Oil spills have a devastating effect on marine life and coastal communities. Unfortunately, oil pollution has become an integrated part of the oil and gas industry. The Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 is often seen as an irregularity in an otherwise safe endeavour. However, collisions and leakages, causing significant oil pollution and subsequently damaging marine life, are a somewhat frequent occurrence. The Russian Vessel Oleg Neydenov and the busted pipeline incident off the coast of California in 2015 serve as worrying evidence in point.
In a recent study published in March 2017, researchers set out to develop a risk index, with the aim of measuring and comparing the vulnerability of coastal regions to oil spills. By drawing on computer modelling techniques and by considering the distance of coast to the spill as well as ocean currents, researchers simulated the effect of an oil spill on European coastlines. While the results indicate that European Atlantic countries are most at risk, the study also concluded that Mediterranean coastlines, those of Greece and Italy for example, were amongst those most at risk. The aim of the study, which we share, is to inform policymakers of the regions most vulnerable to the impact of oil spills, and to adopt appropriate preventive measures. NRDC and OceanCare advocate that policymakers will consider the study and protect the vulnerable Mediterranean from devastating effects of oil spills. A ban on exploration and exploitation activities in the Mediterranean would go a long way.