Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lest We Forget: Oil Spills

Discussions about the economics of oil or even their impact on climate change often neglect to mention their immediate impacts when there is a spill, and they inevitably do. These spills show no deference to sensitive ecological zones.

In the Galapogos Islands three oil spills come to mind. On January 28th, 2015, the cargo ship Floreana ran aground in Wreck Bay in San on Cristóbal Island. The Floreana was carrying 10,000 gallons of fuel, 11 tons of pinion oil, 103 gas cylinders, 48 tons of asphalt emulsion. This follows a similar instance on November 17 when the San Cristóbal, sank near the Ecuadorian coastline. On May 2014 when the freighter Galapaface I hit the rocks in Punta Carola. There was also the Jessica, an oil tanker that also ran aground in Wreck Bay in 2001, spilling 175,000 gallons of diesel and fuel oil.

On December 12, three days after a cargo vessel collided with a tanker Southern Star 7, oil covered the coastline of a wildlife Sanctuary in the biodiverse Sundarbans region of Bangladesh. This area is part of the world's largest contiguous tidal mangrove forest and the home of a wide diversity of animals including the Gangetic dophin and the endangered Bengal Tiger. The coastline forms part of the delta which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Almost 100,000 of fuel has contaminated the water and a 40 mile long area along the Sela and Pursur Rivers killing fish, crab and other wildlife.

These are just a few examples of recent spills but there are many others each year. If we continue to depend on fossil fuels it is only a matter of time before we witness another environmental catastrophe like the spills that resulted from the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico or the Exxon Valdez in Alaska.

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