The naturally occurring petroleum seeps or oil seeps is the main natural cause of oil spill. However, very little amount of oil gushes out in these vents and have little effect on the environment. The oil seeps are like springs of hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon compounds in liquid or gaseous forms. Oil leaks into the ground that is quite similar on how freshwater springs occur. Oil sometimes seeps out on the folds underground until it makes it on the earth’s surface. The oil that made its way out of the earth’s surface is transformed from a colorless liquid into a tar-like substance also known as asphaltum.
Some of the components of oil are lost due to evaporation, while what is left is exposed to oxidation and degradation of bacteria transforming it into an end product of a black, heavy and sticky substance (California Department of Conservation n. p. ). Oil is always found beneath the earth where there are several tectonic activities taking place. It is also known that beneath the earth surface the temperatures are extremely highly. The high temperature increases the pressure of liquid and gaseous matter in the crust. The materials attempt to find their way out as oil gushes or spills on land and ocean floors.
In fact in areas where oil reservoirs are abundant little oil prospecting and probations dare carried out. It is because the discovery is easily done by just checking areas where oil naturally gushes out of the ground. In the oceans, the oceanic crusts are always relatively narrow meaning that it lays close to the oil deposits. This is seen mostly on oceans and seas with deep floors. They are therefore very vulnerable to oil seepage. On the lands and in the bottom of the oceans where plenty of oil is found, the oil spills are common. Crude oil seeps from the rocks and comes to the surface of the ocean.
Areas where this is common are those near the continental shelf such as shores of Southern Carolina and Gulf of Mexico (Stewart n. p. ). Industrial Sources A lot of industries are in need of oil and other sources of energy. Oil spill caused by industries and man’s activities have many subcategories. The causes are wide ranging but the effect on the environment is the same. • Oil Extraction and Shipment Many industries participate in oil related activities. There are industries that are directly involved with oil while others engage in oil products shipment and in any of the stages spillages can occur due to errors.
Some companies mining the oil both in the land and in sea are prone to causing accidents related to oil. The mining equipment may be faulty after wearing out from continuous use. Oil spills from oilrigs are also another source but they are not as common as often as oil spills from oil tankers. The pipes that deliver those oils in the mines may as well burst out leading to spillage like in the case of the Mexican gulf. Transporting companies use either tankers or long pipelines. Accidents that occur during packaging, loading and unloading of oil from oil tankers may cause most of the oil spills on both the land and the sea.
Furthermore, during transportation, tankers can be engaged in road accidents that lead to vast oil spillage on land. • Attacks by Terrorists or Leftist Groups In some cases, oil pipelines encounter vandalism cases and unexpected bursts though not very common. When vandalism occurs on a pipeline a lot of oil may spill out before the fault is corrected. Moreover, oil wells are attacked and vandalized by thugs or people with ulterior motives. Countries that are involved in war with other one another may as well experience their wells being bombed. The destroyed wells may remain to gush out large barrels of oil to the surface.
Examples are oil fields in Iran and Iraqi most, which were damaged during the war between the two countries as well as during the American invasion to Iraqi. When countries are at war, one country may decide to dump oil at another country’s oceans to put the country on fire or the destroy some of the resources of the country and to weaken their offense. Terrorists and leftist groups may also decide to dump oil spills on one’s country’s ocean in order to catch the government’s attention or may also be a form of attack (“Oil Spills” n. p. ). • Improper Waste Disposal
Used oil is a waste that is quite difficult to dispose in order not to harm the environment. Some industries or companies dispose used oil in oceans and other bodies of water to save them a lot of money that is needed to decompose the used oil. This particular activity is illegal; however, there are some companies who do not dispose their wastes properly (“Oil Spills” n. p. ). It is of vital importance to dispose the waste products, especially used oil, as it needed a long time for natural decomposition. • Natural Disasters There are instances that hurricanes and strong typhoons that may hit the water and cause accidents on the seas.
These natural disasters may cause some of the oil tankers and ships to topple over and capsize and spill the oil contained in it (“Oil Spills” n. p. ). The disasters may hit the land and affect some of the oil refineries and may cause an unwanted leakage of breaks on the different parts of the various systems. Earthquakes may also cause damage on the equipments and pipelines on the extraction of oil from underground. Effects of Oil Spills Oil spills are a great disaster for the life on Earth especially to the marine life. Many species of fish and other marine animals have disappeared.
The effects of oil spills in the environment and in the economy can be realized after some time. The countries, which cause these spills, cannot prevent this from happening as they argue that they do not have solutions for cleaning oil spills. However, there are certain solutions that have been developed for the prevention of oil spills. • Effects on the Seas Oil spill is definitely one of the prominent environmental problems that we currently faced due to modernization. Oil spill has troubling and detrimental effects not only on the environment but as well as on human lives.
Oil spills at the seas and oceans have disastrous effects on the marine environment and marine life. The oil spills harm the marine life in the short term causing toxicity and fatality. The damage caused in the end will be on a much larger scale. Marine life creatures suffered the most in oil spills. Water is the habitat for a wide array of marine species. The immediate effect of oil spill is the water being toxic that may the mortality of marine’s flora and fauna. The oil poisons the different sea plants and weeds which serve as food and shelter to many fishes.
The toxic substances disrupt the food chain and process of reproduction in the marine ecosystems. Wildlife that live nearby coastal areas or land animals that feed on the marine animals may also be affected by the oil spill (Advameg, Inc n. p. ). Hypothermia in marine creatures and birds that live in nearby coastal areas is the main effect of oil spill to wildlife. The oil slick into the feathers and fur of some of the marine animals and affect the natural body processes like insulation and controlling of body temperature. Hypothermia will lead to death of most marine animals.
Many marine animals can also ingest oil that may affect their different internal organs and poisons them. A lot of animals became a victim of predation as the oil affect their natural habitat as well as their body systems that they used in protecting themselves to predators. The oil can blind the animal disabling them to see the threats. Also, the body reflexes of some animals and motor skills of some animals are affected because of the diseased water. Lastly, the reproductive systems and capabilities of some animals are greatly affected by the oil and hindering their reproduction and may pose the danger of extinction (Sherman n.
p. ). In the long run, when the oil is decomposed in the seas, many toxic substances are developed affecting the food chain in the ocean. As the bigger fish consume the smaller fish, the larger ones are also contaminated because of the toxic material that is present in the smaller fish. However, there are certain factors cited by Boehm and Sage that contribute to the impact of oil spill in an ocean. These factors are: (a) The chemical and physical properties of the oil (b) The pathways that take oil and/or its component chemical compounds to a receptor
(c) The ways in which these receptors encounter and interact with the spilled oil (d) The Background exposure i. e, the non-spill related exposure to the same chemicals as found in petroleum, unrelated to the spill, but present in the environment in the spill area (Boehm and Sage pp. 419-420). • Effects on the Industry The environmental effects are only a slice of a bigger problem as there are various industries that will be affected by oil spills. The fishing industry is tormented whenever there is an oil spill.
Commercial fishing suffers greatly as the quality and quantity of catch decreased steeply. Moreover, safety is a primary concern since most of fishes in the oil spill site ingested oil that may also be toxic to humans. Humans can ingest the oil by eating fishes that are contaminated by oil. The article written by the members of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center explains the long-term effects on the fishing industry of crude oil leaks in oceans. Many economic problems can be caught by the fish industry in the future because of the contamination of fish from crude oil.
The demand of fish falls whenever there are oil spills in the water as these fish are not good for the health of the human beings. Taking the example of Exxon Valdez oil spill and its impacts, the article contributes a lot of understanding towards the impact of Polycyclic Hydrocarbons (PAH). According to the article, there is evidence that exposure to hydrocarbon in oil spills can cause reduced survival rates and growth rates of fish. Not only are these but also there are evidences that oil spills can lead to morphological abnormalities in fish.
Many fish species can become extinct in the future because of the combination of contaminated habitat, hard winters, less exposure to sunlight, predators, excess fishing, decreased food availability and erosion of population (Short p. 515). This will leave the fishing industry in a disaster. Resorts and recreational centers that are located on the coastal areas are also largely affected by oil spills. The pristine beauty of some resorts and beaches will be tarnished and guests will no longer consider booking on sites near the oil spill.
The decline on guests and visitors will also mean decrease on profits and revenues. Thus, livelihood of local fishermen and employees of some of the affected industries will be greatly impacted by the oil spill. In some countries where fishing is a source of income, fishermen will live in poor conditions and will have a chain reaction of other economic problems such as unemployment and poverty. • Effects on the Economy Oil spills bring with them very bad affects on the economic conditions on the country where they occur.
The economy of the country will be badly affected by oil spill. The country has to bear huge costs of cleaning up the beaches, the shores and the surface of the ocean where oil spill has occurred. A large sum of money is needed to clean up the oil spill and to sustain the remaining marine life in the area. The economy is also affected because of the cessation of fish catches and production. In some countries or localities that hugely rely on fishing as their main industry will be greatly affected. The fishing market and industry will suffer because of the oil spill.
The countries or areas that are affected by oil spills will experience a sudden decrease on tourists even if it is the high time for tourist because of the oil spills. Tourism, especially of countries and beaches, is largely affected by the oil spills as tourists will not go a place just to see a ruined ecosystem. Oil, with no doubt, is one of the products that literally runs and dictates the economies of the world and no wonder that it has been tagged as the black gold. The availability of oil will dictate the prices at which all products are sold from industrial goods to any agricultural product.
In the transport sector, it plays a mammoth role in determining the fares and freight charges. Bus companies and airlines squarely peg their charges on world prices of oil. Governments set their budgets depending on the prospected changes in oil prices and how that would affect the energy sector. To the consumers in any country, it spells out as high costs of almost all items. All these can be e experienced in events of oil spillage since the companies wish to compensate for their loses that they make hence hiking the oil prices.
Other than that, they hike the price to cater for the cleanup costs, which in most cases amount to billions and billions of dollars. For example according to an article of Huffington Post, in the case of the present oil spill in the Mexican Gulf, the BP company estimates to have incurred lose of $25 billion US dollars. Since BP is one of the leading oil distributer, the effect of recovery will eventually be felt by the world. Furthermore, the company’s shares have been tumbling in the market drastically due to the spillage (York n. p. ). The Toxic Effects
Undeniably, oil has a wide array of toxic effects on all life forms. Man and animals are greatly affected by oil’s toxicity. Many organs will dysfunction as toxins slowly creep into the various body systems. High toxic levels due to oil spill can be fatal for man and animals. Thus, it will largely affect the food chain and biodiversity in certain ecosystems. In the 2010 BP Company’s Portrait Award for Artist, whose painting depicts issues related to BP activities, there was the picture by Daphne Todd, which was awarded as the picture of the year.
The painting named as the “last portrait of my mother” depicts a weary and emaciated yellow woman lying on a white bed (Allen n. p. ). The emaciated body is the probably caused by the woman having stayed so long without food due to wiping out fish in the waters. Alternatively, could be due to having eaten oil-poisoned food, which were obtained from the oil spill area. The woman’s body, which is yellow, is almost like color of oil showing that she could have been forced to bath in the oil-polluted water since the oil had covered the entire water surface. The yellow skin can as well indicate the toxicity of oil, which turns the sin to yellow.
The portrait surely shows somebody who is dying and not much can be done to reverse her fate. An indication that severe oil spills can lead to tremendous effects in the health of people. Oil and its derivatives emit high levels of toxic substances. Especially in crude oil, the toxicity is high when it combines with the molecules of other materials, decomposed or exposed to sunlight. Even after the cleanup of the oil from surface of the ocean or from the shores the PAH can cause damages to the environment and the existence of fish in the long term (Boehm and Sage p. 420).
Subject: Natural Sources,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 14 October 2016
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