Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Fossil Fuels

There Were 137 Oil Spills In The U.S. In 2018 — See Where They Happened

Oil spills don’t make the news very often unless they are big, like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, which killed 11 people and spewed an estimated 205 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. But spills happen frequently. According to data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there were 137 oil spills in 2018, about 11 per month.

Originally published on WRI’s Resource Watch platform, a platform which features hundreds of data sets all in one place on the state of the planet’s resources and citizens.

By Emily Cassidy

Oil spills don’t make the news very often unless they are big, like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, which killed 11 people and spewed an estimated 205 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. But spills happen frequently. According to data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there were 137 oil spills in 2018, about 11 per month.

NOAA updates their incident reports of oil and chemical spills every day through their Emergency Response Division. You can see where the reported spills occurred in the map below from Resource Watch.

The 148 incidents in the map includes incidents of spills and potential spills. From the descriptions of the spills, nine of the incidents didn’t actually detect any pollution (NOAA gets notified when there is a possible spill, when an oil-carrying boat breaks down, for example, but some incidents don’t result in spills) and two occurred outside U.S. territories. So the total number of U.S. oil spills in 2018 was 137.

Spills can happen onshore and offshore. NOAA tracks spills as they are reported, from direct observations (oil spilling from a container, a large fire at a refinery, etc.) or indirect observations (an oil sheen, a sinking boat containing oil, etc).

How Big Were the Spills?

An example of an oil spill reported to NOAA without a size estimate. In this case, the Coast Guard contacted NOAA on November 28, 2018, about discharge of crude oil from a storage tank at a facility in Venice, Louisiana.

NOAA estimated the size of 65 spills in 2018, in terms of the maximum potential gallons of petroleum released. Spills ranged in size from 2.1 million gallons to just 30 gallons. NOAA can’t estimate the size of a spill if its source is unknown, such as in the case of oil sheens like the one shown below.

The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) defines a large oil spill as more than 700 tonnes (219,000 gallons) of oil and a medium-sized spill as being between 7 and 700 tonnes (2,200 gallons to 219,000 gallons). Of the 137 oil spills tracked by NOAA, one was large and 25 were medium-sized.

Where Were the Spills?

Louisiana had 52 spills on or offshore, Texas had 13 and 10 spills occurred in Alaska. New Jersey and Massachusetts are tied for fourth place with six spills within 200 nautical miles of their shores.

Some of the largest spills of 2018 are highlighted below:

Superior, Wisconsin

The largest spill of the year involved an explosion at a refinery in Superior, Wisconsin on April 26. At least 11 people were injured. The explosion caused storage tanks of asphalt to leak and catch fire. NOAA estimates the maximum potential release to be more than 2.1 million gallons, enough to fill 35,000 bathtubs.

Offshore Louisiana

On December 1, 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard reported the release of synthetic oil-based mud to the sea floor. An offshore drill rig had to make an emergency disconnect from the well head on the sea floor because of high winds and rough seas. NOAA estimates the maximum potential release at 84,000 gallons.

Mobile, Alabama

About 1,000 barrels of oily water was discharged into the Theodore Ship Canal on February 12, just south of Mobile, Alabama. NOAA estimates as much as 42,000 gallons were involved. Cleanup methods included skimming oil off the water and cleaning it off the shoreline.

American Samoa

There were two oil spills near the U.S. territory of American Samoa in 2018. One occurred on December 5, 2018, when a 228-foot commercial fishing boat carrying as much as 90,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 300 gallons of gasoline caught fire near Pago Pago island. The vessel later sank.

Photo of the American Samoa spill from NOAA. 

Alaska

In Scammon Bay on Alaska’s western shore, an oil storage container failed, releasing up to 7,000 gallons of gasoline. The oil could be observed as sheens on the nearby river.

Tracking Oil Spills in 2019

Resource Watch features NOAA’s daily updates on oil and chemical spills. So far, there have been five oil spills in 2019. You can monitor the last 30 days of data on Resource Watch and sign up for alerts here.

 
 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica member, supporter, or ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

New Podcast: How NVIDIA Is Bringing Autonomy To Automakers

WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 50 countries, with offices in Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, and the United States. Our more than 450 experts and staff work closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action to sustain our natural resources—the foundation of economic opportunity and human well-being. Find out more at www.wri.org

Comments

#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.

 

Support our work today!

Advertisement

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports

Advertisement

EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats

EV Press Releases

Advertisement

Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Climate Change

Louisiana Clean Fuels (LCF) is looking for emission reduction action proposals. The Louisiana Climate Initiatives Task Force has identified strategies that will reduce greenhouse...

Clean Power

In both 2019 and 2020, project developers in the United States installed more wind power capacity than any other generating technology. According to data...

Autonomous Vehicles

It’s the end of another month, and thus another opportunity to look back at the most popular CleanTechnica stories of the month — as...

Buildings

Home weatherization and modern super-efficient heating technology are powerful tools that can ease the stress on the electric grid and help Americans stay safe...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.