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Transcript of Oil Spills
By: Kevin Do, Sahil, Panth, and Hussein Man-Made Disasters What are the causes of the problem or disaster? Is there one specific source of the problem, or are there several sources? Which cause or source is the most important? What are the effects of the problem or disaster? Consider the immediate and long-term effects on humans and on the environment. Which cause or source is the most important? There are many effects in an oil spill: How did people deal with it? Was the response to the problem or disaster successful? Why or why not? There are four ways to deal with the oil spill What technology exists to help humans handle the situation, in terms of both prevention and response? What alternatives can you think of in response to the problem? What are the opposing views on your issue/topic? Many people have different thoughts on oil spills. A lot of people say that oil spills are bad for the environment, but Rush Limbaugh, a radio show host, thinks that when an oil spill occurs it should be left alone. He said “The Ocean will take care of this on its own if it was left alone and left out there. It’s natural. It’s as natural as the water is”. But a news reporter from CNN said that oil spills are really harmful to marine life and thousands die from oil spills. My view on this is that oil spills are dangerous and they’re harmful to marine life. Therefore, I disagree with Rush Limbaugh and say that they are not natural and that they are man-made disasters. As humans, we need to clean the mess we make ourselves. There are plenty of ways we can reduce the chances of oil spills. Oil spills happen when people accidentally or intentionally spill oil into the oceans. This could happen when: The most serious cause of the oil spill is that oil leaks out of ships. This is one of the most common things of why oil spills happen. This can be solved with a double hull ship. A double hull ship has two layers beneath the room that holds oil. This means if there is a leak on one layer, in order for the oil to leak out, the other layer must have a leak as well. However, many oil companies still use an oil tanker, which have only one layer, because they are driven by money. A double- hulled ship costs 3 million, while an oil tanker costs only 2 million. An example is the Gulf War. When the Iraqi forces were losing the battle, they opened the valves of oil wells for the oil to spill out everywhere. About 240 million gallons of oil spilled into the Persian Gulf. This is the largest oil spill in history, as only 58.8 million gallons of oil were recovered from the sea. This cleanup happened after the war, which meant it had damaged marine life in the Persian Gulf, and wildlife in the surrounding land, because the oil gets washed ashore. Many environmentalists were doubtful that they could clean up the entire spill, as the oil cleanup had taken place after the war. The first method requires a combination of wind, sun, current, wave action and evaporation. Current has a factor in this because if the water is quick, the harder it is for the oil to evaporate. Wave action is how many waves come down on the oil spill. The lighter the oil, the quicker the oil breaks down. Therefore, if it is thicker or heavier it will take longer for it to naturally break down. This method is the quickest of all four methods. The second method is that we actually pick the oil up. This method requires ships that have really big nets to pick up any oil that has spilled. There are two types of nets, one is for deep cleaning and the other is for any oil that floats. Then the oil that is picked up is put on storage tank on a vessel or near shores. This method is difficult if there are high seas and high winds because high seas can make the oil go deeper and high winds make it move in different directions. The third method requires the dispersants to speed up the process of the first method. The dispersants spread out the oil over the surface, so it can evaporate. This dispersant can do damage to sea grass, deep-water coral and sea food. This method has to be activated within the first hour or two of the oil spill. Decisions have to be made to use this method because it is dangerous to the environment around the dispersant. The last method is to uses these agents to break down oil. It breaks the oil down to some fatty acids and carbon dioxide and this is called biodegradation. Using agents to clean up the mess only works if the oil is on the shoreline. This method uses microorganisms and bacteria to break the oil down. This process can be speed up by adding nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous. The effectiveness depends on whether there is sand or pebbles and if the nutrient is applied pellet or liquid form. An example is that there was an oil spill during the Gulf War (August 1990 to February 1991). This oil spill had over 400 million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf. They used nets to clean this oil spill up in January 1991. This disaster was not successful because there was still a lot of oil left in the Persian Gulf and it will take a long time for nature in the oil spill to get back to normal. This oil spill was one of the biggest oil spills at its time. What are the ongoing concerns affecting the body of water in question, or the country the disaster has struck? There are many concerns that the people of Kuwait in January 1991. It costs the country $15 million per day to clean it up. There was about 450 million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf, which destroyed some of the salt marshes in the Persian Gulf. The area of the oil spill was covering 4000 square miles of ocean. It was an act of war by the Iraqi forces by dumping oil from oil tankers and destroying oil pipes. This oil spill was the biggest in all of history. 450 million gallons of oil was spilled into the ocean. That was is about 80 million barrels of oil that was spilled. The spill was just larger than the size of the Hawaii Island. The oil spill had a depth of four inches. The Iraqi forces tried to slow the American forces from landing in their territory because it was a war that was going on. The salt marshes of the Iraq in the Gulf are all destroyed because oil can do a lot of damage to anybody or anywhere if it is not properly secured. The salt marshes need to recover because of that disaster. This spill killed thousands of seabirds and endangered the Hawksbill bird. A turtle that was affected by this spill was the Green Turtle. Many of these animals lost their lives during this spill and therefore they have become endangered. How people are handling the situation:
- government is devoting part of the taxes towards oil spills
- Kyoto protocol
- G8 summit
- laws are being put into place (U.S: Only double hull ships can be used to transport oil by 2015)
- trying to reduce the amount of dependability humans have on oil (developing technology around alternative energy)
- alternative energy sources being used more often (nuclear, wind, solar, hydro) so oil isn't needed
- media raising awareness of these disasters (Gulf War, 1991)
- trying to create safer ways to transport the oil Technology used to clean up oil spills:
- booms (orange rope like products that contain the oil that is floating on top of the water)
- skimmers (machines that separate oil from water)
- dispersants (liquid substance that breaks up oil)
- BOP (blowout prevention)
- containment domes
- oil skimmers
Fire must be considered when using because it generates carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. Short term effects Long term effects Some short term effects oils spills can have on the environment are that animals can get covered by oil. Birds are one of the most well- known animals to get harmed by oil spills. This is probably because when they get covered by oil; their instinct is to get rid of that oil. Birds clean their feathers with their beak. When the bird cleans its "oiled feathers," it consumes the oil, which is unhealthy for the bird. Another effect is that it can affect the animal's eyes, lungs, and liver. The oil can make the animal blind. This could lead to its death, because if the animal is not able to see its predator, than the predator could eat it. When the oil reaches the animals' lungs and liver, the animal would be poisoned, which leads to its death. Long- term effects can be the birth rate of some animals. When mothers are not healthy, they might not produce healthy offspring, which means that eventually, the species can become extinct. Another effect that is similar to that is when animals find their sources of food extinct; they would eventually become extinct as well. For example, when plankton becomes extinct, killer whales would become extinct if they cannot find any other source of food, or move elsewhere. Another effect is that it can affect the food chain. Many animals that are at the bottom of the food chain can die. That means that the animals who eat those animals need to find another species of animals to eat, or move to another area to find that same species. For example, if an area of ocean gets an oil spill, the krill can die off that area. If krill die off that area, then animals that eat krill, such as whales, need to find another kind of animal to eat, or move into another body of ocean. This food chain is dependant on plankton. If plankton disappears, predators would have to either move to another location where there is plankton, or find another source of food. Gulf War In the Gulf War, most of the short term effects were that animals were caught in the oil. The animal that was most effected was the seabird. The oil was in the route of the West Asian Flyaway, a route that used by birds to get from western Asia and Eastern Africa. More animals, plants, and places that were affected were:
• Tidal Flats- 180 km of them were oiled. The animals living in them were also affected
• Salt Marshes- almost 150km of them were oiled. This resulted in 100 dead crabs per linear metre, and heavy damage to marsh vegetation.
• Mangroves- nearly 14km of them were oiled, resulting in a great abundance of dead organisms
• Fishery- Saudi Arabia's shrimp production and Kuwait's fishing industry were all wiped out
• Birds- Shorebird population decreased about 160 000 and as many as 100 000- 250 000 water birds were killed
• Marine mammals- Nearly 100 marine animals were killed between mid April, 1991 The long-term effects were hard to predict, because the area was affected was very large, and they're needed to have close monitoring, according to "The Energy Library." Explain the environmental concerns surrounding the body or water, country, or issue. Is the body of water a threatened resource? What can be done to help conserve the source of water? When Iraq's sabotage of the oil wells were done, nearly 1 billion barrels of crude oil were lost. There were many issues on this; First of all, oil pools and lakes were formed. These oil pools and lakes ranged from very shallow to as high as 1.5 metres in depth. This changed the natural environment of Kuwait's desert. Usually, the desert is covered with pebbles to protect the sand from being blown into sand dunes. The oil was combined with the pebbles, which created a layer of "tarcrete." This named was dubbed by Farouk El-Baz of Boston University. When this layer hardened, There was this thick layer, which nothing from below could pass. The vegetation around the area was destroyed permanently, because the seeds could not pass the thick layer of tarcrete. Furthermore, this caused a problem that had to be debated by the scientists; if we take the tarcrete out, the sand would form sand dunes that would make the desert bigger. Another problem that happened was all that smoke when the oil caught fire. The smoke was so intense that Kuwait could not see the sun for a very long time. This generated a great amount of air pollution. The smoke also included dangerous chemicals that could be harmful to human health. This included disease and possibly cancer. On the second attack of the Gulf War, Iraq opened more valves of oil, which contaminated the Persian Gulf. This affected the sea life. I would say it is a threatened resource because the Persian Sea or the Persian Gulf is big and the oil spill contaminated 4000 sq. miles or 6437.376 kilometers of the Gulf. Some animals and plants were harmed in the biggest oil spill in history (the Gulf War Oil Spill). The clean water in this area has become less because only 15% of the oil spilled was picked up. Some of the oil has evaporated, but not all the oil has evaporated, because it takes a long time for oil to evaporate. The Persian Gulf has a lot of oil still in it because over a couple million barrels were put into the Gulf by underwater pipes. Some animals were harmed in the process of this oil spill. An example is the seabird. A seabird is a bird that can float on water (like a duck). Lots of them lost their lives because the oil got on their feathers and sunk by the amount of force of the oil on them, or because of the smoke that the oil made which when they were flying, hurt their lungs. Another example is the green turtle; they have green skin and a green shell. When they breathe from the oxygen in the water, it was actually a mix of water and oil, so they were breathing oil. Many animals lost their lives like that. Some plants were harmed in the process of this oil spill. Lots of salt marshes were destroyed in this process. Some of the salt marshes were also contaminated by the oil because they still are recovering from over 20 years. Another plant that was affected was the mangrove plant. The plant was a home to many shrimp and the plant was destroyed. A lot of these plants were contaminated or destroyed in the process. The water around in the Persian Gulf was dwindled by a lot. Clean water was dwindling because there was a lot of oil inside the water, so it got contaminated. There was a lot of oil in the Persian Gulf; only 15% of the oil was picked up. Most of it got evaporated because over time, heat was increasing in the Middle East. There is more clean water, but when the oil got evaporated, it increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Clean water is a growing item that everyone needs. •boats have leaks, and oil spills out, which goes to the ocean •people want to get rid of their oil because it is expensive to decompose the waste oil •natural disasters, such as hurricanes, can flip an oil tank over, which makes an oil spill in the ocean •when two oil tankers collide, oil spills out to the ocean •when 2 or more countries are at war, one country could dump oil into the other country's ocean to get their attention •when 2 or more countries are at war, one country could intentionally make an oil pipeline leak, which lets out millions of gallons of oil leak into the ocean An example of a double hull ship Oil leak form an oil tanker called "Hebei Spirit",
an oil tanker from Hong Kong. Atlantic Empress, 1979, 3rd Biggest oil spill in History.- The Atlantic Empress crashed with The Aegean Captain North Sea leak Our society now days is doing many things to waste water, and people are also unknowingly consuming so much water in their daily lives. This is a problem that is arising now days people are becoming more concerned with the
water, but this is still not enough. There are some other ways that could be used to help with the water footprint. There are some ways that we can conserve the source of water: You could take a shower every other days to have less water use. Also, you can partake in less water related activates. (water gun fights, water parks) It may seem like a bummer, but it will save a lot water, and that is the main goal. You sometimes leave the tap on when you are brushing your teeth because you don't want to take the effort to turn it off and on again, but this wastes water. Just take the effort to turn it off and on again and the water that you will save is amazing. If you take a bath, try to switch to shower; it will really help conserve water because in a bath, you have to fill it up so much that the "water waste" can be used for so many other things, such as drinking water for a family. With a shower, you will still have to use water, but not as much water as in a bath tub. Be careful when handling water; it may seem like a weird way to conserve water, but if you spill a glass of water, then that is a glass of water wasted. Oil spills can be caused by large tanker spills. Large tanker spills are not the only way oil spills are caused. Oil spills can also be caused from a house if it is heated with oil or even boats. Many boats run on oil. These can affect the demand on oil, thus making oil spills more frequent. Some of the ways oil companies can prevent these oil spills from occurring is by checking boats for leaks and all the pipes and hoses to make sure they are in good condition. Some solutions that have been legally put in place is that all U.S. Oil shipping companies must use double hull ships by 2015, a ship with oil in the container and another layer around it, leaving room in between so that in case of an oil spills there is space the oil can fill into without spilling into the ocean. Another way oil companies can prevent is that oil are stored in barrels which are stored in a container so that no oil spills out and onto the deck of the ship, where it can easily spill to the ocean. Oil companies can also make sure there are no leaks in the machinery before fueling or defueling. Other ways are by making sure crew ship members are aware not to “hose away” any oil into the ocean when there is a spill on the main deck. I think people should care more about oil spills like these because carelessness is one of the biggest reasons causing marine life to die. Gulf War Oil Spill- 1991: Biggest oil spill in history Mangrove plants- 14 km of them were oiled Salt marshes- 150km oiled Tidal Flat- 180km were oiled "Tarcrete" Satellite view of the Gulf War oil spill Seabirds U.S planes hovering over the
Kuwait oil fires This pelican is covered by oil. The oil could get into its lungs, eyes, and liver if it is not treated immediatly. It could also try to clean its feathers, so it could eat the oil, and lead to its death. Booms Skimmers