The chemical composition of oil mixes with the water and creates a new substance known as "mousse." In its first month, BP spilled 30 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, three times the Exxon Valdez oil spill. An oil spill can have a major impact on the economy in coastal areas. It placed a moratorium on the building of new oil refineries and also a number of rules regarding the transport of oil. These effects can be aggravated by severe weather conditions.An example in this sense is the Murphy oil spill (due to the failure of a storage tank at the Murphy Oil USA refinery) that had particularly affected residential areas in Louisiana. Other causes include natural disasters or deliberate acts. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. 2015. Map depicting the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, caused by the explosion of an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana on April 20, 2010. An oil spill can have a major impact on the economy in coastal areas. The damage is hard to measure and contain, since it can effect complex ecosystems and spread if introduced to underground water. Jason Chavis has been a professional freelance writer since 1998. But many of the long-term effects from the spill cannot be seen with the naked eye. These toxic compounds can cause severe health problems like heart damage, stunted growth, immune system effects, and even death. Thus, the oxygen withholding capacity and the percentage of oxygen in water decreases. The general fate and transport of spilled oil dictates its environmental effects and mainly … During and after an oil spill, animals can suffer detrimental effects on their fur and feathers. Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. Oil spills in ice are more complicated to address than oil spills in open waters. An oil spill is any arbitrary discharge of liquid oil (crude or refined) that results in polluting the land, air, and water thereby, hurting the entire ecosystem. The effects of an oil spill will depend on a variety of factors including, the quantity and type of oil spilled, and how it interacts with the marine environment. Understanding both types of impacts can help spill responders minimize overall impacts to ecological communities and help them to recover much more quickly. The BP oil spill began when the Deepwater Horizon rig suffered an explosion on April 20, 2010. 56–59, doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.05.043, Harwell, Mark A., and John H. Gentile. 20, 2014, pp. Efforts are under way to keep the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from reaching birds, mammals and critical shoreline habitats, but some marine biologists worry about the effects of the oil slick and the use of chemical dispersants on life underwater. When a massive amount of oil is spilled into these areas, it harms the health of marine life. This mousse becomes even more sticky than oil alone, causing it to stick to organisms and materials much more readily. Attempts to remove the oil through preening also causes birds to swallow oil, which causes severe organ damage. Yet small oil spills and leaks, such as a damaged jet ski, leaking motorboat, illegally dumped quarts of motor oil, or runoff from road pollution can be just as deadly to birds and other wildlife. Effects of oil spills When oil is spilled or leaked into in waterways and the ocean, it spreads very quickly with the help of wind and currents. 2008. Even when lethal impacts are not observed, oil can make fish and shellfish unsafe for humans to eat. With much of their ecosystem destroyed, the tribes were forced to rely on government assistance to continue their lives in the area. Spilled oil can harm living things because its chemical constituents are poisonous. “Experimental and Modeled Thermoregulatory Costs of Repeated Sublethal Oil Exposure in the Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax Auritus.” Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA, 2001. 84, 2014, pp. The plaintiffs were ultimately awarded $287 million in compensatory damages and $380.6 million in punitive damages. A small percentage of oil may dissolve in the water. This is seen in animals in the immediate vicinity of the oil spill and also by animals farther up the food chain. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill: How Much Oil Remains? , How Does High-pressure, Hot-water Washing Clean up Spilled Oil? Oil spills have a number of effects on the environment and economy. Both surfa… Overall, the effects of an oil spill depend on a variety of factors, including the weather and other environmental conditions, the composition of the oil and how close it gets to shore. 889-916, doi:10.1080/10807039.2013.828513. This means more barrels have to be imported from other countries. Some of the soluble components and emulsions are poisonous, particularly to small organisms that do not have protective coverings or shells- Fish larvae, single celled algae and many kinds of plankton are vulnerable and these are the basic foundation of the marine food chain. Even when marine mammals escape the immediate effects, an oil spill can contaminate their food supply. In general, oil spills can affect animals and plants in two ways: from the oil itself and from the response or cleanup operations. Prevailing weather conditions will also influence the oil’s physical characteristics and its behaviour. The second major effect of the oil spill is seen on the economy. Following an oil spill, there are specialists and veterinarians to deal with oiled wildlife. If a fish consumes a small amount of oil, it can survive, but may pass on that oil to another animal far away from the site, causing its death. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill constituted an ecosystem-level injury in the northern Gulf of Mexico. When the oil is spilled, the water does not mix with oil thus creating a sheen of oil floating on the water. Of the 126 workers at the site that day, 11 were killed by the blast. Opponents worried about the possible effects of an oil spill on land in a protected habitat. “Catastrophic Spill Event Analysis: High-Volume, Extended-Duration Oil Spill Resulting from Loss of Well Control on the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf.” Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. “Oil Pipelines and Spills.” Auburn University. Oil spill, leakage of petroleum onto the surface of a large body of water. Every time an oil spill occurs, the public looses faith in the oil companies' ability to control this dangerous but needed product. Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. Fish may be the most affected in the case of an oil spill. Background information for ocean affairs workshop on inputs, fates, and effects of petroleum in the marine environment, May 1973, Airlie, Virginia. An oil spill could have potentially disastrous effects on land. Of the 126 workers at the site that day, 11 were killed by the blast. Cecilia D. Alimen. Through the use of the clean-up methods just mentioned, oil may look like it is gone but in fact it can persist in the environment for decades. Oil-drenched seabirds have become the prevailing image of the effects of oil spills, with the chemicals released by oil spills having the ability to disrupt their bodily functions to such an extent that biologist Sylvia Gaust argued that killing oil-soaked birds would be kinder than cleaning them. The oil has contaminated water and gives them sinus problems. Oil toxicity: Oil consists of many different toxic compounds. When oil eventually stops floating on the … "Questions and Answers About the Spill." 241-250, doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.02.002. The 4 million barrels of crude oil that spilled into the ocean over the ensuing 3 months also carried a significant environmental impact, … The damage is hard to measure and contain, since it can effect complex ecosystems and spread if introduced to underground water. Aquatic beings cannot thrive in toxic environment and that makes oil pollution a disservice to them. PAH, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, is a chemical that is carcinogenic in high concentrations and can interfere with biological processes. This becomes even more expensive when a location is remote. Factors such as oil-biodegradation, ocean currents and response measures (dispersants, burning) reduced coastal o … One example of this is with the native Inuit peoples near the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989. Among those that gained worldwide attention were the oil leaks due to a ruptured well in the Timor Sea in 2009 and a similar incident in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. 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