Industrial Disasters

Major Oil Spills

compiled by George Draffan


2002 November

Prestige carrying 20 million gallons (70,000 metric tons) of fuel oil broke up off the Spanish coast.

2001 January

Ecuadorean-registered ship Jessica, spilled 175,000 gallons of diesel and bunker oil into the sea off the Galapagos Islands.

2000 June

South Africa
Some 1,400 tonnes of heavy fuel oil leaked from the bulk carrier Treasure off Cape Town, affecting penguins on Dassen and Robben Islands.

2000 January

A ruptured pipeline spewed about 340,000 gallons of heavy oil into Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro. 

1999 December

The stern of the Maltese tanker Erika sank off the northwest of Brittany after splitting in two, spilling 25,000 tonnes of viscous fuel oil.

1997 December

Sea of Japan
Japan Russian tanker Nakhodka spilled 19,000 tonnes of oil after breaking in two in the Sea of Japan. 

1996 February

UK Liberian-registered Sea Empress hit rocks near Milford Haven, Wales, spilling 72,000 tonnes of oil.

1994 October

Portugal Panamanian tanker, Cercal, spilled about 2,000 tonnes of crude into the sea after striking a rock near Leixoes harbour, in Oporto.

1994 March

United Arab Emirates
UAE 15,900 tonnes of crude oil leaked into the Arabian Sea after the Panamanian-flagged Seki collided with the UAE tanker Baynunah 10 miles off the UAE port of Fujairah.

1994 March

About 105,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the sea four miles off the eastern Sriracha coast after oil tanker Visahakit 5 and a cargo ship collided.

1993 January

The tanker Braer hit rocks near the coast of the Shetland Islands and spilled its cargo of 85,000 tonnes of crude oil.

1992 December

Greek tanker Aegean Sea ran aground and broke in two near La Coruna spilling most of its 80,000 tonne cargo of oil.

1992 September

Liberian-registered tanker Nagasaki Spirit collided with container Ocean Blessing in the Malacca Straits, spilling some 12,000 tonnes of crude.

1991 May

A Liberian-registered supertanker, ABT Summer, leaked 260,000 tonnes of oil after an explosion off Angola causing an oil slick 17 nautical miles by three.

1991 April

The Haven spilled more than 50,000 tons of oil off Genoa in Italy.

1991 January

Persian Gulf
Iraq released about 460 million gallons of crude oil into the Persian Gulf during the Gulf War.

1990 February

American Trader leaked 300,000 gallons of crude oil, polluting Bosa Chica, one of southern California's biggest nature preserves. 

1989 March

Exxon Valdez grounded and spilled 10 million gallons (38,800 tons) of crude oil into Prince William Sound in Alaska. 

1989 December

After explosions and a fire Iranian tanker Kharg-5 was abandoned spilling 70,000 tonnes of crude oil, endangering the coast and oyster beds at Oualidia.

1983 August

South Africa
Fire broke out on the Spanish tanker Castillo de Bellver and 175.6m gallons of light crude burnt off the coast at Cape Town. Fire broke out on the the Castillo de Bellver and its cargo of 252,000 tonnes of oil burnt.

1979 July

160,000 tons of crude oil spilled after a collision off Tobago between the Atlantic Empress and the Aegean Captain.

1978 March

220,000 tons of crude oil spilled after Amoco Cadiz ran aground near Portsall ; the slick eventually covered 125 miles of Breton coast.

1977 February

Northern Pacific
Liberian-registered Hawaiian Patriot caught fire in the Northern Pacific spilling 30.4m gallons. 

1976 December

Argo Merchant ran aground off Nantucket Island Massachusetts, spilling 7.7m gallons of oil and causing a slick 100 miles long and 60 miles wide. 

1972 December

After a collision with Brazilian tanker Horta Barbosa the South Korean tanker Sea Star spilled about 35.3m gallons of crude into the Gulf of Oman.

1970 March

15.3m gallons of oil spilled in a collision involving the Othello in Tralhavet Bay. 

1967 March

The Torrey Canyon spilled 119,000 tons of crude off the Scilly Islands (Cornwall) in the UK.

The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989. It is considered one of the most devastating man-made environmental disasters ever to occur at sea. As significant as the Exxon Valdez spill was, it ranks well down on the list of the world's largest oil spills in terms of volume released.[1] However, Prince William Sound's remote location (accessible only by helicopter and boat) made government and industry response efforts difficult and severely taxed existing plans for response. The region was a habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals, and seabirds. The vessel spilled 10.8 million U.S. gallons (40.9×103 m3 or 9.0×106 imp gal) of Prudhoe Bay crude oil into the sea, and the oil eventually covered 11,000 square miles (28,000 km2) of ocean.[2

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