Oil Spills, High-Energy Coasts
Most oil spills at sea occur in relatively confined and sheltered localities, often from tankers in passage to or from oil terminals and ports. Natural processes, especially evaporation and other weathering effects quickly reduce the volume of oil at the surface but the more persistent residue requires expensive protection and clean-up procedures. Although normally less than is predicted at the time of the incident, substantial environmental and economic damage can occur along impacted coastlines and in nearshore zones. The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska is the type-example of a large oil spill in a confined, low-energy location.
Some major oil spills occur in deep water more than 100 nautical miles from the nearest coastline. Normally weathering processes and, depending on wind and currents, the substantial time interval before the oil reaches a coastline minimize pollution damage. Chemical dispersants which are designed to breakdown the oil into tiny droplets for easier dilution,...
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