History's Worst Oil Spills and related media

Worst Oil Spills in History

  Gulf of Mexico

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill On April 20, 2010, an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 crew members and set off a massive blaze. The rig sank two days later into the Gulf of Mexico, unleashing a gush of oil that has continued to leak at an alarming rate.

207*
Gulf of Mexico
As of August 5, 2010
*U.S. government
estimate

  Gulf War Oil Spill

Gulf War Oil Spill In January 1991, Iraqi forces released 240 million gallons of crude oil into the Persian Gulf to thwart an amphibious landing by the U.S. Marines. The resulting oil slick ravaged the area's marine ecosystem, killing thousands of seabirds and endangering other wildlife.

240
Gulf War Oil Spill
Jan. 1991

  Ixtoc I

Ixtoc I Oil Spill The exploratory oil well Ixtoc I exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on June 3, 1979, spewing 140 million gallons of oil into the open sea. It took control experts more than nine months to cap the spill and begin cleanup.

140
Ixtoc I
June 3, 1979

  The Atlantic Empress
  & the Aegean Captain

The Atlantic Empress & the Aegean Captain Oil Spill On July 19, 1979, two supertankers collided off the Caribbean island of Little Tobago during a tropical rainstorm. The accident killed 26 crew members and dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the sea.

90
The Atlantic Empress
& the Aegean Captain

March 1992

  Fergana Valley

Fergana Valley Oil Spill In March 1992, 88 million gallons of oil spilled from a well in Fergana Valley, a densely populated industrial and agricultural zone in Uzbekistan. It remains the largest inland oil spill in history.

88
Fergana Valley
March 1992

  M/T Haven

M/T Haven Oil Spill The M/T Haven, a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), suffered a huge explosion off the coast of Genoa, Italy, on April 11, 1991. Six crew members were killed, and the Mediterranean coasts of Italy and France remained polluted for the next 12 years.

45
M/T Haven
Jan. 1991

  Nowruz Oil Field

Nowruz Oil Spill On February 10, 1983, at the height of the Iran-Iraq War, an oil tanker collided with the Nowruz platform in the Persian Gulf. It took Iranian workers more than six months to cap the well, with 11 people dying in the process.

80
Nowruz Oil Field
Feb. 10, 1983

  ABT Summer

ABT Summer Oil Spill The Liberian supertanker ABT Summer exploded off the coast of Angola on May 28, 1991, killing five crew members. Millions of gallons of oil leaked into the Atlantic Ocean.

80
ABT Summer
May 28, 1991

  Castillo de Bellver

Castillo de Bellver Oil Spill On August 6, 1983, a fire aboard the Spanish tanker Castillo de Bellver caused an explosion that spilled 78 million gallons of oil off the coast of Cape Town. A shift in winds pushed the oil offshore, limiting the disaster's environmental effects.

79
Castillo de Bellver
Aug. 6, 1983

  Amoco Cadiz

Amoco Cadiz Oil Spill On March 16, 1978, the Amoco Cadiz supertanker wrecked off the coast of Portsall, France. Ultimately, 240 miles of France's Brittany coast suffered oil damage, with millions of dead mollusks and sea urchins washing ashore.

69
Amoco Cadiz
March 16, 1978

  Odyssey

Odyssey Oil Spill In November 1988, the American-owned Odyssey drilling rig burst into flames and split in two off the coast of Novia Scotia. The accident killed one person and poured 43 million gallons of oil into the sea.

42
Odyssey
Nov. 1988

History's Worst Oil Spills

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has already taken its place among the worst disasters of its kind, and may even unseat the infamous Gulf War spill as the worst of all time. See how it stacks up against the most devastating oil spills in history.

Related Interactives (1)

  • History's Worst Oil Spills
    History's Worst Oil Spills

    The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has already taken its place among the worst disasters of its kind, and may even unseat the infamous Gulf War spill as the worst of all time. See how it stacks up against the most devastating oil spills in history.

    Interactive
Advertisement

Shop HISTORY