So just how common are “smaller” spills like these? Surprisingly common, actually. The National Wildlife Federation has just released a new report tallying up the number of oil accidents in the past decade. The numbers are striking. Between 2001 and 2007, there were 1,443 offshore-drilling accidents in the Outer Continental Shelf, with 41 fatalities, 476 fires, and 356 “pollution events.” Onshore, there have been 2,554 “significant” pipeline accidents between 2000 and 2009, with 161 fatalities.
[…] What’s more, there’s good reason to believe the oil-spill toll is actually far higher than this. After all, it’s not just existing pipelines and platforms that are a concern. A recent AP investigation found that there are nearly 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico, many of which were closed in the 1940s and 1950s, and the sealing jobs on many of these wells are in questionable condition. One key tidbit: “Regulations for temporarily abandoned wells require oil companies to present plans to reuse or permanently plug such wells within a year, but the AP found that the rule is routinely circumvented, and that more than 1,000 wells have lingered in that unfinished condition for more than a decade.”
So yeah, let’s keep drilling and probing for oil instead of using that money to get the energy and car companies on the same plan to create a next gen energy solution.