US Has More Oil Spills Than You Think

The US has more oil spills than we thought and the number doubled after production increased six years ago.

8,000 “Significant” Incidents

Richard Stover, PhD, and the Center for Biological Diversity counted nearly 8,000 significant incidents, between 1986 and 2014, in records of the pipeline safety administration. By “significant” they mean causing injury, death, damages exceeding $50,000 in value, a loss of 5 barrels of highly volatile substances, 50 barrels of other liquids or there was an explosion. There have been more than 500 human deaths and 2,300 injuries through-out that period. The number of plant and animal casualties is much higher.

Though most pipeline failures occur where there is a long history of development, they occur through-out the Lower 48. Texas is the worst offender, with 1657 incidents. California had 621 and 48 deaths.
The leading causes of incidents are excavation damages (24.3%), corrosion (18.2%) and equipment failure (17.1%).

After A Pipeline is 20 Years Old

Kristen Monsell, from the Center for Biological Diversity said the possibility of a spill “doubles after a pipeline is 20 years old.” In the case of the recent Santa Barbara spill, for example, “the pipeline was 28 years old” and had corroded to the point the wall was only 1/16 of a inch thick.

“Scientists tell us that we will never know how many animals have been killed (by the Santa Barbara spill) … (Many animals) will sink to the bottom of the ocean. We’ll likely be seeing the impact for years and years to come,” said Monsell.

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