On this day in Alabama history: Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded

On this day in Alabama history: Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded
The Discoverer Enterprise and the Q4000 work around the clock burning undesirable gases from the uncapped Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photograph by Spc. Casey Ware, Wikipedia)

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.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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