Explained: How severe was the Mauritius oil spill?

2 min read

News: A Japanese ship struck a coral reef off Mauritius spilling about 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil and triggering a state of environmental emergency.This oil spill took place near Blue Bay Marine Park Reserve, a wetland of international importance.

Facts:

  • Oil Spill: It is the contamination of seawater due to an oil pour as a result of an accident or human error.
  • How dangerous are oil spills?
    • As oil is less dense than salt water, it floats and forms a thin film on the surface.The floating oil sticks to the fur and feathers of marine mammals and birds eliminating their insulating and water-repelling properties and exposing them to the cold.
    • The marine creatures can also be poisoned by swallowing the oil residue.
  • How are oil spills cleaned? There are a few ways to clean up oil spills including:
    • Skimming: It involves removing oil from the sea surface before it is able to reach the sensitive areas along the coastline.
    • In situ burning: It means burning a particular patch of oil after it has concentrated in one area.
    • Releasing chemical dispersants helps break down oil into smaller droplets, making it easier for microbes to consume, and further break it down into less harmful compounds.
    • Natural actions in aquatic environments such as weathering, evaporation,biodegradation and oxidation can also help reduce the severity of an oil spill and accelerate the recovery of an affected area.