Every year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, 1.3 million gallons of oil are spilled into U.S. waters from vessels and pipelines in a typical year. A major oil spill could easily double that amount (Thompson, "The Science and History of Oil Spills"). These oil spills not only destroy thousands of miles of oceans, they also cause billions of dollars worth of destruction to an economy. Oil spills occur when there is an accidental or intentional release of oil during any point in the oil production process. Oil spills are most common when a pipeline breaks, ships collide or are grounded, underground storage tanks leak, or when an oil rig explodes or is damaged (Thompson, "The Science and History of Oil Spills"). Another common, naturally occurring, cause of oil spills is when oil is released into the ocean through natural oil seeps on the ocean floor.
The true cost of oil spills goes way beyond just dollar signs and numbers. Dagmar Edgar Schmidt stated, “The costs associated with cleaning up an oil spill are strongly influenced by the circumstances surrounding the spill including: the type of product spilled; the location and timing of the spill; sensitive areas affected or threatened; liability limits in place; local and national laws; and cleanup strategy”. A major cost associated with oil spills is affect oil spills have on wildlife. As the oil floats and spreads through the ocean, thick, water-repelling gunk coats marine animals, birds, coral, and their habitats. Bird’s lose their ability to fly, trap air and repel water which means they can’t maintain homeostasis. Marine animals also lose their ability to maintain homeostasis and both these types of animals can suffer from hypothermia. As fish are coated with oil, ...
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... contained area on the surface of the water, which has negative effects on the environment such as plant damage, long-term impacts on vegetation, and residues that are difficult to remove. Responders also used 5.5 million feet of boom, a barrier placed in water, to collect and absorb oil ("11 Facts About the BP Oil Spill"). Over 8,000 animals (birds, turtles, and mammals) were reported dead just 6 months after the spill, including many that were already on the endangered species list ("11 Facts About the BP Oil Spill").
Despite taking precautions and proper management of oil production, oil spills are inevitable. Oil spills are going to destroy habitats, animal species, and public and private use of water. The only way we can counterattack oil spills is through quick and efficient clean up methods and to, hopefully, find an alternate source of energy in the future.
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