10 worst oil spills ever

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10 worst oil spills ever

Photo: Example of an oil spill.

10.0 The Odyssey

A total of 132,000 tons of oil was spilled in the Odyssey oil spill. The spill happened on November 1988 when the oil tanker (American-owned) spilt oil along 700 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia. The tanker caught fire as it sank. The spill was set into flames as a result. The Canadian Coast Guard was unable to put out the fire and as a result most of the oil was burnt.

9.0 The Haven

A total of 145,000 tons of oil was spilt followed by a violent explosion. The vessel involved was called The Haven whose owners were based in Cyprus. Six crew members died as a result of this oil spill. The oil spill happened off the coast of Italy back in 1991. Approximately 70 percent of the oil burned in the fire. In majority of the oil spills, most of the oil remained on the water surface while the rest sank. Later, the oil was discovered on the ocean bed in a depth of 500 meters.

8.0 The Amoco Cadiz

In 1978, a total of 223,000 tons of oil spill was involved. The Amoco Cadiz was aground against the Portsall Rocks off the coast of France. When the ship hit the rocks, it quickly sank along with its 1.6 million barrels of oil could be pumped off the wreck.

7.0 Castillo de Bellver

A total of 252,000 tons of oil was spilt on August 1983. This was caused by a fire which happed aboard Castillo Bellver. The fire made the tanker to explode and split the vessel into two. This explosion happened 24 miles off the coast of Cape Town.  This remains the largest oil spill ever in South Africa. The impact on the environment was minimal since the wind moved the oil offshore.

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6.0 ABT Summer

A total of 260,000 tons of oil was spilt in this accident of a tanker which was transporting oil from Iran to Rotterdam. The oil spill happened off the Angolan coast back in 1991. A total of 5 out of the 32 crew who were on board lost their lives.  

5.0 Nowruz oil field

A tanker collided with a platform during the Gulf War on 10 February, 1983. Approximately 1,500 barrels of oil was spilling every day. On March Iraq planes attacked the platform causing the oil to catch fire. Since the oil field was located in the middle of Iran-Iraq war zone, it was not possible to cap the oil field. In September, Iran finally capped the oil well. This effort lead to the death of 11 people.

4.0 Fergana Valley (285,000 tons)

The Fergana Valley in Central Asia was the site where oil spill happened. The area was used for both agricultural and industrial economic activities. This was one of the largest inland oil spills of all time. It happened in 1992.

3.0 Atlantic Empress/Aegean Captain (287,000 tons)

This story runs back to July 1979 when a Greek Oil tanker named Atlantic Empress collided with another sea vessel called Aegean Captain. The accident was caused by a tropical storm along the Caribbean Sea off the island of Tobago. The disaster killed 26 crew and it is considered to be the largest oil spill on a ship.

2.o Ixtoc Oil well (454,000 tons)

The Ixtoc Oil well was involved in an explosion on June 1979 on the Gulf of Mexico. The oil platform collapsed and then caught fire. Responders were unable to control the damage because the valves had raptured. The spill went on until March 1980.

1.0  Gulf War oil Spill

It is estimated that between 1.4 to 1.5 million tons of oil spill occurred during the Gulf War. This is regarded as the worst oil spill in the world’s history. It is estimated that 8 million barrels of oil were released into the Persian Gulf. This disaster was caused by Italian forces who opened the oil valves of oil wells as well as pipelines. This happened when they were forced to retreat from Kuwait back in 1991. The oil spill was five inches thick and 101 miles long as well as 42 miles wide.  


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Geoffrey Kerosi is a prolific Kenyan writer based in Nairobi City. He holds a Bachelors in Economics and Statistics and is currently pursuing Masters in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) from Kenyatta University. Email: info@kerosi.com. Whatsapp: +254713 639 776 YouTube: Kerosi TV

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