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The Kuwait oil fires
Prestige Oil Spill
Northeast coast of Spain
November 13, 2002
While the Greek-operated Bahamas-registered oil tanker Prestige was traveling off the coast of Spain, one of its 12 tanks burst in a storm. Spain, France and Portugal all refused to let the damaged ship dock for repairs, and after spending an additional week deteriorating at sea, the ship split in half and sank, leaking around 20 million gallons of oil into the ocean.
After the ship sank, it continued to leak around 125 tons of oil a day, polluting the Galician coastline, wreaking havoc on coastal ecology and decimating the local fishing industry. To date, around 63,000 tons of oil have leaked from the ship.
The longterm impact:
In the aftermath of the spill, volunteers banded together to clean up Galicia's beaches. The effort was a success: more beaches received notices for high standards than in previous years. The cost of the cleanup was around $3.2 billion.
Simon Walmsley, a senior policy officer for the World Wildlife Fund, told New Scientist "the environmental devastation caused is at least on a par, if not worse, than the Exxon Valdez." And, experts say, area marine life will feel the effects of the spill for at least 10 years.
Oiled birds like this must be cleaned by hand, or they are doomed. (Photo: Christophe Simon / AFP/Getty Images)
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The Kingston fly ash spill
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