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BP Gulf Oil Spill

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British Petroleum ("BP") is an international oil and gas company that employs over 80,000 people and operates in over 100 countries worldwide. BP uses different technologies to find oil and gas under the earth's surface thereby reaching deeper reservoirs of resources. After discovering the resources, BP starts an extensive extraction process and moves the crude oil through pipelines and shipping.

On April 20, 2010, a BP offshore rig, known as the Deepwater Horizon, was drilling in the Gulf of Mexico about 52 miles southeast of the Louisiana Port of Venice. According to the coast guard, 11 to 15 crew members were reported missing after the oil rig caught on fire on April 20th and exploded. As of April 22nd, the oil rig sank into the sea leaving a plume of smoke spanning about 30 miles in the sky. When the rig sank off the southeast coast of Louisiana, the untapped wellhead was gushing oil into the Gulf. About 1.6 million gallons of oil have spilled since the explosion.

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Environmental Impact

Currently, the rig's well is under 5,000 feet of water and efforts to cease the spillage could last weeks or months. Over 210,000 gallons of crude oil is leaking into the Gulf daily, eliminating aquatic life and smothering the coastal wetlands of Louisiana and Mississippi.[1]

The Gulf of Mexico contains an intricate ecosystem which serves as a source of 40% of the seafood consumed in the United States.

The Gulf of Mexico serves as a home for wildlife migrating between American and U.S. waters. Many are concerned about the oyster reefs in the Gulf of which only 15% remain worldwide. As the orange-colored oil reaches Louisiana's Chandeleur Islands, it becomes even more of a threat to the sea birds and other wildlife that occupy the area. Birds are turning up either dead or enveloped in oil. Other marine life, such as sea turtles and fish, are being killed by toxic emulsions permeating the sea.

Federal and State Law Regulating Oil Pollution

The Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 dictates that oil companies must be prepared to prevent spillage from rigs and ships. This statute assigns liability to "each responsible party for a vessel or a facility from which oil is discharged, or which poses the substantial threat of a discharge of oil, into or upon the navigable water or adjoining shorelines or the exclusive economic zone ...."[2] Any party violating this law is liable for removal costs and damages.

Lawsuits in the United States

The floodgates of litigation have opened with a paper storm of class actions lawsuits by fishermen and other claiming substantial economic losses. Groups such as the United Commercial Fisherman's Association, a Louisiana environmental group, have filed suit in federal court.

Industries adversely affected by this disaster include fishing, tourism, boating, real estate rentals, and many others.

Effects on Inter-American Relations

Related Content on FindLaw


  1. http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/05/01/brune.oil.spill.danger/index.html
  2. http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/33/40/I/2702

External links

Further readings

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