Crude Oil Spills: A Worldwide Contaminant (Part 1)
To anyone who believes that the oil rig explosion in the Gulf is an isolated incident, and that oil spills are not a grave health and environmental concern, read on. Due to length restriction, this article is in 3 parts, made up of excerpts from major world publications:
The basic equipment and tactics being used: boom, dispersants, burns and use of skimmer boats to pick up the oil haven't changed much in the two decades since the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska ratcheted up calls in Congress for greater defenses against the ravages of oil spills, spill experts and environmentalists say. USA Today, May 24, 2010.
Oil spills happen in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta every day for the last 50 years. Experts estimate that some 13 million barrels of oil have been spilled in the Niger Delta since oil exploration began in 1958. This is the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez every year for 50 years. The International Herald Tribune, June 5, 2010.
According to Rigzone, an industry website, there are currently about 1,234 exploration rigs. (Spills are more common during exploration, as with the Deepwater Horizon.) 146 are in Europe's North Sea. The Gulf of Mexico is home to 114. The remainder are off the coasts of Brazil, Venezuela, and West Africa, in the Persian Gulf, and in the seas of South and Southeast Asia.
Ixtoc I oil spill, Gulf of Mexico, 1979: Generally considered the second-worst oil spill in history (first is a 1991 disaster at a Persian Gulf oil port during the first Gulf War,) the Ixtoc spill occurred during drilling by Mexico's state-owned oil company Pemex. The Ixtoc suffered a blowout, and more than 3 million barrels of oil gushed from the well for more than nine months before engineers were able to cap it. The spill contaminated more than 162 miles of beach in Texas.Continued on the next page