Worst Oil Spill in History

Worst Oil Spill in History

As mankind makes further strides in technology and exploration, and the rate at which we need natural resources to fuel these endeavors, we try to push the human limit every single day. With all these, comes the adverse part, which is the impact of our actions on mother nature. Oil spills are one such menace. Let's look at the worst oil spills in history and its impact.
An oil spill is one of the ways in which a massive ecological disaster can occur, affecting all forms of life. The worst affected is marine life, followed by those of birds, and slowly the damage spreads around to the land. The amount of pollution it causes to the air and water cannot even be estimated. Moreover, the damage caused is not only until the oil spills are cleaned up. The damage will manifest itself over time, and will slowly affect life on the planet for years to come. Here, we talk about the worst oil spill in history, followed by a description of some of the worst oil spills of all time.

The Biggest and Worst Oil Spill Ever: The Gulf War Oil Spill

Date: January 23, 1991
Amount: Around 462 million gallons
Location: Persian Gulf, Kuwait

In the war between Iraq and Kuwait, the Iraqi forces opened valves at an oil terminal offshore, to let loose 11 million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf, in order to drive away the US Marines that were advancing towards the country. The amount released created almost a 5 inch cover over the surface of the water, that spread up to 4000 square miles. The aftereffects of the world's only planned oil spill are still seen today, and the damage caused to marine life is now irreversible, not to mention the amount of water pollution that has followed this oil spill.

While many assume that the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico or the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill is one now of the largest oil spills, it does not match up to the disaster caused by the Gulf War oil spill. Caused by an explosion of an oil rig in the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling platform on April 20, 2010, located near the coast of Louisiana, the latest reports have declared this oil spill as the United States' worst oil spill disasters ever. An estimate of about 528,000 - 836,000 gallons of oil have already leaked into the Gulf. Moreover, almost 504,000 gallons of oil are leaking into the Gulf of Mexico on a daily basis, and has still not been effectively contained. Not only did this explosion and subsequent oil spill cause the death and injury of several workers around, it is now spreading to other parts of the country and deeply affecting the environment.

Some Other Enormous Oil Spills

After mentioning the world's worst oil spill, let's take a look at some of the other major oil spills, that have made it to this list.

Sr. No.Oil SpillDateLocationAmount SpilledDescription
1.Ixtoc1 Oil SpillJune 3, 1979Bay of Campeche, Mexico140 million gallonsThis oil spill occurred as a result of a blowout during the drilling of an oil well. This task was being carried out by Pemex, a Mexican petroleum company. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico were affected, and it took a whole year to stop the continuous oil leak.
2.Atlantic Empress Oil SpillJuly 19, 1979Off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago90 million gallonsThe Atlantic Empress was a Greek oil tanker, that collided with the Aegean Captain as it was trapped in a tropical storm. The oil began to leak from the tanker, and continued even while it was being towed. Finally, on Aug 3, 1979, it sunk into the water.
3.Kolva River Oil SpillSeptember 8, 1994Kolva River, Russia84 million gallonsThis oil spill was caused by a pipeline that had burst, with the oil continuously leaking for almost 8 months. However, a dike restrained the oil, but soon collapsed, which led to a massive oil leak.
4.Nowruz Oil Field SpillFebruary 10, 1983Persian Gulf, Iran80 million gallonsWhen a tanker collapsed with an oil platform, it led to the spilling of large amounts of oil into the Persian Gulf.
5.Castillo de Bellver Oil SpillAugust 6, 1983Saldanha Bay, South Africa79 million gallonsThis oil spill was caused because the Castillo de Bellver caught fire, and broke into two. While large amounts of oil were leaked into the sea, part of it sunk, still carrying a little less than half the amount of oil.
6.Amoco Cadiz Oil SpillMarch 16, 1978Portsall, France69 million gallonsAfter having its rudder damaged in a winter storm, the Amoco Cadiz broke into two, and all the oil it contained spilled into the English Channel.
7.ABT Summer Oil SpillMay 28, 1991Approx 700 nautical miles off the coast of Angola51-81 million gallonsAfter the explosion of the ship carrying large amounts of oil, all the oil spilled into the sea causing one of the worst oil spills in history.
8.MT Haven Tanker Oil SpillApril 11, 1991Genoa, Italy45 million gallonsThis tanker exploded and sank into the sea, off the coast of Italy, and continued leaking oil into the Mediterranean sea for almost 12 years.
9.Odyssey Oil SpillNovember 10, 1988Off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada40.7 million gallonsThis oil spill occurred about 700 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, and made it to the last of the ten of the world's worst oil spills.

Though many preventive measures can be taken, the occurrence of an oil spill cannot really be controlled. A lot of natural factors may lead to an oil spill, such as a storm affecting an oil tanker or a blowout, as we have seen in the table above. Also, no matter what the scale of the oil spill, every oil spill would affect us because of its colossal aftermath.