WITH WORLD OLD CONSUMPTION THREATENING TO DOUBLE IN THE NEXT DECADE, THE PROBLEM OF OIL SPILLAGE AT SEA IS REACHING CRISIS PROPORTION ESTIMATES OF THE EXTENT OF OIL POLLUTION VARY.
WITH WORLD OLD CONSUMPTION THREATENING TO DOUBLE IN THE NEXT DECADE, THE PROBLEM OF OIL SPILLAGE AT SEA IS REACHING CRISIS PROPORTION ESTIMATES OF THE EXTENT OF OIL POLLUTION VARY. SOME EXPERTS RECKON THAT UNDER A MILLION TONS OF OIL ARE DISCHARGED INTO THE OCEAN EVERY YEAR. OTHERS PLACE THE FIGURE AS HIGH AS TEN MILLION TONS.
SCIENTISTS HAVE SHOWN CUSTOMARY INGENUITY IN TACKLING THE OIL. THEY'VE TRIED BOMBING IT, SETTING FIRE TO IT, SINKING IT OR DISPERSING IT WITH CHEMICALS. MOST OF THESE COUNTER-MEASURES HAVE THEMSELVES BEEN CRITICISED FOR CAUSING MARINE POLLUTION.
SO THE ONLY REAL SOLUTION IS TO MOP THE OIL UP AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AFTER DISCHARGE. THIS FILM TAKES A LOOK AT SOME RECENT OPERATIONS OF THIS SORT. IT STARTS WITH THE MASSIVE OIL RIG FIRE OFF THE COAST OF TEXAS, WHERE A LONG-TERM OPERATION BY TUGS, BARGES AND BOOMS KEPT OIL LEAKS UNDER CONTROL. THEN THERE'S THE DEMONSTRATION OF A PRIVATELY DEVELOPED SKIMMER. THE STORY IS ROUNDED OFF WITH RARE UNDERWATER FOOTAGE OF DIVERS TACKLING OIL SEEPAGE FROM A TANKER THAT SANK OFF THE CANADIAN COAST LAST YEAR.
SYNOPSIS: Off the Gulf Coast of the United States, the fire on an oil rig rages beyond control. It took months of co-operative effort to finally snuff the fire. In the meantime, tugs ringed the area with floating booms, to present unburned oil polluting the, nearby coastline.
The booms syphon the oil down to a barge and the slick is skimmed off the water and pumped into the barge's holds. Though the operation was highly successful, it emphasised the fact that the problem of oil spillage has now reached crisis proportions.
Scientists have experimented with chemicals for dispersing oil. But some oceanographers are sceptical. They say that the only real way to remove the oil is to scoop it up. One company has developed a rotary skimmer especially for this purpose. The oil slick is once again contained by a boom, then the skimmer sucks up the oil and pumps it into storage tanks.
Off the coast of Canada, a single mast marks the wreak of a tanker. She went down last year in seventy feet of water off Nova Scotia.
Oil continued to snake out of the vessel, presenting a long-term pollution hazard. Despite the difficult conditions on the reef, divers had to go down to tackle the leaks. Canadian Navy divers spent days in icy waters tapping new pipelines to the tanks of the sunken ship.
With the sea temperatures near freezing-point, special, steam pipes had to be lowered to heat the oil sufficiently for it to flow through the pumps. The sunken oil was finally recovered. And though the clean-up operation will continue for a long time, a major ecological crisis was averted. Other coasts have been less fortunate. Estimates of the amount of oil discharged at sea vary from under a million to over ten million tons annually. With oil consumption likely to double in the next decade, the problem can only get worse.
The frightening thing is that accidental oil spills -- the ship-wrecks and oil rig fires -- account for less than half the total amount of oil discharged. The rest is jettisoned during tank-rinsing operations. Only when international action is taken to outlaw the discharge of oil at sea will the problem be solved.