This study is carried out in order to understand the circumstances surrounding the Santa Barbara oil spill, which occurred forty years ago. The research question that will act as a steer for then anticipated enlightenment would be: what were the impacts of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill to the surrounding areas and its environs? The established supposition for this study is that: there was a serious environmental disaster following the oil spill resulted in the death of several aquatic organisms include birds (Dailey & Reish, 1993). The hypothesis extends to indicate that, the adjacent wetlands were severely affected due to the pollution effect of the leaking oil. Various evidences available in history books support this fact and following the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the topic becomes relevant because of the environmental impacts accompanied by such a disaster (Campbell, 2008).
Santa Barbara Oil Spill is an environmental disaster that occurred on January 29, 1969 due to bursting of Union Oil Rig in California. The spill resulted in the release of more leaking of over three million gallons of crude oil to the ocean and it adjacent coasts. Various islands were not spared either during the spill and they include the coastline from Rincon Point through Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Miguel Islands to Goleta (Merchant, 1998). Thousands and thousands of marine organisms' chief among the birds, fish, and dolphins were killed and those that survived faced severe respiratory problems. Breeding sites for the organisms were not spared either this led to migration of many coastal organisms. The beauty of the coastal region was lost and serious remedies were needed to urgently curb the environmental disaster (Wang & Stout, 2007).
After the spill, efforts were consolidated with the aim of subduing the leaking oil but in the process, the level of material used to sustain pressure went down resulting in another burst. This led release of a gas and this aggravated the already overwhelming environmental disaster (Dailey & Reish, 1993). This oil spill resembles the recent one, which occurred to BP Oil Company that resulted in a serious environmental disaster that took a long time before it was apprehended. It is apparently clear that oil spills and bursting of oil well is a grave matter and requires urgent attention before other spills occur. This research, apart from looking at the effects will also provide amicable solutions that would help in the prevention of another occurrence of the same or related disaster (Boesch & Rabalais, 1987).
The success of this research and the mode of obtaining the required information depended greatly on the formulation of objectives that would guide us throughout the course of our study. Some of the formulated objectives included the intention to providing a brief account of the disaster. Additionally, the objectives were centered in finding out the environmental effects of the disaster to the environment and the natural ecosystem. Rescue efforts of curbing the disaster were also identified during the course this research and the ethical issues surrounding this accident.
Campbell in his book "Disasters, accidents, and crises in American history: a reference guide to the nation's most catastrophic events" highlights various disasters that have shaped American history in one way or the other. Besides the other disasters that America has encountered, Campbell provides a brief background, the context, the cause, and the response that were taken in order to counter the effects of the Santa Barbara Oil spill (Campbell, 2008). It is through the book that we are able to find all facts relating to this disaster. Caroline Merchant on the other hand shares her ideas by terming the disaster the first environmental crime in American history. Being an acclaimed environmental historian and ethicist, she uses her wide knowledge in this field to criticize projects that are not environmentally friendly. She also highlights some aspects of the California's beautiful environment before the disaster struck and greatly destroyed its beauty (Merchant, 1998).
Wang and Stout on their part became helpful to this research by providing us with various techniques used to gauge the intensity of an environmental disaster. With these techniques, we can be able to rate the degree at which the environment and ecosystem of Santa Barbara were affected after the oil spill (Wang & Stout, 2007). Boesch and Rabalais in their book titled "Long-term environmental effects of offshore oil and gas development" have provided us with helpful information about the long-term effects of economic activities related oil spills especially the one under our consideration. It is through this book that we can be able to identify the magnitude of this disaster because a lot of ocean flora and fauna were destroyed (Boesch & Rabalais, 1987).
Well-structured questionnaires were formulated with the aim of using them as primary tools of collecting information relevant to our research. Some of the questions in our questionnaire included the requirement by our respondents to provide any facts about what transpired during the accident of the oil spill. The respondents were also required to highlight the effects of the disaster to the natural ecosystem and the surrounding coastal areas (Boesch & Rabalais, 1987). Facts about the ethical issues relating to the accident were also to be collected formulated in the questionnaire. This method is advantageous because clear and concise question brings about the achievement of the required information since it is rare for the respondent to be mixed up. Additionally, it is easy to administer than any other primary method of data collection.
There were instances however, that direct interviews were used to supplement the questionnaire and this proved helpful in the collection of data from the illiterate respondent. This method also gave the respondent the opportunity to understand the questions better because they could be rephrased to suit their understanding while ensuring the required information is collected (Dailey & Reish, 1993). This method is however disadvantageous because language is inevitable and could lead to collection of wrong information. It is also important to mention the use of internet libraries and public libraries as secondary method of obtaining data. This method is advantageous because or accurate and reliable data obtained.
After completion of this study, it was found out that Santa Barbara Oil Spill was the worst environmental the hit America in the late sixties. It resulted in massive destruction of the ecosystem and the environment in general (Randle, 1991). Aquatic organisms were highly affected including whales, fish, and birds. Whales, which used to migrate using this channel avoided it fro along time and those used it suffered from lung hemorrhage. The population of birds was greatly affected and some fled away from the polluted areas (Boesch & Rabalais, 1987). The issue of pollution and subsequent deaths of organisms is an ethical concern and this led to the formation of groups to emergency treatment to the birds (Freedman, 1995). One good example is the Santa Barbara Zoo, a center established in order to offer emergency treatment to birds.
It important to mention that the residents of Santa Barbara had been against the establishment of the offshore mining from its initial stage (National Science Foundation (U.S.), 1989). It was however unethical for leaders to dismiss their proposition which later resulted in severe environmental destruction. This later affected the livelihoods of the residents because the economic activities could not take place. Commercial fishing could not take place until late 1970 a lot of money was used for clean up (Wang & Stout, 2007). Among the clean-up efforts employed to control the leaking of the oil was the pumping of chemical mud to control the leaking while others literally scooped oil from the ocean (Easton, 1972). Air planes also dropped detergents that would later inactivate the toxic nature of tar (National Science Foundation (U.S.), 1989). Hay was also spread on the oily patches on the sandy beaches, which were later raked when they had been soaked up with oil. Another effort employed includes the steaming of rocks but it was disadvantageous because it roasted organisms like mussels and limpets (Randle, 1991).
Besides the formation of organizations in response to the disaster, the American government passed various legislations in order to provide the modalities that would permit the operation of environmentally friendly economic activities (Merchant, 1998). President's response to this disaster cannot be left out. He pondered the sad fact that Santa Barbara had to suffer as an example of the disaster in order to bring out the attention of Americans to matters related to environment. He later proposed for effective formulation of policies that would ensure effective utilization and preservation of coastal beauty and ecosystem (National Science Foundation (U.S.), 1975).
The Santa Barbara Oil Spill is one of the worst environmental disasters to hi America in the 60s. The effects of such an accident are always detrimental to the ecosystem, which once altered can never be brought back to normalcy. It is the ethical responsibility of everyone to engage in activities that do not promote environmental pollution or alteration of the ecosystem. (National Science Foundation (U.S.), 1972).