Huge Oil spill spread in East China Sea, Stirring Environmental Fears
On January 6th of this year, a tanker by the name of Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tons of highly flammable fuel oil when it crashed into a freighter ship in the middle of the East China Sea (Mullany 2018). While over 29 lives were presumed to be dead due to the crash, many fears of aquatic life are being brought to the table. After the ship sank, its array of black smoke set most of the oil slicks surrounding it on fire. And according to China’s State Oceanic Administration, there are now two slicks covering 52 square miles and growing in size. The collision of the Sanchi is reported now to be the largest tanker oil spill since 1991.
As it makes its way towards Japan, officials are also worried about the danger it will have on marine life in the area. Since the disaster occurred in a very important nesting area for Fish, those off the coast of the East China Sea are worried for the sake of many species such aas fish, crabs, and whales that will make their way through those areas. Not only are they worried about the burning slicks making its way across the sea, but also the toxic fuel that was released from the tanker when it crashed. The tanker just so happened to be carrying “one million barrels of condensate, an extremely light crude oil”, says Gerry Mullany. Unfortunately, when this condensate is spilled, it can form an underwater plume, or feather-like spread of oil, that does a huge amount of damage to wildlife.
I believe that the author of this article, Gerry Mullany, is seeking to inform the public that oil spills are very detrimental. Oil spills can affect animals and plants in many ways, but the most common and harmful is when the oil itself comes in contact with the skin of that species. For the animals that came in contact with the oil slicks over the oceans surface, their livelihood was threatened due to the ability to stay warm. In otters, when oil comes in contact with the skin, it is impossible for the them to stay clean, which is what they rely on for warmth. Other types of creatures like snails, clams, and other terrestrial animals are also affected when the floating oil slicks reach land and come in contact with them.
However, another worry I get from this article is that when these oils come in contact with fish, clams, and other species that are used for human consumption, what happens to us. Are we consuming these very toxic and poisoning oils that end up in our oceans after oil disasters? Additionally, we could guess that an economic issue would occur when an oil spill happens. Usually fishermen are put out of work for weeks or maybe even months at a time while at the same time they are possibly inhaling the same toxic chemicals in their air.
Obviously it is very hard to avoid using oil, we use it for our cars, we pack our school lunches with plastic containers, wear polyester fashion, and support oil drilling without even realizing it. I would say the best way to aid in the prevention of oil spills, is to begin the movement that will take our dependence away from oil. Recycling, upcycling, biodegrading, and raw materials are ways that we can consolidate our usage of these materials and prevent events like this from happening in the future. Hopefully one day, we as humans, can resist the urge to always ‘want more’ and possibly decrease the Carbon Footprint.