Tankers, Oil & Waves Spell Ongoing Risk

The largest oil spills are the ones caused by tanker accidents.

In an article on the Statesman Journal website, Stefanie Knowlton says analysts have found that of the 66 spills in which at least 10 million gallons of oil were lost, 48 were from tankers. Some tankers carry up to 84 million gallons of crude oil, so coastal communities that see them float by are certainly not immune to a large-scale oil spill.

“Nearly 20,000 large vessel arrivals were documented at ports along the Pacific Coast in one year,” says the article, citing a 2002 report by the Pacific States-British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force. “All it would take is a collision, miscalculation or heavy seas to drive ships into dangerous water or to drift toward shore, according to NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration.”

Dealing with a major spill is especially challenging in the Pacific Northwest, Knowlton writes, where large waves jumping out of containment buoys would make containment and cleanup much more difficult.

On a positive note, the number of oil spills in U.S. waters has decreased since 1973, says a 2007 report from the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Investigations and Analysis.

To read the Statesman Journal article, click here: