Summer 2010 Recap: Gulf Oil Spill

Beth Rozacky

     This summer a massive oil spill covered the Gulf of Mexico, killing marine animals and destroying ecosystems, wildlife habitats and local economies. The largest marine oil spill in history started with an explosion on the deepwater drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon.

     The oil rig, owned by British Petroleum (BP), experienced an explosion of methane gas and a subsequent fire that killed 11 rig workers and injured 17 others. The explosion opened a sea-floor oil pipeline that began spewing gallons of crude oil into the Gulf at a rate of an estimated 62,000 barrels per day. At its worst, the oil slick covered 3,850 square miles of open ocean, making landfall in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. The gushing oil well was successfully capped July 15 after many failed attempts and 4.9 million gallons of crude oil lost.

     BP claimed responsibility for the accident and is leading clean-up efforts in the Gulf Coast region, removing and dispersing oil, rehabilitating animals, making extensive overhauls of company policy, and is handling damages claims for fisheries, restaurants, hotels and other industries interrupted by the spill.