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oil spill

an accidental release of oil into a body of water, as from a tanker, offshore drilling rig, or underwater pipeline, often presenting a hazard to marine life and the environment.
1965-70 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for oil spill
  • Science isn't going to cure cancer by next week or clean up the gulf oil spill overnight.
  • At this time there is no effective plan if a catastrophe such as a ship collision or oil spill occurs.
  • All proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to help support oil spill-related relief efforts.
  • The recession and now the oil spill mean money is scarce for both students and colleges.
  • Shrimpers are not sure what to expect in terms of the oil spill's effects on the product-or on demand.
  • Unfortunately the size of this oil spill makes is fairly difficult to see how effective any of these efforts are doing.
  • Best news of all: the oil spill is plugged and no hurricane ever went across the slick while the oil was still flowing.
  • The severity of the impact of an oil spill depends on a variety of factors, including characteristics of the oil itself.
  • The impact of the oil spill may affect students and adults in different ways.
Encyclopedia Article for oil spill

leakage of petroleum onto the surface of a large body of water. Oceanic oil spills became a major environmental problem in the 1960s, chiefly as a result of intensified petroleum exploration on the continental shelf and the use of supertankers capable of transporting more than 450,000 metric tons (500,000 tons) of oil. Thousands of minor and several major oil spills related to well discharges and tanker operations are reported each year, with the total quantity of oil released annually into the world's oceans exceeding 1,000,000 tons (907,000 metric tons). The costs of such accidental oil spills are considerable in both economic and ecological terms. Oil on ocean surfaces is harmful to many forms of aquatic life because it prevents sufficient amounts of sunlight from penetrating and also reduces the level of dissolved oxygen. Moreover, crude oil renders feathers and gills ineffective, so that birds and fish may die from direct contact with the oil itself. Accidents to supertankers and to underwater wells and pipelines may be the cause of major oil spills, but the unintentional or negligent release of used gasoline solvents and crankcase lubricants by industries and individuals greatly aggravates the overall environmental problem. Combined with natural seepage from the ocean floor, these sources add oil to the world's waterways at the rate of from 3,900,000 to 6,600,000 tons (3,500,000 to 6,000,000 metric tons) a year.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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