Petroleum Spills Today

Crude oil, also known as petroleum, is one of the most utilized natural resources today.  Crude oil is naturally found in underground formations and is comprised of various hydrocarbons and organic molecules.  Once extracted, it is refined into many different products, including the diesel and gasoline that fuel over 250 million vehicles operating in the United States.  Many of the hydraulic and lubricating oils that allow machinery to run contain distillates of petroleum and plastic materials derived from petroleum can be found in almost every item manufactured today.  The logistics chain that distributes crude oil and its distillates spans the globe, meaning that nearly every part of the planet can be affected by a spill.

Some pockets of crude oil manage to seep to the Earth’s surface through naturally occurring cracks and fissures in the bedrock.  These natural oil seeps exist on land and on the ocean floor and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute estimates that half of the petroleum that enters the environment comes from these sources.  Since natural seeps occur very slowly they have very little impact on the environment around them.

When oil is spilled from vehicles, vessels or pipelines; however, a large amount is released at one time and it cannot dissipate or break down like it would from a slow seep.  Crude oil contains volatile compounds such as Benzene, Toluene and Xylene that cause health problems for organisms that inhale or ingest them.  The oil itself sticks to surfaces and coats plant and animal life, eventually suffocating them.  Large oil spills receive the most attention in the media but even smaller spills recurring repeatedly in an area can cause long term problems for wildlife.

Despite legal and technical advancements made since petroleum came into wide use in society, spills still occur every day.  The US Department of Energy estimates that over a million gallons of petroleum is spilled into US waterways every year from vessels and pipelines.  Additional petroleum products are spilled onto the land during vehicle wrecks, pipeline leaks, industrial accidents and intentional dumping.

The sheer volume of petrochemical spills around the country each year means that response teams must be vigilant and well prepared at all times.  Protect Environmental has responded to thousands of oil and fuel spills across the North Texas area and helped to prevent damage to sensitive natural areas.  Our HazMat teams have an impeccable safety record and have cleaned up spills of oil and other chemicals in rivers, lakes, roadways and warehouses.  If your company is looking for an emergency response contractor with the experience, equipment and dedication to contain a spill quickly and safely call our offices today.

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