In brief: Oil Spills

In brief: Oil Spills

  • Oil Spill is basically leakage of crude oil and its products in the environment.
  • While oil spills are catastrophic when they occur in water, they can severely affect the environment when they occur on land too.
  • In water, the major oil spills occur due to accidents, release of crude oil from tankers, refuse of waste oil offshore, drilling rigs etc
  • Land-based oil spills occur due to leakage in tankers, vehicles etc.

Major Oil spills

  • Recent events of major oil spills include
    • Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Gulf of Mexico. (2010)
    • Exon Valdez oil spill in Alaska (1989)
    • Gulf war oil spill in Kuwait (1991)
    • 2014 Sundarbans oil spill in Shela River in Bangladesh Sundarbans.
    • 2017 Ennore oil spill in Kamarajar Port near Chennai.


Harmful effects

  • Oil spills have caused severe mortality among seabirds.
  • The feathers of the seabird is significantly affects by oil thereby reducing their insulating ability and less buoyant in the water.
  • Oil during oil spills is consumed by planktons and bio-accumulate the entire marine food chain including fish, crabs and other aquatic animals.
  • Other marine mammals exposed to oil spill get severely affected in terms of insulating property.
  • Land-based oil spill cause soil and water pollution
  • Sunderban oil spill have severely affected the mangrove forests.



  • Bioremediation is the use of microorganisms to metabolize and remove oil during oil spills.
  • The bacteria used for bio-remediation could include sulfate-reducing bacteria, acid-producing anaerobic bacteria etc.
Section : Environment & Ecology