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Discharge of crude or refined liquid petroleum into the environment because of human activity. Sources of oil spills include tankers (ships, trucks, and rail cars), pipelines, storage tanks, drilling rigs, and offshore drilling platforms. Oil spills can occur on land, inland water (lakes or rivers), and the marine environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 10–25 million gallons of oil are spilled each year in the United States. Oil spills damage ecosystems and habitats, harm and kill wildlife and plants, contaminate drinking water, and endanger public health and safety (see illustration). See also: Environmental toxicology; Marine ecology; Marine transportation and the environment; Offshore oil and gas; Oil and gas field exploitation; Oil and gas storage; Oil and gas well drilling; Petroleum; Petroleum processing and refining; Petroleum products; Pipeline; Water pollution; Wildlife forensic science
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