Pollution and Wastes

Where did the first major oil spill occur?

The first major commercial oil spill occurred on March 18, 1967, when the tanker Torrey Canyon grounded on the Seven Stones Shoal off the coast of Cornwall, England, spilling 830,000 barrels (119,000 tons) of Kuwaiti oil into the sea. This was the first major tanker accident. However, during World War II, German U-boat attacks on tankers, between January and June of 1942, off the United States East Coast, spilled 590,000 tons of oil.

Although the Exxon Valdez was widely publicized as a major spill of 35,000 tons in 1989, it is dwarfed by the deliberate dumping of oil from Sea Island into the Persian Gulf on January 25, 1991. It is estimated that the spill equaled almost 1.5 million tons of oil. A major spill also occurred in Russia in October 1994 in the Komi region of the Arctic. The size of the spill was reported to be as much as 2 million barrels (286,000 tons).

In addition to the large disasters, day-to-day pollution occurs from drilling platforms where waste generated from platform life, including human waste, and oils, chemicals, mud, and rock from drilling are discharged into the water.

* Estimated. Some experts believe a large amount of oil is still at the bottom of the ocean, but it is so far down under the ocean surface that it is difficult to measure quanities.


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