The transport of fuel from source to power stations is often hazardous. Coal is easily transported by train or by ship, and coal power stations are often sited near the coalfields. Oil is easier to transport, but the hazards are greater. Over the years, many huge oil tankers have run onto rocks and large amounts of oil have escaped, with devastating consequences for the local environment. Large numbers of fish and seabirds are killed, and marine plant life destroyed. However, the imposition of stringent safety regulations has reduced the number of such accidents, and the effects are generally rather short-lived. Gradually, the oil evaporates, is broken down naturally, or finally becomes harmless pieces of tar. Detailed studies have shown that the polluted area often returns in many respects to its previous state more quickly than many thought possible, and that expensive attempts to clean the beaches often delay their eventual regeneration. It should also be mentioned that only about 20% of the oil entering the oceans comes from such oil spills.
Most of the remainder comes from the common practice of filling empty tanks with water as ballast and then pumping it out again when it is ready to receive oil. Finally, some comes from natural oil seepage from oil-bearing rocks.
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