Saturday Jul 23, 201105:44 PM GMT
Roughly one oil spill in US per day
Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:46PM
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The United States is witnessing about one oil spill every day. About 20,0000 oil spills are reported to the U.S. government annually. Of those, approximately 300 are so bad that the Environmental Protection Agency either intervenes itself or oversees private cleanup contractors. In other words, that's about an oil spill per day.


The number of spills from offshore oil rigs and pipelines in U.S. waters more than quadrupled this decade, a trend that could have served as a warning for the massive leak in the Gulf of Mexico, according to government data and safety experts.



While most people have been paying attention to the debt crisis, another American disaster has been taking place under the radar in Montana.


Three weeks ago, an ExxonMobil oil pipeline pumping medium crude into the United States from Canada burst, spilling 42,000 gallons of sludge into the immaculate Yellowstone River, the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states.


The spills -- and the amount of oil that leaked -- grew markedly worse even when taking increases in production into account, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data shows. The leaks came as the oil industry repeatedly claimed that offshore drilling was never safer.


Sitting in the hot seat on Capitol Hill for the first time since its Yellowstone River spill, ExxonMobil pledged to pay all “legitimate claims” and take full responsibility for the cleanup.


Lawmakers are reviewing pipeline safety in light of that accident and a series of other recent pipeline problems, including an explosion in San Bruno, California last year that killed eight people.



From the early 1970s through the '90s, offshore rigs and pipelines averaged about four spills per year of at least 50 barrels, according to the Minerals Management Service (MMS).


One barrel is equal to 42 gallons. The average annual total surged to more than 17 from 2000 through 2009. From 2005 through 2009, spills averaged 22 a year.


The most memorable, and most destructive, recent oil spill occurred last April in the Gulf of Mexico.


Some estimates have placed the amount of oil that has gushed in to the Gulf at 19 million gallons.


Since the disaster in the Gulf, dozens of pipelines have spilled millions of gallons of oil into streams and rivers across the continent. A year ago, an Enbridge pipeline poured more than 800,000 gallons of tar sands crude into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River.


In May, a Plains All American pipeline that carries tar sands oil spilled more than a million gallons in the Peace Region of Northern Alberta.



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