Q:

What causes oil spills?

A:

Quick Answer

One of the primary causes of oil spilling into marine environments in an oil spill is people who are careless or make mistakes, according to the Office of Response and Restoration. Such incidents involve barrages, tankers, refineries, pipelines and storage facilities. Other causes include equipment breakdowns, natural disasters and deliberate acts, such as terrorism, war, vandalism or illegal dumping.

  Know More
What causes oil spills?
Credit: Getty Images Getty Images News Getty Images

Full Answer

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council lists several reasons that this tanker ran aground in March 1989. They are all acts of carelessness or human mistakes. While tests showed the captain of the Valdez to have alcohol in his system several hours after the accident, the state of Alaska found him not guilty of operating the vessel under the influence of alcohol.

As oil floats on the ocean, it spreads rapidly across the surface to form an oil slick. Eventually, it spreads to form a very thin layer, known as a sheen, with a rainbow-like appearance. Oil spills are harmful to fish, shellfish, birds and marine animals. The oil affects the ability of fur and feathers to repel water and insulate the animals from the elements. Oil is also toxic to animals that ingest it in attempts to clean themselves.

While the Exxon Valdez spill is no longer among the largest 50 oil spills, it affected 1,300 miles of shoreline. Marine biologists estimate it to have killed 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters and 22 killer whales, according to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.

Learn more about Pollution

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are some solutions to global warming?

    A:

    To combat global warming, people must reduce their energy emissions and start using renewable energy resources instead of depleting fossil fuels. Global warming is a continual rise in the average temperature of the Earth that greatly affects the Earth’s climate and ecosystem.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are some oil spill facts for kids?

    A:

    Kids are increasingly aware of events that impact the world they live in, especially damaging and debilitating occurrences such as oil spills. When kids want to know facts, they need those facts delivered in a way they can understand. History, numbers and animals affected are great places for kids' learning to be piqued.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Does crude oil harm the environment?

    A:

    Crude oil poses many dangers to the environment because of the injurious effects on ecosystems by the numerous toxic compounds typically found in crude oil. In addition, crude oil can bioaccumulate in wildlife, meaning the toxins are absorbed by virtually all levels of the food chain, says PLOS ONE.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the causes of pollution?

    A:

    The causes of pollution are excessive use of natural resources, over industrialization, increase in global population and globalization. The use of chemicals, such as pesticides and weedicides, cause soil pollution.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore