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1 OIL SPILLS imgkid.com

2 OIL SPILLS An oil spill occurs when liquid petroleum hydrocarbon is released into the environment. The term applies to spills in the ocean or coastal waters, rivers, or on land. Oil spills may originate from: Crude oil from tankers Offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells Improperly capped wells Pipeline and oil storage tank leaks Refuse or waste oil Natural seepage Spills of refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, bunker fuel and their by-products motorship.com In Trinidad and Tobago, oil and natural gas are the most significant non-renewable resources. All phases of oil and gas production extraction, transport, refining can potentially lead to serious environmental disturbance. This may result from pollution by oil spills from blowouts, pipeline ruptures and transport accidents. offshoreenergytoday.com trinoutdoors.com

3 eoearth.org The exact nature and duration of impacts from an oil spill depend on a number of factors which include: Oil type Amount of oil and its behaviour once spilled Physical characteristics of the affected area Weather conditions and season Type and effectiveness of the clean-up response Biological and economic characteristics of the area and its sensitivity to oil pollution

4 HOW OIL SPILLS IMPACT ECOSYSTEMS Coastlines An oil spill which occurs near a coastline will always impact more living organisms than one which occurs in the open ocean. This is because coastal areas are habitat for much more concentrated and diversified populations of marine life. All coastal ecosystems are vulnerable to oil spill impacts. Mangrove Swamps Mangroves are highly susceptible to oil exposure and may be killed within a few weeks to several months. Mangrove trees have complex breathing roots above the surface in which they live. Oil may block the openings of the air-breathing roots or interfere with the trees salt balance, causing leaves to turn yellow and defoliate, and the tree to die. Mangrove forest provides habitats for a range of faunal communities including fish, birds, crabs, gastropods and bivalves. These communities are also impacted by oil spills.

5 greenpeace.org Filter-feeding species such as oysters, barnacles and burrowing worms can be easily killed if smothered with oil, as their filtering mechanisms become clogged. Birds that are coated in oil, are unable to fly. In an effort to clean dpreview.com themselves, they ingest oil and are poisoned. Birds can drown as oiled feathers weigh more and their sticky feathers cannot trap enough air between them to keep them buoyant.

6 HOW OIL SPILLS IMPACT ECOSYSTEMS (con t) ssltt.com Coral Reefs Coral reefs need clean, clear water to survive. Oil spills prevent sunlight from reaching the corals where it is needed for photosynthesis. The dark oil film on affected organisms such as Caimans may dangerously elevate temperatures by absorbing solar radiation. Reptiles depend on the external environment for regulation of body temperatures. The flesh of fish and shellfish that are contaminated by oil can become tainted. Human Health Oil spills may cause harm directly to human health. When oil is burned, persons can inhale volatile organic compounds and other hydrocarbons. Oil vapours can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, eye and throat irritation, and breathing difficulties. An oil spill can also negatively affect the health of humans galleryhip.com and other animals indirectly, through absorption into the food chain. Oil floating on the water contaminates plankton and eventually moves up the food chain. Small fish eat plankton, then are eaten by larger fish and other marine life, which in turn are consumed by animals and humans.

7 CLEANING UP OIL SPILLS Booms It is easier to clean-up oil if it s all in one spot. Containment booms act like a fence that keeps the oil from spreading or floating away. Sorbent booms or other sorbent materials can be placed to passively recover mobile oil, including sheens. Sorbent booms absorb oil. lamor.com Skimmers/ Oil mops Once the oil is contained, skimmers suck the oil up like a vacuum cleaner, off of the surface of the water. Chemical Shoreline Cleaners Chemical shoreline cleaners are products sprayed on oilcoated surfaces to loosen the oil so that it can be flushed off with ambient water. These cleaners loosen or dissolve heavy oil deposits.

8 Report suspected oil spills to the following: Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) care2.com Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard Environmental Management Authority (EMA) Institute of Marine Affairs An Agency of the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources

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