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.


Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    What are examples of bioremediation?

    A:

    According to Cornell University, bioremediation is the use of biological organisms to help clean contaminated or polluted environmental sites, such as the site of an oil spill. In nature, many biological organisms contribute to the cleanup of pollutants through a process called biodegradation. Bioremediation encourages that natural process, as it employs biological organisms to solve environmental problems.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How can oil spills be prevented?

    A:

    Environmental organizations use the court system to ensure that federal agencies are regulating oil companies, according to Greenfudge. Checking equipment on an annual basis is an important measure. Workers must make certain that hoses, seals and fuel lines on boat vessels are in working order to prevent major accidents.

    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:

    How do oil spills occur?

    A:

    KidzWorld explains that oil spills occur when people cause an oil tanker, a ship that carries oil from one place to another, to leak oil into the sea. Carelessness in maneuvering oil tankers typically causes an oil spill. Illegal dumpers also dump crude oil into the ocean to avoid spending money on decomposing their waste oil.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore