Ways to reduce oil spills in oceans

An oil spill is a word used to describe the contamination of saltwater by an oil pour as a result of an accident, human error, or natural disaster.

Large volumes of oil must be carried over the ocean and across the land by ships and pipelines. Oil is a significant energy source.

If safety is taken into account when a vessel is on water, the likelihood of an oil spill can be reduced.

History is full of cases where modest safety precautions were disregarded, leading to oil spills.

The output of petroleum products increased from 500 million tons in 1950 to 2,500 million tons in the middle of the 1990s, leading to extensive transportation and related oil spills, claims Marine Insights.

The rate at which oil is transported, the age of oil tankers, and the growing size of oil tankers have all contributed to a sharp increase in this number.

Source: The Deepwater Horizon Disaster – The New Yorker

Over half of the 706 million gallons of waste oil that are thought to enter the ocean each year come from trash disposal and drainage on land, such as improperly discarding used motor oil.

Less than 8% of all oil spills are typically caused by offshore drilling and production activities, ship or tanker leaks, or oil spills.

The remaining amounts are caused by normal ship maintenance (almost 20%), hydrocarbon air pollution from onshore sources (13%), and natural seepage from the seafloor (over 8 percent).

The majority of water contamination by the oil spill is caused by mistakes or negligence.

Although oil can leak during vessel operations, fuel oil typically enters the water during refueling.

Oil from recreational boats typically comes from waste oil, oil tank washings, dirty ballast water, bilge water, slops, and sludges.

All petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel fuel, and motor oil, are harmful to people, plants, and wildlife, regardless of how they are dispersed.

In addition to holding lethal metals, gasoline and oil reduce the oxygen content of water, obscure the sun’s rays, and generally deteriorate water quality.

Why it is Important to avoid oil spills in Ocean?

Before the oil emulsifies, spills should be cleaned up as soon as possible. When water and oil are combined in emulsification, the resulting substance can have the consistency of thick pudding.

Emulsified oil is extremely challenging to remove with conventional methods (sorbents, dispersants, skimmers, etc.).

Source: oil spill | Definition, Causes, Effects, List, & Facts | Britannica

In addition, hazardous oil damages the ecosystem where it has leaked, harming the local fauna. To minimize environmental harm, oil spills must be cleaned up right away.

Animals like dolphins and whales are particularly vulnerable to the effects of crude oil exposure on their lungs, immune systems, and reproductive systems.

Additionally, the oil has the potential of plugging their blowholes, which would prevent them from being able to breathe.

The NOAA claims that oil damages a bird’s capacity to resist water and a fur-bearing mammal’s ability to insulate, leaving these creatures vulnerable to the elements.

Birds and mammals will get hypothermic if they cannot ward off water and protect themselves from the cold water.

Humans may be impacted by oil spills. Oil can make fish and shellfish dangerous for humans to eat if deadly effects are not seen.

Ways to Reduce Oil Spills in Ocean

Boaters and marinas both need to do their part to cut back on oil and fuel pollution.

Any task involving the handling of fuel or oil should be carried out in a way that reduces the likelihood of an unintentional leak.

The actions marinas and boaters can take to lessen oil and fuel pollution are listed below.

Source: Boating, Marinas and NPS Pollution – megamanual.geosyntec.com


  • To limit the likelihood of spillage, only fill fuel tanks 90% of the way up. Use oil absorbent pads in the bilges of all boats with inboard engines.
  • To lower the risk of sinking, examine through-hull fittings frequently.
  • Recycle used filters and oil.


  • Conduct regular storage tank inspections as mandated by law.
  • Use automatic nozzle shutoffs to lessen the possibility of filling gasoline tanks over their capacity.
  • Establish a program for recycling used oil so that it may be brought to a specific pickup location.
  • Keep spill-control supplies close at hand.
  • Eliminate spent oil and fuel-absorbing materials properly.

Every crew member must have a specific responsibility on the oil pollution prevention team.

Equipment used to combat oil spills must be maintained constantly or it risked becoming useless.

This is only a portion of a pre-arrival checklist, but it is the responsibility of every crew member to notice anything that could cause an oil spill right away.

Oil spills are most frequently the outcome of another incident, however, they can also occur during an operation when oil is delivered.

Each crew member or group of crew members is assigned unique responsibilities by the Oil Pollution Prevention Team (OPPT).

A minimum of 12 barrels of on-deck oil cargo spill containment and cleanup materials must be on board any vessel with an overall length of 400 feet or more.

The necessary tools and materials must include:

  • Sorbents
  • Hand scoops, shovels, and buckets that don’t catch fire
  • Emulsifiers
  • Protective clothes
  • Recovered waste containers
  • Non-sparking portable pumps, and hoses.

Before a vessel departs from the shore, the following inquiries must be addressed. He also goes by the name “Pre-Arrival Checklist.”

  • Has the oil pollution prevention team addressed the oil pollution contingency plan and conducted drills?
  • Has the corresponding checklist from the “Bridge Procedure Guide” been finished?
  • Have air-driven pumps been rigged and tested? Scuppers, are they closed tightly?
  • Has the IMO Crude Oil Washing checklist been completed, and have the cargo lines been pressure tested?
  • Does the Oil Discharge Monitoring and Control System (ODME) operate and are its regular operations carried out?
  • Have the bilge overboard and sea chest valves undergone pressure testing, lashing, or sealing?
  • Have the high-level alarms for the bilge in the void space, pump room, and pipe duct been tested?

If there is an oil leak, it should be contained as much as possible to prevent oil from escaping.

Priority considerations include the protection of the environment, the safety of the ship and crew, and both.

These must take precedence over any commercial considerations in an emergency.

Equipment for preventing oil pollution must constantly be properly maintained and trained.

It is the responsibility of the Deck Officer to quickly notify the Chief Officer of any situation that could result in an oil spill, at which point the Chief Officer will summon the “Oil Pollution Prevention Team.”

A Few Pointers to Avoid Small-Vessel Oil Spills

Oil spills from small vessels mount up even though they are all very minor in volume.

How can minor oil leaks occur? The two most frequent sources are spills while refueling and bilge discharge, which occur when oil and water build up in a boat’s lowest compartment and are subsequently pumped out.

What steps may boaters take to avoid minor spills?

Small Spills Prevention Checklist

Source: Yemen FSO Poses Oil Spill Risk – The Maritime Executive

Vessel maintenance:

  • Tighten engine nuts to stop oil leaks. With engine use, bolts might come loose.
  • Replace cracked or worn hydraulic lines and fittings before they fail. Lines can wear out from sun and heat exposure or abrasion.
  • Add an oil drip pan or tray to your engine. A cookie sheet or paint tray will do the work; you don’t need anything fancy or pricey.
  • To stop oily water leakage, make your bilge sock out of oil absorbent pads.
  • When refilling at the pump, keep an eye out for overflows by being aware of your tank’s capacity and allowing for gasoline growth.
  • While refueling, switch off your bilge pump; remember to put it back on when finished.
  • To capture drips, use an absorbent pad or a gasoline collar. Always have a supply on hand.
  • If spills do occur, boaters must handle them skillfully. To stop spills from spreading, they should be immediately controlled and cleaned up with absorbent pads or booms. Notify the Coast Guard and your state spill response office, per federal law, and let the marina or fuel dock staff know about the incident, so they can assist.

It’s important to remember that spreading awareness about oil spills and how they affect the ecosystem and marine life is important.

We can raise awareness of the harm that oil spills cause to marine life and the environment by doing this.

By contacting local governments and urging them to impose tighter rules on oil rigs, drilling rigs, and oil shipment, we may help reduce the number of oil leaks.


As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”, so it is for an oil spill. It is better to prevent oil spills in oceans than to cure them.

The best way to prevent oil spills is to diversify to greener and cleaner energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy.

But, in the instance of an oil spill, a standby oil spill clean-up team should be ready and available to clean up the oil spill with the best technology that can be used.


A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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