A Japanese-owned oil tanker hit a Mauritius reef on July 25. An extended inaction was threatening to cause ecological catastrophe until the requisite steps were finally taken.
The tanker was carrying nearly 4,000 metric tonnes of fuel oil and ran aground at Pointe d’Esny, an island in the Indian Ocean.
The vessel’s hull cracked open, leaking more than thousands of tons of fuel. The problem escalated so much that the Mauritius government had to declare an environmental emergency.
The truth is, many such cases frequently occur in the ocean. Imagine the impact on the marine environment!
Yes, you can say that the best way to prevent oil spillage is not to let it happen in the first place. But the truth is, even a small leak in the pipeline or other equipment can lead to oil spillage. So like it or not, you’ve got to know the solutions for oil spills.
How To Tackle Oil Spills?
Dealing with oil spillages depends on many factors, such as the type and quantity of oil involved and its location.
Oil can float on the ocean’s surface because it has a lower density than that water. To ensure that cleanup is as effective and quick as possible after an oil spillage before it spreads.
Here are a few ways of dealing with oil spillages.
Have a look.
After the Grande America cargo ship sank off the French coast in March 2019, oil was removed from the sea’s surface by essentially scooping it up.
Booms are used to stopping the oil from spreading. Boats equipped with “skimmer” machines can absorb the oil and separate the water from it. The oil can be recycled after it has been processed.
A vessel places an oil spillage boom at high seas to stop more oil from spreading. Although it seems simple, this method only works if the oil is in the right place and under the right conditions.
Letting The Oil Burn Off Water
Sometimes, it is the best option to burn the oil from the water’s surface. It might be the only solution in arctic or other ice-covered water.
Uncontrolled oil leakage could be addressed by in situ burning (ISB). This is usually used where a large quantity of oil is rapidly leaking.
The largest oil spillage in history occurred when oil gushed from deep below the seabed after the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling rig caught fire. The ISB technique worked effectively back then.
However, the process can also produce toxic fumes that can have a detrimental impact on the environment.
Absorbents are good for the environment. They act like a sponge to absorb oil spilled on the ground. They are more effective at clearing small amounts on the ground than they are at tackling oil spillages out at sea. These materials can actually cause more pollution.
Experts disagree on the effectiveness of different absorbent material types – from natural products like straw to synthetics engineered by scientists to combat oil spillages.
Leave It On Nature
Nature can assist if the oil spillage area is too far away or difficult to reach. The oil will be dispersed naturally by wind and waves, some oil will evaporate, and natural microbes will begin to break down the oil.
This is a slow, unreliable process and must be carefully monitored. However, it should not be confused with sitting back and doing nothing.
Using Chemical Agents
Chemical agents can also assist this process.
Although dispersants aren’t toxic, they can cause environmental problems if used in shallower or more protected waters. The oil can spread more easily in this situation because of the dispersants.
Oil spillages are bad and should be dealt with immediately. However, dealing haphazardly or delaying the process can do more harm than good. Make sure you understand the above-stated solutions and be prepared should your facility face such a problem next time.
And remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to oil spillages!