On April 20th 2010, the biggest environmental disaster of modern times occurred with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig, which was drilling for natural crude oil and gas through 500ft of water, suddenly exploded sadly killing 11 people and injuring 17 others.|
This devastating occurrence meant that there was now a crack in one of the pipes deep in the ocean, causing oil to start spilling out into the surrounding water from the well. With efforts at being able to cap (seal off) the leaking well moving at a slow pace, an oil slick soon formed on the water's surface covering an area of 2,500 square miles.
With up to 60,000 barrels of crude oil gushing into the ocean on a daily basis, the impact on the native environment quickly became apparent damaging the fishing and tourism industries in the Gulf of Mexico within a few weeks. The delicate and unique coastlines of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi have, and will continue to be, the most affected by the spill.
And it is not just on the surface that the oil is a problem, as large underwater plumes of oil have been reported by scientists. Last estimates put the total number of species found in the Gulf of Mexico at just over 15,000, with more than 8,000 of these species thought to be inhabiting areas within the oil slick itself. As of the 5th July 2010, 1,844 dead animals have been collected, including more than 400 sea turtles.
The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was leased by BP, who have been made accountable for the event by the US Government and forced to cover all clean-up and damage costs, something which is thought will end up costing a total of $12 billion. BP is nearly ready to test it's latest cap to seal the well, a risky process that could easily result in another leak.
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