Why Oil Spills Are So Bad for the Environment


Oil spills are tragically common. The big spills make international news, but there are many small, localized spills that cause damage to the environment and economy that do not make the news.

Crude oil is a thick, toxic substance that can be incredibly difficult to remove from land and animals, making clean-up operations difficult and time-consuming. Why are oil spills so bad for the environment? Here are just a few of the reasons why these spills are such an environmental disaster.

Damage to Wildlife

The images that people are used to of oil spills tell this story. When an oil slick hits a coastline it hits the local wildlife hard. The marine life beneath the waves experiences a mass extinction event, with thousands of fish, turtles, and marine mammals poisoned by the heavy crude oil that has invaded their habitat.

The birds and wildfowl that live in coastal areas, feeding off the marine life along the coastline, get covered in oil. It sticks their feathers together and adds a huge amount of weight to their bodies, preventing them from flying away and trapping them in the slick. The images of oil-covered birds are typical of an oil spill. It can take decades for local wildlife to recover from a spill, if it even recovers at all.

Damage to the Land

Whether a spill occurs in the ocean, along a coastline, or inland, it causes a huge amount of damage to the environment. The land that is poisoned by the spill becomes toxic, and the ecosystem that surrounds it begins to die or move on to another area unaffected by the spill. An oil spill changes migration patterns and the traditional habitats of local wildlife, which in turn affects the land.

Land that has been covered with crude oil becomes unusable by nature or by man. The clean-up operation can take years, often with huge volumes of previously pristine land being dug up and trucked away from the area. The earth beneath a spill becomes toxic waste.

Damage to the Food Chain

Every animal on Earth, including human beings, is a part of the food chain. When an oil spill devastates an area and its animals, the chain becomes broken as whole populations of creatures are decimated by the toxic spill. This has knock-on effects on the other animals in the chain either losing a food source, causing starvation, or losing a predator causing overpopulation.

This affects humans too. Food is an important business, and when an animal is removed from the food chain it can harm businesses and human food stocks. Many businesses are left to try and pick up the pieces after a spill and rebuild the local economy. Romanucci & Blandin practices environmental toxic tort litigation and can help small businesses and individuals receive the financial support and compensation they are entitled to from the people responsible for the spill.

The damage that oil spills cause should not be underestimated. Once the news cameras leave, the spill is still there poisoning local land, wildlife, and the human population.

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