Oil Pollution

THE FOLLOWING CASE STUDY IS ABOUT THE IMPACTS THAT OIL POLLUTION PRODUCES IN THE SEA, SPECIFICALLY IN THIS CASE IN THE COASTS OF SOUTH WALES. THIS INCIDENT WAS DUE TO THE STRANDING OF AN OIL TANKER FROM THE COMPANY SEA EMPRESS.

THE CAUSE FOR THIS OIL POLLUTION WAS THAT A 147,000 TONNE OIL TANKER FROM SEA EMPRESS RAN AGROUND, EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE CONTROLLED BY THE HARBOR PILOTS. THE OIL TANKER WOULD HAVE BEEN DOCKED EARLIER BUT BECAUSE OF THE HEAVY SEAS IT TOOK LONGER. ANOTHER MAJOUR PROBLEM WAS THAT AT THE HARBOR THEY WERE UNPREPARED AND THEY COULDN’T PROVIDE A HEAVY TUG, UNTIL 24 HOURS LATER. DUE TO THE WORSENING WEATHER THE OIL TANKER WAS MAKING DISASTERS, AS THE OIL STARTED TO FALL INTO THE SEA. WHAT GETS EVEN WORST IS THAT 6 DAYS AFTER THIS EVENT THE OIL TANKER WAS FINALLY TAKEN OUT BY A TOTAL OF 12 TUGS.

AS A CONSEQUENCE OF ALL THESE THE OIL TANKER FROM SEA EMPRESS LOST ABOUT 77,000 TONS OF OIL, ALL BEING DEPOSITED UNFORTUNATELY INTO THE SEA.  THE PROBLEM WITH THIS WAS THAT THE CARGO OF NORTH SEA CRUDE OIL WAS CONSIDERED LIGHT OIL; THIS TYPE OF OIL IS THE ONE THAT GIVES OUT ITS MOST HARMFUL TOXINS INTO THE WATER AND AIR. MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, ONE OF THE GREATEST IMPACTS IT’S THAT BEFORE THESE MICROORGANISMS IN THE SEA BREAK DOWN HE REST OF THE TOXINS, SEA ANIMALS LIKE CRABS, SHELLFISH AND FISH CONCENTRATE TOXINS IN SIDE THEMSELVES, THIS FOR SURE CONTAMINATING THEM HARMFULLY.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT ASPECT THAT MIGHT BE CONSIDERED IS THAT WHEN THIS FISH CONCENTRATE TOXINS WITHIN THEMSELVES, THESE ARE THEN PASSED UP THE FOOD CHAIN, SO IT DOESN’T JUST AFFECT THEM. EFFECTS DUE TO THE OIL POLLUTION WERE GREATLY SEEN IN WEST ANGLE BAY, WHERE STARFISH HAD BEEN WIPED OUT, AND WITH THIS THE WHOLE ECOSYSTEM TURNING TO BE THREATENED WITH DAMAGE AND DISRUPTION.

JUST 12 MILES RADIUS OF THE SLICK THERE IS A PROTECTED AREA, WHICH IS A MARINE RESERVE. THIS ISLAND HAS AN IMPORTANT COLONY OF MANX SHEARWATER, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL AND GREY SEALS BETWEEN OTHERS. WHAT MATTERS ABOUT THIS IS THAT IN TOTAL IT IS THOUGHT TO BE 85,000 GREY SEALS AROUND BRITAIN´S COAST, FOR WHICH 5,000 LIVE ON THE PEMBROKESHIRE COAST. THIS COAST WAS AFFECTED BY THE OIL SPILL, SO THEREFORE THE MAJORITY OF THEIR BREEDING SITES WERE DAMAGED.

AGAIN RETURNING TO THE HEAVY IMPACT ON THE FOOD CHAIN THE PROBLEM PRESENTS AGAIN, BECAUSE SEALS EAT FISH AND THESE ARE CONTAMINATED BY THE OIL PREVIOUSLY INGESTED BY THEM. WHEN OIL SPILLS IN THE SEA IT CAUSES AN IMMENSE CONSEQUENCE ON THE BIRDS TOO. IN THIS CASE STUDY SPECIFICALLY IN SKOMER´S SHORELINE THERE IS A NESTING SITE FOR 14,000 BIRDS. SOMETHING IMPORTANT ABOUT BIRDS IT’S THAT THEY NEED TO KEEP THEIR FEATHERS CLEAN IN ORDER TO REMAIN BUOYANT AND INSULATED. WHAT HAPPENS HERE IS THAT BIRDS HAVE THE CAPACITY TO CLEAN OFF THE OIL FROM THEIR FEATHERS, BY DOING SO, THEY ARE INGESTING POISON WHICH KILLS THEM WITHIN DAYS.

DUE TO THIS DISASTER, ALREADY 30,000 DIFFERENT SPECIES OF BIRDS HAVE DIED. ALSO, DUE TO A STRONG NORTHERN WIND THAT BLEW THE WORST OF THE OIL, SPECIES IN THE CAMARTHEN BAY, WHICH WERE AROUND 10,000 COMMON SCOTER IS NOW FACING LOCAL EXTINCTION. THE RESPONSE THAT SOME SEA BIRDS HAD TOWARDS THIS WAS TO MIGRATE TO ANOTHER PLACE.

AROUND 600,000 OF THEM RETURNED TO THE PEMBROKESHIRE COAST. ALTHOUGH THIS SEEMS A GOOD ALTERNATIVE TO ESCAPE FROM THE DIRECT EFFECTS OF OIL SPILLING, AND EXTREME DAMAGE TO THE ECOSYSTEM, THESE MARINE SPECIES WOULD FACE AN EVEN GREATER DANGER OF STARVATION

OR BREEDING FAILURE. COMPARING THIS CASE STUDY OF THE SEA EMPRESS AGAINST THE EXXON VALDEZ INTO PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND IN 1989, I CAN CLEARLY SEE THE MAGNITUDE THAT THE CASE STUDIED ABOVE HAS, AS IT LOST 40,000 TONS MORE OF OIL THAN THE OTHER ONE MENTIONED ABOVE. IN CONCLUSION, IT AFFECTED A MILLION SEA BIRDS AND COUNTLESS FISH BY KILLING THEM. BUT, NOT ONLY THAT, TOURISM WAS BADLY AFFECTED TOO, AS THE PEMBROKESHIRE COAST NATIONAL PARK WAS STOPPED BEING VISITED BY THE 500,000 PEOPLE EXPECTED BY YEAR, DUE TO THE THOUGHT OF OILY BEACHES AND POLLUTED SEAS. INFORMATION TAKEN FROM: HTTP://WWW.YPTE.ORG.UK/ENVIRONMENTAL/OIL-POLLUTION-CASE-STUDY-THE-SEA-EMPRESS/37