Mar 09 2011
In class yesterday we learned about the worst oil spill in the United States until last summer, the Exxon Valdez.
History: In 1989 Mr. Hazelwood was drunk driving a huge ship in Alaska named the Valdez, which was carrying oil for the company Exxon. The ship collided with some coral and since it was only single hulled, it caused a huge hole in the ship spilling oil. An estimated 257,000 barrels of oil was released into the ocean.
Impact: The oil had a negative effect on the Alaskan wildlife. For birds, the oil weighed down their feathers, making it impossible f0r them to fly and insulate themselves. Birds that did not freeze to death died because they ingested the oil trying to clean it off. The sea
otters that lived in the area were in jeopardy as
well; oil also destroyed their insulation and it caused damage totheir eyes, lungs, and intestines.
Clean Up Methods: The Coast Guard uses physical, chemical, and biological remedies to get rid of an oil spill
Skimmers: Since oil is less dense than water, they could skim the oil off the surface of the water using skimmers
Booms: Booms corral oil, not allowing it to spread out and making it easier to skim
Dispersants: dispersants are oil solvents that can break it down into smaller parts, giving it more surface area so that the natural bacteria in the ocean can help get rid of it faster
Bioremediation: bioremediation is when scientists use a ‘fertilizer’ to force the natural bacteria in the environment to reproduce, resulting in a larger population that can clean up the oil
Comparison to BP Spill: The spill last summer in the Gulf of Mexico was not caused by an oil tanker, but by an explosion in a drilling rig, which was about a mile underwater. This made it harder to stop the oil from leaking into the ocean. By the time they finally could, around 4.9 millions barrels of oil had been released in the Gulf of Mexico, almost ten times more oil than the Exxon Valdez.
Sources of Petroleum Input in Oceans Each Year on Average (Metric Tons):
1. Natural Seeps (600,000)
3. Transport (150,000) – Valdez incident
4. Extraction(38,000) – BP incident
Legislation:Response to the Valdez
Oil Pollution Act (1990) – requires oil companies to have double hulled boats, and requires companies to pay a fine for the damage as well as pay for the clean up.
Exxon Valdez: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/03/photogalleries/exxon-valdez-anniversary/images/primary/090323-03-valdez-tanker_big.jpg
Gulf Oil Spill: