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Oil Spill Events

What is oil Spill

An oil spill is a release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term often refers to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters. Oil spills include releases of crude oil from tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel) and their by-products, and heavier fuels used by large ships such as bunker fuel, or the spill of any oily white substance refuse or waste oil. Spills may take months or even years to clean up.

Oil also enters the marine environment from natural oil seeps. Public attention and regulation has tended to focus most sharply on seagoing oil tankers.

Environmental effects

The oil penetrates into the structure of the plumage of birds, reducing its insulating ability, thus making the birds more vulnerable to temperature fluctuations and much less buoyant in the water. It also impairs or disables birds' flight abilities to forage and escape from predators. As they attempt to preen, birds typically ingest oil that covers their feathers, causing kidney damage, altered liver function, and digestive tract irritation. This and the limited foraging ability quickly cause dehydration and metabolic imbalances. Hormonal balance alteration including changes in luteinizing protein can also result in some birds exposed to petroleum.

Most birds affected by an oil spill die unless there is human intervention. Marine mammals exposed to oil spills are affected in similar ways as seabirds. Oil coats the fur of Sea otters and seals, reducing its insulation abilities and leading to body temperature fluctuations and hypothermia. Ingestion of the oil causes dehydration and impaired digestions. Because oil floats on top of water, less sunlight penetrates into the water, limiting the photosynthesis of marine plants and phytoplankton. This, as well as decreasing the fauna populations, affects the food chain in the ecosystem. There are three kinds of oil-consuming bacteria. Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and acid-producing bacteria are anaerobic, while general aerobic bacteria (GAB) are aerobic. These bacteria occur naturally and will act to remove oil from an ecosystem, and their biomass will tend to replace other populations in the food chain.

Sri Lanka Oil Spill Events

01. M V Meliksha Incident

M V Meliksha was reported in distress off Dondra with head sinking on 23rd August 1999. The crew was rescued by a passing by vessel and the master abandoned the vessel out side the territorial waters of Sri Lanka. The vessel continued to sink and drift away itself from the Coast of Sri Lanka in to the deep waters. Sri Lanka based salvage company M/S Sri Lanka Shipping Ltd had taken the abandoned vessel on towards the coast and was anchorage off Hambanthota. On 26th August 1999, it was reported that M V Melishka ran aground at a distance of about 1000 m of Bundala coast consequent to the grounding the vessel had broken up and the reports indicate that the fuel and the fertilizer being released causing damages to the marine environment. The ship was reported to be carrying 16 500mt fertilizer and about 200 mt of heavy fuel oil.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 March 2011 04:16 )  

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