April 20, 2010
The largest offshore oil spill in marine history took several weeks to unfold, but it began with an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, located some 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Eleven people died in the accident and 17 were seriously injured. The fire burned for more than a day before the rig – owned by offshore-oil-drilling company Transocean and leased by energy giant BP – sank into the Gulf of Mexico.
By May, oil had drifted onto Louisiana’s fragile shoreline. By June, oil and tar balls were washing up on beaches in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. In all, an estimated 1,100 miles of the Gulf coast was affected, sending tourists elsewhere and damaging local businesses.
It took almost three months – until mid-July – for workers to cap the well. On Sept. 19, officials pronounced the well permanently sealed with cement. By then, an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil had poured into the Gulf.
The impact of the Deepwater spill ran deep, damaging coastal economies and wildlife, forcing a years-long cleanup operation, and leading to criminal and civil penalties, fines and settlements totaling more than $25 billion. Habitat restoration along the Gulf is ongoing.
Read more at https://response.restoration.noaa.gov/oil-and-chemical-spills/significant-incidents/deepwater-horizon-oil-spill and https://www.restorethegulf.gov.
Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. A Coast Guard MH-65C dolphin rescue helicopter, and crew, document the fire while searching for survivors, April 21, 2010. (U.S. Coast Guard, Wikipedia)
Oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill approaches the coast of Mobile, May 6, 2010. (Photograph by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael B. Watkins, U.S. Navy, Wikipedia)
Sunlight illuminated the lingering oil slick off the Mississippi Delta on May 24, 2010. (NASA, GSFC, Michon Scott NASA’s Earth Observatory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Wikipedia)
Burning and skimming operations in the Gulf of Mexico; June 10, 2010. (kris krüg, Wikipedia)
A worker cleans up oily waste on Elmer’s Island just west of Grand Isle, Louisiana, May 21, 2010. (PO3 Patrick Kelley, Wikipedia)
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries take oil-covered pelicans to be cleaned and treated for injuries. The brown pelican is Louisiana’s state bird, only recently removed from the endangered species list. (Photograph courtesy of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office, Louisiana GOHSEP, Wikipedia)
Oil-stained beaches in Pensacola, Florida, July 1, 2010. (Geoff Livingston, Wikipedia)
Dr. Brian Stacy, NOAA veterinarian, prepares to clean an oiled Kemp’s Ridley turtle. Veterinarians and scientists from NOAA, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and other partners working under the Unified Command captured heavily oiled young turtles 20 to 40 miles offshore as part of ongoing animal rescue and rehabilitation efforts, June 14, 2010. (NOAA and Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wikipedia)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.