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SUMMARIES OF MAJOR  ACCIDENT REPORTS
(In event order)

THE KULLUK INCIDENT
December 2012
THE COSTA CONCORDIA
January 2012
THE TRINITY II
September 2011
THE DEEPWATER HORIZON
April 2010
THE BOURBON DOLPHIN
April 2007
THE STEVNS POWER
October 2003
THE OCEAN RANGER
February 1982
THE OCEAN EXPRESS
April 1976

PICTURE OF THE DAY
PIC OF THE DAY ARCHIVES
2007 - 77 Photographs
2008 - 101 Photographs
2009 - 124 Photographs
2010 - 118 Photographs
2011 - 100 Photographs
2012 - 97 Photographs

 

  

         

Go to 'Publications' to buy any of these books.

DON'T FORGET YOU CAN PURCHASE "THE HISTORY OF THE SUPPLY SHIP", "SUPPLY SHIP OPERATIONS" and "RIGMOVES" HERE FOR 52.50 TOGETHER

GAIA AND THE ART OF FIGHTING MARINE OIL POLLUTION

More than two decades ago, James E. Lovelock proposed the "Gaia" hypothesis: The biosphere of earth acts as a single organism trying always to maintain optimal conditions for its life, and is capable of manipulating nature to counteract against adverse environmental changes.
            This hypothesis has had many illustrious proponents (Lynn Margulis, for one), and at least as many illustrious opponents (Richard Dawkins, for one).
            The Gaia concept became thought fodder for some mystic minded persons and cults and thus lost a lot of credibility with time. But the concept is not wholly dead and in many circles remains as controversial today as it was yesterday. However, it seems to have gained a new friend in an environmental discovery which seems to fit snugly within its framework.
            While studying the oil pollution in the Arabian Gulf, researchers Dr Naser Sorkhoh, Professor Redha Al-Hasan and Professor Samir Radwan from Botany and Microbiology Department of Kuwait University, in collaboration with Prof. Thomas Hoepner of ICBM, University of Oldenburg, discovered the phenomenon of natural bioremediation of the oil-polluted Gulf as reported in NATURE, vol. 359, September, 1992.
            Before we go into details about their discovery, let us talk about marine oil pollution in general.
            Oil pollution in the sea is a constant threat to global ecology. This threat has become more and more acute in the last few decades which saw disasters leading to spillage of huge quantities of oil in the sea. Some of these well-known oil spill disasters are the Amoco Cadiz spill in 1978, the Ixtoc 1 disaster in 1979, the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989 and the Braer spill at Shetland Isles in 1993.
            There are three general approaches for dealing with oil pollution problems: the mechanical, the chemical and the biological. For the best possible reclamation of polluted land and sea, a combination of all three methods is required.
            In sea, the mechanical approach involves skimming the oil off the water surface.
            Oil polluted areas can be sprayed with detergents and chemicals which can react with hydrocarbons and break them down to simpler, non-polluting compounds. This constitutes the chemical approach in fighting oil pollution. This approach has one drawback. The chemicals used can themselves cause pollution and prolonged and intensive use of these chemicals is likely to invoke the law of diminishing returns.
            The third front of attack on oil pollution involves employing biodegradation techniques using microorganisms. This process is called bioremediation.
            The principle is simple enough. There are numerous microorganisms found in nature, which have the capacity of ingesting hydrocarbons and excreting simpler, non-polluting compounds. The oil-polluted areas are seeded with a cocktail of such microorganisms, along with nutrients which can stimulate the growth of these microorganisms. Given sufficient number of microorganisms and sufficient time, this method goes a long way in helping towards removal of oil-pollution.
            But that is not all. There seems to be yet another way of fighting oil pollution: the nature's way.
            This was discovered, ironically enough, in the wake of the worst oil pollution of this century.
            This environmental crisis was precipitated by the Iraqi forces during their occupation of Kuwait, from 2nd August 1990 to 26th February 1991. At a conservative estimate, one million tons of oil was spilled due to the actions of the Iraqi forces in Kuwait. More than nine hundred Kuwaiti oil wells were deliberately damaged.
The oil released into the sea alone severely polluted about 770 km of the Kuwait and Saudi Arabia coasts.
            Rigorous efforts were made to rectify the pollution problem. It has now been fourteen years, but the seas and deserts are still not completely free of oil, though the pollution levels have been much reduced.
            This brings us to the discoveries of the researchers, Sorkhoh, Al-Hasan, Radwan and Hoepner, mentioned above.
            These scientists discovered the occurrence of an extensive growth of mucilagenous mats over oil layers in Saudi coasts. These mats covered the regularly inundated lower part of the oiled intertidal zone in vast sectors. The major components of these mats were marine blue-green algae called cyanobacteria. The predominant species of cyanobacteria found in these mats were Microcoleus chthonoplastes, Phormedium corium, Spirulina subsalsa and Oscillatoria sp.
           Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic. Many species of the cyanobacteria are highly tolerant to severe environments including high temperature and salinity. Some species of cyanobacteria can grow at temperatures up to 75 degrees Celsius. The cyanobacteria produce large amounts of mucilage.
Numerous non-photosynthetic bacteria were found embedded in these mats, the major ones being Rhodococcus sp. and Pseudomonas sp. Research showed that these bacteria are highly efficient in biodegrading the hydrocarbons found in crude oil.
            Immobilizing such oil degrading bacteria within the cyanobacterial mucilage protects them from being washed out in the open sea, and in addition, provides them with oxygen from the photosynthetic partner. Oxygen is essential for hydrocarbon biodegradation. Further, evidence   exists that the cyanobacterial component of the mats may also be involved in direct biodegrading of oil. Thus, in the microbial mats an unusually efficient oil-degrading system is being employed by nature to clean the seas of the oil-pollution and restore environmental balance.
            This natural phenomenon is very much in operation even today and is helping the human endeavors in fighting against marine oil pollution.

            Gaia???

Ahmed A Khan

 Ahmed is a Canadian writer who has written a book - Ghelenden .

TO RETURN TO FEATURES INDEX CLICK HERE

 

FEATURES

THE DEEPWATER HORIZON
Deepwater Horizon -The President's Report
Deepwater Horizon - The Progess of the Event

OTHER ACCIDENTS
The KULLUK Grounding
The Costa Concordia Report
The Costa Concordia Grounding
The Elgin Gas Leak
The Loss of the Normand Rough
The Bourbon Dolphin Accident
The Loss of the Stevns Power
Another Marine Disaster
Something About the P36
The Cormorant Alpha Accident
The Ocean Ranger Disaster
The Loss of the Ocean Express

OPERATIONS
The Life of the Oil Mariner
Offshore Technology and the Kursk
The Sovereign Explorer and the Black Marlin

SAFETY
Safety Case and SEMS
Practical Safety Case Development
Preventing Fires and Explosions Offshore
The ALARP Demonstration
PFEER, DCR and Verification
PFEER and the Dacon Scoop
Human Error and Heavy Weather Damage
Lifeboats & Offshore Installations
More about PFEER
The Offshore Safety Regime - Fit for the Next Decade
The Safety Case and its Future
Jigsaw
Collision Risk Management
Shuttle Tanker Collisions
A Good Prospect of Recovery

TECHNICAL
The History of the UT 704
The Peterhead Connection
Goodbye Kiss
Uses for New Ships
Supporting Deepwater Drilling
Jack-up Moving - An Overview
Seismic Surveying
Breaking the Ice
Tank Cleaning and the Environment
More about Mud Tank Cleaning
Datatrac
Tank Cleaning in 2004
Glossary of Terms

CREATIVE WRITING
An Unusual Investigation
Gaia and Oil Pollution
The True Price of Oil
Icebergs and Anchor-Handlers
Atlantic SOS
The Greatest Influence
How It Used to Be
Homemade Pizza
Goodbye Far Turbot
The Ship Manager
Running Aground
A Cook's Tale
Navigating the Channel
The Captain's Letter

GENERAL INTEREST
The Sealaunch Project
Ghost Ships of Hartlepool
Beam Him Up Scotty
Q790
The Bilbao OSV Conference