University researchers and small firms are innovating ways to address environmental accidents
As we see in other spheres, individuals promoting simple solutions to complex problems are often lauded. But ecology is complex and it’s subtle. And the quick way to do things is often the wrong way to do things.
We could give bacteria a helping hand to tackle oil spills on land and at sea by equipping them with enzymes for breaking down hydrocarbons, according to new research. This could be much cheaper and more eco-friendly than other clean-up methods.
Scientists have come up with a novel material for cleaning up oil spills on land. Mats of human hair and dog fur successfully absorb oil from hard surfaces — but not so well from sand.
Cleanup workers on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are still suffering 10 years later.
Ten years ago, the BP oil spill began with a rig explosion that killed 11 workers. Four million barrels of oil spewed into the the Gulf of Mexico. The oil killed marine mammals and birdlife, and shut down the fishing grounds and the seafood economy. The oil also damaged the fragile coastal marshes protecting the state from hurricane storm surges.
Every oil spill is different, but the thread that unites these disparate scenes is a growing scientific awareness of the persistent damage that spills can do and of just how long oil can linger in the environment, hidden in out-of-the-way spots.
Offshore drilling is a risky activity, and we should expect that oil spills will happen again. However, it is reassuring to see that marine ecosystems have the ability to degrade oil pollutants. While human intervention will still be required to clean up most spills, naturally occurring bacteria have the ability to remove large amounts of oil components from seawater, and can be important players in the oil cleanup process.
Hair isn’t just for top knots; it can protect the ocean too.
After 40 days and many failed attempts at cleaning up the 210,000 gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico every day, British Petroleum has found their knight in shining water...Kevin Costner.
In a review of past oil spills as well as the available data from last year’s BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, doctors found that adverse health effects from oil and chemical exposure are less likely than behavioral and mental health issues to pose significant long-term risks for most gulf residents.
Research suggests the use of chemical dispersants hinders oceanic microbes responsible for natural cleanup.
They were supposed to help microbes digest oil, but ended up suppressing the oil-degrading species instead.
The goal is to make a hotter, faster and more complete burn that leaves less pollution.
Five years ago, I didn’t know much about oil spills. I worked for an environmental nonprofit in coastal Alabama, where I could literally see natural gas rigs pumping in the distance when I stood on the beach. But I didn’t think much about what a big spill could mean for my community until the worst-case scenario showed up on my doorstep.
Now, on the eve of the five-year memorial of the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion that took the lives of 11 men and led to the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, I know a great deal more about oil spills and the toll they can take on communities.
Here are the five most important lessons I’ve learned in the last five years.
The pipeline spilled half an Olympic-sized swimming pool's worth of particularly dirty oil into North Dakota's wetlands.
What makes a leak in this region so attention-getting is that Santa Barbara County was also the site of a much, much bigger oil spill back in 1969. That was America's first major oil spill, a widely publicized disaster that helped launched the modern-day environmental movement...
The reality is that a tremendous amount needs to change for our oceans and fish stocks to recover. Scary as it has been, the fishing fix seems at least imaginable, if we create more marine sanctuaries, crack down on overfishing and continue to pressure retailers to employ sustainable seafood policies.
No one wants an oil spill in their backyard, but sometimes recreating these accidents through small controlled spills is the best way to understand them.
The world ocean is a sick sea. I have never been so definitive before, always the optimist thinking we are not yet there. But the symptoms are no longer deniable, the evidence mounts daily in nauseating waves of reported spills and leaks, dying reefs, depleted fisheries, vast areas so oxygen-deprived that nothing lives.