Few sights prompt such dispiriting gut punches as an oil spill casting a blackened pall on pristine waters, beaches, and wildlife. Video and photos from the remote Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, where thousands of gallons of fuel oil leaked from a cargo ship that ran aground recently, stoke a hopeless narrative that a paradise will be forever lost.
But the story doesn't have to end here -- the fate of Mauritius is not cast. I'm a scientist who has studied oil spills all over the world for more than three decades, including the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. I've learned that the way an oil spill unfolds is not always simple or straightforward, and the worst-case scenario isn't a fait accompli.… Seguir leyendo »
An approximately 5-million-gallon diesel fuel spill from a power station storage tank near the Arctic town of Norilsk, Russia, poses a deadly threat to the region's people, plants, and animals. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin, who doesn't have a strong environmental track record, has declared a state of emergency.
Nornickel, the parent company of Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company, which operates the station, said the accident could have been the result of the foundation of the storage tank sinking due to thawing permafrost, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.
As an oil spill scientist, I see unique dangers in the Arctic. This spill is a warning of a precarious future that we are unprepared for.… Seguir leyendo »
A rash of recent oil spills around the globe -- Bangladesh, Israel, Peru and New Zealand -- serve as reminders of the damage such spills can cause and of the important role responders can play in limiting such damage.
Spill responders have several tools at their disposal, including chemical dispersants. However, the legacy of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico includes a public backlash against dispersants that stands to exacerbate environmental damage from future spills.
Starting with Deepwater Horizon, dispersants seem to have become an environmental villain du jour, even creeping in to the popular vernacular. To control an oil spill that ultimately exceeded 40,000 square miles, responders released 1.8 million gallons of dispersant over 59 days -- an act that society has judged a bad idea.… Seguir leyendo »