Friday, 11 February 2011

Prestige Oil Spill

One of the largest oil spill disasters occurred in the Galician coast of Spain in 2002. Prestige, an oil tanker carrying 77,033 metric tons of oil, sank when one of its tanks burst, spilling more than 20 million gallons of oil into the sea. 

The marine ecosystem of Galicia rich in coral reefs comprising different species of sharks and birds was greatly affected. The polyaromatic hydrocarbons contained in the spilled oil poisoned plankton, fish eggs, and crustaceans and caused carcinogenic effects in fish and animals. The fishing industry also suffered heavy losses as offshore fishing had to be put on hold for the next 6 months. 

As part of the massive oil spill cleanup efforts, underwater oil spill containment operations were carried out. First the leakage was reduced to 20 liters a day by sealing the cracks in the hull. Later the oil was pumped into aluminum shuttles by drilling small holes in the wreck. 

Oil Gone Easy S-200, an eco-friendly product was used to clean up the beaches that were affected by the Prestige oil spill. This product uses the bioremediation process to help convert polluting hydrocarbons into harmless byproducts using the microorganisms present in the environment, thus cleaning up the oil spill in an environmentally-friendly way. 

The field survey on the use of S-200 in Cantabrian coast in northern Spain by the Department of Microbiology, University of Barcelona revealed that S-200 had increased the biodegradation rate of high molecular weight hydrocarbons like benzenes. Surprisingly, there was a significant reduction of harmful diasteranes and C-27 sterane components. 

The pollution caused by the Prestige oil spill will continue to affect marine population in the coming decade. The main cause of oil spills is human apathy and negligence. As it causes severe damage to the ecosystem everyone should take due care to protect Mother Nature.

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