April 20, 2010: The Explosion
At approximately 9:45 p.m. on April 20, 2010, there was an explosion of seawater from the rig's drilling riser. Shortly after this 240-foot eruption of seawater followed a combination of mud, methane gas, and water. This resulted in several explosions on the ship and then a "firestorm." Of the crewmembers who were aboard the vessel at the time of the blast, 11 were killed. The rest of the crew was evacuated, with many being airlifted to receive emergency medical attention. The oil rig burned for approximately 36 hours after the initial explosion and sank 2 days later.
The Subsequent Oil Spill
The blast resulted in the most devastating oil spill in U.S. history. This is referred to as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as well as the BP oil spill. It continued for three months after the explosion until July of that year. In total, over 4.9 million barrels were released with over 53,000 barrels released on average daily. On July 15, 2010, the wellhead was finally capped as they finally staunched the wound. Beyond the injuries sustained by the crew, the oil caused extensive damage to the area surrounding it—affecting wildlife, the environment, and the coastal communities. Much of the shoreline was closed while ships, containment booms, barriers, and other methods of cleanup were utilized to contain and stop the spill from spreading. As of November 2010, it was estimated that over 320 miles of the Louisiana coastline had ultimately been affected.
January 2011: The White House’s Final Report
In January 2011, the White House oil spill commission released their final report on the causes of the BP oil spill. In the report, they stated the involved companies (BP, Halliburton, and Transocean) had not taken the proper steps to provide safeguards against something of this nature. They also released a chart that showed the correlation of decisions that possibly saved time and money but increased the assumed risks of those aboard. Some of the fundamental mistakes that were cited by the commission include the failure of using a cement bond log to test the cement's stability. By not exercising proper caution, they did not check the cement, which ultimately proved to be unstable. They also displaced mud in the riser pipe, did not run the appropriate tests, and did not correctly learn from previous mistakes that could have avoided this disaster.
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