For many families, the first disaster can be far from the last

Sasha Smith was out of work and battling throat cancer when, on Aug. 29, 2005, the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina began to lap against her home in Orleans Parish. The young mother clutched her 2-year-old son Alex and fled ...

Salvors begin sinking ship which ran aground off Mauritius

Salvage crews on Thursday began the process of sinking the broken stem of a Japanese-owned ship which ran aground off Mauritius, leading to a major oil spill and ecological disaster for the Indian Ocean island.

Technology can help speed soil recovery after oil spills

After an oil spill or leak, it's important to act fast. If the oil has gotten into soil, scientists need to rapidly assess how much oil there is and how far it spread. It's a process that has always been costly and time-consuming.

Mauritius races to contain oil spill, protect coastline

Thousands of students, environmental activists and residents of Mauritius were working around the clock Sunday, trying to reduce the damage to the Indian Ocean island from an oil spill after a ship ran aground on a coral ...

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Oil spill

An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term often refers to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters. The oil may be a variety of materials, including crude oil, refined petroleum products (such as gasoline or diesel fuel) or by-products, ships' bunkers, oily refuse or oil mixed in waste. Spills take months or even years to clean up.

Oil is also released into the environment from natural geologic seeps on the sea floor. Most human-made oil pollution comes from land-based activity, but public attention and regulation has tended to focus most sharply on seagoing oil tankers.

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