Long-Term Ecological Impacts from Oil Spills: Comparison of Exxon Valdez, Hebei Spirit, and Deepwater Horizon
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- Long-Term Ecological Impacts from Oil Spills: Comparison of Exxon Valdez, Hebei Spirit, and Deepwater Horizon
- Barron, Mace G.; Vivian, Deborah N.; Heintz, Ron A.; Yim, Un Hyuk
- KIOST Author(s)
- Yim, Un Hyuk(임운혁)
- The long-term ecological impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) are compared to two extensively studied and more recent large spills: Deepwater Horizon (DWH) and the Hebei Spirit oil spill (HSOS). Each of the three spills differed in magnitude and duration of oil released, environmental conditions, ecological communities, response and clean up measures, and ecological recovery. The EVOS began on March 24, 1989, and released 40.8 million liters of Alaska North Slope crude oil into the cold, nearly pristine environment of Prince William Sound, Alaska. EVOS oiled wildlife and rocky intertidal shorelines and exposed early life stages of fish to embryotoxic levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Long-term impacts following EVOS were observed on seabirds, sea otters, killer whales, and subtidal communities. The DWH spill began on April 20, 2010, and released 507 million liters of light Louisiana crude oil from 1600 m on the ocean floor into the Gulf of Mexico over an 87-day period. The DWH spill exposed a diversity of complex aquatic communities in the deep ocean, offshore pelagic areas, and coastal environments to petroleum hydrocarbons. Large-scale persistent ecological effects included impacts to deep ocean corals, failed recruitment of oysters over multiple years, damage to coastal wetlands, and reduced dolphin, sea turtle, and seabird populations. The HSOS began on December 7, 2007, and released approximately 13 million liters of Middle East crude oils into ecologically sensitive areas of the Taean area of western Korea. Environmental conditions and the extensive initial cleanup of HSOS oil stranded on shorelines limited the long-term impacts to changes in composition and abundance of intertidal benthic communities. Comparisons of EVOS, DWH, and HSOS show the importance and complexity of the interactions among the environment, oil spill dynamics, affected ecological systems, and response actions.
- Environmental Science and Technology, v.54, no.11, pp.6456 - 6467, 2020
- American Chemical Society
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