The Deepwater Horizon Incident in the Gulf of Mexico
In response to the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Louisiana and Florida have declared states of emergency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated the leak a "Spill of National Significance."
On April 20, 2010, while working on an exploratory well approximately 50 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, the semi-submersible drilling rig Deepwater Horizon experienced an explosion and fire. The damaged platform capsized and sank on April 22, 2010. The rig is owned by Transocean and under contract to British Petroleum (BP). The cause of the incident is under investigation.
On April 27, 2010, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano launched a full investigation of the Deepwater Horizon incident. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the Minerals Management Service (MMS)share jurisdiction for the investigation. The MMS is responsible for investigating incidents associated with exploration, drilling, completion, production, pipeline and decommissioning operations on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The USCG investigates maritime industry deaths, injuries, property loss, and environmental damage to determine the causes of accidents.
The Deepwater Horizon rig contained an estimated 700,000 gallons of fuel before it sank. Officials estimate that the amount ofoil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico has increased to as much as 5,000 barrels a day, five times more than what was initially believed. The government and the commercial parties involved are continuing their efforts to contain and disperse the spill.
On April 29, 2010, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued a state declaration of emergency in preparation for the potential impact of the oil spill on Louisiana's coast. Governor Jindal also requested that the Louisiana National Guard be utilized to support the oil spill response efforts.
On April 30, 2010, Florida Governor Charlie Crist declared of a state of emergency in the Panhandle coastal counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, and Gulf.
At a White House briefing on April 29, Secretary Napolitano designated the leak a Spill of National Significance (SONS). A SONS is defined as "a spill that, due to its severity, size, location, actual or potential impact on the public health and welfare or the environment, or the necessary response effort, is so complex that it requires extraordinary coordination of federal, state, local, and responsible party resources to contain and clean up the discharge," and allows greater federal involvement.
For more information, including photos, press releases and fact sheets, please visit DeepwaterHorizonResponse.com, a site developed through a collaboration between Transocean, BP and government agencies.
You may also wish to visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of Response and Restoration's (OR&R) IncidentNews site.
BP's Hotlines for Members of the Public
To report oiled wildlife, please call 1.866.557.1401. Individuals are urged not to attempt to help injured or oiled animals, but to report any sightings to the toll-free number.
To discuss spill-related damage, please call 1.800.440.0858.
To report oil on land or if you're interested in volunteering to aid in the recovery effort, please call 1.866.448.5816.
- The OR&R's Deepwater Horizon Incident Updates
- The Department of the Interior's (DOI) Deepwater Horizon Updates
- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Images of the Oil Leak
- The Committee on Energy and Commerce Investigates the Adequacy of Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig's Environmental Response Plan
- Governor Jindal Discusses Updates on Oil Spill Response and Role of Louisiana's Fishermen and Shrimpers in Protecting Louisiana's Coast
- Louisiana's Emergency Response website
- Florida's Division of Emergency Management (DEM)
- Pollution: Marine Oil Spills
- Environmental Emergencies: Releases of Oil, Radioactive Materials or Hazardous Chemicals