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Gulf War oil spill
The Gulf War oil spill was one of the worst oil spills in history, resulting from actions taken during the Gulf War in 1991. It did considerable damage to wildlife in the Persian Gulf. Although initial estimates placed the size of the spill in the range of 290 million gallons, later assessments downgraded this figure to between 24 and 60 million gallons; the exact size of the spill remains unknown.
Causes of the spill
On January 23, 1991, Iraqi forces opened valves at an offshore terminal and dumped oil from several tankers in the Persian Gulf. The apparent strategic goal was to foil a potential amphibious landing by U.S. Marines.
The immediate reports from Baghdad said that American air strikes had caused a discharge of oil from two tankers. Coalition forces determined the main source of oil to be the Sea Island terminal in Kuwait. American airstrikes on January 26 destroyed pipelines to prevent further spillage into the Gulf. Several other sources of oil were found to be active: tankers and a damaged refinery near Mina Al Ahmadi, tankers near Bubiyan Island, and Iraq's Mina Al Bakr terminal.
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