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Oil Spill Statistics


Unfortunately, oil spills occur more often than most people think. While major oil spills such as the Exxon Valdez and Gulf Coast disasters have received a lot of media attention, many smaller accidents occur every year. Looking at oil spill statistics, it becomes clear that the total devastation is much larger than it is portrayed in the media.

Worldwide Oil Spills 1970-2009

According to The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF), a non-profit organization that compiles data on oil spills, the number of spills and amount of oil spilled into the ocean has decreased since the 1970s and 1980s.

Year

51-5,133 barrels

More than 5,133 barrels

1970

7

29

1971

18

14

1972

48

27

1973

28

32

1974

89

28

1975

96

23

1976

67

27

1977

68

17

1978

59

21

1979

60

35

1980

52

13

1981

54

7

1982

45

4

1983

52

13

1984

26

8

1985

31

8

1986

28

7

1987

27

10

1988

11

10

1989

33

13

1990

50

14

1991

30

7

1992

31

10

1993

31

11

1994

26

9

1995

20

3

1996

20

3

1997

28

10

1998

26

6

1999

20

6

2000

20

4

2001

17

3

2002

13

3

2003

15

4

2004

16

5

2005

22

4

2006

13

5

2007

13

4

2008

8

1

2009

3

0

Gulf Coast Oil Spill Statistics

  • Location: The Gulf of Mexico, about 42 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana.
  • Cause: Scientists think that a methane bubble was released from a well that was being converted from an exploration well to a production well. The bubble of gas broke through several safety barriers before triggering an explosion and oil leak.
  • Total Oil Spilled: Some say that 5,000 barrels of oil are leaking into the water each day. Other estimates put this number as high as 70,000 barrels per day. Oil has been spilling into the Gulf since April 20.
  • Marine Life Killed: The number of birds, fish, plants, and other marine life killed in the Gulf Coast oil spill may never be known; in the days following the disaster, a higher number of birds and sea turtles were found dead on the shoreline than is normal. Experts estimate that more than 400 species may be adversely affected by the spill.
  • Distance Oil Spread: Because the spill occurred near the Loop current, experts fear that the oil will affect Florida shorelines, and could potentially spread oil as far as the United State's northeastern coast.

Exxon Valdez Statistics

  • Location: Prince William Sound, about 100 miles southeast of Anchorage.
  • Cause: The oil tanker Exxon-Valdez hit a reef, and the damage to the ship allowed oil to leak into open waters.
  • Total Oil Spilled: About 11 million gallons (257,000 barrels)
  • Marine Life Killed: According to estimates, 250,000 birds, 2,800 sea otters, 302 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, 22 whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs were killed.
  • Miles of Shoreline Affected: 1,300 miles
  • Distance Oil Spread: 470 miles to the southwest
  • Legal Award: $507.5 million (reduced from the original $5.287 billion that was originally awarded in the case).

Contact an Attorney

If your life has been affected by an oil spill, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. You may be eligible for compensation for loss of wages, property damage, or other restitution.

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