Oil Spills and consequences

The recent oil spill in a part of the Chennai coastline is indeed a tragic incident. It has affected both the marine life and the local community as well. An oil spill is the release of liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment especially in water bodies or marine areas. It is a kind of artificial disaster and a form of environmental pollution.

There are several reasons for oil spills. Accidental release of crude oil from tankers, collision of ships carrying oil or oil tankers, drilling rigs and wells, etc. are some of them. Oils spills affect marine life adversely. They are a major cause of water pollution. The oil spills penetrate into the marine structures and often into the fur of mammals and birds. These affected species become less buoyant in water bodies. The accumulated Oil also reduces their capacity to insulate and make them vulnerable to temperature fluctuations. The strong scent of oil makes it difficult for the animals living in the water bodies to find their babies or mothers as it covers their actual natural body scents. This can lead a baby to become abandoned and eventually it can starve and die.

Cleaning of sea or water bodies from these oil spills is not an easy task. Spills may take a very long time to get cleaned that too not totally. Bioremediation or the use of microorganisms or biological agents for removal of the oil is a good method. These agents breakdown the oil and remove it. Some examples of such agents are bacteria Alcanivorax or Methylocella Silvestris. Other methods include controlled burning, using of dispersants, bioremediation accelerators, etc.

A major way to manage and mitigate this disaster is to constantly monitor and remain periodically updated regarding spills. A timely advice from Indian National Centre for ocean information services is mandatory to forecast the course of an oil spill. The National oil spill Disaster contingency plan under the coast Guard has to be updated periodically. Prevention is a better method as always. Therefore, methods like double hulling of vessels, secondary containment or methods to prevent release of oil at all, etc. can help a lot in prevention of disasters like oil spills.

Source: xaam.in

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