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The 5 largest oil spills of all time

Oil spills over the centuries have resulted in severe water pollution destroying marine life in vast quantities. Such disasters can often be averted with preventative measures – marine breakaway couplings reduce risk of oil spills. While several sightings of oil spills have been noticed, the spilling during the Gulf War remains one of the most oft sighted oil spills of the century. As Iraqi forces retreated with their troops from Kuwait, they spilled huge volumes of oil to slow down the American troops from entering and taking siege of the Iraqi army. Some 240 million gallons of crude oil flowed into the Persian Gulf. Thankfully the largest oil spill in the world brought about limited harm to the marine life and ecosystem.

In July 1979, it was the Atlantic Express oil tanker which collided with the Aegean Captain ship spilling huge volumes of oil into the Caribbean Sea. While the Aegean Captain managed to recover itself, the Atlantic Express exploded midway spilling more than 280,000 tonnes of crude oil destroying sea life to a huge extent. Efforts that have since been made locating the wreckage have all been unsuccessful.

A year before in 1978, the Amoco Cadiz tanker travelling off Brittany, France came under the scanner of a severe hail storm which resulted in its steering to stop. About 240,000 tonnes of oil had to be thrown out into the-the English Channel. However, later on, the oil could not be cleaned causing grip damage to the marine flora and fauna which remained over a long period of time. The French then sunk the ship.

Much later in the year 1991, the ABT Summer, a fully loaded tanker en route to Rotterdam caught fire onboard and suffered explosion leading to oil leakage in the ocean which spread over a good 80 square miles. The explosion and oil leakage not only caused the death of marine life but coastal fishermen suffered a loss of livelihood as most fishes died due to the pollution.

In the Fergana valley in Uzbekistan about 88 million of oil was spilled in the year 1992. The spill is reputed to have been known as the largest inland spill though it received limited media coverage during the time of the incident.

Apart from these major oil spills, a few which deserves mention is the Nowruz Oil Field Spill which was a result of a collision of a tanker and an oil platform which spewed gallons of oil in the Arabian Gulf or Persian Gulf causing irreparable loss to the environment. The Kolva River spill in Russia was a result of a poorly maintained pipeline. Cold weather caused the pipeline to collapse resulting in the spilling of millions of gallons of oil that spread to cover 170 acres of fragile bogs, streams and marshland.