How do chemical spills and the process of cleaning them up impact the economy? 

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chemical spills can have both good and bad impacts on the economy.  Some of these impacts will depend on the exact type of spill and its location. 

The downside of chemical spills is easily understood.  First, there is the loss of the chemicals themselves.  If what spills is chemicals that were going to be sold or used, there is economic loss right off the bat.  The firm that was going to use or sell the chemicals is no longer able to do so.  Second, there are impacts from the spill.  These depend on where the spill occurs.  For example, if a spill occurs in a waterway where people fish, the economic gain from the fishing will be lost.  The fishers will not be able to catch and sell anything.  Finally, there are impacts resulting from the cleanup.  Let us say that the spill occurs in a chemical plant.  While the spill is being cleaned up, the plant cannot function.  The firm loses the money it would have made during this time.

All that said, there are some positive economic impacts.  Mainly, these come from the fact that someone must be paid to do the cleanup.  The people who do the cleanup get paid.  So do the firms that supply the materials used in the cleanup. 

So, while there are serious economic losses associated with chemical spills, there can also be some benefits to some people.