Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico

By Phaedra Friend Troy

On April 20, 2010, a fire broke out aboard Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon deepwater semisubmersible drilling rig. An explosion followed, and the drilling rig sunk to the ocean floor.

The majority of the crewmembers aboard escaped – some with critical injuries. Eleven rig personnel are still missing, although search efforts have been aborted.

Now, the world awaits news about plugging the prolific oil well that the rig was drilling for British oil major BP. The Macondo oil well is leaking at three locations 5,000 feet subsea. Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) have been working to plug the well, and BP has hired two additional deepwater drilling rigs -- the Development Driller III and Discoverer Enterprise -- to drill two relief wells.

Nonetheless, the oil spill is getting larger, and winds and waves are bringing the massive oil slick ashore the US Gulf Coast. The governors of both Louisiana and Florida have declared a state of emergency for areas along their coasts.

A massiveoil spill response team, consisting of BP and Transocean personnel, the US Coast Guard, the US Department of Homeland Security and others, has been assembled onshore and offshore to combat the spill.

The oil was even set ablaze in an effort to reduce its size. Now, teams have deployed booms to try to protect wildlife on the US Gulf Coast.

Despite this, analysts are comparing the accident to the 1989 Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

On Friday, SWAT teams were sent to investigate the safety and security of all offshore rigs and platforms operating in US waters. Additionally, US President Barack Obama stopped all new offshore drilling efforts until the cause of the accident is surmised and appropriate safety measures are enacted.

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