When it comes to mixing oil and water, oceans suffer from far more than an occasional devastating spill. Disasters make headlines, but hundreds of millions of gallons of oil quietly end up in the seas every year, mostly from non-accidental sources.
Down the Drain: 363 Million Gallons
Used engine oil can end up in waterways. An average oil change uses five quarts; one change can contaminate a million gallons of fresh water. Much oil in runoff from land and municipal and industrial wastes ends up in the oceans. 363 million gallons. Road runoff adds up:
Every year oily road runoff from a city of 5 million could contain as much oil as one large tanker spill. Routine Maintenance: 137 Million Gallons
Every year, bilge cleaning and other ship operations release millions of gallons of oil into navigable waters, in thousands of discharges of just a few gallons each. 137 million gallons
Up in Smoke: 92 Million Gallons
Air pollution, mainly from cars and industry, places hundreds of tons of hydrocarbons into the oceans each year. Particles settle, and rain washes hydrocarbons from the air into the oceans. Natural Seeps: 62 Million Gallons
Some ocean oil "pollution" is natural. Seepage from the ocean bottom and eroding sedimentary rocks releases oil. Big Spills: 37 Million Gallons
Only about 5 percent of oil pollution in oceans is due to major tanker accidents, but one big spill can disrupt sea and shore life for miles. Offshore Drilling: 15 Million Gallons
Offshore oil production can cause ocean oil pollution, from spills and operational discharges
More than half of all Americans change their own oil, but only about one-third of the used oil from do-it-yourself oil changes is collected and recycled. Government and industry-sponsored oil collection and recycling programs in many communities are increasing awareness of the hazards of dumping used oil and the benefits of reusing it. Thousands of collection centres and service stations are accepting used oil for recycling. To find out about recycling oil in your area, contact your state environmental department or local recycling authority.
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Oil pollution problems
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