Selasa, 03 April 2018

What can be learned of Oil Spills Hazard

Oil Spills case in History
Figure 1 Oil Spills in Kampung Atas Air Balikpapan
last week in Balikpapan, there is a misfortune that have fell upon us. There was an oil leak in Balikpapan’s bay area that even caused a big fire to a ship. A large black cloud rose upon the skies as if to signify a bad omen that will engulf Balikpapan, and in the afternoon the sky is raining as if crying over the fate of the event. After the event, the beauty of Balikpapan’s beach is stained by dark solar liquid from the leak accompanied along by its smell.

It is not the first case that oil spills ever happened in the world. We can learn about more about oil spills from previous cases in the past. Several cases of oil spills that were noted in history was:
  • The largest accidental oil spill on record (Persian Gulf, 1991) put 240 million gallons of oil into the ocean near Kuwait and Saudi Arabia when several tankers, port facilities, and storage tanks were destroyed during war operations.
  • The blowout of the Ixtoc I exploratory well offshore Mexico in 1979, the second largest accidental oil spill, gushed 140 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
  • By comparison, the wreck of the Exxon Valdez tanker in 1989 spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound offshore Alaska.
Oil spills or oil waste may come from many sources, it may come from home drainage, oil leaks from ships, untreated waste from factories or even accidental spills during oil production. It is estimated that approximately 706 million gallons of waste oil enter the ocean every year [1].
The case of Balikpapan oil leaks is still under investigation; however, the most likely cause is failures during oil production. It may come from malfunctioning pipe or leaks. Regardless of the cause, the damage caused is still the same and very real. Even if you don’t understand the reaction it will have, you can visibly see its effect on the environment.
I believe that Balikpapan as the city that mainly involved in oil production should have expected this risk and should have a contingency plan. It is one of many risk that we as Balikpapan citizen should be aware of and ready to handle when the time comes. Of course, that does not mean we should let it happen as oil spills will bring many negative effect to the people and the environment. Here I will explain some of the effect that it will bring upon.
Oil Spills Behavior
Figure 2 the visible oil spills on the water
When oil is spilled in the ocean, it initially spreads in the water depending on its relative density and composition. The oil slick formed may remain cohesive or may break up in the case of rough seas. A small percentage of oil may dissolve in the water. The oil residue also can disperse almost invisibly in the water or form a thick mousse with the water. Part of the oil waste may sink with suspended particulate matter, and the remainder eventually congeals into sticky tar balls [2].
Over time, oil waste weathers (deteriorates) and disintegrates by means of photolysis (decomposition by sunlight) and biodegradation (decomposition due to microorganisms). The rate of biodegradation depends on the availability of nutrients, oxygen, and microorganisms, as well as temperature. Of course, this decomposition process will also take its time.
If oil waste reaches the shoreline or coast, it interacts with sediments such as beach sand and gravel, rocks and boulders, vegetation, and terrestrial habitats of both wildlife and humans, causing erosion as well as contamination. Waves, water currents, and wind move the oil onto shore with the surf and tide.
Beach sand and gravel saturated with oil may be unable to protect and nurture normal vegetation and populations of the substrate biomass. Rocks and boulders coated with sticky residue interfere with recreational uses of the shoreline and can be toxic to coastal wildlife.
Types of Oil Spills Hazard
The type of oil spilled matters because different types of oil behave differently in the environment, and animals and birds are affected differently by different types of oil. However, it's not so easy to say which kind is worst. First, we should distinguish between "light" and "heavy" oils. Fuel oils, such as gasoline and diesel fuel, are very "light" oils. Light oils are very volatile (they evaporate relatively quickly), so they usually don't remain for long in the aquatic or marine environment (typically no longer than a few days). If they spread out on the water, as they do when they are accidentally spilled, they will evaporate relatively quickly.
However, while they are present, light oils present two significant hazards. First, some can ignite or explode. Second, many light oils, such as gasoline and diesel, are also considered to be toxic. They can kill animals or plants that they touch, and they also are dangerous to humans who breathe their fumes or get them on their skin.
In contrast, very "heavy" oils (like bunker oils, which are used to fuel ships) look black and may be sticky for a time until they weather sufficiently, but even then, they can persist in the environment for months or even years if not removed. While these oils can be very persistent, they are generally significantly less acutely toxic than lighter oils. Instead, the short-term threat from heavy oils comes from their ability to smother organisms whereas over the long-term, some chronic health effects like tumors may result in some organisms.
Oil Spills Impact on life
Oil spills will harm the ocean and coastal life, particularly fishing. In Balikpapan case, I was worried since the oil leaks near the people housing complex in Kebun Sayur and some fishery areas near it. The immediate effects of toxic and smothering oil waste may be mass mortality and contamination of fish and other food species. Balikpapan citizens who work as fisherman will be affected by this.
The long-term ecological effects may be worse. People and animals that live around oil spills area who usually consume fishes should be warier. It is possible for them to be poisoned through consuming the fishes from the area. The impact of oil spills may disrupt the existing food chain. One of my personal concern also is that the oil spills reach for mangrove plantation area in Kampung atas air.
Oil destroys the insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals and the water repellency of a bird's feathers, thus exposing these creatures to the harsh elements. Without the ability to repel water and insulate from the cold water, birds and mammals will die from hypothermia. Many birds and animals also ingest oil when they try to clean themselves, which can poison them[3].
On social level, Balikpapan is a place which is surrounded by sea. It is not weird that we based some of our activities near it. Oil spills negatively affects human activities can have devastating impacts on the local economy and society. Property values for housing tend to decrease, regional business activity declines, and future investment is risky. There are many recreational places which is based around the sea. Shopping center and eateries around Balikpapan will be affected by this incident, and of course many activities on the beach themselves will be on halt.
Recovery and Cleaning Action
The costs of an oil spill are both quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative costs include loss of the oil, repair of physical facilities, payment for cleaning up the spill and remediating the environment, penalties assessed by regulatory agencies, and money paid in insurance and legal claims. Qualitative costs of an oil spill include the loss of pristine habitat and communities, as well as unknown wildlife and human health effects from exposure to water and soil pollution.
Graphic showing methods for responding to oil spills at sea. Plane applying chemical dispersants: Chemical dispersion is achieved by applying chemicals to remove oil from the water surface by breaking the oil into small droplets. Burning: Also referred to as in situ burning, this is the method of setting fire to freshly spilled oil, usually while still floating on the water surface. Booms: Booms are long floating barriers used to contain or prevent the spread of spilled oil. Skimming: Skimming is achieved with boats equipped with a floating skimmer designed to remove thin layers of oil from the surface, often with the help of booms.
Figure 3 Oil Spills CleaningUp (NOAA)
Luckily, in Balikpapan there are some good response and initiative from the citizens. They started acting as soon as the oil spills was founded. People gathered together and work together to clean the beach. After seeing the action, I looked up some method of cleaning up the oil spills and recovery. It was amazing to know that techniques used to clean up will depend on oil characteristics and the type of environment involved.
Plumes of smoke from two fires burning oil on the ocean surface. Close up of skimming device on side of a boat with oil and boom.
Figure 4 Burning and skimming method
Pollution-control measures include containment and removal of the oil (either by skimming (using hot water or not), oil boom, filtering, or in situ combustion), dispersing it into smaller droplets to limit immediate surficial and wildlife damage, biodegradation (either natural or assisted), and normal weathering processes. Each of the method have their own condition which make them have higher efficiency.
Physical removal of oil waste and the cleaning and decontaminating of the area assist large-scale recovery of the environment but may be harmful to the substrate biomass. Bioremediation efforts—adding microorganisms, nutrients, and oxygen to the environment—can usually boost the rate of biodegradation.

Rough Seas?

Conclusion and What should be done
Responsibility for the prevention of oil spills falls upon individuals as well as on governments and industries. Because the sources of oil waste in the ocean are generally careless, rather than accidental, truly effective prevention of oil spills involves everyone. Prevention of oil spills should become a major priority for us.
I believe that we should pitch in to help cleaning up the beach that we have. It is also the best for us to take this as a lesson and prepare for contingency plan so we could act much faster and better in the future If such case will ever again.