The National Response Center (NRC), a branch of the U.S. Coast Guard, collects information regarding hazardous waste spills. By law, oil companies are required to report all spills to the NRC. However, even the NRC admits that only a fraction, 25 percent by some estimates, of actual oil spills are reported.
Even when reported, the quantity of discharged oil is usually unknown or underestimated.
In 2014 there were 184 reported oil spills in South Carolina. Of these, 97 (53 percent) reported an unknown volume. The other 87 listed volumes ranging from one teaspoon to 30,000 gallons.
By contrast, Alabama, a state of similar size with some offshore oil production and onshore transportation and processing facilities, had 816 spills the same year. Of these, 593 (73 percent) were of unknown quantity, while the remaining 223 incidents ranged up to 42,000 gallons.
Louisiana, a state with major oil production and transportation facilities, had 3,036 oil spills (45 percent unknown quantity) with volumes ranging up to 11.8 million gallons. Remember, these are only the spills actually reported.
Is this the future we want for our state? Do we really want to be bringing oil from offshore through our ports? Are we willing to experience daily oil spills washing into our fragile coastal environment in exchange for a few jobs?
With the amount of money we would be investing in offshore oil production rigs and onshore processing and transportation facilities, we could create just as many jobs by investing in clean energy resources (wind and solar).
We would have the added benefit of saving jobs that require a clean environment (tourism and fishing). I urge you to oppose oil production off our shores, and contact your state representatives, asking them to also oppose this proposal.
Indigo Bay Circle