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Stricken region marks five years since Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion

April 20, 2015 - UNITED STATES

The fifth anniversary of the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, which created the worst oil spill in U.S. history and killed 11 rig workers, offers a milestone for situation reports on the region and on the cost to BP, the rig owner.

The disaster generated a trove of dramatic images of oil slicks, stricken wildlife and ravaged shorelines for the anniversary reports.

The anniversary might coincide with news about the penalty demanded of BP and partners. Ahead of the date, a federal judge is hearing arguments on how much the London-based oil giant and its partners should pay in Clean Water Act fines. Determining BP's penalty is the final part of a three-part trial. US District Judge Carl Barbier already has found that BP acted with "gross negligence" in the tragedy, a ruling that could mean some $18 billion in penalties. Criminal cases arising from the spill are also pending.

Within days of the Apr 20, 2010, explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon, underwater cameras revealed the BP pipe was leaking oil and gas on the ocean floor about 42 miles off the coast of Louisiana. By the time the well was capped on Jul 15, 2010, 87 days later, an estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil (over 130 million gallons) had leaked into the Gulf.

The BP oil spill (Smithsonian)

Does BP Deserve Mercy in Setting Deepwater Horizon Penalty?

Date written/update: 2015-02-11