250,000 Oil Spills in U.S. Waters, 1971-2000

Categorized | News, United States


In a document released by the United State Coast Guard, "PollutionIncidents In and Around US Water, A Spill Release Compendium, 1969-2000," the U.S. Coast Guard recognized that over 250,000 oil spills occurred in U.S. waters. These oil spills combined totaled 259,560,000 gallons. And that’s just between 1971 and 2000.

Upward of 10,000 birds were killed in the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.
“The number of spills increased in the last decade due to better reporting of spills less than 100 gallons.” So in other words, because of the improvements in reporting, more spills were documented. In reality the chances that more spills occurred during the same time frame are high because of the underreporting.
Tankers and barges were responsible for spilling 45% of the total number of barrels (a barrel is 42 gallons according to the same document) which entered U.S. waters. Pipelines spilled 16% of the total, and 92% of pipeline spills occurred onshore, not offshore.
So how useful is the document? Perhaps it provides a rough baseline for the amount of oil spilled in U.S. waters for about three decades.  However, we have seen the relationship between Big Oil and the Mineral Management Service is potentially influenced by corruption and therefore the reporting that occurs may be biased in favor of the oil industry. In other words, there could be even more oil being spilled than is documented.
You can read the entire article at care2.com.

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