The Deepwater Horizon spill that occurred on April 20th, 2010, cost the lives of 11 workers and sent 3.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. More than six years later, BP has finally put a price on the cost of the accident – $61.6 billion.
Let that number sink in for a minute. In comparison, the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 cost $4.3 billion. The number mentioned by BP accounts for all liabilities, including lawsuits, fines and the cost of the cleanup – just to name a few examples.
For those of us who remember the devastation caused by the accident and ensuing spill, the price may be less surprising. Businesses and towns in Gulf states suffered horribly. Shrimp fishermen, motels, restaurants and many others lost business. More than 400 local governments, including Lafayette and Lake Charles, were affected by the spill. Earlier this year, a federal judge approved a $6.8 billion settlement for Louisiana.
BP was also fined $14 billion by the Environmental Protection Agency for violating the Clean Water Act. In addition, BP also faced $4 billion in criminal fines.
Was the Deepwater Horizon Spill Preventable?
The Deepwater Horizon accident should have never occurred in the first place. If BP had had taken steps to prevent a blowout from occurring, the disaster may not have happened and 11 workers might still be alive today.
The legacy of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is an important reminder that workplace safety is a matter of great importance in the oil industry. When accidents happen, workers and surrounding communities are pay the price.