Alaskan study says 2 million gallons of oil, seawater spilled over 10 years

Did you hear about the 2-million-gallon spill in the Alaskan tundra? No, you didn’t, because it happened slowly, from different sources, over the course of 10 years. A study by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation says spills on the North Slope between 1995 and 2005 included a 994,400-gallon splash of seawater, which can kill tundra plants; during the same time, 349,274 gallons of seawater-oil-gas slop and 103,397 gallons of crude oil also found their way onto the fragile landscape. In all, operators reported 4,481 spills. Whoops! Some officials and scientists say the long-term effect of such errors — 89 percent of which involved 99 gallons or less — is minimal. “Based on spills reported, we haven’t really noted any lasting impacts to wildlife per se,” said Leslie Pearson of the DEC. But others are worried. Says Pamela Miller of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, “What’s important is that many of the spills may be small, but they’re chronic and they’re continuing to happen.”

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