One of the statements you frequently hear from the oil industry is that offshore oil drilling is safe and that even Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused no significant oil spills. These kinds of statements are then picked up and repeated in newspaper articles often enough that they seem to become accepted fact. The only problem is, they’re not true!

First, take a look at the above photos from the Skytruth.org website.

Then consider that no less a source than the US Minerals Managment Service (MMS) confirmed that numerous oil spills occurred in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of damage caused to offshore oil and gas infrastructure by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Their news release states:

“Based on additional industry assessments, investigations, and reports, the number of pipelines damaged has risen to 457 from 183. The number of larger diameter pipelines (10 inches or greater) that were damaged has risen to 101 from 64. MMS has also revised the number of platforms destroyed from 115 down to 113 (one well was mistaken for a platform and one platform was damaged not destroyed). Six spills of 1,000 barrels or greater were reported; the largest of these was 3,625 barrels of condensate reported by the Gulf South Pipeline Company in the Eugene Island Block 51 area. A total of 146 spills of 1 barrel or greater have been reported in the Federal OCS waters; 37 of these were 50 barrels or greater.” [Note: 1 barrel = 42 gallons]

MMS cautioned that the full extent of damage and spills was still being determined.