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Oil Spills Fast Facts

Oil Spills Fast Facts
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Saturday, July 13, 2013 - 7:14pm

Here's a look at what you need to know about oil spill disasters.

Spill estimates vary slightly by source.

Ten Largest Oil Spills: 1. January 23 - January 24, 1991 - During the Gulf War, the Iraqi Army purposefully releases 240 million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf. (Spill estimates of this event vary widely by source, 25-460 million gallons. 240 million gallons reported by the Oil Spill Intelligence Report)

2. April 20, 2010 - An explosion occurs on board the BP-contracted Transocean Ltd. Deepwater Horizon oil rig, spilling approximately 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

3. June 3, 1979 - Ixtoc 1, an exploratory well, blows out, spilling 140 million gallons of oil into the Bay of Campeche off the coast of Mexico.

4. March 2, 1992 - A Fergana Valley oil well in Uzbekistan blows out, spilling 88 million gallons of oil.

5. February 4, 1983 - An oil well in the Nowruz Oil Field in Iran, blows out and begins spilling oil into the Persian Gulf. One month later an Iraqi air attack increases the amount of oil spilled to 80 million gallons of oil.

6. August 6, 1983 - The Castillo de Bellver, a Spanish tanker, catches fire near Cape Town, South Africa, spilling 78.5 million gallons of oil.

7. March 16, 1978 - The Amoco Cadiz tanker runs aground near Port Sall, France, spilling 68.7 million gallons of oil.

8. November 10, 1988 - The British-owned tanker, the Odyssey, breaks apart during a storm, spilling 43.1 million gallons of oil approximately 700 miles east-northeast of Newfoundland, Canada.

9. July 19, 1979 - The Atlantic Empress and the Aegean Captain tankers collide near Trinidad and Tobago. The Atlantic Empress spills 42.7 million gallons of oil. On August 2, the Atlantic Empress spills an additional 41.5 million gallons near Barbados while being towed away.

10. August 1, 1980 - Production well D-103 blows out, spilling 42 million gallons of oil southeast of Tripoli, Libya.

Notable U.S. Oil Spills: Exxon Valdez March 24, 1989 - The Exxon Valdez runs aground on the Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling more than 11 million gallons of oil.

February 27, 1990 - A federal grand jury indicts Exxon Corp. and its subsidiary, Exxon Shipping Co., on criminal charges.

March 23, 1990 - Captain Joseph J. Hazelwood is acquitted of all but one misdemeanor (negligent discharge of oil).

June 1991 - It is estimated that Exxon has spent $2.5 billion for the Alaska cleanup. It is reported in the news that $300 million was given as a one-time payment to 11,000 fishermen, fish processors and others affected right after the spill.

September 16, 1994 - A federal jury orders Exxon to pay $5 billion in punitive damages.

December 6, 2002 - U.S. District Judge Russel Holland reduces the original damages award to $4 billion.

December 22, 2006 - The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reduces the amount to $2.5 billion dollars.

June 25, 2008 - The U.S. Supreme Court cuts the $2.5 billion punitive damages award to $507.5 million.

June 15, 2009 - The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco orders Exxon Mobil Corp. to pay about $470 million in interest on punitive damages for the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

June 29, 2009 - Exxon Mobil Corp. agrees to pay $470 million in interest on the punitive damages from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

BP Gulf Oil Spill: April 20, 2010 - (10:00pm) An explosion occurs on board the Transocean Ltd Deepwater Horizon oil rig stationed in the Gulf of Mexico. Of the 126 workers aboard the oil rig, contracted by BP, 11 are killed.

April 22, 2010 - The Transocean Ltd. Deepwater Horizon oil rig sinks after three days of the U.S. Coast Guard trying to put out flames.

April 30, 2010 - BP CEO Tony Hayward announces BP will compensate all those affected by the oil spill.

May 2, 2010 - President Barack Obama tours oil spill-affected areas and surveys efforts to try to contain the spill.

May 8, 2010 - A containment dome placed above oil spill fails due to gas hydrates and is not used.

May 26, 2010 - BP starts procedure known as "top kill" which tries to push pressurized mud and water down the well in hopes of cementing and closing the well. The attempt is a complete failure.

June 3, 2010 - BP places a containment dome over the oil leak in the hopes of collecting at least part of the oil coming out of the well.

June 16, 2010 - BP agrees to create a $20 billion fund to help victims affected by the oil spill.

July 12, 2010 - BP removes an old cap and installs a new cap. They remove the containment dome and oil flows freely.

July 15, 2010 - A new cap installed days prior is closed, and it completely stops the flow of oil into the Gulf, according to BP. This is 85 days after the original explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

August 3, 2010 - Tests begin for "static kill" to permanently seal the oil well.

August 5, 2010 - BP says the cementing process of the "static kill" procedure has been completed.

January 11, 2011 - The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling releases a report stating that the Deepwater Horizon rig leaked 4.9 million barrels (210 million gallons) of oil during 2010.

April 2011 - BP files suits against Halliburton, contracted by BP to pour cement for the Macondo well that was the source of the oil spill; Transocean, the owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig; and Cameron International Corp., maker of the failed blow-out preventer. Likewise, Halliburton sues BP along with a number of other companies, claiming BP was to blame for the deadly explosion and resulting leak.

August 2011 - $5 billion of the $20 billion set aside to compensate Gulf Coast victims of the oil spill has been paid out. The Gulf Coast Claims Facility has approved 38% of the 947,892 claims received. The claims come from all 50 states and 36 countries.

September 14, 2011 - The final federal report is issued on the Gulf oil spill. It names BP, Transocean and Halliburton as sharing responsibility for the deadly explosion that resulted in the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

December 16, 2011 - Cameron International Corp. agrees to pay BP $250 million under the terms of a settlement agreement.

January 26, 2012 - A federal judge in New Orleans rules that Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, is not liable for compensatory damages sought by third parties.

January 31, 2012 - Judge Carl J. Barbier of the United States District Court in New Orleans rules that Halliburton is not liable for the some of the compensatory damages sought by third parties, leaving BP responsible for the majority of those claims.

March 2, 2012 - BP and plaintiffs involved in the legal battle over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill reach agreement. BP estimates that it will have to pay about $7.8 billion in the Deepwater Horizon disaster settlement.

April 18, 2012 - BP announces it has reached a class-action settlement with attorneys representing thousands of businesses and individuals who made claims after the 2010 oil spill. A federal judge must give preliminary approval of the pact, which BP estimates will total about $7.8 billion, including associated costs and expenses.

April 24, 2012 - The first criminal charges are filed in connection with the 2010 oil spill. Kurt Mix, a former engineer for BP, is arrested and charged with two counts of obstruction of justice.

November 15, 2012 - BP pleads guilty to criminal charges over the oil spill and agrees to pay $4 billion to resolve the charges. An additional $525 million will be paid to resolve claims brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission that BP lied to investors by understating the amount of oil flowing into the Gulf. The agreement is subject to court approval.

November 15, 2012 - A federal grand jury returns an indictment charging Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, described as the two highest-ranking BP supervisors on board the Deepwater Horizon on the day of the explosion, with 23 criminal counts. The two men are charged with seaman's manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter for each of the 11 men killed in the blast, as well as a criminal violation of the clean water act. The grand jury also charges BP's second-highest ranking representative at the company's unified command post with hiding information from Congress and allegedly lying to law enforcement officials.

November 28, 2012 - The Environmental Protection Agency issues a temporary ban baring BP from bidding on new federal contracts.

December 21, 2012 - U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier signs off on the settlement agreement between BP and businesses and people hard hit by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. From a $20 billion trust BP estimates $7.8 billion to be paid for claims made in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, some coastal counties in eastern Texas and western Florida and adjacent Gulf waters and bays.

January 11, 2013 - A medical settlement is reached between BP and more than 100,000 plaintiffs who allege they were sickened or injured as a result of the spill. The settlement provides medical compensation and consultation, as well as a health outreach program.

February 14, 2013 - Attorney General Eric Holder announces that Transocean Deepwater Inc. has pleaded guilty to a violation of the Clean Water Act for illegal conduct leading to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The company is sentenced to pay $400 million in criminal fines and penalties.

April 20, 2013 - On the third anniversary of the disaster, Florida files a federal civil complaint (relating to loss of tax revenue) in Florida Northern District Court against BP and Halliburton over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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