The immediate effects are that the oil film coats all the surfaces that it comes into contact with. Coating of the water surfaces results in the death of aquatic animals due to lack of oxygen. The oil also coats birds and other animals as well as plant surfaces and thus interferes with the normal functioning of the organisms. The long term effects of oil spills are realized in the ecosystem as the oil particles are incorporated through animals and plants. Ingestion of oil particles by animals has resulted in massive deaths especially in marine life and hence a reduction in the amount of marine life (Marsh, 2004). Before the year 1948, concern for the environment was little.
However, as industrialization continued, so did the negative effects on the environment which called for a plan for action. The environmental movement was thus created and it was concerned with the conservation of natural resources through addressing environmental issues. It was in the 1970s that the relevant authorities began to sensitize people on matters to do with the environment. In April 22nd 1970 an earth day was held and that marked the start of the fight against environmental degradation.
What followed is a wave of legislations and creation of bodies by the government to regulate pollution of the environment through control of emission of toxic waste, dumping in the ocean and protection of wildlife. For instance, in the year 1972, the clean water act (CWA) was passed to oversee water pollution. The overall effect was increased awareness of the damage that industrialization was doing to the environment and thus controls were put in place by the governments which made the industries more accountable for their emissions (Sher, 1998).
There are many laws that have been enacted to control environmental pollution. The most significant law put in place to control oil pollution is the oil pollution act of 1990. The act required all relevant companies to have a `plan to prevent oil spills that may occur` and in addition to that they should also have a `detailed containment and cleanup plan`. The act also banned sea vessels that had caused oil spillages that amounted to more than 10 million gallons from the 22nd of March 1989 from operating in Prince William Sound (EPA, 2014).
After the enactment of this law, the number of oil spillages drastically reduced because companies became more responsible I their undertakings. The clean air act was first enacted in 1970 and was followed by subsequent amendments in the years 1977 and 1990.
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