Oil Spill: All You Need To Know

Oil Spill: All You Need To Know
MV Wakashio, a Japanese owned Panama-flagged bulk carrier ship leaks oil after drifting ashore over coral reefs

Oil Spill in news

In yet another environmental crisis, a Japanese owned ship that ran aground on July 25, had split tons of fuels near the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius. It is said that the vessel was carrying around 4000 tons of fuel. A catastrophe of this measure is first of its kind in that area.

A state of environmental emergency was also declared as the dark slick spread in the turquoise water near the environmental area. The local government announced it “very sensitive” area.

National and International help was sought to undo and minimize the loss and effects it has caused and could continue to do so.

What is Oil Spill?

Among the significant pollution occurring across the world, human activities have contributed to oil spills too. Oil Spills results in the release of liquid petroleum and hydrocarbon into the water bodies and air also. The most common cause for an oil spill to occur are accidents involving tankers, pipelines, refineries, barges and storing facilities.


Like any other form of pollution, oil spill also causes changes in the environment which are never beneficial. Millions of people get hit hard by the danger it poses for the country. While the COVID19 pandemic has affected the tourism industry massively, this recent incident has only added more livelihood erosion into it.

The oil spill has fouled not only the coastlines but also polluted fisheries. The wildlife has been dead and injured too due to the contamination.

The dire consequences for the economy, food security and health that sea pollution posses can’t be neglected. Thousands of species from aqua-life to coral reefs to mammals too, all are at the risk of drowning. The locals suffer a more substantial loss.


Liquid petroleum’s rise has bloomed over the years due to its flexibility in transportation. It is this advantage that has caused worldwide a concern about the environment too. Of many major oil spills, below are a few:

The Persian Gulf War Oil Spill-1991: A non-accidental and considered as the world’s largest oil spill, this was as a result of the war fought by Iraqi forces. In an attempt to deter the enemy from landing marines, hundreds of millions of gallons of oil were released into the sea. Estimates show that around 380-520 million gallons were spilt. This happened in January – February =1991.

BP’s Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 2010: It is considered as the largest accidental mishap. This oil spill took place in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010. According to findings, about more than 300 million gallons of oil were released and floated on about 2100 km spread. Many livelihoods that depended on the Gulf suffered severe damage.

oil spill
BP’s Deepwater Horizon Oil Spil

The Ixtoc 1 oil spill 1979: About 140 million gallons of crude oil was released in the accident that happened in the Bay of Campeche between June 1979- March 1980. It is reported that an explosion was caused due to instruments and process failure. This resulted into massive loss – beaches were washed up, tourism and commercial sank low.


It may not appear, but around 14000 oil spills occur every year in the US alone. Though we have moved advanced in technology, infrastructure and innovation, yet oil spill measures aren’t capable of warding off the side effects dominantly. The steps have been aiming to decrease and limit the spread. Certain measures among them include controlled burning, use of barriers and adsorbent materials, use of monomolecular surface films, use of chemical and biological methods, spraying dispersant, etc. Besides, there are physical efforts made to clean the shores.

 The International Maritime Organization administers an international treaty – The International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage. It determines the liability and compensation that arises due to the mishap. Though the contamination is irreversible, the presence of such international obligations would induce more careful handling of crude oil and lessen the pollution.

Article written by Nimai Ranjan Bibhar

Image Source : Google