Oil spill rates in four U.S. coastal regions




Froehlich, M.A.
Bellantoni, J.F.

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American Petroleum Institute.


The incidence of oil spills of more than 10,000 gallons in the years 1974 through 1977 was compared for four regions in the United States that carry heavy oil traffic: Greater New York-New Jersey, Delaware Bay, the Louisiana coast, and the northern Texas coast. The purpose was to determine whether there was any significant difference in oil spill rates among the four regions. The spill data from the study were drawn from the Pollution Incident Reporting System (PIRS), the records of the National Response Center (NRC), and the Commercial Vessel Casualty File. Oil movement data were obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Waterborne Commerce of the United States. A comparison of PIRS and NRC data indicated that neither data source was complete. From the amount of agreement between the two sources and some statistical assumptions, it was estimated that the PIRS data covered about 75 percent of all spills and about 88 percent of all vessel-related spills. The spill rates calculated for the four regions showed no significant higher spill rate was noted for the Hudson River subdivision of the New York-New Jersey region. An examination of the spill reports showed that most of the spills were associated with poor weather conditions, that is, ice or fogs.


pgs. 677-683


oil spills