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Pollutant spills worldwide - 2014

Sea & shoreline


Number of spills by area


In 2014, Cedre recorded 32 spills involving volumes of over approximately 10 m3 from its database, for which sufficient information was available for statistical analysis. Almost half of these spills occurred at sea, a quarter on the shoreline, around 20% in ports and approximately 10 % in estuaries. The number of incidents recorded in 2014 is close to the annual median (29 incidents) expressed for the period 2004-2013.




Quantities spilt by area

The total quantity of oil and other hazardous substances spilt, around 9,400 tonnes, is far lower than the median expressed for the previous 10-year period (around 30,000 tonnes), placing the 2014 total among the lowest recorded throughout this period. Overall, the significant spills in 2013 give a relatively low median quantity of around 25 tonnes.

The vast majority (90%) of the quantities spilt in 2014 was released at sea, the bulk of which was due to a leak from a subsea natural gas pipe in Alaska. Comparable shares of the annual total (3 to 4%) were spilt in ports and estuaries. These quantities mainly related to the rupture of a transfer line at the loading terminal in a South Korean refinery in January and the incident involving a tanker in the Bengal Delta, Bangladesh.


Number of spills by pollutant type

The vast majority of spills (around 90 % of occurrences in 2014) involved oil. Among these oil spills, the most commonly spilt products were light refined products (8%), followed by heavy/intermediate refined products (unspecified IFO grades of <380) and heavy refined products (IFO≥380). This was followed by crude oil (13% of the total and in half of cases the density was unspecified). In addition to oil products, we note 2 spills in the HNS category (hazardous and noxious substances).





Quantities spilt by pollutant type


In terms of the quantities released, we note the majority share of gases, in this case methane, in the 2014 review, due to a leak in June from a subsea pipeline (Alaska, US). The share of oil products in the total annual quantity spilt is mainly dominated by refined products (around 25% of the total, compared to <3% for crude oil), in particular heavy products (14%), followed by intermediate products (4%), unspecified heavy to intermediate products (3%) and light products (white products, 3%).




Inland waters


Frequency of spills by source

As in previous years, pipelines represented the most frequent source (24 %) of inland water pollution incidents, followed by overland transport in tanks, representing a total of 14% of cases (divided between tanker trucks and tank cars, with respectively 11% and 3% of the number of spills). On-land oil facilities were only at the origin of 10% of incidents, shared evenly between wells, refineries and unspecified oil facilities. Various structures are then listed, each representing an equivalent share (around 8%): power stations, mines and small to medium-sized facilities (various plants and agricultural facilities). The other types of sources identified were involved in less than 5 % of significant spills during the year.



Quantities spilt by source

In terms of quantities, we note the vast predominance (around 99%) of mines in the 2014 total.

These mine-related incidents aside, the greatest quantities spilt were released from power stations and, to a lesser extent, from land pipelines (respectively 82% and 15% of the total, excluding mines).
Refineries were only other source to result in a release of several hundred tonnes. Given the patchy data identified, no accurate indication of the relative shares of other sources, most likely underestimated, can be given.



Quantities spilt by pollutant type

Unlike previous years, the 2014 total is very largely dominated by releases of waste waters, in particular containing mineral matter from mining activities (10,040,000 tonnes of waste water mainly containing heavy metals) or industrial activities. The industrial category mainly refers to the 39,000 tonne-spill of slurry containing combustion residues (coal ash) from a storage reservoir at a power plant in the United States in February. In the oil category, the greatest share (89% of oil) was crude oil (mainly medium crudes) due to incidents involving pipelines, the largest of which were in Peru, France, the United States, West Africa and, above all, the Near East. This was followed by unknown/unspecified oil (around 10% of oil products), ahead of refined products, whose share in the annual total is probably underestimated due to incomplete data. In 2014, the share of chemicals was once again far lower than that of oil.

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