An oil spill is the discharge of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, mainly in marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is typically applied to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land. The following tells the story of the largest oil spill the world has ever seen:

When: 1991 Gulf War

Location: Kuwait

Gallons Spilt: 240 to 336 million

The actual story:

As Iraqi forces fled from Kuwait during the first Gulf War, they opened the valves of oil wells and pipelines in attempt to slow the attack of American troops. The result was tragic and led to the crisis of the largest oil spill history has seen. Some 240 million gallons of crude oil flooded into the Persian Gulf causing the oil slick to cover an area just larger than the size of the island of Hawaii.

The Clean-up:

Alliance forces succeeded to seal off some of the open pipelines using smart bombs, however sadly enough most of the rescue efforts had to wait until after the war. At that point 25 miles of booms (orange rope like products that contain the oil that is floating on top of the water) and 21 skimmers (machines that separate oil from water) were deployed in the gulf, mostly to defend the water intakes of desalinization, industry and power plants. Together with vacuum trucks, around 58.8 million gallons of oil was recovered from the gulf.

According to a report by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission at Unesco, this oil spill (the largest oil spill the world has seen) demanded little permanent damage on coral ecosystems and local fisheries. The study concluded that about half the oil evaporated, one-eighth of it was recovered and another quarter washed ashore, mostly in Saudi Arabia.

What do you think companies can do to prevent tragedies as such?