The BP oil spill, also referred to as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the worst oil spill in history that took place in the Gulf of Mexico for about ninety days in 2010 and its effects are still being felt even after the release of oil into the environment was stopped.
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Whereas there are other purportedly extensive oil leaks to the environment that have taken place in the past, such as the 1979-1980 Ixtoc I oil spill in Mexico that released about thirty thousand barrels of oil per day and lasted for nine months, the BP oil spill remains the most catastrophic in the history of the petroleum industry (National Research Council,567).
The gushing out of oil started on April 20, 2010 following an explosion and subsequent fire of the Deepwater Horizon and after trying several options, the seep out was at last ended on July 15, 2010 by capping the gushing wellhead (Corn and Copeland, 1).
The disaster led to the death of eleven workers of the oil company and injured seventeen others. Scientists approximated that over 50, 0000 barrels of oil per day were being released into the environment before the leak was successfully stopped (Robertson and Krauss, para. 6). The environment problem caused extensive damages.
The cause of the BP oil disaster has been attributed to many reasons, but chief among them is negligence. Surely, the company was not trying to blow up its own well; however, the actions it took before the disaster reveal that it was courting imminent problems (Romm, para. 4).
Since BP was trying to finish the project as per the initial plans, the company engineers opted for a series of shortcuts that went contrary to the standard practices of effectively drilling oil wells. For example, the company engineers used an inefficient casing material design and avoided intermittent testing for backpressure among other malfunctions in standard safety procedures.
These conscious judgments to undermine safety procedures and practices indicate that the negligence of the company was the prime cause of the disaster. Conversely, prior to the incident, BP had spent many dollars on improving its public image. Thus, the incident meant that the company was trying to improve its brand while neglecting to address its own intricate issues, such as fake workers policy.
Further, the report of the staff of the presidential commission investigating the BP oil spill incident released on December 2, 2010, revealed that the federal inspectors failed to act professionally in inspecting oil rig operations, the inspectors are poorly trained in effectively performing their duties, and there is inadequate availability of resources for handling such catastrophes (Mintz, para.1).
The BP oil spill had devastating effects to the environment. The incident was the worst environment catastrophe that the United States has encountered in history, nearly twenty times greater than the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill (Wells, 4).
The disaster led to widespread damage to marine and wildlife habitats in the area. In addition, the fishing and tourism industries in the area also recorded a decrease in earnings. Similar to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, some effects of the BP oil spill will be felt in years to come.
The consequences of the disaster are threatening the normal operations at eight national parks in the United States and more than four hundred animal species that habit the Gulf islands and marshlands, including some species in danger of extinction, are at risk. By November 2, 2010, over seven thousand dead animals had been collected.
Most of the animals died after ingesting the oil, which poisoned their systems. Other immediate consequences of the disaster were oil-coated birds’ feathers that hindered their ability to regulate body temperature, sea turtles were covered with oil, and dead and dying deep-sea corals were found seven miles from the deepwater horizon well.
Further, dangerous chemicals from the oil and dispersant have been reported to lead to health problems of the individuals staying near where the disaster took place. Scientists have suggested that in the long term, the disaster will lead to unbalanced food web, decreased fish and wildlife populations, and decline in recreation activities (National Wildlife Federation, para. 1-3).
To avoid such a catastrophe in the future, a number of proposals should be adopted. First, regular inspection should be done for wear and tear and leaks in equipment for the production of oil.
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And, this inspection should be done by accredited individuals who will not shy away from doing a thorough inspection. Second, employees ought to be given adequate training and re-training to enable them cope well with everyday challenges in oil production and how to manage them.
Next, a well laid down plan should be established to ensure that oil leaks are handled immediately in a professional manner in case of an accident. Lastly, the government should institute effective legislations and regulations to prevent and respond to such a catastrophe instead of relying on the same-old response of looking for scapegoats.
Corn, Lynn, and Copeland, Claudia. Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Coastal Wetland and Wildlife Impacts and Response. Washington: Congressional Research Service, 2011. Print.
Mintz, Steven. “Horizon Deep Water Oil Spill.” Ethics Sage. 6 Dec. 2010. Web.
National Research Council. Oil in the sea: inputs, fates, and effects. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1985. Print.
National Wildlife Association. “How Does the BP Oil Spill Impact Wildlife and Habitat?” Nwf.org. 2011. Web.
Robertson, Campbell, and Krauss, Clifford. “Gulf Spill Is the Largest of Its Kind, Scientists Say”. Nytimes.com. The New York Times Company, 2010. Web.
Romm, Joseph. “Gulf oil spill”. Salon.com. Salon Media Group, 2010. Web.
Wells, Peter G. Exxon Valdez oil spill: fate and effects in Alaskan waters. Philadelphia, Pa.: ASTM publication, 1996. Print.