In 2012, 6,000 oil and gas sites sprung a leak, spilling 15.6 million gallons of wastewater, fracking fluid, oil and other liquids. That’s roughly four million more gallons of spilled oil and gas products and waste products than were spilled in the Exon Valdez tanker crash in Alaska in 1989.
Experts believe the spill amount is underreported, despite the 15 million+ figure. In fact, oil and gas spills happen daily across the country – as many as 16 times per day. Even those spills that don’t result in serious or fatal injuries are not victimless however; many people near spill sites report property damage as well as health consequences believed to be directly related to the leaked oil and gas material.
With spills seemingly happening all the time, many are left wondering whether the oil and gas companies are doing enough to prevent the environmental disasters. In Texas alone, there were 912 barrels of oil and drilling or fracking by-products spilled in 2012, up from just over 600 in 2009. North Dakota, no doubt thanks to the Bakken Play, has led the country in spills for the last two years with more than 1,000 barrels in 2011 and 2012.
Wyoming was home to two of the worst spills, volume-wise, in 2012. Two separate spills spread close to four million gallons of wastewater from coalbed methane drilling. The “produced water” is salty and although potentially clean enough to drink, it basically destroys any farmland it touches.
Source: WYO File, “U.S. well sites in 2012 discharged more than Valdez,” July 9, 2013