Photo from a UNIS Environmental Technology Photo Gallery
1. The oil spill in San Francisco Bay, USA. This spill was caused when the container ship the Cosco Busan struck the San Francisco Bay Bridge on Wednesday, November 7, 2007 causing 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil to dump into the bay. Some 2,000 birds have come into custody (either dead or alive) of the International Bird Research Rescue Center and their counter parts.
2. The oil spill in the Black Sea, Russia. First the oil tanker Volgoneft-139 was split in half by high seas outside the Kerch Strait spilling some 1.3 million tons of oil into the Azov and Black Seas. Second, the sinking of a dry cargo ship near the Port of Kavkaz that was carrying 2000 tons of sulfur. Because ships were being run on the ocean that are outfitted for rivers, ships broke apart in storms and who knows what kind of shape those ships were in. I've been on Russian ships, I can imagine it. Supposedly there were storm warnings but the company CEOs couldn't be bothered to change their plans. You know, who cares if a bunch of seamen die and oil spills during the height of the bird migration. Imagine it...300,000 birds reported dead by the end of the day. The International Fund for Animal Welfare is helping assist Russia assess the impacts.
Photo from the UK Telegraph
Both spills are killing and affecting wildlife. Birds are usually the first hit. Their feathers get oiled and they cease being waterproof. Then the birds get cold and wet and hungry. Sometimes animals eat the oil which then coats their intestines keeping them from getting energy from food or sometimes from swallowing. Next are the fish who get the oil as it sinks. They die because they can't breathe the stuff and it coats their gills. The algae is coated, the mollusks get clogged. In Russia now dolphins are washing up dead on the beach. The effects of these spills will affect these places for a long time to come.
There was a slow response in San Francisco but California has mobilized, they have set up Oiled Wildlife Care Networks, there are organizations trained in the cleanup effort, in Russia soldiers have been mobilized but while they attempt to clean up seamen, who are trying to cleanup the wrecks, are simply pumping fuel into the ocean. I dunno about you but this makes me angry. On Wall Street there are complaints about the rising costs of fuel but they're talking dollars. I'm concerned about the rising ecological costs of fuel. And in case any of you are wondering, the Exxon Valdez has still not paid off all the money it owes Alaskans for the damages to their livelihoods in 1989. In fact they're taking the state to court to try and avoid paying money that is about the equivalent of 5% of their quarter earnings. Yeah, that's right, they're willing to spend more money to fight us in court rather then do the responsible thing.
(Note: I am not quoting my sources because they would be too many but clearly this is not first hand information but from various news sources combined with some background info from my own participation in cleaning up 3 oil spills.)