Today marks the fifth anniversary since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, offshore Louisiana, USA, in which eleven men died. Their bodies were never found.
The incident happened on April 20, 2010, when the Transocean-owned semi-submersible drilling rig exploded, causing the oil from the BP-operated Macondo well to flow freely into the U.S. Gulf of Mexico for 87 days.
Apart from the eleven workers losing lives, seventeen others were seriously injured. Nearly 100 others escaped from the burning rig.
BP, the operator, is now facing a maximum civil penalty of $13.7 billion under the Clean Water Act, which prohibits the discharge of “harmful” quantities of oil offshore.
To mark the anniversary, BP posted the following on twitter: “Five years ago, eleven lives were lost in the Deepwater Horizon accident. Today and every day, we remember them.”
Five years ago, eleven lives were lost in the Deepwater Horizon accident. Today and every day, we remember them. pic.twitter.com/yVuP3enUmw
— BP America (@BP_America) April 20, 2015
Still a lot of work ahead
To observe the fifth anniversary of what has been described as the largest offshore industry disaster in history, Louisiana’s Senator David Vitter, said: “In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill took the lives of 11 men in the Gulf of Mexico and devastated our coasts, I’ve been working with my colleagues to ensure this kind of tragedy never happens again. It is important to remember those lives lost and their families in our prayers on this day.”
The Senator went on to criticize President Obama’s decision to impose an offshore drilling moratorium at the time.
Vitter added: “Louisianians and the Gulf Coast certainly felt the effects of this disaster, damaging our coastal communities. The spill, and then President Obama’s completely misguided offshore drilling moratorium, caused economic chaos in Louisiana. Clearly, there are lessons to be learned, and while many important reforms have been made, there is still a lot of work toward recovery and implementing the important RESTORE Act.”
“This year, as we reflect upon each individual who lost their lives that fateful day, our hearts and prayers go out to the families and friends of these men.”
Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, said today: “Five years ago today, eleven honorable men were taken from us far too soon in the tragic Deepwater Horizon explosion off of our coast. This year, as we reflect upon each individual who lost their lives that fateful day, our hearts and prayers go out to the families and friends of these men. They worked tirelessly for countless hours on the rig to provide for their families, and their work helped drive an industry that supports thousands more families across our state. Although they are no longer with us, they will forever be in our memory.”
“The images of oil-drenched wildlife and marshes have been seared into our memories, but our spirit and perseverance are stronger than ever before. As we look back over these past five years, we have seen our coast continue to rebound from the oil-battered wetlands and beaches we saw in the months after the spill. Although we will not know the full extent of the damage until a final assessment is completed, response and recovery efforts are ongoing, and scientists say our habitats and ecosystems are slowly coming back. However, there is more work to do as oil continues to wash ashore here in our state – and we won’t stop working until our coast and wetlands are fully restored.”
According to a press release by Jindal, today, five years after the spill, Louisiana continues to battle re-oiling.
“Tarballs, tarmats, sheening and oozing oil still appear on shores and wetlands in several of the state’s coastal areas. As recently as March of this year, a submerged tar mat was located on the East Grand Terre barrier island, resulting in the removal of nearly 14,000 pounds of oily material over the course of just a few days. Assessments are still ongoing to measure the full impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Louisiana’s coast; however, response efforts will continue by state and federal workers as long as necessary to restore it,” reads the statement issued today by the Governor of Louisiana.
Environmental group Greenpeace has used the opportunity to warn on another potential disaster waiting to happen. Only this time it is not the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, but the Chukchi Sea, offshore Alaska.
Greenpeace said: BP has suffered financially as a result, but sadly little else seems to have changed. The oil industry is continuing to push into ever more extreme and inhospitable environments, like Shell’s plans to drill in the icy waters of the Arctic, where stemming and cleaning up a disaster like this would be impossible. The impact of a spill on the Arctic’s fragile ecosystem would be devastating.
“It was President Obama’s Administration that consented to deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, in the face of credible warnings that a blow-out would be catastrophic. Well they’re being warned again, this time about allowing drilling in the Arctic. And it seems like history is repeating itself, as just last month the US Administration approved Shell’s lease to drill in the Arctic Ocean this summer.”
Here’s what the Twitter community has to say on the matter:
Offshore Energy Today Staff