These are the worst oil spills in history

SpillPro on 3 May 2023

Oil spills are an environmental disaster. They release toxic chemicals into waterways; can result in widespread habitat destruction; have a huge economic impact on industries such as fishing, tourism and recreation and can cause some severe long-term effects too. Oil can sink to the ocean floor, where it can continue to damage habitats and wildlife for many years to come.

We have seen the devastating impact of oil spills time and time again throughout recent history. Here are some of the worst incidents to date…

Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 2010:

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was caused by an explosion on an offshore drilling rig. The spill released an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean, making it the largest marine oil spill in history. SpillPro assisted with the cleanup efforts, providing equipment to help clean up the spill.

The cleanup involved various techniques, including controlled burns, skimming, dispersants and in-situ burning. It required a massive, coordinated effort by government agencies, the oil company BP and numerous contractors and volunteers. The full extent of the environmental and economic damage caused by the spill is still being assessed, but the overall cleanup efforts took several years and cost billions of dollars.

Exxon Valdez oil spill, 1989:

The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil. The spill resulted in the deaths of thousands of animals, including otters, seals, and birds.

The cleanup efforts started immediately, and it took several years to complete the restoration of the affected areas.

The initial response involved deploying booms to contain the oil, using skimmers to collect the oil from the surface, and applying dispersants to break up the oil slicks. Later, the cleanup efforts shifted towards manual cleaning, using high-pressure hoses and other equipment to remove the oil from rocks, beaches, and other shoreline areas. Thousands of workers, including residents, fishermen and volunteers, were involved.

The overall cleanup efforts continued for several years, and it was not until 1992 that the U.S. Coast Guard declared that the cleanup was complete. However, the environmental and economic impacts of the spill continued to be felt for many years, and the total cost of the cleanup and restoration efforts was estimated to be over $2 billion.

Amoco Cadiz oil spill, 1978:

The Amoco Cadiz oil spill devastated the coast of Brittany, France, after a supertanker ran aground. The spill released over 68 million gallons of oil, damaging the coastline, and causing widespread ecological damage.

The cleanup efforts lasted for several months, but it took many years for the affected areas to fully recover.

It is estimated that the cost of the cleanup and compensation for damages exceeded $250 million, making it one of the costliest oil spills in history.

Gulf War oil spill, 1991:

The Gulf War oil spill saw Iraqi forces intentionally release oil from Kuwaiti oil fields into the Persian Gulf. The spill released an estimated 380-520 million gallons of oil, causing significant environmental damage.

Prestige oil spill, 2002:

The Prestige oil spill occurred off the coast of Spain, releasing over 20 million gallons of oil into the ocean. The spill resulted in the deaths of thousands of birds and marine animals and caused significant damage to the coastline.

These oil spills demonstrate the devastating impact that oil spills can have on the environment and communities. Not only that, but oil spills are also extremely expensive, difficult, and time-consuming to clean up. It can take years and millions of dollars. The above examples demonstrate the absolute importance of taking measures to prevent such incidents. Furthermore, companies dealing with oil must be ready to respond should an oil spill occur.

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