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June 22, 2021

What if the oil spill happened in your hometown?

As if BP needed more bad PR …

If you’re like me, you’ve watched this BP oil spill story develop from a distance.

After all, how much can we really appreciate such a disaster from a nation away? We don’t live in the Gulf region. If we weren’t seeing pics of oil-drenched seagulls and darkened white sand beaches on the news, we’d have no way of gauging how big this thing really is.

Well, let’s add this map as Exhibit no. 5,642 in the “Useless-but-cool things on the Internet these days” category.

For those having a tough time wrapping their heads around how much oil is exactly being spilt (latest estimate: about 79 million gallons), a site called is here for you.

The interactive map tracks your IP address to get a fix on your locale, then shows you on a map just how the spill would look had it happened in your hometown.

So, for instance, let’s say you were sitting in your Ottawa home on April 20 when the BP explosion erupted. By now, according to the map’s calculation, you’re looking at a huge spill diameter that envelops all the way to Kingston on the west and Montreal/Trois-Rivières on the east. 

That’s about 500 km! Covered in oil.

Or what about an area near even more population … like Victoria, BC? Presuming the spill began off the coast of Victoria back in April, we’re talking about an oil-soaked area that would’ve swallowed up all of Vancouver, all of Surrey, much of Vancouver Island and even the entire city of Seattle.

Of course, this map is flawed for a variety of reasons. Like, in no small dose, how it presumes oil would spread were it spilled on land rather than water.

Still, short of actually flying down to the Gulf Coast, I’m not sure there’s a better tool out there to prove the massive scope – and consequences – of this ongoing disaster.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...