The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
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The types of primary and secondary air and water pollutants that occurred because of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill
On the twentieth of April 2010, the largest oil spill in history has occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. This accident became a big unstudied experiment of the damage elimination and research. Any oil spill provides liquid petroleum hydrocarbon pollution of the environment. “Much of the fresh oil that ended up on the Gulf of Mexico's surface evaporated into the atmosphere and got broken down by sunlight. But the evaporating oil also created tiny particles known as aerosols, which don't disappear so quickly. Aerosols can impact human health, including lung and heart function” (National Geographic, 2012). Oil itself is the combination of different hydrocarbons. The primary lightest hydrocarbons evaporated at once, when the secondary heavier, rarer compounds took days to evaporate.
Poured into water primary pollutant petroleum kills birds and mammals at once by sticking their fur and poisoning their digesting system. Moreover, poured petroleum forms the secondary pollutants, which cause more toxic effects like high mortality or reproductive failure. Mixed with seawater, oil and gas form tiny droplets, which go together to a plume of the gas bubbles and frozen methane’s crystals and may spent weeks in the water before coming to the top.
The short- and long-term effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on the environment and wildlife
Any oil spill damage is huge and lasts in short and long terms. The first one is evident at once: the destruction of fish eggs; abandoned, starved and died mammals’ children; the birds, which cannot fly; dead corals on the reefs; hundreds stranded dolphins.
Among long term effects of the oil spill are the disappearance of crickets; abandons of acrobat ants; dramatic changes in the microorganisms’ communities; rapid growth of Vibrio vulnificus; toxic chemicals going through the food chain.
The scientists claim that even despite the fact that oil has gone, it will lead to long-term and severe implications of the around land and water life ecosystem.
The different layers of the atmosphere interaction with different pollutants. Will the identified pollutants from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster affect the atmosphere?
The troposphere and the stratosphere layers of the atmosphere are the nearest to the Earth and the most polluted and affected by anthropogenic pollutants. “Air pollution problems occur due to the presence and movement of pollutants within and among the layers within the atmosphere. The location of the pollutants in a certain layer is an important factor in determining what type of air pollution problem may occur. For the most part, the polluting molecules are heavier than air and circulate in the troposphere” (Environmental Decision Making, Science and Technology, 2012).
The oil spill produced both light and heavy parts of hydrocarbon pollutants into the atmosphere, so it may be concluded that pollution is more regional than local, because of a large territory of disaster and heavier pollutants circulation in the troposphere. The aerosols will influence the human and animal life for few years.
The cleaning procedures that can be undertaken
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill was not the first oil spill and, for sure, is not the last. But it was something like the big experiment of actions, the damaged territory was large, and all possible methods of oil removing were taken. The most innovative and sensible among them was bioremediation – usage of biological organisms, which consume oil pollutants, but for achieving visible results, fertilizer and oxygen conditions, which encourage these organisms rapid growth, should be taken. Before the bioremediation method, the dispersants may be used. They do not remove oil but disperse it into smaller pieces, which are easier to remove. Another method is controlled burning, which requests calm wind and explains that oil burning pollutants will not cause so much harm as water oil pollutants.
To prevent the nearest locals polution, the dredging and protective barriers are used. Skimming method helps gathering spilled oil that allows using it by the cars. Within vacuum and centrifuge method, the oil can be sucked up along with water, and then a centrifuge is used to separate the oil from the water.
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill was eliminated with the help of skim-ships, bioremediation, and controlled burning methods.
The new regulations and safety measures for oil drilling
After huge damage of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, “the Washington’s Department of the Interior announced two new rules: the first regulation prescribes proper cementing and casing practices and the appropriate use of drilling fluids. …The second regulation, known as the Workplace Safety Rule, requires offshore operators to have clear programs in place to identify potential hazards when they drill, clear protocol for addressing those hazards, and strong procedures and risk-reduction strategies for all phases of activity” (Barkoff & Pardi, 2012).
These rules made oil trade difficulties and lead to protests, but, at the same time, they will help to prevent other oil disasters.
Other technologies or alternative energy sources. The first plan of action to identify possible solutions of running out of oil crisis.
The dependency of the modern society from the oil is visible from conflicts and fights between countries. In the case of oil supply ceasing, the world economy will suffer from the crisis. The most substantial among the alternative ways of energy source are such, which do not cause harm. But the best choices are the solar energy, the wind energy, the geothermal energy, the hydroelectricity. The geometrical energy, which charges from the heat of the planet, can replace just small quantity of the energy needs. The hydroelectricity and the wind energy can be productive, but demand special local conditions. The solar energy thus remains the best variant for the future. It is known that the Sun activity becomes stronger and stronger each year, the climate of the Earth is getting warmer and warmer, and the sun’s shining is for free.
The oil reserves are running out every day. It disturbs economists and politicians all over the world. The mining of the rich oil can cause not only crisis but even the Third World War. That is why, it is vital to start using alternative energies. The best decision taken is the solar energy, but for some locals, the wind energy and the hydroelectricity are suitable too.
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