The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

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Many businesses that sell seafood had to cut back on it for the past few months. It has been since April that businesses are now selling shellfish back on the menu for a somewhat reasonable price. A major incident occurred just two days before Earth Day. The incident is well known as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, or as many others call it, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig along the Gulf of Mexico is an oil-spill that resulted from an explosion that is under contract with BP, leading up to over million barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. This incident has led to many controversies. Arguments in discussion are whether or not we should continue to drill offshore, what exactly went wrong, and why none of the safeties were unable to activate.
British Petroleum (“BP”) is the company that is being blamed for the incident. Employing 80,000 people, BP is an international oil company that puts different technology to use for finding oil and gas under the Earth’s surface. One of the oilrigs, Deepwater Horizon has drilled 35,000 ft. making it to be the deepest drilling of oil and gas (Walsh). Deepwater Horizon was drilling in the Gulf of Mexico about 52 miles southeast of Venice on Louisiana's tip. After the explosion, helicopters searched for 11 crewmembers that reported missing. 17 people were injured (BP Internal Investigation Team). A day later, the rig was found upside down (BP Oil Spill Timeline). The cost to clean up the damage is approximately $760 million (Walsh).
This is not the first time that BP is at fault. They have had criminal convictions in places such as Endicott Bay in Alaska, Texas City and Prudhoe Bay. Jeanne Pascal was a part of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and was assigned to watch over BP. Pascal was watching over companies such as BP that were facing debarment. Under her watch, BP was charged with four federal crimes. Over the past twelve years, Pascal’s seen BP patterns as misconducts. She attempted to warn the government about BP’s safety and environmental issues that would most likely lead to another disaster. While she was watching over BP, the company misinformed and misled her about things that resulted to the felonies that they have committed. Sensing that some things were not right about the company, she presented a case of their unsafe working environments.

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No one felt that the information she gathered was enough to debar the company. Eventually Pascal learned that BP would cover up their questionable tracks. "God, they just don’t learn." (Lustgarten).
The fire went on for 36 hours, caused by hydrocarbons. The blowout preventer (BOP) was supposed to be one of their fail-safeties. The BOP, works by sealing the well, did not activate for the emergency (BP Internal Investigation Team). BP also attempted to fix a hydraulic leak but was also unsuccessful (BP Oil Spill Timeline). The back-up plans for cases of emergency did not fall through, very much like the other disasters that BP was charged for.
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has affected Americans living along the gulf’s coast. Profits from tourism and fisheries were shut down. Tourism has provided over 400,000 jobs for citizens along the gulf. Economically, revenue could decrease by 20%, which could cost the U.S. approximately over $22.7 billion. “Although the losses have been concentrated where oil has come ashore, tourists have shifted away from the entire region in significant numbers.” (Oxford Economics). The incident has caused many misperceptions about which areas are affected so tourists assume to stray away from all the states bordering the gulf. They believe the impacts of the disaster will last for a long time. The many travelers that canceled their trips to Louisiana thought that the state would still be affected after two years of the spill. One of the many misconceptions were about Louisiana’s oyster beds being uncontaminated, little less than half of the respondents of surveys found it okay to eat in Louisiana’s seafood restaurants. (Oxford Economics). The out-of-state travelers got the wrong idea of how the oil spill really affected us. The misconceptions led to more travelers wanting to stray away from anywhere off the bordering states of the gulf. The south has lost so much profit on tourism, that it brought us down economically.
The spill has directly affected some people such as Charles Robin III, who has been a fifth-generation shrimper on the Louisiana coast. By May 2, oil traveled up to the Mississippi Delta miles near where Robin lives. "Katrina dug a hole for us," he said. "We're laying in this grave, trying to get out, and this spill comes along." (Walsh). Robin’s fishery is the foundation of his life. The spill affected him directly and with every disaster, he had to find a way to keep moving on.
“A pair of dolphins break the water’s surface, and a single egret walks along the shore, its wings mottled with crude.” (Nijhuis). The southern wildlife has taken an even harder hit from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Many sea turtles were washed onto shores dead, covered in oil. Birds were being taken in for deep cleansing. Not only with the animals but also their habitats are affected. Oil could reach the marshes and it would be very difficult to clean out the marshes. The spill caused toxicity to fish, shrimp, and oysters. FDA and other agencies to verify it would be okay in the market tested seafood (NOAA and FDA). The seafood passed of contamination of oil. Louisiana’s beaches and bayous are home to about 40% of the coastal wetlands. Scientists were especially worried about ocean currents washing onto the beaches of the southeast coast. Oil did penetrate the gulf and washed out onto the shore for months (Walsh). Southern Louisiana already loses about a football field’s worth of land every half hour (Nijhuis). Environmentalists’ are all opposed against having offshore drilling rigs. Especially with a catastrophe like this, staying away from offshore drilling is a good idea.
President Obama’s main concerns were to stop the leak, containing the spill and protecting the gulf along with the people that live there. “There’s already been a loss of life, damage to our coastline, to fish and wildlife, and to the livelihoods of everyone from fishermen to restaurant and hotel owners.“ (Obama). A major controversy that resulted from the spill was whether or not we should continue offshore drilling and President Obama decided to place an immediate ban from offshore drilling until the incident cleared up. President Obama puts BP at fault for the entire spill.
The gas prices have skyrocketed since the incident. For the next 20 years, it is expected that the demand for oil will grow about 23%. Using oil for coal and natural gases, it takes years for those resources to develop. The demand for oil hurts the economy exponentially, especially if we are spending hundred millions of dollars to clean it up.
BP has led a phony company who still has many questions to answer. They deceived everyone, hiding their mistakes and they never kept up with their maintenance. Working with highly toxic resources, BP should have been debarred a long time ago. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida are paying for something that was completely out of their hands. They are slowly trying to recover from the oil spill catastrophe. If natural and other disasters continue, the states will slowly have to keep picking themselves up. The environmental disaster has made such an impact worldwide that it affects humans, wildlife, and the environment in many ways. Environmentalists’ are helping them recover what was lost. It was a long and difficult journey and the journey of recovery still continues.

Works Cited

BP Internal Investigation Team. Deepwater Horizon Accident Investigation Report: Executive Summary. British Petroleum (BP), 8 Sep. 2010. Press Release.

“BP Oil Spill Timeline.” Guardian News & Media Lmtd. 22 July 2010. Web. 2 Nov. 2010.

Lustgarten, Abrahm. “Furious Growth and Cost Cuts Led to BP Accidents Past and Present.” OnEarth Magazine. National Resources Defense Council, 26 Oct. 2010. Web. 2 Nov. 2010.

Nijhuis, Michelle. “A Crude Awakening in the Gulf of Mexico.” Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution, Sept. 2010. Web. 2 Nov. 2010.

“NOAA and FDA Announce Chemical Test for Dispersant in Gulf Seafood; All Samples Test Within Safety Threshold.” NOAA News. NOAA, 29 Oct. 2010. Web. 2 Nov. 2010.

Obama, Barack. Remarks by the President on the Ongoing Oil Spill Response. Washington, D.C. 14 May 2010. Address.

Oxford Economics. “Potential Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill on Tourism.” U.S. Travel Assn., 22 July 2010. Web. 2 Nov. 2010.

Walsh, Bryan. “The Far-Ranging Costs of the Mess in the Gulf.” Time Magazine. Time Inc., 6 May 2010. Web. 2 Nov. 2010.
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