BP Oil Leak: The Deepwater Horizon Incident

On the 20th of April, 2010, a series of events on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig in the Gulf of Mexico, caused an explosion, the animals, ecosystem and waterfront towns paying paying the biggest price in terms of damages. BP today is still in operation.

The Deepwater Horizon was working on the Maconda exploration well for British Petroleum (BP) when tragedy struck. According to BP’s final report, the explosion happened as a result of a loss of pressure inside the well.

A once blue ocean shows the dark and deadly oil from the BP disaster. Boats tirelessly work to skim oil off the suface.

The blowout preventer, a specialized valve responsible for maintaining ideal conditions, failed. The blowout preventer’s emergency functions responsible for sealing the well in case of just such an accident, also failed, leaving the well open and leaking.

The Deepwater Horizon burned for a total of 36 hours and a total of eleven people that worked on the Deepwater Horizon lost their lives that day. Many more were also injured.

It took 87 days to seal the well, all the while leaking hydrocarbons used to produce fuel, into the Gulf of Mexico.

The environmental impact of the spill was big. On the 19th of April, 2011, the last fisheries that were forced to close due to the spill, was reopened. This was almost a year to the day after the explosion on Deepwater Horizon.

This reopening of fisheries was announced after federal waters were cleared for operation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Complete recovery will take many years, but BP has stepped up to the plate and has vowed to do everything in its power to help.

It promotes the Gulf’s seafood industry and has also invested in restoring the tourist activity in the area by funding that can be used for promotions of this industry in the affected states.

BP has given $70 million in block grants to Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Louisiana for tourism efforts. In the autumn of 2010, another $47 million was given.

Furthermore, BP and those involved are dedicated and a total of 1.4 million barrels of liquid waste has been collected. In April of 2011, BP agreed to provide $1 billion towards restoration plans.

Because of the importance of coral reefs in the ocean, the oil spill raised concerns in this region. Coral reefs are vital to the ocean’s eco-system and a major loss could result in a great negative impact in this region.

Accidents happen and safety measures sometimes fail. Despite all the bright green commercials that BP ran in their marketing campaign, they cannot separate themselves from the truth that their entire business is built around depleting a finite resource and that giant, devastating accidents do and can happen, despite a bunch of smart engineers mitigation efforts. The environment has suffered, but we cannot turn back time and undo what has already been done. The only thing left to do is safe what we can and take extra precautions in the future. Incidents like these may make society rethink the way they harvest energy from the earth and explore further alternatives.

Learn from the mistakes and, in future developments always take the effect of what seems highly improbable, into account of making decisions. -ANNABEL SCHOEMAN

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