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Where and when was the Largest US Oil spill?
When asked, one inevitably thinks of the current BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico or the Valdez spill in Alaska in the late 80s. What could be possibly worse?
Well, the problem is a generational one. You see, if you ask anyone not versed in history about the US, UK and France intervention in the Russian Civil War from 1918-20, anyone today under 65 yrs, would have no clue about it because little is mentioned about it today or even forty years ago. The same applies for the worse oil spill, except it is worse. One has to go back even further.
1910, to be exact, in the Mariopa oil fields near Taft, California. The current BP fiasco has leaked 5.2 million barrels into the Gulf. In 1910, over 9,000,000 barrels of oil gushed out of the oil fields into the surrounding area. Worse, the gusher gushed out the oil for 544 days, well over a year, before capped or stopped. BP's spill is around 90 days. The city of Taft was created from the oil spill and oil fields stemming from a settlement called, Moron. The company responsible was Lakeview oil, which hunted for oil some 120 miles NW from LA. The gusher sprang on March 14 after drilling some 2200 feet down, the pressurized oil blew off the rig's top and was a fountain some 200 ft in the air. The oil fountain continued creating oil rivers and killing all life it encountered. Once discovered, news spread and oil companies began prospecting etc. soon the town of Taft was created. The town avoided the 30s depression because of the oil boom and remained healthy until the 50s.
What would be interesting is to read studies about how the oil has, if any, impacted those in the area. Have the areas soaked with oil recovered? are they dead zones still? Has the water table been affected?
In any case, the 1910 spill is the worse spill by far.