11 Most Devastating Oil Spills in History

11 Most Devastating Oil Spills in History

Oil spill disasters have created mayhem in the maritime world for many years now. Serving as a catastrophe to both industry and the environment, the result of an accident involving ships or oil rigs cause ocean water to become contaminated with poison. Here are 11 of the largest and worst fossil fuel spills in world history.

1. Ixtoc 1 Oil Well

A grave disaster in the Gulf of Mexico’s rich cobalt waters occurred with the collapse of a mighty oil well, Ixtoc 1, in June of 1979. Manned by the Mexican-owned petroleum company Pemex, manpower was not enough to prevent 140 million gallons of the heinous hydrocarbon liquid to permeate the open sea for a period of ten months’ time.

In the Bay of Campeche, almost 10,000 to 30,000 barrels of slick oil was gushing out in involuntary floods every day. Because of this the accident saturated 1100 square miles surrounding the well’s collapse— a huge threat for Rancho Nuevo— a prominent nesting site for Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles along the Mexican coast.

2. Atlantic Empress

In the Caribbean Sea where ultramarine waters are splashed with neon reefs and rainbow schools of fish, a 1979 disaster cast the coast of Tobago in black.

Two oil tankers set off on their journey— the first, named the Atlantic Empress, was headed to Beaumont from Saudi Arabia and the other, Aegean Captain, was en route from Aruba to Singapore, when a tropical storm caused their path to blur and the tankers to collide.

Immediately upon impact the supertankers began oozing oil into the precious sea and everything in its wake caught fire.

3. Nowruz Field platform

Here lies the world’s largest single source of petroleum and hub of 25% of the planets’ oil production— the Persian Gulf. Where cerulean waters host over 700 species of marine life, a major oil spill occurred that was so out of control, it wasn’t until seven months later that the oil spill pollution was finally maintained.

During the Iran-Iraq war in 1983, an oil tanker hit a platform known as the Nowruz Field platform— a main source of drilling and oil regulation and an area that has suffered many spills over the years; this time, however, the hit was massive.

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4. Odyssey Oil Spill

The Odyssey went down only 700 miles from the coast of Canada that November of 1988; in the wake of tragedy, all 43 million gallons of the North Sea fossil fuel oozed from the cargo tanks like a seeping mass into the Atlantic Ocean.

The spill covered an area approximately 3 miles wide and 10 miles long, yet fortunately the aftermath of the petroleum spill barely made its way toward land.

5. ABT Summer

In May of 1991, about 700 nautical miles from the coast of Angola, an oil tanker by the name of ABT Summer experienced an explosion on board that caused the vessel to engorge in flames and expel 51 million gallons of petroleum oil into the surrounding sea.

6. Castillo de Bellver

Somewhere about 70 miles northwest of South Africa’s Capetown, a Spanish tanker lies in halves on the seabed floor, its tanks a murky reminder of the 110,000 tons of oil it held as the vessel sank.

7. MT Haven

Another very large crude carrier called the MT Haven, exploded off the coast of Genoa, Italy, in 1991. Carrying approximately 144,000 tons of crude oil on its back, the tanker was unloading its cargo onto the Multedo floating platform at the time of the incident.

8. The Gulf War Oil Spill

Warfare caused the great Gulf War oil spill of 1991, in which Iraqi forces who withdrew from Kuwait, opened their pipelines and the valves to a mass number of oil wells with the aims to set fire to the range, and prevent the United States military forces from penetrating the area.

9. Amoco Cadiz

In March 1978, an oil tanker named Amoco Cadiz ran aground and started a major oil spill off the coast of Brittany, France. When a storm tampered with the ship’s steering system, the very large crude carrier lost all navigational control and headed straight for the shore.

Related: Top 10 Scary Sea Creatures in the World

10. Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

Image by www.hakaimagazine.com

In March 1989 the oil tanker known as the Exxon Valdez, ran aground on Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef in Alaska. It was headed for Long Beach, California, when it struck the reef and spilled 10.8 million gallons of crude oil out into the surrounding waters for several days forward.

11. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Considered the largest in the history of the petroleum industry, the accident occurred in April of 2010, when a spill from a seafloor gusher led to a horrifying explosion of the British Petroleum owned oil rig named Deepwater Horizon.

The accident killed 11 hardworking men aboard the rig and continued to spew death into the surrounding waters, as the marine environment suffered dearly from the incident.

The oil spill destroyed the lives of over 82,000 birds, 25,900 marine mammals, 6,000 sea turtles and tens of thousands of fish and other crustaceans.

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