Legislation on liability and compensation is needed.
The United States should ratify the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 1984 Protocols.
Federal planning for oil spills must be improved.
Studies of the long-term environmental and health effects must be undertaken expeditiously and carefully.
How NOAA responds to spills?
NOAA is a 24/7 service that monitors and waits for a help if there is a spill. They help protect and conserve the natural resources. As soon as they got call they go to the scene as fast as possible. They inspect the vessel, and study the spill, damage and spread in the affected area. We determine the success of their operation through the response of NOAA. NOAA Office of Response and Restoration has a mission based on the online source, http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2004/s2353.htm:
OR& R. is currently assisting with trajectory modeling, oil fate forecasting, weather, and information management and participating in over flights and resource and shoreline assessment. Trajectory modeling uses oceanographic, meteorology and hydrographic information to forecast where the spill might go and its potential effects on the coastal environment. Shoreline assessment is done by surveying affected shoreline, segment by segment, to collect information about the shoreline habitats and degree of oil contamination. This information is used to assist in both determining how cleanup resources will be used and identifying trust resources that have been impacted.
Responding is only the beginning but the hard part is the restoration of the affected area. It is hard to re-establish the damage areas because they will monitor it and try to put back what it had lost.
What kind of chemicals do they use for cleanup?
There are several ways on cleaning up the surface of the water, it is much easier to clean the water if it only resides on the surface of the water but then it m ay take too long. According to http://www.darp.noaa.gov/, there are three basic classes of absorbents to use for spill clean up:
natural organic materials like peat moss, straw, hay, and sawdust.
mineral-based materials like vermiculite, perlite, and volcanic ash.
synthetic organic sorbents like rubber, polyester foam, polystyrene, and polyurethane.
The synthetic organic were used frequently because it absorbs more oil and can be reprocessed. But then instead of reprocessing it they examine it first and recycle it because there might be other consequences t they just reprocess the oil.
There are two techniques that they clean up the spill of oil in the marine water, first is through "dispersant chemicals" and the second is through "containment and recovery." Chemical dispersants are being sprayed in the oil. This dispersants consist surfactant wherein oil will not be mix to the water and solvent wherein it will act as a carrier to the surfactant. The three main types of dispersants are, based on the online source, http://www.itopf.com/containment.html:
Type 1 dispersants are based on hydrocarbon solvents with between 15 and 25% surfactant. They are sprayed neat onto the oil as pre-dilution with seawater renders them ineffective. Typical dose rates are between 1:1 and 1:3 (dispersant:oil).
Type 2 dispersants are dilutable concentrate dispersants which are alcohol or glycol (i.e. oxygenated) solvent-based with a higher surfactant concentration. Dilution is normally 1:10 with seawater.
Type 3 dispersants are also concentrate dispersants with a similar formulation to type 2 products. However, they are designed to be used neat and typical dose rates are between 1:5 and 1:30 (neat dispersant:oil).
The containment and recovery uses booms so that oil would stick together and concentrate the floating oils thereby it will prevent from spreading all over. Booms features based on the online source, http://www.itopf.com/containment.html:
1. freeboard to prevent or reduce splash over;
2. sub-surface skirt to prevent or reduce escape of oil under the boom;
3. flotation by air or some buoyant material;
4. longitudinal tension member (chain or wire) to provide strength to withstand the effects of winds, waves and currents. This is often used to provide ballast to keep the boom upright in the water.
If the clean up were done booms should be cleaned and repaired so that it can be use to another spill. But before they use it again, test should be made to know if it is still effective and will work properly.
There are different kinds of tools for clean up of oil spills and these are being practice in different areas for quick prevention of spreading. Here are the list of tools based on the online source, http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/topic_subtopic_entry.php?RECORD_KEY%28entry_subtopic_topic%29=entry_id,subtopic_id,topic_id& entry_id (entry_subtopic_topic)=184& subtopic_id (entry_subtopic_topic)=27& topic_id (entry_subtopic_topic)=3:
booms, which are floating barriers to oil (for example, a big boom may be placed around a tanker that is leaking oil, to collect the oil).
skimmers, which are boats that skim spilled oil from the water surface.
sorbents, which are big sponges used to absorb oil.
chemical dispersants and biological agents, which break down the oil into its chemical constituents.
in-situ burning, which is a method of burning freshly-spilled oil, usually while it's floating on the water.
washing oil off beaches with either high-pressure or low-pressure hoses.
vacuum trucks, which can vacuum spilled oil off of beaches or the water surface.
shovels and road equipment, which are sometimes used to pick up oil or move oiled beach sand and gravel down to where it can be cleaned by being tumbled around in the waves.
How long clean up takes?
Clean up of oil spills depend on the amount of oil that was spilled in the water and it also depends on the type of oil that was spilled. It takes sometime to clean the oil and it may take weeks to several months. But the recovery of damage may take a long time, for about years because oil can be very damaging to the water and to marine animals. Based on the online source, http://www.darp.noaa.gov/:
The way oil behaves depends on the kind of oil, the kind of ground it has spilled onto (e.g., coarse or fine sand, rock, mudflat, and so on), the kind of environment it spills into, and the weather at the time of the spill. For example, while light oil will penetrate quickly into coarse sediment, heavy oil will penetrate more slowly or not at all. Oil may not penetrate at all into a fine-grained beach, because the sand grains are so closely packed together that there's little space between them for the oil to penetrate. In hot weather, oil is more likely to seep into the ground than in cold weather, because oil doesn't flow as easily when it's cold.
How tools being improved such as high-pressure and hot water washing?
Oil floats and does not mix to water but the removal of oil can be hard especially in open water because it goes anywhere. The hot water washing is the cleaning of beaches with high pressure of hot water. Workers uses fire hoses to spray the beaches with an attire of rain gear with hard hats. This has been a standard of cleaning the shorelines of beaches that were affected by the oil spill but then there are consequences of hot water washing, it is not good with the marine resources such as plants and animals and it destroys the formation of the beaches' shoreline. Based on the online source, http://evos.sailwhatcom.com/cleanup/methods/hot_high.htm:
Variability in the washing process between crews meant that some crews were harder on the environment than others. Some of the biggest problems in application were uncoordinated spraying, carelessness in applying the water, inconsistent scheduling and reporting of cleanup results, and poor choices in combinations of equipment.
What is done for oiled animals?
There were marine mammals that greatly affected by the oil spills especially those who frequently swim on the upper side of the water. When the Exxon Valdez spill, there were no whales found dead and no physical damage has been done with them but an abrupt decreased of whales in that area had been noticed may be because of the effect that the oil made. But then if oil were found on whales, there were veterinarians who can take care of them and try to rehabilitate them. An affected whale will be moved to a clean location so that it could be recovered and the veterinarians will continue to monitor them until they fully recovered.
Oils usually floats, therefore only animals that floats and stay in the surface of the sea are usually greatly affected by the spill. Fish can also be killed in areas where the waters are confined, they are fast runners but then if the area is almost affected by the oil, fish can be harmed. But in open water they can run away.
There are ways on how to rescue animals that are affected by the oil spill and it is just not treating them but also the monitoring and facilitating their way back home is still a responsibility in helping the wildlife because they were being harmed caused by the humans. Here are some of the ways of rescuing them according to the online source, http://www.epa.gov/oilspill/rescue.htm: