The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was a devastating event that lasted several months. It occurred on April 20 through July 15, 2010 offshore Louisiana, Gulf of Mexico, USA. Deepwater Horizon is owned and operated by British Petroleum (BP). The spill was caused by an oil gusher on the ocean floor.
The Deepwater Horizon rig started drilling a well at a water depth of 5,000ft in MC block 252 when it caught fire in April 2010. Deepwater Horizon is a fifth-generation deepwater rig owned by Transocean and leased by BP. It was characterized as the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. To help us understand the problem lets first talk about what it is and how it happens.
An oil spill is a release of liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas caused when people make careless mistakes or by a natural disaster. As a secondary effect this can cause oil tanks, offshore platforms or drilling rigs to leak into the ocean. Large and catastrophic spills are rare events but have the potential to cause the most serious ecological risk and result in long-term environmental disturbances and economic impact on coastal activities.
Goncalves 2 Causes of oil spills
Oil tanks, offshore platforms and drilling rigs can spill due to a number of reasons. Machinery and equipment can fail to function properly. Tankers and barges can crash in into unexpected land and cause a hole or a crack that allows oil to spill out. When oil is being moved from one vessel to another it can leak too. Terrorists when at war purposely dump oil into clean water into opposing countries with the intention of publicity and costly damage.
People dump crude oil into the waters illegally to not spend money on decomposing waste. Also natural disasters such as hurricanes can cause oil spills by causing oil tankers to flip over or damage off shore drilling facilities. Spills also occur on land. “Nearly 85 percent of the 29 million gallons of petroleum that enter North American ocean waters each year as a result of human activities comes from land based run off polluter divers, airplanes and small boats and jet ski’s, while less then 8 percent comes from tankers or pipeline spills.”
(The Ocean Studies board and Marine Board of the National Academy of Sciences, Oil in the Sea 2003, News from the National Academies, articles: May 23, 2002). The difficulty of the cleanup depends on the amount that is spilled, the weather, location and the type of oil. Gasoline tends to evaporate in the air making it generally easier to cleanup. When oil is spilled into the ocean the waves cause it to disperse. The combination of the chemicals can at times sink to the bottom of the ocean and sinks onto rocks and sand, causing problems to the ocean floor and its surrounding species. It can also get brushed up on shore and cause damage to land animals and flora.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard are some of the organizations that help prevent, organize and control clean ups when necessary. They have policies and procedures entailed to train professionals making companies accountable for their
mistakes. These trainings help prepare them to handle and prevent these incidents.
Largest Oil spills
Major oil spills include Kuwait that included an oil fire 01/1991 through 11/1991. 136,000-205,000 thousand tons of oil was lost. Lakeview Gusher in California 3/1910 through 09/1911 lost 1,200 thousand tons of crude oil. Also the Gulf War oil spill 1/19/1991 through 1/28/1991 818 -1,091 thousand tons of oil were spilled. The most recent oil spill was Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico 4/2010 and lasted until 7/2010 in which we lost a great 560-585 thousand tons of crude oil, which is 172,000-180,8000 thousand US gallons of oil.
One ton of crude oil is approximately 308 US gallons or 7.33 barrels. One oil barrel is 42 US gallons. I would like to further discuss and emphasize on the most recent oil spill the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico. The following are some environmental facts about the oil spill. Environmental effects of BP oil spill.
The environmental damage is occurring to offshore waters, inshore coastal waters, the seabed, and shoreline wetlands and beaches. The BP spill is being compared to the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. That disaster spilled oil onto rocky Alaskan beaches, but it is at least possible to wash oil off a rock. In the Gulf, the oil is floating into wetlands that could hold on to its toxins for years.