Research Paper on Maritime Technology and Environmental Regulations
Two vessels collided on august 1990 near Gibraltar in Spain resulting in a sea disaster and oil spill. Sea Spirit along with the Norwegian gas tanker collided head on causing a spill of about 8000Tons of oil. Oil contamination in the marine spread far, even reaching the Moroccan coast in form of cakes, tar balls, and oil packs. Similar to this disaster is the major oil spill that occurred on July in 1979 near Trinidad and Tobago caused by the Atlantic Empress. The spill allegedly resulted in the largest oil spill of 287,000Metric tons of oil ever to be recorded. The disaster was never totally remedied since during pull away from the scene, the tanker continued to spill an additional substantial amount of oil. Conversely, the Aegean Captain also leaked large amount of oil. Some moments later on, Atlantic Empress sank deeply with its cargo remaining solidified. However, the spill from the two ships never reached the shores of the ocean.
2-1: Similarities in environmental effects
In terms of ecological contamination, Both Sea Spirit and Atlantic Empress caused major impacts on sea animal and plant life. Sea birds became highly affected dipping the insulating capacity among such animals. Birds became highly vulnerable to temperature changes and less buoyant in water. The two oil spills contributed to huge impairments and disabilities related to flight in aquatic birds (Horn and Neal 2006, para 3). In fact, species found it hard to escape from predators. Research shows that the spillage especially from the Atlantic Empress led to the ingestion of oil by birds and covering on their feathers. This caused kidney damage, digestive system problems, as well as liver functionality among the victimized animals.
The two disasters also attracted scientists who wanted to explore the far-reaching effects of oil spill on both human and marine life. Marine scientist realized that the disasters caused metabolic problems and dehydration to birds of the sea. Sea animals with a lot of fur were also affected in related ways as well. Sea spirit oil spill and Atlantic Empress oil disaster caused massive deaths of animals, fish, and birds.
2-2: Global reaction
The two incidents caused severe damaging effects on archaeological, high-use, and recreational sites. Examples include shorelines, ports, marine sanctuaries, and natural reserves. Immense losses were also realized in connection to these effects. Tourist and recreational activities were in jeopardy as the major hospitality operations became seriously affected.
The two oil spills also share similarity in the manner as evidenced by way of world’s response to the resulting disastrous effects. Many governments raised environmental concerns and documented procedures to curtail the disaster. For instance, in the case of Atlantic Empress, the U.S government played a paramount role in guaranteeing that the disaster was duly controlled to avoid further loss of life on the vulnerable sea creatures. Similarly, in 1990 during the Sea Spirit disaster, the government of Spain became responsible for the spillage and undertook measures to ensure that no more environmental issues were coming up as a result of the spillage (Horn and Neal 2006, para 3).
Again, the two accidents resulted in the enactment of strict laws governing oil transportation in the sea. For example, during the case of the Atlantic Empress, the U.S government implemented laws to ensure that any ship transporting oil across the sea or ocean must be fully insured. The cover is intended to cover expenses and environmental losses associated with oil spill.
Nation states affected by the two oil spills reacted with some degree of apprehension especially on matters of environment. For example, the Atlantic Empress oil spill caused uproar among the affected countries. Both oil spills reached the shoreline of countries that raised an alarm regarding the matter of clean up, avoidance as well as control on the same.
2-3: Clean up strategies
Measures employed by the two incidents to clean up the mess were similar. Both incidents used Vacuum and centrifuge process whereby oil is sucked up plus water. Then there is the utilization of appropriate centrifuge to separate water from oil. This technique allows the ship to be virtually filled by pure oil. In this case, water returns to the sea. This process was particularly used in the oil spill of 1979 and equally applied in the Sea Spirit oil spill disaster in early1990. However, there is extremely small quantity of oil that spilt back to the sea. This crisis has restricted the use of centrifuges because U.S regime has prohibited oil by volume that is usually returned to the sea with water. Booms were also used in both incidents to clean up the oil spill. Booms are big floating obstacles that prevent oil by rounding up the oil and separating it from water. Skimmers that skim the oil were also utilized in separating all oils from water in the Atlantic Empress and Sea Spirit incidents (ITOPFL 2010, para 2).
Using of biological agents that break down oil into biodegradable composites has been used expansively in major oil spill. Experts insinuated this as the single safe and most importantly effective approach that is likely to eradicate a considerable amount of oil without posing any dangerous effects to animal, fish, or any aquatic and bird life. For instance, Bioremediation was a widespread attribute in the two accidents. It entails the employment of hydrophobic substance that has no bacteria. The compound binds chemically and physically on soluble hydrocarbon compounds. The Bioremediation compound acts as a herding substance inside, and most importantly on water surface. This results in floating elements on the surface of water plus the soluble substances like phenols which form a gel-like substance. Spraying the oil spill with the compound eliminates the oil molecules in a very short time. Specific bacteria dissolve hydrocarbons into carbon-dioxide and water. Another approach that was used to contain the spill is control burning. Control burning is typically applied during low windy day as it may spread to other areas causing more damage during windy seasons. The two disasters also forced the experts to use vacuum in eliminating oil from water surfaces and equally in the beaches (ITOPF 2010, para 4).
Another striking likeness between the resulting two disasters is the manner in which offshore oil spill was prevented and addressed. Technological evaluation and procedures were employed to guarantee that all strategies as well as measures during training, monitoring, and reliable plans for avoidance and offshore control were met. In the two accidents, response involved technological monitoring of devices along with methods of cleaning up the spill. Other measures included detection, control, averting, as well as restoration of the habitats and natural environments (ITOPF 2010, para 6).
In reaction to Atlantic Empress oil spill, the U.S. government used blow out preventer for well drilling. The equipment is effectively employed in offshore wells and contains a bundle of independently operated cutoff processes, thus there is redundancy if any failure occurs. The device is suitable for deep eater horizon. Another prevention mechanism that was seen in the 1990 Sea Spirit accident is the use of the Casing device. This is usually a set of nested metal pipes made of steel and embedded on the ship walls. Both split ends of the apparatus are suspended by a thin adapter in lower end of the casing. If the sole casing or at times the cement fails to work, the oil will continue spilling (ITOPF 2010, para 6).
3-1: Volume of spill
A remarkable disparity between the two catastrophes is evidenced by the resulting volume of spill. For example, Atlantic Empress resulted in a spill of about 280,000Tons while Sea Spirit reporting enormous 8,000Tons of oil. This further does indicate that the sizes of the two vessels or tankers also varied greatly. Atlantic Empress spilled oil twice in the process of being removed from the sea while the Sea Spirit spilled oil only once. This also translates into a difference in the area covered by the spill. Apparently, the Atlantic Empress oil spill led to the coverage of a huge area while the Sea Spirit just covered a relatively small area. Additionally, the number of all affected species was proportional to the spill. Because the Atlantic Empress oil spill was very huge, it means that the number of species affected was also large (Egawhary 2011, para 2).
3-2: Effects on tourism activities
Atlantic Empress accident had major effects on leisure activities such as tourism. Most of the shores that were used by tourists as areas of recreation became highly polluted and inaccessible due to oil spill. Notwithstanding the attempt by the then regime to control the spread or reach of the alleged spill, the losses incurred were very huge and had enormous negative significance on the economy. Converse to this, the latter catastrophe that occurred in year 1990 had minimal effects on recreational activities because the spread was easily controlled. Ease of control is related to the quantity of the entire spill. It is perceptible that the first spill that happened in 1979 was larger than the one that happened in 1990. Consequently, this is the rationale why the economic effects in terms of tourism became great in the first accident (Fleming 2010, p.23).
3-3: Clean up expenses
The practice of clearing out was very pricey with outcome of the twin catastrophes resulting to immense impacts on the budgets of the responsible countries. For example, the Atlantic express incident resulted in the loss of millions in U.S. dollars in mitigating the resulting effects. Alternatively, the little quantity of oil that spilled in year 1990 by Sea Spirit consumed less money. This disparity is connected to the alleged volume of the tanker and the consignment in it. The personnel employed to clear-out the spill also showed a remarkable difference. It is obvious that Atlantic Empress employed more people and certified environmentalist to clean up the entire spill, whilst executing other logistical matters (Fleming 2010, p.23).
3-4: Shoreline effects
Shoreline effects of the two accidents also differed greatly. This is primarily premised on the degree in ease on cleanup procedures for the entire oil spill. The bigger the spill, the larger the shoreline affected and the opposite is also true. The spill that resulted from the Atlantic Empress affected a larger part of the entire seashore and also persisted for an extended duration compared to the effects caused by Sea Spirit. Also, the sensitivity of the shoreline depends on the exposure of the spill. Floating oil makes the shoreline be at certain risks through sealing of the substrate with oil packs. Atlantic Empress oil spill resulted in the casing of the substrate at the very shoreline because of the huge spread. Difference in substrate among the various types of shorelines differed in their reaction to oiling processes. There was also a huge discrepancy on shoreline productivity. For example, all animals living on the shoreline were severely affected by the Atlantic Empress oil spill as opposed to Sea Spirit disaster (NOAA 2010, para 2).
3-5: Global reaction
The world reaction to the two oil spills differed greatly with the Atlantic Empress oil spill facing a lot of criticism from other nations (Egawhary 2011, para 2). This is attributed to the volume and the area covered by the spillage. Tough measures were put in place by international community to ensure that the country that owned the consignment became totally answerable and responsible for the spillage. Such policies negatively affected the budget of U.S because a lot of money was used in the cleanup process.
Sanctions also became the order of the day by other countries wanting the responsible parties to own up to their actions. The 1990 oil spill resulted in major sanctions being made in Spain’s oil industry. Also, losses became huge with economies of the country affected becoming fragile due to the expenditure. The economy of U.S became badly affected especially by the Atlantic Empress oil spill. Countries that depended on U.S for aid also became involved in the process and supported the country from criticism. There was increase in tension between countries that supported the U.S and those against. In contrary to this, little was heard about Spain in terms of global reaction regarding the 1990 oil spill. The difference comes out clearly here because of the perception that U.S was economically strong and it was suppose to address its problems single handedly (Egawhary 2011, para 2).
3-6: Prevention and control
Main differences linking the two calamities also appear in terms of prevention and control. Atlantic Empress accident that occurred in year 1979 is illustrated by little technological practices in terms of cleanup and prevention. This is because of the poor technological skills that were available by then. Nearly all of the cleaning procedures were manual and took quite longer time to finish. Several devices employed in this particular incident were slow and time consuming. In contrary, the technology at disposal had significantly improved a little bit in 1990 during the resulting spill near Spain by Sea Spirit. The cleanup process of spill from Sea Spirit took a comparatively short time owing to the highly effective devices that were used. Sea Spirit oil spill cleaning process was also faster because the team that worked had much familiarity compared to the clean-up team that controlled the Atlantic Empress oil spill (ITOPF 2010, para 3).
3-7: Environmental effects
There is a significant difference in environmental effects of the two accidents. The First accident which happened in 1979 which involved the Atlantic Empress covered a very big area causing massive environmental problem both to human and animal life. Aquatic species such as birds and fish became severely affected and most of them died because of pollution. Most of the terrestrial animals also died in huge numbers because they relied on sea food for their lives. The food chain was interrupted with animals that depended on sea food dying of hunger. Contrary to this, the accident that happened in 1990 had less negative impacts on the environment. This is because the oil spill did not spread over a large area and was also controlled easily (ITOPF 2010, para 5).
Sea plants also became badly damaged by the Atlantic empress accident, whereas the 1990 collision had less negative effects on sea plants. Many scientists became attracted to the major incident and they managed to study intensively and came up with conclusions that greatly influenced the way of life of sea creatures. As a result of the first accident, policies were enacted to ensure that oil spillage in future is approached with a lot of caution. This is because of the double spillage that happened during the prevention process. It is clear that the Sea Spirit oil spill was controlled in a more professional way than the first one (ITOPF 2010, para 6).
4-0: Conclusion: Measures To deal With Oil Spills
Oil spills are generally harmful to living things. Many sea and terrestrial species die in enormous numbers basically owing to unfortunate outcomes instigated by inevitable oil spills. If measures are not put in place to address this problem, the world risk losing very important species that could have otherwise contributed to biological diversity. From the debate above, it appears that oil spills have far-reaching effects including economic, recreational, and even social problems among the countries involved. Misinterpretation can possibly arise between the countries that are involved in the spill hence likely to result in wars. To reduce oil spills as a result of collision in future, numerous steps and measures need to be put in place. First, the governments should ensure that preventive mechanisms such as the ones mentioned above work well so that the spread is controlled. Oil companies should also endeavor to avail suitable training on tanker’s handler personnel. Incompetent ship Captains can cause catastrophe that can potentially result in major oil spills.
Handling of any oil spill cases in future can equally be addressed through continuous monitoring of ship movement in the sea. Stringent measures must instituted by modern oil firms to ensure that the ships ferrying oil across the sea are monitored by skilled individuals and provide information to captains about other approaching ships that are likely to cause collisions. Technology also plays a vital role in reduction of oil spills resulting from undue collision. Oil corporations should embrace the appropriate technologies that will ultimately lead to the reduction of oil spill cases in the sea during transportation. Such technologies include modern equipment used to detect approaching tankers or even ships that are likely to cause any crash and avoid such collisions. The captains of the tankers should be in a position to clearly see the approaching tankers using the binoculars or any device that can assist in seeing the approaching ship. Also, there should be intergovernmental treaties that ensure good management and transportation of oil products. This will make sure that no one country is left alone to handle challenges related to oil spill, but rather assisted by the regimes that are deemed capable in terms of technology as well as finance in availing the necessary assistance.
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