It’s hard to give a total number, since oil spills aren’t just the large oil spills we hear of on the news but also improper disposal of fuel and such (or run-off). There are an estimated 706 million gallons of waste oil spilled into the ocean every year.
The large spills you probably are talking about “(over 206,500 gallons) averaged 24.1 per year from 1970 to 1979, but decreased to 6.9 per year from 1990 through 2000.” That is the number of spills that actually occurred of that size. So really there are not that many big oil spills, but so many little ones that it really adds up to a huge amount of damage.
Though it does greatly differ from year to year. In their annual “International Oil Spill Statistics” report for 1999, they reported that in that year–the latest year for which they have analyzed data–about 32 million gallons of oil spilled into the water or onto land, in 257 incidents.
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