Oil spills – Part 3 in a multi-part series about the environment

According to Marineinsight.com, an oil spill is when there is a contamination in the ocean due to oil being spilled, because of a accident and/or an error made by a human. Oil spills come in many different sizes. Climateiknterpreter.org reports that there are about 20,000 oil spills each year. These range from being small and quickly contained, to very large and taking a while to contain.

During the Gulf War, in 1991, there were about 240 to 336 million gallons of oil spilt. This happened because Iraq opened the oil wells and pipelines. This is was the largest oil spill, caused on purpose, history has ever seen. This spill affected the coral ecosystem and local fisheries.

Another large oil spill was the Deepwater Horizon plant spill in 2010. As reported by Telegraph.co.uk, this spill happened in the Gulf of Mexico. There were about 210 million gallons of oil that ended up in the ocean. This spill flowed for over three months: April 20, 2010 to July 15, 2010. This became the largest accidental spill in the history of the petroleum industry. This spill killed 11 men that were working on the plant platform, and injured 17 others. The leak was stopped by capping the wellhead after it spilled around 4.9 million barrels of oil – crude to be exact. This meant that about 53,000 barrels escaped each day. This affected the the marine and wildlife habitats, as well as Gulf’s fishing and tourism industry.

If you have a small vessel, there is a checklist to go through to prevent small spills. The first thing would be, tighten bolts on the engine. The bolts can loosen due to shaking while the engine is being used. The next thing would be, replace cracked or worn lines and fittings before they get lose and fall out. There is also a checklist for filling up your vessel. The first thing is to avoid overflows when refueling; you should know what the capacity of your tank and nosing you should leave room for the fuel to expand. The next thing is to use an absorbent pad to catch any drips. For more information about this, please visit: Responde.restoration.noaa.gov

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