The European Climate Foundation has created an infographic which depicts potential dangers of the increased Arctic shipping activity in the region. An oil spill can be proven catastrophic for the region, because of Arctic’s sensitive environment.
In the case that HFO spill happens in the Arctic, its clean up would be extremely difficult. This because HFO is very toxic, because it s a thick oil fuel that emulsifies with water and it is persistent.
Thus, the increased number of fuel tanks transiting the Arctic, raises the risk of an HFO spill.
As we speak, there isn’t a solution in case something like that happens, because no solution or method has been discovered to recover spill from the Arctic.
This happens due to the following reasons:
- Oil takes longer to break down in cold waters,
- Ice and snow make any cleaning operation challenging,
- Oil trapped under the ice makes the pollution last longer and travel further
HFO can be proven extremely dangerous for the health of Arctic flora and fauna, considering that HFO is very toxic and because of its thick nature, it can smother species, coat feathers and fur and reduces the ability to maintain body temperature.
Furthermore, an oil spill will also directly affect the people who live in the Arctic and rely on a healthy marine environment for their livelihood.
Additionally, although sludge needs to be discharged onshore, a number of vessels illegally discharge it in the oceans, thus increasing the environmental risk that an oil spill can have.
Finally, the infographic presents a case study.
Namely, in 1989 in Alaska a spill occurred. Until today, oil remains on the beaches and has the same chemical compounds as those it had 11 days after the incident.
Species like otters, orca whales and pink salmons are still being damaged, while others like crabs and herrings are not back.
For more information view the infographic herebelow: