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The incident occurred when a Samsung company-owned barge shattered into a sizable tanker, ripping large gaps in it. The event took place roughly 5 miles from the coast and 93 miles to the southwest of the capital city of Seoul. (Sang-Hundec).
The oil covered the water's surface and was dispersed over a sizable region by the waves. Some of the oil remains floating on the water course while others covered the coastal sand. This is a discussion on the environmental effects of the oil spill and the solutions that were undertaken in South Korea to correct the situation.
The west coast of South Korea is a well-known area for mariculture and fishing. The large oil spill that covered the water affected aquatic life; many marine animals died because the oxygen supply was cut short by the layer of the oil in the water body. A majority of the animals such as seabirds and migrant birds were covered with thick oil on their feathers, and they could not fly the usual way. Some oyster intertidal farms in the sea were all covered with oil, and that negatively affected their production and life cycle. Locomotion was impaired in all sea animals, for example, crabs, because they got stuck in the oil layers (Sang-Hundec). The adverse effects on marine animals resulted in severe socio-economic implications. The death of many migratory birds was a huge loss to the economy of the country because the marine creatures were a source of tourist attraction and revenue.
The decaying dead sea animals on the shore emitted a foul smell that was unhealthy to the people living around the place. The foul smell led to respiratory problems, mainly to children because of their weak immune system (Pandey 381). People living along the coast were complaining of severe headaches that were caused by the bad smell from the decaying bodies. Many tourists left the shores of the country while others canceled the reservations that they had made. The local communities and the nation suffered massive losses because there was no revenue from the marine sanctuaries and some individuals became unemployed. The citizens of South Korea voluntarily stopped their work to participate in the cleaning process of the shore.
The oil spills had cut short the supply of oxygen in the water, and it resulted in the suffocation and death of the fish. The lack of fishing on the coast led to food insecurity in the communities around the shore. There was also the loss of income from the fishermen because their daily work had to stop (Sang-Hundec). The coastal communities were faced with the threat of unhealthy living conditions and poverty because of the environmental degradation and the loss of employment. There was also a problem of health that is respiratory problems experienced especially with small children. The mercury in the oil spills and methane from the decaying bodies led to respiratory complications for the people living on the shore.
Therefore, other sectors of the economy suffered because of the negligence by the Treasury. The economic loss in the country was escalating with each day that the government was busy with cleaning the oil spillage. People were not allowed to embark to fishing because of the fear by medical officers that the surviving fish were poisonous because of the chemicals from the mercury and methane (Pandey 382). The precaution by the health ministry also resulted in the loss of market for all sea products from South Korea because of the fear of poison. The uncertainties further worsened the economic loss of the country.
As soon as the oil spill occurred, the central government a state of disaster on the incidence and that evoked the emotions and attention of all the people in South Korea. The government of immediately responded by covering up the supertanker. The first move was meant to prevent more leakage into the sea (Pandey 384). The regional government mobilized people to join them and provided the equipment to do the voluntary cleaning. There was an appeal for the donation of clothes so that the volunteers can cover their bodies and stay safe from the cold.
People collected the oil slicks from the accident using cans. At the same time, the coast guard vessels hurriedly established the oil floating fences, which unfortunately were destroyed by high tidal waves (Sang-Hundec). Private fishing boats, navy, offshore and coast guards were throwing absorbing cloth and sterilizing the chemicals from the oil spills. The volunteers at the beach spread out mats to absorb the oil and mitigate the damage. Coastal sand that was coated with layers of oil was scooped and taken away from the sea so that they are not taken into the sea again. Villagers had cans as well as buckets to scoop clumps of oils that were floating on the water source.
Pandey, Sudhir Kumar. "Airborne Mercury Pollution from a Lage Oil Spill Accident on the West
Coast of Korea." Journal of Hazardous Materials 164.1 (2009): 380-384.
Sang-Hundec, Choe. "South Korea Cleans Up Big Oil Spill." 10 December 2007. The New York
Times . 24 February 2017
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