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The Deepwater Horizon Disaster

On the 20th April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico there was an explosion on the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, which subsequently sunk with the loss of eleven lives. The oil which gushed into the Gulf of Mexico was the largest marine oil spill ever recorded and it was only on the 19th September 2010 that was officially claimed that the flow had ceased. However, there were reports that the flow of oil into the environment continued long after the official “closure” of the problem. Rocky Kistner reported on the 30th September 2011, over a year after the explosion, that “Down in the Gulf, oil still is bubbling to the surface near BP’s disastrous Macondo well. Local fishermen know it, environmental watchdogs know it, local journalists know it” (Huffington Post).

There is also no doubt that the enormous amount of crude oil released by the well had a profound impact on the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico, killing birds and fish in huge numbers and caused long-term to the eco-system.

According to The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, in its report, “Deep Water, The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling” (Washington, DC, January 2011) the explosive loss of the Macondo well could have been prevented. They add that, “The immediate causes of the Macondo well blowout can be traced to a series of identifiable risks made by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean that reveal such systemic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry.”

The Commission also cited the report on the loss of the Columbia space shuttle which noted that, “complex systems almost always fail in complex ways.” The Commission added that, “Though it is tempting to single out one crucial misstep or point the finger at one bad actor as the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, any such explanation provides a dangerously incomplete picture of what happened – encouraging the very kind of complacency that led to the accident in the first place.”

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