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There were 137 oil spills in U.S. in 2018

Christian Fernsby ▼ | May 12, 2019
According to data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there were 137 oil spills in 2018, about 11 per month.
Oil spill
America   Nine of the incidents didn’t actually detect any pollution
The 148 incidents in the map includes incidents of spills and potential spills. From the descriptions of the spills, nine of the incidents didn’t actually detect any pollution (NOAA gets notified when there is a possible spill, when an oil-carrying boat breaks down, for example, but some incidents don’t result in spills) and two occurred outside U.S. territories. So the total number of U.S. oil spills in 2018 was 137.

NOAA estimated the size of 65 spills in 2018, in terms of the maximum potential gallons of petroleum released. Spills ranged in size from 2.1 million gallons to just 30 gallons. NOAA can’t estimate the size of a spill if its source is unknown, such as in the case of oil sheens like the one shown below.

The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) defines a large oil spill as more than 700 tonnes (219,000 gallons) of oil and a medium-sized spill as being between 7 and 700 tonnes (2,200 gallons to 219,000 gallons). Of the 137 oil spills tracked by NOAA, one was large and 25 were medium-sized.

Louisiana had 52 spills on or offshore, Texas had 13 and 10 spills occurred in Alaska. New Jersey and Massachusetts are tied for fourth place with six spills within 200 nautical miles of their shores.