil and damage their internal organs hence leading to death.

Death to marine animals

Oil spills kill marine animals such as dolphins, sea otters, and seals among others. The discharges clog the respiratory systems of the animals making it impossible for them to breathe correctly. It also causes defects to them by contaminating their food supplies resulting in poisoning and ultimate death of the animal. It even kills fish, when their eggs are exposed to the oil. Among the affected species of the BP Deepwater horizon, the offshore oil spill in 2010 was the shrimp and oyster fisheries within the Louisiana coast.

Destruction of wildlife habitat together with their breeding grounds.

Destruction of habitat and their breeding grounds are among the leading environmental effects resulting from oil spillage. The severity of the damages depends on several factors such as the amount of oil spilled, location of the spill, type and weight of the oil, species of wildlife in the affected area, seasonal migrations and breeding cycles of the wildlife (West, Larry).

After the occurrence of an oil spill, various methods are applied to control of reducing the effect of the spilled oil to the environment as well as the habitat in it. These methods include:

In-situ burning

This technique involves burning of the spilled oil while it is still in the water body. The method seems to be useful but causes more harm to the environment I disguise such as smoke emissions, the formation of residues and other safety concerns.

Bioaugmentation.

This method is used in water bodies to degrade waste such as raw sewage material and industrial discharges. Microbes are then added to the water to feed on the waste. These bacteria do not compete with the natural species to ensure efficiency of the process (Lawson, Jim-Rex).

Biostimulation

This method escalates the nitrogen and phosphorus levels to provide an optimal working environment for the microbes.

The control methods used are inefficient, ineffective, difficult to use and do not fully rehabilitate the areas affected (Lawson, Jim-Rex). These results make prevention more efficient than control techniques for oil spillage. Therefore, the following prevention techniques are used for oil spills and the after effects.

Improved piloting and training of tanker and ship crews.

More training is provided to the vessels that involve carrying and passage of oil and related substances. These training would ensure that the crew continually oversees the ship tankers or pipeline to spot any leakages or weak joints that need to be checked on sooner before causing oil spills to the environment or water bodies.

Enforcing pollution rules.

Rules about environmental pollution should be well instigated especially those related to oil spilling and the related effects. These provisions would ensure that vessels, pipeline, and machinery that use fuels are well designed to prevent spillage to the environment. These rules highlight the punishments to designers and user of ships that cause the spillage to prevent further oil spillage in future (Lawson, Jim-Rex).

The building of more spill resistant vessels.

Construction of such vessels makes it difficult for oil spillage to occur quickly. This is more efficient if it is performed after researching the causes of the previous oil spills. It includes construction of pipelines that resist breakage, firm and robust fuel tanks that prevent any leakages in the form of cracks.

Proper training of storage and pipeline facility crews.

The storage and pipeline management crews should be well trained to ensure that they continuously check on the facilities. This would help them to locate any sections of the plant that would require repairs before causing oil spillage to the environment.

Maintaining the vessels and pipelines.

The vessels and pipelines used to transport or store oil should be adequately taken care of. Proper maintenance would reduce the chances of a breakdown or cracks in the machinery thereby preventing the occurrence of an oil spill (Lawson, Jim-Rex).

Works cited

"Effects Of Oil Spills - Conserve Energy Future." Conserve Energy Future, 2017, https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/effects-of-oil-spills.php.

Lawson, Jim-Rex. "Effective Oil Spill Response Techniques And Prevention - Vanguard News." Vanguard News, 2017, https://www.vanguardngr.com/2012/02/effective-oil-spill-response-techniques-and-prevention/.

"Oil Spill Pollution Control | Environmental Pollution Centers." Environmentalpollutioncenters.Org, 2017, https://www.environmentalpollutioncenters.org/oil-spill/control/.

West, Larry. "5 Ways Oil Spills Hurt The Environment." Thoughtco, 2017, https://www.thoughtco.com/environmental-consequences-of-oil-spills-1204088.

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