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Gulf Oil spill is worst accidental spill ever

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has become the largest accidental release of oil into water in history, according to figures from the federal government.

Federal scientific teams estimated Monday that the ruptured BP well has spewed about 4.9 million barrels -- or 205.8 million gallons -- of oil. About 800,000 barrels, or 3.3 million gallons, of that were collected by vessels hired by BP to recover the oil.

That would rank it as the worst accidental oil spill in marine waters, surpassing the 1979 Ixtoc 1 blow-out in the Bay of Campeche, off the coast of Mexico. That accident spilled 140 million gallons of oil.

The worst oil spill of all time was intentional. It happened during the Gulf War, when the Iraqi Army purposely released 240 million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf.