FACTBOX: US Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Four Years On

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Four years ago, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sunk off the coast of the US state of Louisiana, leading to the worst oil spill in the country’s history.

MOSCOW, April 22 (RIA Novosti) – Four years ago, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sunk off the coast of the US state of Louisiana, leading to the worst oil spill in the country’s history.

On April 22, 2010 at 10:22 a.m. local time, the Deepwater Horizon rig sunk some 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The rig was owned by Swiss company Transocean and was set up with the participation of US-based Halliburton Energy Services and Cameron International. At the time of the accident, Deepwater Horizon was run by British oil giant BP.

Late on April 20, a powerful blast ripped through the rig, causing a 36-hour fire, which could not be extinguished. Rescue workers evacuated 115 of the 126 workers stationed on the rig. An explosion claimed the lives of 11 people and injured another 17. The fire also damaged the pipeline.

On April 26, the US Coast Guard reported a massive oil spill. In total, 5 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the accident. Each day, about 40,000 barrels gushed into the sea despite BP’s numerous attempts to plug the well.

The leak continued for 86 days. In August 2010, BP announced it had gained control over the leakage. In September, the company’s engineers managed to seal the well in the Gulf of Mexico. Over 1100 miles of coastline was severely polluted, and Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Texas all declared major environmental damage.

The oil spill caused mass die offs of marine animals and plants, including rare species of whales and dolphins. The government commission investigating the accident assigned the blame to BP’s management. In November 2012, the oil company pleaded guilty in the death of 11 people and paid a $4.5 billion fine.

By the end of last year, BP had spent $14 billion on payouts for damages. On January 21 of this year, a former manager of Halliburton received a one-year suspended prison sentence.

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