One can not perfectly estimate how long it will actually take to clean up the oceans polluted by oil. It always depends on the techniques used, the efficiency of the people working on it, how often workers clean the oceans and the budget alloted for the clean-up. Cleaning the ocean is the less difficult part, but expects the recovery to take more than 15 years. If cleaning is the only issue, then 15 to 20 years will definitely be enough, given that all procedures are effective, all workers are responsible and serious with what they are doing and all alloted budgets are used directly to fund the oil spill clean up.
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill into the Limelight We can take the Exxon Valdez oil spill as an example. On March 24, 1989, one of the most shocking and seemingly-unrecoverable environmental disasters happened in Prince William Sound, Alaska, United States. This occurrence is said to be among the world’s largest oil spills when it comes to how much oil spill is released to the waters. Prince William Sounds is a place which isn’t easy to access. Because of its remote location, cleaning it was difficult. Workers who need to clean the waters had to ride in boats and helicopters to reach the place (Chandler and Streissguth, p. 5).
What needed to be cleaned was 11,000 square miles of ocean or 28,000 square kilometers of water. There were 40. 9 million liters of oil, or 10. 8 million U. S gallons of Prudhoe Bay crude oil spilled into the sea. Cleaning up seemed impossible and people were hopeless, but there were bigger things at stake like lives of millions of seabirds, seals, sea otters and salmon which belonged to the sea and depended on such habitat for survival (Chandler and Streissguth, p. 6). There were indeed a lot of delaying tactics in terms of cleaning up the Exxon Valdez oil spill since it was the first time America was confronted with such a big disaster.
No one was at least prepared for it. The responses to cleaning up were slow and generally inadequate. The shoreline of the waters was definitely destroyed. There was a dramatic decline in the microbial population. What were needed to start the cleanup were challenged by response management, but was in time attended by 85 aircrafts, 1,400 vessels and 11,000 personnel. Having been armed with all these, the clean up of the Exxon Valdez oil spill was started in April 1989 (Wells, Butler and Hughes, p. 217).
Cleaning up oil spill can indeed be cleaned up within 15 to 20 years because considering the volume of oil spilled into the ocean by Exxon Valdez, five months was enough to partially clean the ocean and let the government stop the people from cleaning the oceans up. If cleaning up continued, the health of the workers will definitely be jeopardized. What Alaska did was to stop the cleaning in September (which was started in April of the same year) and waited for winter instead. Responses resumed in the next two years, where cleaning up was at its height during the summers.
Winters were skipped because the weather was sure to help with the clean up, too. Alaska is known for more than frequent winter storms. This time, winter storms are a blessing in disguise because these were capable of removing the oil which accumulated in the shorelines. Even sub-surface oils were removed from the ocean, too. By summer, cleaning up with personnel and procedures resumed (Wells, Butler and Hughes, p. 218). Human efforts and the help from the environment was enough to clean the Exxon Valdez oil spill in approximately three years.
After the efforts and responses from women, it becomes the turn of the environment. This actually happened when 378 of the 587 segments of shorelines were treated through the application of bioremediation alone. It didn’t take too long a time until cleaning the oil spill only required simpler techniques like bioremediation (as mentioned earlier), manual clean up and limited use of equipment (Wells, Butler and Hughes, p. 316). If this is how long it takes for a great disaster to be cleaned up, then how can one say that 15 to 20 years is not enough? Let it be a Lesson Learned
It won’t necessarily take 15 to 20 years to clean up the ocean. It may reach that long enough, though, if cleaning up is still done irresponsibly. Clean-up attempts are dangerous. In fact, cleaning up may even be more destructive than the oil spill itself because physical methods and chemicals are needed to eradicate the oil from the waters. If the amount is incorrect or the physical method is done improperly, then further damage can be caused, thereby delaying the cleaning up process and recovery (Alvord and Alvord, p. 77). Oil penetrated deeply into the sea. The spilled oil stays fresh for a couple of years.
In no time, it returns back to the surface. Before it even reaches the surface, the oil should be taken away from the ocean bed because it can kill nearly animals once it reaches the water’s surface. This is a concern of the people who work in cleaning up the oceans, which is why the response in oil spills is relatively fast since the Exxon Valdez caused trauma to a lot of people (Alvord and Alvord, p. 77). Because of the effects of oil on marine life and the quality of sea water, people are alerted – from government, be it local or national, to local residents near the shorelines of oceans.
This alert alone is enough to warn everybody about the adverse effects of oil spill. The Exxon Valdez serves as a living example to help people stop the harmful things they do to the environment. The elimination of harmful acts will surely help in reducing the required clean-up years. Whatever it is that takes 15 to 20 years is not the cleaning procedures at all, but the long-term effects of the spilled oil. Millions of marine creatures are killed and it will take decades before reproduction is active and healthy again. The food we get from the water becomes questionable while tourism and economic depression is experienced.