Environmental Ethics Issue on Oil Spills

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Environmental Ethics Issue on Oil Spills

Environmental Ethics Issue on Oil Spills

The environmental ethics issue that I chose to examine in this paper is the petroleum industry and its long history of oil spills which damage the ocean’s ecology, runes beaches, kills animals, and threatens the fishing and shrimping industries. Even though the United States and many other countries depend on the oil carried by ships or drilled for on off shore drilling rigs, the damage done by this industry is significant. Cleaning up an oil spill takes a massive effort, is expensive and not always effective. Alternatives to off shore oil drilling and transporting oil by ship need to be explored because of the damage it does to the environment. What is Petroleum?

Petroleum are like others may call it crude oil is a naturally occurring, toxic, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights, and other organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth’s surface (Wikipedia 2010). Why do we Need Oil?

The United States uses about 700 million gallons of oil every day and the world uses nearly 3 billion gallons each day (Office of Response and Restoration, 2008). What do we use all of this oil for? Oil is used to make fuel for cars, trucks, and busses. It is also used to make diesel fuel, jet fuel, kerosene, and liquefied petroleum gas. We use it to heat many homes in the winter. There are many homes in the U.S. that would use it of cooking. It is used to lubricate machinery from bicycles to printing presses and to make asphalt to pave roads. Additionally, it is used to make plastic, medicine, ink, fertilizers, pesticides, paints, ink, crayons, bubble gum, dishwashing liquids, deodorant, eye glasses, CDs, DVDs, and electricity. It is also used to make wax which in turned is used when packaging frozen foods, among others things that may be packaging in a wax produced. One barrel of crude oil, when refined, produces about 19 gallons of finished motor gasoline, and 10 gallons of diesel, as well as other petroleum products. What Causes Oil Spills?

Most oil spills happen when oil is being transported but some are the result of oil rig accidents or explosions. Some occur naturally or are the results of natural disasters and still others are deliberate acts. Some oil lies under the ocean floor and can seep into the ocean through cracks. It is estimated that as much as 1.5 million barrels of oil may enter the ocean environment this way each year (Oil Spills, 2000). During the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq deliberately released 240-460 million gallons of crude oil into the Persian Gulf. This was the largest oil spill in history and covered 600 square miles of sea surface and blackened 300 miles of coastline (Oil Spills, 2000). On July 15, 2006 in Beirut, Lebanon, the Israeli navy bombed the Jieh coast power station releasing between three and 10 million gallons of oil (Infoplease, 2000-2009). Nearly 100 miles of coastline were affected. . The Coast Guard estimates that incidents resulting from Hurricane Katrina released seven million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. 113 drilling platforms were destroyed and 457 pipelines were damaged. Leaks were reported from 124 different sources including pipelines, storage tanks, and industrial plants. The oil spills resulting from Katrina were considered minor because actions were taken before the storm arrived. Wells and platforms were shut down before the storm arrived. However, the pipelines were not purged and it is believed that the majority of the oil that leaked into the gulf came from them. What Happens in an Oil Spill?

When oil mixes with water, it contaminates the water making it poisonous to fish and wildlife. Just one quart of oil may pollute up to 150,000 gallons of water (Oil Spills, 2000). Oil spreads out over the surface of the water and is harmful to marine birds and mammals as well as fish and...
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