Have you realized that in the last two weeks there have been four different oil spills throughout the US?
Ranging from 375 gallons to 150,000 gallons spilled.
All of this happening around the 25th Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in the Gulf of Alaska; March 24th, 1989.
The Exxon Valdez was an oil tanker that stretched 987 feet/300 meters in length, and was first launched in 1986. The tanker ran aground on Bligh Reef in the Prince William Sound bay of the Gulf of Alaska, and spilled about 11 million gallons of crude oil. Damaging more than 1,300 miles of remote shoreline and killed about 250,000 seabirds, 300 harbor seals, and 2,800 sea otters. Even after 25 years, the effects of the spill can still be seen. In some places of the shoreline, there is still oil standing or you can dig into the shore a few inches and find pockets of oil. Some of the species of animals affected have recovered, yet others remain mysteries as why they haven’t.
Click on picture below to see entire image!
25 years later, oil spilled from Exxon Valdez still clings to lives, Alaska habitat : Anchorage Daily News
After 25 years, Exxon Valdez oil spill hasn’t ended : CNN Opinion
Exxon Valdez 25th Anniversary: 5 Facts About the Historic Spill : Live Science
10 Truths About Oil Spills Every British Colombian Should Know : Coastal First Nations
March 17th OHIO – Oak Glen Nature Preserve – 20,000 gallons
Neighbors of the preserve reported smelling oil/diesel for a few days before a five-inch crack was discovered in the Mid-Valley Pipeline. This pipeline is about twenty inches wide and runs a little more than 1,000 miles from Texas to Michigan. The pipe was shutdown as soon as the crack was found, but the damage was done. About 20,000 gallons spilled into a mile section of the creek, and then pooled into marshland nearby. The harsh winter did help with some of the cleanup; with some of the ground still frozen in areas and many animals still hibernating and not back yet from winter migration. There is no groundwater contamination so far, but EPA officials do believe it will be a week before it is all cleaned up. I found it interesting that this particular pipeline has been reported to have many accidents since 2006. Losing more than 31,000 gallons of oil, and inflicting roughly $7.5 million in damages.
March 20th NORTH DAKOTA – Alexander – 34,000 gallons
Clean-up is happening at a compressor station near Alexander, North Dakota where a gasket failed creating a 34,000 gallon oil spill. The oil did flow into a dry drainage area, and then was contained/diked. No water sources are threatened in the area, and shouldn’t be if they don’t get any rain. The soil is the only thing affected, and the contaminated soil is being removed from the site. As I was researching this particular incident, I learned of another one located in South Dakota. On March 17th, 1,400 gallons of oil spilled into flood-waters surrounding the well site southwest of Williston in the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. More than a mile of the Missouri River is swamped and dammed from floating ice, causing the water levels to rise quickly. The oil tank didn’t have enough in it to stay anchored in the high-water levels, and when it started to float, the valve at the bottom broke. The oil companies were notified of a possible chance of flooding, and were requested to shut in their wells, and to make sure they were no longer pumping.
North Dakota Oil Spills Highlight Gaps in Regulation and Oversight : Indian Country Today
Hiland Crude Pipeline Spills Oil Near Alexander, ND : Huffington Post Green
Oil spills into Missouri River in North Dakota : The Tribune
North Dakota regulator: oil company could be fined : The State
March 22nd TEXAS – Galveston Bay – 168,000 gallons
On Saturday, a 585-foot bulk carrier collided with an oil barge that was holding close to 1 million gallons of oil. Thankfully, only one tank was affected, otherwise this could have been a whole lot worse! About 168,000 gallons of marine fuel oil (RMG 380) was spilled. This type of oil is black, sticky, gooey, and heavy, making it one of the hardest types of oil to clean up. Much of it will sink, staying in the environment for years. The spill was spread out due to winds and currents and oil has been detected twelve miles offshore into the Gulf of Mexico. They believe about 15.5 miles of shoreline in total have been affected. This shoreline consists of many migratory birds nesting areas, and they don’t know how many birds will be affected. Not only are there environmental concerns that will last for years, the bay and harbor has been shut down. Freezing a multibillion-dollar recreational and commercial industry for the local communities.
Dead, oiled birds sighted 3 days into Texas oil spill cleanup : CNN US
Oil spill cleanup impedes major Texas ship channel : The Washington Post
Galveston Bay Spill Will Take Economic, Ecological Toll : The Texas Tribune
Depsite Galveston Spill, Gulf Beaches Getting Cleaner : The Texas Tribune
March 24th INDIANA – Lake Michigan – 377 gallons
How much oil was spilled into Lake Michigan is still unknown; it is estimated between 377 and 755 gallons of oil due to a malfunction in the Whiting refinery owned by BP. This happened just a year after the refinery added a new unit to process heavier oil from the tar sands region of Alberta, Canada. The Whiting plant, according to federal records, is the largest source of pollution that discharges into Lake Michigan. Only a half mile of the shore line was contaminated due to the wind, temperature, and shape of the cove the refinery is located in. Biologists believe there shouldn’t be any long-term effects on the local wildlife, since many of the fish are still in deeper water because of the prolonged ice cover. *Please see comment below for update on oil spill.
BP confirms oil spill into Lake Michigan from Whiting refinery : Chicago Tribune
EPA: Lake Michigan oil spill shouldn’t hurt suburb’s drinking water : Daily Herald
Up to 755 gallons of crude oil spilled into Lake Michigan from BP refinery : Michigan Live
Lake Michigan oil spill appears to have ‘minimal’ environmental impact : Michigan Live
I didn’t write this post to tell you that oil is bad, or that you should stop using it, because it is everywhere and in everything. I just found it surprising how often oil/petroleum spills and incidents happen. I read every one of those articles I linked too, and each one mentioned a spill in a previous year that I never heard anything about! It’s crazy how much as a country we rely on petroleum. As well as how much of the process to get and use it is unregulated, or even checked up on. Don’t forget that oil/petroleum is not just used as gasoline, but it is made into many different things. On the right is a typical barrel of oil, and how much goes into different petroleum products. Did you know that they are over 6,000 products made from petroleum? Yarn, umbrellas, roofing, hand lotion, wheels, luggage, football helmets, trash bags, rubbing alcohol, refrigerant, cassettes, dresses, crayons, and many more. Just check out this partial list of products!
I do hope I have encouraged or interested you in looking into this further.
Some current projects being protested and discussed are drilling in the Arctic, the Keystone XL pipeline, and many more.
Here are a couple of links to help out!
About the Project-Keystone XL Pipeline – Official TransCanada
Not Just Another Pipeline: The About Tar Sands and Keystone XL – Huffington Post Politics
It’s Not Just Keystone – Five Dirty Pipelines You’ve Never Heard Of – Moyers & Company
Maybe you want to cut your oil usage? Check out this neat article on being zero-waste!