Oil Spills, a Reality Check

By Andy May

A leak in an 8-inch pipeline caused 1,300 barrels (roughly 55,000 gallons) of gasoline to spill near Loyalsock Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania October 21. This has created a huge stir in the media and frothy statements about the evil and dirty oil companies. But, let’s put this and other pipeline spills into perspective. It has been estimated at Johns Hopkins University by Markus Hilpert that between spills at gasoline stations and on-road incidents, 2 metric tonnes of gasoline are spilled every day in the Washington, D.C. area. If other parts of the U.S. spill the same amount per person, then this means 110 metric tonnes of gasoline are spilled by the public every day. 55,000 gallons of gasoline is 1571 metric tonnes, so this is less than 15 days of normal spills from cars across the U.S.

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