The Deepwater Horizon oilrig was located in the Gulf of Mexico, located near the Mississipi River Delta in the United States. The Deepwater Horizon handled mining operations under the Transocean firm. The oilrig, owned by the Transocean, had been acquired from a South Korean company, Hyundai Heavy Industries.
The oilrig was semi-mobile and halfway submerged in the water. It was strategically located to facilitate its mining operations. It could operate up to 10,000 feet below sea level. The rig’s operations were being managed by BP. It had up to 65% share in Deepwater Horizon project. The well was located in the Macondo prospect, 5000 feet below the water’s surface where temperatures were low and extreme high air pressures adequate for oil safety
OIL POLLUTION ACT OF 1990
The act was a step taken towards reducing the magnitude of the effects of oil spill accidents. Oil accidents are usually catastrophic, the act created a fund which is raised from tax on the same oil. The fund would be used to clean up spills which the responsible firms are unwilling or not financially able to support the cleaning process.
The actual explosion took place in 2010 causing the deaths of 11 people. After the explosion, the Macondo prospect was destroyed and that is when the oil flowed out. It was also in the same year that mobile rig sank.
As earlier said it took the management a total of 87 days to realise the existing leakage of oil. According to reports, it is said that the underwater cameras revealed the BP pipe was already leaking. According to EPA,(2015). The leakage was eventually resolved on July 15, 2010. Later that year the United States forwarded the BP Exploration and Production to be prosecuted for being responsible for the spill.
During the 87 days unnoticed period that the leakage continued, the oil that flowed out of the well joined the water mass. BP had given an estimate of 1000-5000 barrels per day. However, FRTG, Flow Rate Technical Group had given a bigger estimate based on their research of62,000 barrels per day. A conflict emerged between BP and the government as BP still said the estimates were too large.Oil is lighter than water and thus floats on the water surface and with the help of the wind the oil spreads over a large area. According to Geiling N. (2016), the spill had spread approximately 165 miles south-west of New Orleans. The first sightings of a possible leak were noticed when an oil slick began to spread at the original mining site.
Emergency operations started soon after in trying to identify the cause of the explosion.They also aimed to find out if it had been human error or machine malfunction. The NOAA specialists also arrived at the scene. They also wantedto find out both the long and short effects on fish and other marine life, wildlife that used them same water for drinking and the beaches affected in the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi and Florida.
According to Office of Response and Restoration,(2017). On April 4, 2017, the court approved a settlement with BP for injuring natural resources. The process was complex and was the largest compensation assessment ever done.
LEAKAGE AND EXPLOSION
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is also known as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It is the largest oil accident ever occurred in the history of marine accidents. Oil spills over the years have resulted in great losses for instance; death of marine life. The deepwater oil spill is considered to have been 8-31% greater than all previous oil spills that had occurred. According to EPA,(2017). It is estimated that about 4.9 million barrels of oil were disposed into the water.
THE CLEANING PROCESS
Oil floats on water and remains at the surface of the water until it cleaned. It blocks the entrance of essential sunlight to reach the marine life that may need the light for survival. Oil on water also blocks the entrance of oxygen into the water from the atmosphere and carbon dioxide from the water into the atmosphere thus the longer the oil is left unattended marine organisms continue suffocating not considering pollution of water by other pollutants present in the oil. Separation of oil from water is not only hard but also expensive.Cleaning of oil from water especially involved in spills such as this one is very hard and expensive. The cleanup team had to extract over 3.5 million barrels of oil.
The process of separation is dependent on factors such as the type of oil spilt; crude or refined. Both types of oils spread over water. Crude is more still organic and contains more components as compared to refined and for this reason is more slow to spread. There are various ways of cleaning oil from water. The first step is to prevent more spreading into harbours and beaches by use of booms. Then cleaners use skimmers, boats that skim spilt water from the surface of the water, through slick. As the cleaning process continues, there is need to clean out even the remaining traces of oil. They use sorbents, sponge-like substances, which absorb the oil or collect it on their surfaces.
Seabirds were adversely affected, when their wings are soaked in oil it affects their ability to fly, swim, look for food and lastly easy to be preyed.
There was also the issue of deformed wildlife. Some of the wildlife-related to this water mass after the spill have been born or hatched with extra body parts or lacking a specific body part.
Some of the most evident effects that are notable even by physically observing: black dyed pelicans by oil, turtles smothered and washed up on beaches.
It is hard to tell what really happened after the spillage. It could take years before the effects are fully visible and therefore, we can not explain into details about the accident. It is hard to predict such accidents. However, oil mining firms should have safety procedures so as to prevent loss of life.
The spill at the Gulf of Mexico would have been efficient with the use of modern technology to monitor the spread. The use of Blooms, in controlling the spread of oil and facilitate a thorough clean up. They would have then followed the use of dispensers.Blooming alone would not have cleaned the ocean from oil. They increase the rate of degradation in order to reduce the prolonged impact of floating on marine habitat. Therefore promote cleaning of the oil more faster.
The Ocean Portal Team. (2016). Gulf Oil Spill. Retrieved from HTTP://ocean.si.edu/gulf-oil-spill
Geiling N. (2016). Yet Another Oil spill wreaks Havoc on The Gulf of Mexico and Nearby Coastal Communities. Retrieved from HTTP://thinkprogress.org/yet-another-oil-spill-wreaks-havoc-on-the-gulf-of-mexico-and-nearby-coastal-communities-1e3b62d92d.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2017). Deep Water Horizon- BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill. Retrieved from HTTP://epa.gov/enforcement/deepwater-horizon-bp-gulf-mexico-oil-spill
Office of Response and Restoration. (2017). Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Retrieved from HTTP://response.restoration.noaa.gov/oil-and-chemical-spills/significant-incidents/deepwater-horizon-oil-spill
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2017). Summary of the Oil Pollution Act. Retrieved from HTTP://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-oil-pollution-act