Oil spill effects still felt

By Jamie Santoro
July 21, 2010

In December of 1998, Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea began production on the Deepwater Horizon, a Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU).

Completed in February of 2001, it was valued at more than $560 million. 12 years after construction began, the Deepwater Horizon would become infamous around the world.

On April 20, 2010, while stationed in the Gulf of Mexico near the Mississippi River delta, an explosion and subsequent fire on the rig led to the disappearance and presumed death of 11 men and injuries of 17 more onboard. The fire burned for approximately 36 hours until, on April 22, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon sank.

The nation mourned the loss of 11 men and prayed for the recuperation of 17 more. Formerly known as British Petroleum, BP, the operator and proprietor of the rig, sent the press release.

“On behalf of all of us at BP, my deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends who have suffered such a terrible loss. Our thoughts also go out to their colleagues, especially those who are recovering from their injuries,” Tony Hayward, BP’s Group Chief Executive, said.

The explosion triggered a blowout preventer (BOP), an emergency system that kept the crude oil from leaking, but it failed.

When BP executives were called in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee for a hearing a few months after the explosion, the BOP was discovered to have a dead battery, leaks in its hydraulic system, and over 250 other failures that would require BP to replace the part.

While there was no way to accurately check how much oil was spilling into the Atlantic, a BP executive estimated in a closed-door hearing, the number could be as much as 60,000 barrels a day. At the time of the meeting the estimate was at around 6,000 barrels a day.

On July 15, BP stopped the oil for the first time. A new cap was placed on the fractured wellhead and all the valves were shut off. Workers are checking pressure readings every six hours. Two relief wells have been dug and are being fit with well caps.

It seems the worst is over as the Coast Guard is beginning to open up previously closed areas for fishing.

Jamie Santoro

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