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Gulf oil spill: Smaller offshore spills aren’t uncommon

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Gulf Restoration Network, a group focused on ecological issues affecting the Gulf of Mexico, offers the following statistics on spills in the gulf:

‘According to statistics on drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf from the Minerals Management Service, there have been 172 spills in the Gulf of at least 2,100 gallons in the last ten years. In 2008 alone, 125,034 gallons of oil and other toxic materials were accidentally discharged! Sadly, 65 individuals have lost their lives working offshore in the Gulf during that same period.’

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A glance at the charts compiled from the oil spill database of the Mineral Management Service shows there were 63 spills of more than 50 barrels in the gulf from 2004 to 2009. Some of those spills were a combination of oil, petroleum products and chemicals such as glycol and zinc bromide, according to MMS. Total barrels: 132. At 42 gallons per barrel, that’s 5,544 gallons.

That’s roughly the amount [update: of barrels] that BP says is gushing daily from the blown well head 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana. There have been disputes over that spill rate, with one environmental group and a Florida oceanographer suggesting oil is gushing at five times that rate.

-- Geoff Mohan


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