What are dispersants and why are they used on oil spills?

What are dispersants and why are they used on oil spills?

Dispersants are chemicals that are sprayed on a surface oil slick to break down the oil into smaller droplets that more readily mix with the water. Dispersants do not reduce the amount of oil entering the environment, but push the effects of the spill underwater.

How long will tar balls be washing on to the shores from the BP oil spill?

Tar balls on Pensacola Beach from 2010 BP oil spill could last at least 30 years, study says. Oil from BP’s Deepwater Horizon blowout will stay on Pensacola Beach in the form of weathered tar balls and mats for decades to come, according to a new report from researchers who studied the beach for years after the spill.

Why is it bad to have oil in the ocean?

Oil spills are harmful to marine birds and mammals as well as fish and shellfish. When exposed to oil, adult fish may experience reduced growth, enlarged livers, changes in heart and respiration rates, fin erosion, and reproduction impairment.

Why does oil and grease harm the fish in the river?

Oil on ocean surfaces is harmful to many forms of aquatic life because it prevents sufficient amounts of sunlight from penetrating the surface, and it also reduces the level of dissolved oxygen.

Why do surfactants help clean up oil spills?

Surfactants — Compounds that work to break up oil. Dispersants contain surfactants that break the oil slick into smaller droplets that can more easily mix into the water column.

Are oil dispersants expensive?

These range from mechanical or manual recovery at $12,500 per tonne to dispersants only at $2,100 per tonne. The key is keeping the oil off shore. Once it hits the shoreline costs climb dramatically.

Why do I get tar on my feet at the beach?

Tar balls, the little, dark-colored pieces of oil that can sometimes stick to your feet when you go to the beach, are often remnants of oil spills but can also be produced from natural seeps, places where oil slowly escapes from the earth surface above some petroleum reservoirs.

Are tar balls toxic?

Are tar balls harmful to your health? For most people, brief contacts with tar balls or a small amount of oil are not harmful, but people who are particularly sensitive to chemicals and petroleum products might develop allergic reactions or a rash.

What is the biggest oil spill in the world?

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
BP’s Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (2010) The largest accidental oil spill in history began in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, after a surge of natural gas blasted through a cement well cap that had recently been installed to seal a well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon oil platform.

How is oil cleaned from beaches?

Booms and skimmers are used to contain and remove spilled oil from the water, while relatively aggressive cleanup activities are used to address oil that has reached shore. These activities may include flushing, use of shoreline cleaning agents, and bioremediation.

How would sea life in an area be affected if an oil spill killed much of the plankton in the area?

Poisoning: Sea mammals, birds, and fish can be killed or sickened if they ingest or inhale oil; smaller organisms such as plankton can be contaminated, poisoning species further up the food chain. Other damage: Marine life’s respiratory, cardiac, and immune systems can be compromised due to oil spills.

How did people clean up the BP oil spill?

In the case of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, clean-up workers treated the oil with over 1.4 million gallons of various chemical dispersants. Typically such large amounts are sprayed over the open ocean from an airplane or helicopter. It’s possible that life in the deep sea was exposed to the dispersant-oil mixture.

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