Monday, July 15, 2024

One litre used motor oil can contaminate a million litres of drinking water

It is a familiar sight, a patchwork of oil spills and leaks stretched across our country’s roads, both tar and dirt. A bus stop littered with dark, slick puddles or an abandoned garage that is awash with dirty black sludge spots. But what do these stains on our earth mean for our country?

What do they mean for us?

As little as one litre of used motor oil can contaminate million litres of drinking water and the oil from a single car oil change can create an oil slick the size of a football field!
And not only is used motor oil dangerous to the environment, it can also ÔÇô if not treated with the proper care ÔÇô be a serious health hazard for humans. Used motor oil contains toxins, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that are known to cause cancer.

But if this substance is so dangerous to both people and the environment, why do we continue to use it?

Simply put ÔÇô motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine! Without quality motor oil all the metal surfaces of your engine would grind together and the friction would tear them apart. Oil also transfers the heat away from the combustion cycle and holds in suspension all the nasty by-products of combustion such as silicon oxide and acids. Without motor oil, your motor vehicle simply would not run.

It is important to point out that although used oil can be extremely hazardous; it need not be a threat to either your personal health or the environment.

If treated with the proper care, used motor oil can be disposed of in a safe way ÔÇô or even better it can be recycled and reused over and over again. Recycled oil can sometimes be used for the same job, or it can be used for something completely different. For example, processed used motor oil can be re-used as ‘furnace fuel oil’ which, generally speaking, is any liquid petroleum product that is burned in a furnace or boiler for the generation of heat or used in an engine for the generation of power. It is also worth keeping in mind that recycled oil is also good for the environment as refining used oil takes only about one-third of the energy of refining crude oil to lubricant quality.

So what is the solution to the unavoidable fact that we need oil to make our motors run, even though it can be dangerous?

The obvious answer is to make sure that each of us manages our used motor oil responsibly! Doing this involves a two part process. First, we must make sure that our cars do not leak oil unnecessarily and secondly, we need to make sure that any used oil we do produce ÔÇô whether on purpose, through an oil change, or by mistake through an unforeseen leak ÔÇô is disposed of correctly.

Jitu Patel, Managing Director of Motovac, said that, “We have seen the oil spills and patches on our roads, and know that it is extremely damaging to this beautiful country of ours. We want to be part of the solution and so are working with Tshole Trust to educate the public about used motor oil.”

He went on to explain that Motovac has implemented an extremely effective drainage system in its workshop. Used motor oil and water is drained from vehicles and then separated. The water is recycled through a tank and then reused, and the oil is stored in a special used oil tank. This oil is then safely handed over to council for recycling.

Patel said that, “As the leading auto parts company in Botswana it is imperative that we lead by example. This drainage system allows us to be as environmentally friendly as possible, and enables us to, through the correct channels, recycle used motor oil.”

But what do we do if we accidentally spill used oil? Accidents do happen ÔÇô sometimes even the most cautious of oil user may have a spill – it is how we deal with the accidents that matter!

Tshole Trust is an organization that aims to manage the disposal and recycling of used oil in Botswana. Tshole Trust is working with oil companies in the country to minimize any oil damage to the environment by setting up collection tanks where used oil can be safely deposited across the country.

In the event of an accidental spill Tshole Trust should be contacted for information on how best to deal with the incident, as there are certain procedures and biochemicals that need to be used and that these vary from case to case.

Patel reiterated this by urging people to call Tshole Trust on 3915140 if they have any questions regarding used motor oilor if they would like to know where their nearest used oil collection point is. Patel said, “It is really important that we as a nation start to understand the impact our actions have on the environment, particularly regarding used motor oil, which can be so dangerous. Motovac urges all our customers to dispose of used oil correctly.”

As we all strive to reduce the amount of oil leaking into our water, polluting our plants, animals and selves, it is worth remembering that, according to the Botswana Government’s Waste Management Act, any person found guilty of dumping oil (or any hazardous waste) which pollutes the environment shall be liable to a fine of up to P14 000 and / or imprisonment for up to 10 years!

So let’s all make a conscientious effort to reduce the nation’s oil splattered dishrag that is weaving its way across our national road network and save our environment one oil-change at a time!


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