Oil Spills – Worst Oil Spills List Man Made Disasters List Part 4

  • Atlantic Express: On July 19, 1979, the Greek oil tanker Atlantic Express collided with the Aegean Captain off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago during a tropical rainstorm, sending nearly 88 million gallons, or 2.1 million barrels of oil into the ocean. The Aegean Captain also spilled oil from her number 1 tank. These combined spills rank as the highest ship based spill on record and the fifth largest of overall oil spills on record. In comparison, this spill released 387k metric tons, while the Exxon Valdez released 37k metric tons. The Atlantic Express continued to leak until finally sinking on August 3, 1979 in deep water where the remaining oil cargo solidified. One good thing to note from this spill is that none of the leaked oil ever came ashore.
  • Mingbulak Oil Spill: Sometimes referred to as the Fergana Valley oil spill, the Mingbulak oil spill was started on March 2, 1992 at the Mingbulak oil field in the Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan. It was a massive land based spill that occurred when well #5 suffered a blowout, and after all was said and done, came in at number 1 for the worst oil spill in the history of Asia. It resulted in the loss of 87.78 million gallons of oil, or 2.1 million barrels. Emergency dykes were built where some 2 million of the oil was collected. Reports state that the gusher stopped flowing all by itself.
  • Nowruz Oil Field: The Nowruz oil field, located in the Persian Gulf, Iran was the location of several oil spills in 1983. One of the spills was initially started when a tanker hit a platform. The platform was then attacked by Iraqi helicopters during the Iran-Iraq war in March, 1983, resulting in a spill which then caught fire. The war prevented the field technicians from capping the well until September 18, 1983. Eleven people were killed during efforts to recap the well.

    A separate spill occurred when Iraqi helicopters attacked a nearby platform in March 1983. The well was capped in May, 1985. Nine men were killed during the capping. Approximately 733,000 barrels (100,000 tonnes) of oil were spilled because of this incident.

    At the end of the year in this case, and this well, altogether an estimated 80 million gallons or 1.9 million barrels of oil were spilled into the Persian Gulf. Due to it’s location, environmental reports for this spill are hard to come by, but what we do know from experience is that there are no oil spills without environmental consequences.

  • ABT Summer: On 28th May 1991, while en route from the Gulf terminal at Kharg Island, Iran to Rotterdam the tanker ABT Summer, with a full cargo of 260,000 tonnes of Iranian heavy crude oil, experienced an explosion and a fire about 900 miles off the coast of Angola. Of the 32 crew members on board, 5 of them died as a result of the incident.

    A large oil slick which covered 80 square miles spread around the tanker and burned violently. The ship itself was burning for three days before it sank on June 1st, and subsequent efforts to locate any of the wreckage were unsuccessful.

    It is not clear how much of the oil sank or burned. However, since the accident occurred way off-shore, most of the oil was expected to be broken up by high seas with little or no environmental impact.

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