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Oil Spills

What did we learn from the Deepwater Horizon disaster?

Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN)
chemical and engineering news

All existing tests on the efficacy of dispersants had been conducted on the surface of water, says Elizabeth Kujawinski, a chemical oceanographer at WHOI. There was no guarantee that they would perform the same way in the crushing depths of the ocean.

As if Yemen Needed More Woes, a Decrepit Oil Tanker Threatens Disaster


The task at hand is to keep a bad situation from getting worse, said Christopher M. Reddy, a marine scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “We have a problem, it has a potential for harm, so how do we do it to create the least amount of damage?” he said.

Scientists Discover A New Material For Cleaning Up Oil Spills


In the middle of a battle like an oil spill, you want to have a very predictable material that is easily deployed and creates no uncertainty, says Chris Reddy, at WHOI. And these natural products carry just a lot more uncertainty. Despite this uncertainty, he says, maybe hair can teach us how to make better materials. And Georgia Tech’s David Hu says the study made him look at hair differently.

1969 Fuel Barge Florida

Location: Buzzards Bay, off West Falmouth, Mass. Date: September 16, 1969 Lat./Long.: 41°35’57.60″N, 70°41’47.88″W Material spilled: No. 2 fuel oil Amount spilled: 189,000…

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1975 Oil Barge Bouchard 65

Location: Buzzards Bay, near Cape Cod Canal Date: October 9, 1974 Lat./Long.: 41°37’58.10″N, 70°43’59.09″W Material spilled: Diesel fuel Amount spilled: 11,000 to 37,000…

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1976 M/V Argo Merchant

Location: 29 miles southeast of Nantucket Island Date: December 15, 1976 Lat./Long.: 41°1’58.8″N, 69° 27’0″W Material spilled: No. 6 Fuel Oil and…

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1979 Ixtoc I Oil Well

Location: Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico Date: June 3, 1979 to March 23, 1980 Lat./Long.: 19°24’29.42″N, 92°19’36.64″W Material spilled: Crude oil…

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1989 Supertanker Exxon Valdez

Location: Prince William Sound, Alaska Date: March 23, 1989 Lat./Long.: 60°34’23.53″N, 147°17’9.94″W Material spilled: North Slope crude oil Amount spilled: 10.8 million gallons…

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1996 Tank Barge North Cape

Location: Block Island Sound off Moonstone Beach, R.I. Date: January 19, 1996 Lat./Long.: 41°22’10.43″N, 71°34’22.74″W Material spilled: No. 2 fuel oil Amount…

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2003 Tank Barge Bouchard 120

Location: Buzzards Bay off Westport, Mass. Date: April 27, 2003 Lat./Long.: 41°29’22.10″N, 70°59’17.80″W Material spilled: No. 6 fuel oil Amount spilled: approx. 98,000…

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2007 M/V Hebei Spirit

Location: Yellow Sea off Taean County, South Korea Date: December 7, 2007 Lat./Long.: 36°53’34.97″N, 126° 3’31.70″E Material spilled: Light crude oil Amount…

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2007 M/V Cosco Busan

M/V Cosco Busan

Location: San Francisco Bay Date: November 7, 2007 Lat./Long.:  37°48’29.30″N, 122°23’8.06″W Material spilled: Bunker fuel Amount spilled: approx. 53,500 gallons Spill extent: 150 sq.…

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The Deepwater Horizon Disaster Fueled a Gulf Science Bonanza

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Chris Reddy is an expert in oil spill science who in 2010 helped determine the size, heading, and chemical composition of the underwater plume from an oceanographic research vessel and underwater robot near the Macondo well site, about 80 miles south of New Orleans.

Lessons from Deep Water Horizon – 10 years later

Ten years ago, Dr. Chris Reddy and dozens of his colleagues were called to the Gulf of Mexico to address what would soon become the largest human-caused oil spill in history. What have we learned a decade later? Join us as Chris takes a look back at how far we’ve come and answers your questions about what science can tell us about oil spills and the ongoing recovery on land and in the ocean.

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Deepwater Horizon – major findings and technological advances

Ten years ago, a powerful explosion destroyed an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and injuring 17 others. Over a span of 87 days, the Deepwater Horizon well released an estimated 168 million gallons of oil and 45 million gallons of natural gas into the ocean, making it the largest accidental marine oil spill in history.

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What did scientists learn from Deepwater Horizon?

Ten years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion caused the largest accidental marine oil spill in history, WHOI marine geochemists Elizabeth Kujawinski and Christopher Reddy review what they— and their science colleagues from around the world—have learned.

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30 years later, traces of an oil spill persist

In 2018, researchers from WHOI and their collaborators from Haverford College collected oil samples from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill deposited on the shores of McClure Bay in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

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Rapid Response at Sea

As sea ice continues to melt in the Arctic and oil exploration expands in the region, the possibility of an oil spill occurring under ice is higher than ever. To help first responders cope with oil trapped under ice, ocean engineers are developing undersea vehicles that can map oil spills to improve situational awareness and decision making during an emergency.

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