The Other Gulf Oil Disaster: Chronic Offshore Pollution

The problem of chronic offshore oil pollution has been getting some overdue attention lately (see our blog post on this topic yesterday). So as we approach the fifth year since the BP/Deepwater Horizon disaster began, we thought it would be interesting to show you all of the oil and hazardous material spills that have been reported in the Gulf since the BP spill was stopped in July 2010. Here is a map showing spills reported to the National Response Center (NRC) from July 2010 to April 2015. Each dot on the map represents an individual spill report.

Nearly 10,000 spills in the Gulf have been reported to the NRC since July 2010. This map does not include releases to the air, only spills to the waters of the Gulf. Click here to see a full-screen version.

Now not all of the incidents in this map are due to oil and gas drilling. Some reports refer to spills from boating accidents or leaks from other industrial operations. But compare the pollution reported in the waters off Texas and Louisiana with the reports made in the waters west of Florida. Florida has far fewer pollution reports – not because they drill more safely or don’t report to the NRC – but because there aren’t any producing offshore oil wells in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

What does this map imply about the volume of contaminants flowing into the Gulf? Stay tuned…