Oil Spills

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Oil Spills Pollution in the ocean is a major problem that is affecting the ocean and the rest of the Earth. Pollution is the ocean directly affects ocean organisms and indirectly affects human heath and resources. Oil spills is one of the harmful materials that are a major source of pollution in the ocean. “Oil spills stem from accidents involving tankers, barges, pipelines, refineries, and storage facilities, often while the oil is being transported to its users.” (NOAA 2012) Based on information from NOAA, oil can be categorized into four different types of oil ranging from very light to heavy oils, which are different depending on each of their viscosity, volatility, and toxicity. Oil’s resistance to flow is known as viscosity. Volatility is described on how fast the oil evaporates into the air. How poisonous the oil is to the organisms and humans is referred to as toxicity. The four different types of oil can affect the environment in extremely different ways. In addition, some oil spills are harder to clean up than others. Most oil has a density less than water, so it floats. Oil tends to spread into a thin layer on the water surface as sheen. Once in the water, oil undergoes weathering, a process that describes the physical, chemical, and biological changes that occur when oil interacts with the environment. “Weathering reduces the more toxic elements in oil products over time, as exposure to air, sunlight, wave and tidal action, and certain microscopic organisms degrades and disperses oil.” (PFMC 2008) Also, weathering rates depend on factors such as type of oil, weather, temperature, and the type of shoreline and bottom that occur in the spill area.
One of the types of oil spills is a very light oil spill, which is highly volatile and concentrations of toxic compounds. Very light oil spills tend to evaporate quickly, which are one of the most acutely toxic oils and generally affect aquatic life that live in upper water column. Also, very light oil



Bibliography: NOAA 2012. Research for oil spills. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, How Toxic is Oil? Available from: http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/oil-and-chemical-spills/significant-incidents/exxon-valdez-oil-spill/how-toxic-oil.html NOAA 2012. Research for oil spills. Silver Springs, MD. US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Undersea Research Program. Available from: http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/oil-and-chemical-spills/oil-spills NRDC 2005. [Last revised 3/10/2005] National Resource Defense Council. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Oil Development Damages Air, Water and Wildlife. New York, NY: Web Page article: Main page/Life on the Coastal Plain/Damage Caused by Oil Development. Available from: www.nrdc.org/land/wilderness/arcticrefuge/facts2.asp PFMC 2008. Pacific Fishery Management Council, PROJECT TITLE: The Ecological Role of Natural Reefs and Oil and Gas Production Platforms on Rocky Reef Fishes in Southern California. Available from: www.pcouncil.org/bb/2005/0605/ag_c3d_pc1_pt10.pdf-2005-06-08

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