Ship Name Year Location Spill Size (Tons)
Atlantic Empress 1979 Off Tobago, West Indies 287,000
ABT Summer 1991 700 nautical miles off Angola 260,000
Castillo de Bellver 1983 Off Saldanha Bay, South Africa 252,000
Amoco Cadiz 1978 Off Brittany, France 223,000
Haven 1991 Genoa, Italy 144,000
Odyssey 1988 700 nautical miles off Nova Scotia, Canada 132,000
Torrey Canyon 1967 Scilly Isles, UK 119,000
Sea Star 1972 Gulf of Oman 115,000
Irenes Serenade 1980 Navarino Bay, Greece 100,000
Urquiola 1976 La Coruna, Spain 100,000
Hawaiian Patriot 1977 300 nautical miles off Honolulu 95,000
Independenta 1979 Bosphorus, Turkey 95,000
Jakob Maersk 1975 Oporto, Portugal 88,000
Braer 1993 Shetland Islands, UK 85,000
Khark 5 1989 120 nautical miles off Atlantic coast of Morocco 80,000
Aegean Sea 1992 La Coruna, Spain 74,000
Sea Empress 1996 Milford Haven, UK 72,000
Katina P 1992 Off Maputo, Mozambique 72,000
Nova 1985 Off Kharg Island, Gulf of Iran 70,000
Prestige 2002 Off Galicia, Spain 63,000
Exxon Valdez 1989 Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA 37,000
Source: The International Tankers Owners Pollution Federation.
Major Oil Spills Since 1967
The size of an oil spill is an indication of its potential environmental impact. Yet, the two most damaging oil spills were not the largest but took place nearby ecologically rich areas, particularly in terms of fishing. The Amoco Cadiz was carrying 223,000 tons of oil when it sank in Portsall Bay, France, on March 17, 1978. Some 400 km of Breton coastlines were affected. Following the incident, not only was the ecological equilibrium greatly disturbed but local economy - based on fishing - was also completely paralyzed. On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez hit a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, thereby spilling 37,000 tons of oil of its 180,000 tons load along 1,700 km of coastlines. Even if comparatively to other major spills it was of lower volume, it still carries today the title of the largest animal death toll.
The Prestige and Sea Empress oil spills that occurred off in the European Atlantic generated a significant amount of pollution that destroyed aquatic species including algae, mollusks, crustacean, marine mammals, fish and invertebrates.