The effects of oil spills on society
Modern advancements in technology and demand for fuel have increased the need for oil across the world. From using dedicated pipelines to large tankers, there are numerous delivery methods that logistics companies use to deliver oil all over the globe. When any amount of oil is released into the water or land, the disastrous event is known as an oil spill. This can happen when a huge oil tanker sinks into the sea or when oil trucks have accidents and spill the oil on land. The purpose of this article is to analyze the environmental, economic and social effects of oil spills.
Oil spills have a very negative effect on the environment. Spilled oil is a big threat to freshwater and saltwater marine environments. Oil spills cause physical damages that directly impact wildlife and their habitats. At a microscopic level, toxins released from the oil diminish the number of plankton in an area. Because of the extra layer of oil on the surface of the water, birds are forced to dive through the oil to catch fish. As a result of this, oil residue builds on their feathers and when the birds try to clean themselves, they ingest toxins. Moreover, birds get covered with oil die from drowning, loss of body heat and starvation.
Parts of the oil layer sometimes also sink towards the bottom of the body of water. This damages sea life that lives underneath. In fish, turtles and shellfish, oil spills can cause blindness, damage to organs and behavioral changes. With the waves of the sea, oil can also reach beaches, shoreline, marshes and wetlands which negatively affect plant life and wildlife in these areas. As such, it is evident that the oil spills from any source have devastating environmental consequences.
From an economic perspective, oil spills are very costly to clean up. A major financial disaster like a spill would ruin various minor corporations, and this amount certainly sets its investors back for many years. Local government, individuals and businesses that rely on the waterways are also financially impacted by oil spills. Oil spills are not only costly to clean, but they also take a lot of time and resources. The spill also requires the efforts of thousands of workers, hundreds of boats and planes, and significant amounts of man hours.
Unreachable water channels are a related problem due to the amount of water covered by oil and the length of time it takes to clean spills. When boats and aircrews are cleaning, individual and commercial boats cannot navigate the waterways. In several cases, they still have a way through ocean channels or passes, but the spill may take the boaters thousands of miles off path. These detours can delay shipments of cargo, which affects the economy in a negative way.
On a social level, oil spills can harm recreational areas as well as residential areas. Parks and recreational areas that are covered with oil are not appealing to tourists and contribute to the decline of tourism in areas with oil spills. Nearby residents of areas that have been affected by oil spills may choose to move to other towns or other areas of the country because of concerns related to safety and quality of life. Falling property values, job loss and a decline in tourism due to an oil spill will also force locals to seek residence in other areas.
Oil spills can lead to the destruction of cultural areas and plants found in sacred areas, shrines and forests that are symbols of spirituality. Spills can also cause conflicts between communities, individuals and oil companies. The act of oil companies paying individuals and communities for their losses is always controversial because companies want to pay out as little as possible. Destruction, forced displacement and migration forces individuals to live in poverty. Due to oil spills, entire communities must survive with scarcity of food and temporary shelters. Such rough social situations can also result in militancy and terrorism in extreme situations.
Thus, it is clear that oil spills have negative environmental, economic and social consequences. Companies must realize that factors such as such as fatigue, inadequate crewing requirements, inadequate company training, operating procedures and policies result in oil spills. In order to reduce the likeliness of oil spills, companies must work to eliminate these factors. Companies must emphasize these human factors as the key to oil spill prevention.