Oil spills Solutions

Oil spills: Prevention and Response

When Oil spills into rivers, bays, and the ocean are caused by accidents involving tankers, barges, pipelines, refineries, and storage facilities, usually while the oil is being transported. One of the larges spills known to United States is Exxon Valdez spill which spilled into Prince William Sound, Alaska in March 1989. An oil tanker ran aground to cause this spill of almost 11 million gallons of crude oil. Even though it was a big spill, it was actually only a small portion less than 2 percent of what the United States uses in 1 day, which sounds really outrageous.

To deal with the environmental threats caused by petroleum and non-petroleum oils, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established a program designed to prevent oil spills. The program has drastically reduced the number of spills, it is also designed to get ready for and respond to any oil spill affecting the inland waters of the United States.

EPA's oil programs main purpose is to respond to the spills and prevent them.  They have been preventing a lot of spills, has a long history of responding to oil spills.  They also have responded to one of the biggest spills, and put together additional information to help prevent and aid with the responding to spills.

Spills can be caused by...

·         People making mistakes or reckless endangerment.

·         Equipment malfunction.

·         Natural disasters such as hurricanes.

·         Intentional acts by terrorist groups, waged wars on countries, vandalism, or illegal dumpers.

Once oil has spilled, states, and Federal government agencies as well as volunteer organizations respond to the incident, depending on the department that’s needed. There are many different things that can be done to clean up the spill.

According to http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/kids/spills.html there are different ways of addressing oil spills but here are some popular methods:

·         Sorbents, which are big sponges used to absorb oil.

·         chemical dispersants and biological agents, which break down the oil into its chemical constituents.

·         in-situ burning, which is a method of burning freshly-spilled oil, usually while it's floating on the water.

·         washing oil off beaches with either high-pressure or low-pressure hoses.

·         vacuum trucks, which can vacuum spilled oil off of beaches or the water surface.

·         shovels and road equipment, which are sometimes used to pick up oil or move oiled beach sand and gravel down to where it can be cleaned by being tumbled around in the waves.

“Different cleanup methods work on different types of beaches and with different kinds of oil. For example, road equipment works very well on sand beaches, but can't be used in marshes or on beaches with big boulders or cobble (rounded stones that are larger than pebbles, but smaller than boulders).”

According to EPA’s website the best way we can best avoid the environmental and economic effects of oil spills by preventing and containing them in the first place. For more than two decades, EPA's Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures, or SPCC program, has worked at several hundred thousand oil storage facilities to prevent the discharge of all kinds of oil into the waters of the United States. EPA's approach to preventing oil spills combines planning and enforcement measures. To prevent oil spills, EPA requires owners or operators of certain oil storage facilities to prepare and implement SPCC Plans that detail the facility's spill prevention and control measures. EPA also enforces the oil spill liability and penalty provisions under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which provide incentives to facility owners/operators to take the necessary steps to prevent oil spills. EPA also conducts on-site facility inspections to ensure that facilities take adequate measures to prevent an accidental discharge.