Water Pollution by Petroleum Products

The government of any country has to deal with many problems on a regular basis. All aspects are more or less important, but some of them directly relate to the safe existence of citizens. The United States is the biggest consumer of petroleum products, and it is a common belief that the highest percentage of water pollution is caused by crude oil. This country faces a real policy challenge of groundwater protection and saving nature. This paper discusses water pollution caused by petroleum products, which is a problem that has become acute in the time of industrial advancement.

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Importance of the Problem

Water is the most important substance for human existing. Unfortunately, the condition of aquifers began worsening in the past century because of the technological progress. Undoubtedly, most of the technological advancements made our everyday life much easier. At the same time, the disadvantage of these developments is the increase of environmental pollution. Of course, it is hard to imagine our daily life without petroleum products and things manufactured on its basis. Gasoline, kerosene, various lubricants, resin, cosmetics, and perfumes are not the only items in the list of goods produced from crude oil. The benefits obtained from petroleum usage are obvious, but the percentage of oil that penetrates into the ground and water pose a serious threat to humanity. Moreover, the production and consumption of petroleum are constantly increasing with every year. Thus, it is crucial to control the issue of water pollution caused by oil products and its derivatives, as they constitute a great danger for all living organisms.

It is a well-known fact that major polluters of groundwater, seawaters, and oceans are oil and its derivatives. It could acquire various states – liquid, solid, and vapor. As a result, water changes its smell, taste, color, surface tension, and viscosity. Since the amount of oxygen is decreasing, harmful organic substances begin to appear. For this reason, water becomes toxic and dangerous not only to humans but also to animals and microorganisms. That is why it is highly important to control the level of water pollution on the governmental level.


Edwin L. Drake invented the first oil well in 1859 in Pennsylvania. This source of energy has become an integral part of industrialization. After a while, petroleum deposits in the United States started to decrease. However, the demand for it was only increasing. Humanity entered the era of technological development and people widely use oil products in all spheres of life. It was the first time when humanity faced the problem of water pollution by oil and started to make researches into this field of study. Scientists discovered the harmful effects of petroleum, and since that time, they continue to improve wastewater treatment and invent alternative sources of energy.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created to tackle problems concerning pollution of nature. Additionally, there are many programs for encouraging enterprises to implement various energy sources. The government of the United States provides investments, namely cash grants together with tax expenditures and regulatory incentives. It is interested in clean energy as it is beneficial not only for American population, but for the country’s economic as well.

Underlying Causes

The problem of water pollution from petroleum products continues to exist, because the demand for oil products is steadily increasing. Various enterprises, manufacturing facilities, transportation, and lights supplies need an enormous amount of energy every day. People extract tons of crude oil every day. The amount of harmful petroleum products penetrating into groundwater increases and accumulates. Consequently, the cleaning facilities should work intensively to provide the depuration of aquifers.

Policy Options

Improvement of Water Cleaning Facilities

Gasoline station is a place where oil spills occur every day, so there is a need to check the water condition near them. Engineers install modern technologies to control oil and other spills of lubricating materials. Each gas station should be equipped with up-to-date monitors that will control the groundwater condition near the territory of a filling station. In the case of leakage of the main tank, there is a second one installed for safety precaution. In addition, it has statistical inventory reconciliation equipment – a special computer that shows leakages in tanks and informs the workers about the problem immediately. Fine and coarse filters that are located in the pipeline and sewage systems significantly reduce the level of groundwater pollution near gas stations as well.

The other method of natural water purification is called bioremediation. Such procedure encourages growth and reproduction of indigenous microorganisms that increase biodegradation of organic components in the contaminated zone. Bioremediation can be in aerobic, anaerobic, and cometabolic forms (EPA). The advantages of this water cleaning method are in its relatively cheap price. Owing to the microorganisms and nature, this process involves less equipment and people to conduct it.

Implementation of Alternative Energy Sources

Since the usage of petroleum products is harmful to the environment, the scientist all over the world began to discover alternative energy sources that would be more favorable to living organisms. Solar, wind, ocean, hydroelectric, geothermal, and biomass energy sources were investigated and they are rapidly gaining popularity. They are harmful compared to fossil fuels. The intensive usage of alternative energy sources is beneficial for public health, as it has even reduced mortality. Furthermore, it is quite cost-effective, since there is no need of foreign energy. Government makes a huge effort to clean energy production, as it is beneficial for the economy.

The Increase of Electric Car Production

The other potential way of solving this policy challenge is the development and implementation of electric cars. A hybrid vehicle is a good method to show awareness and respect to the surrounding. Such cars need significantly less fuel, while some of them do not need it at all. They reduce the dangerous evaporation to the environment and minimize oil spills. They save money, petroleum, and nature at the same time (“Benefits and considerations of electricity as a vehicle fuel,” n. d.). Consequently, oil spills near gas station would happen less frequently.


It is possible to achieve the best result by combining all the above-proposed ways in solving this policy challenge. Since crude oil is a non-renewable resource, it would be more rational to reduce its production and implement alternative sources of energy.

The government of the United States would save finances and efforts aimed at saving nature and water purification. It is better to allocate funds to support the science and various ecological researches. Discovering new methods of reduction of the harmful impact would be better than nature restoration. Replacing fossil fuels by alternative energy sources would reduce the funds for medication and health improvement.

In conclusion, the problem of water pollution caused by petroleum products, which the United States has faced in the last century, is really serious and aggravating. Since the consumption of gasoline is increasing, the pollution of underground aquifers is rapidly worsening. It is impossible to solving this problem without governmental support. Ecology policy of America needs to finance the scientists that work on the improvement of water cleaning methods and encourage American citizens to protect environment.