The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill, the BP oil disaster, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the Macondo blowout) was an oil spill that began in April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect, considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, estimated to be between 8% and 31% larger in volume than the earlier Ixtoc oil spill. Following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which claimed 11 lives, a sea-floor oil gusher flowed for 87 days, until it was capped on 15 July 2010. The total discharge is estimated at 4.9 million barrels.
Facts about the BP oil spill:
- In the BP Oil Spill, more than 200 million gallons of crude oil was pumped into the Gulf of Mexico for a total of 87 days, making it the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.
- 16,000 total miles of coastline have been affected, including the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
- Even though the gushing well was capped in July 2010, oil is still washing up on shores, which might cause long-term damages to people living in the area.
- The initial oil rig explosion killed 11 people and injured 17 others.
- President Obama announced that his administration would create a $20 billion spill response fund.
- Respondents used 5.5 million feet of boom, a barrier placed in water, to collect and absorb oil.
- Of the 400 miles of Louisiana coast, approximately 125 miles have been polluted by the oil spill.
- One method of treating the oil spill is “in-situ burning” or burning oil in a contained area on the surface of the water, which has negative effects on the environment.
- Over 8,000 animals (birds, turtles, mammals) were reported dead just 6 months after the spill, including many that are already on the endangered species list. Immediate impact on the wildlife includes oil-coated birds and sea turtles, mammal ingestion of oil, and dead or dying deep sea coral.
- BP is responsible for close to $40 billion in fines, cleanup costs, and settlements as a result of the oil spill in 2010, with an additional $16 billion due to the Clean Water Act.
- Over 30,000 people responded to the spill in the Gulf Coast working to collect oil, clean up beaches, take care of animals and perform various other duties. As of 2012, the Gulf was still polluted with oil.