BP Oil Spill History
Experts predicted the BP Oil Spill would be worse than the Exxon Valdez and costlier than Hurricane Katrina
On April 20, 2010, a massive offshore oil rig known as the Deepwater Horizon exploded and caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 miles from Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. Firefighters and the U.S. Coast Guard fought for 2 days to contain the fire, but the rig sank on April 22, releasing nearly a million gallons of diesel fuel into the Gulf waters and creating an unstoppable leak of crude that threatens to become the biggest oil disaster the U.S. has ever seen.
The Deepwater Horizon was one of 14 offshore oil rigs owned and operated by Transocean in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig was under lease to oil giant BP for exploratory drilling to the tune of $500,000 per day when the explosion occurred. 126 workers – a combined crew of Transocean and BP employees and independent contractors, were aboard the rig at the time of the explosion. Many of the workers suffered from burn injuries, broken bones, and smoke inhalation – 4 of them critically. Eleven of the workers were reportedly in the vicinity of the explosion and remain missing.
The Deepwater Horizon platform was about the size of two football fields with accommodations for 130 people. The ultra-deepwater, semi-submersible rig was dynamically positioned above the drilling site, and workers were in the final phases of cementing a well casing around the hole when a blowout occurred.
Workers have discovered the oil continues to leak out of 2 kinks in the riser, a pipe that connected the well to the rig, which collapsed when the platform sank. About 210,000 gallons of crude oil gush through the cracked riser every day. The spill has already created an oil slick across 2,000 square miles of water and is rapidly growing, killing oceangoing animals and threatening wildlife, industry, and livelihoods in all of the Gulf states.
Industry experts say that it may take workers up to 3 months to seal the well and stop the flow of oil. At that rate, the environmental and commercial impact will likely be unprecedented. The oil has been creeping toward Louisiana’s fragile wetlands and its $3 billion seafood industry just as the shrimping season is set to begin. Environmental experts say that as many as 400 species of Gulf wildlife, from whales to birds, are at risk and that the threat to the Gulf ecosystem is inestimable.
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