The Slow Motion Oil Spill That You Can Help Stop

The Slow Motion Oil Spill That You Can Help Stop

By on Feb 19 2015

Almost every time you visit the gas station, it happens. In that split second between the pump shutting off and you placing the nozzle back in its seat, a few valuable drops of gasoline fall onto the ground next to your vehicle.

"No big deal," we think to ourselves, but when we consider all of the other people coming to the pump, dribbling a couple of drops, and driving away thinking it's really not a big deal, it turns out to be much more than we suspect. This is a slow motion oil spill that is occurring at every gas station in America and it's one that everybody could proactively help bring to an end.

Markus Hilpert, senior scientist and professor at John Hopkins University, and his team conducted a study which estimated that there is around 400 gallons of fuel spills at the average American gas station each decade. A lot of this gas is making its way underneath the pavement and accumulating at concrete pads below the pumps —eventually contaminating soil and watersheds underground.

This could become a serious issue, as gasoline contains known carcinogens, or cancer causing substances.

Spilled droplets amount to "large cumulative spills" with "relatively long life times" according to Hilpert in a VICE Motherboard article. He said, "This can become a problem if clean rainwater is allowed to flow over the pavement because the water can pick up the pollutants and move them into uncontaminated environments."

Diagram shows small oils drops are absorbed more into pavement

The John Hopkins team used the mathematical model above to estimate how much of the gas is able to penetrate the pavement. The model found that smaller droplets were absorbed more than large ones, which were less evaporated.

The next time you need to fill up, remember to jostle that nozzle, and do your part to help end an oil spill that you as a citizen have control over.


You might also be interested in:


Newsletter | January 2023
by Petroleum Service Company on Jan 12 2023

monthly newsletter
blog post
DISCONTINUED - ExxonMobil Elite 20W-50 Aviation Oil
by Sarah Simonovich on Dec 21 2022

If you own an aircraft, you want to take care of it to the best of your ability. You might even avoi…
aviation oil
At What Temperature Does Diesel Fuel Gel?
by Sarah Simonovich on Dec 15 2022

Do your fuel problems actually stem from diesel gelling or another winter problem? As temperatures…
Diesel