Remembering the Gulf Oil Spill - 1 Year Later

It's hard to believe a year has passed since the tragic explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that marked the start of the Gulf Oil Spill. In the months that followed, underwater cameras gave us moment-by-moment coverage of the oil bubbling furiously out of the broken pipe and into the Gulf. And who can forget the heartbreaking photos of pelicans and other birds covered in black tarry sludge, or the yellow and brown oil slicks that floated on the water and washed up on the beaches?

Unfortunately the wildlife and the environment weren't the only victims. Thousands of registered commercial fishermen suddenly faced the loss of a way of life that they and their families had followed for generations. And the damage didn't stop there. Anyone who earned their living through fishing charters and swamp tours, or worked in restaurants that served Gulf Coast seafood, or helped to transport Gulf seafood locally or nationwide, found themselves in a crisis situation.

It was a huge relief when the well was finally capped in July, 2010. But for the people of the Gulf Coast, the struggle was just beginning. A year later, they are still trying to recover lost wages, dealing with health concerns from their exposure to the oil and chemical dispersants, and worrying about the environmental damage the oil inflicted on the marshes, bayous and beaches that surround their homes.

Many people believe that BP and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility are making things right for everyone who was affected by the oil spill. But that just isn't true. Instead, the claims process is facing serious problems ranging from how long it takes to review applications, to the pressure it places on victims to sign off on a final payment even though they still don't know the full extent of their damages. And more and more Gulf Coast families are becoming confused and frustrated because their claims are being turned down, but the claims processors won't even tell them why.

At the nonprofit Community Center of St Bernard, we see every day how the oil spill continues to affect local residents. Because of the oil spill, the demand for our food pantry and clothing bank is 18% higher than it was a year ago, and there is no sign that those numbers are going to go down anytime soon.

To help meet our increased expenses, the Center has designed a fundraising postcard to commemorate and honor Gulf Coast individuals and families who are still struggling to recover on the First Anniversary of the oil spill. The front of the card shows Shell Beach in St Bernard Parish, while the back of card features an original prayer for the Gulf Coast. This card can be ordered in multiple copies for gifting or for resale using the secure paypal link below. Thank you for your purchase!

Order Size (includes shipping)

Gulf Coast Phoenix Angel Raises Funds to Help Families affected by the Gulf Oil Spill

With her wings outspread, ready for flight, this beautiful Angel is a poignant symbol of the Gulf Coast's determination to rise above past tragedies and to build a bright and promising future. This unique silver angel necklace is an original design by native New Orleans musician and artist Ashley Beach. Ashley has a BA in Metals and Jewelry from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and is known for her high quality gold and silver pieces. To see more of her original artwork, please visit: http://www.etsy.com/people/ashybeach

Ashley's lovely "Phoenix" Angel necklace is wonderful way to commemorate the First Anniversary of the Gulf Oil Spill and makes a perfect gift for birthdays, Mother's Day, weddings and graduations. Order yours today for only $28.99 including shipping!

Your purchase is very important and will make it possible for the Community Center to continue assisting local oil spill-affected families in 2011 and beyond. Thank you very much for helping us.

Other Ways You can Help

1. Donate an item for the Community Center to sell on eBay to raise awareness and funding to help oil spill victims. Gift certificates for your products or services make great sales items and help spread good publicity about your business! Please phone our Executive Director Iray Nabatoff to discuss an item donation at 504.281.2512.

2. Make a donation by cash, check or credit card. We offer a range of support levels for any budget, or you can donate whatever amount works for you! Just use the secure paypal Donation button below.

Bronze Level: $25 provides enough rice to feed 30 families nutritious grains for a week at our food pantry.
Silver Level: $100 buys enough nonperishable dried beans to supply 150 families with protein for 1 week.
Gold Level: $250 pays for 200 lbs of chicken thighs so that low-income families are able to eat a healthy diet.
Platinum Level: $1200 pays for the Center's utility bills for 1 month so that we can continue to help families in need.

How much oil leaked from the BP Oil Spill?

The final total may be as high as 205 million gallons according to a team of government-appointed scientists (www.pbs.org)

Other oil spills for comparison:

  • 520 million gallons - Kuwait, 1991
  • 140 million gallons - Mexico, 1979-1980
  • 90 million gallons - Trinidad & Tobago, 1979
  • 84 million gallons - Uzbekistan, 1994
  • 80 million gallons - Persian Gulf, 1983
  • 11 million gallons - Exxon Valdez, 1989

A Review of the Oil Spill Timeline

* April 20, 2010 - Explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd's drilling rig Deepwater Horizon licensed to BP; 11 workers missing, 17 injured. The rig was drilling in BP's Macondo project 42 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, beneath about 5,000 feet of water and 13,000 feet under the seabed. A blowout preventer, intended to prevent release of crude oil, failed to activate.

* April 22 - The Deepwater Horizon rig, valued at more than $560 million, sinks and a five mile long oil slick is seen.

* April 23 - The U.S. Coast Guard suspends search for missing workers. All were thought to have been near the site of the blast and are presumed dead.

* April 25 - The Coast Guard says remote underwater cameras detect the well is leaking 1,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The agency calls the leak a "very serious spill" that threatens ecosystems along the Gulf Coast. It approves a plan to have remote underwater vehicles activate a blowout preventer and stop leak. Efforts to activate the blowout preventer fail.

* April 26- BP's shares fall 2 percent on fears that the cost of cleanup and legal claims will deal the London-based energy giant a heavy financial blow.

* April 27 - U.S. departments of Interior and Homeland Security announce plans for a joint investigation of the explosion and fire. The Coast Guard says the leaking crude may be set ablaze to slow the spread of oil in the Gulf.

* April 28 - The Coast Guard says the flow of oil is 5,000 barrels per day (bpd) (210,000 gallons/795,000 liters) -- five times greater than first estimated. Controlled burns begin on giant oil slick, but shifting winds are expected to push crude ashore.

* April 29 - Obama pledges "every single available resource," including the U.S. military, to contain the spreading spill, which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says is of "national significance." Obama also says BP is responsible for the cleanup. Louisiana declares state of emergency due to the threat to the state's natural resources.

* April 30 - An Obama aide says no drilling will be allowed in new areas, as the president had recently proposed, until the cause of the Deepwater Horizon accident is known. BP Chairman Tony Hayward says the company takes full responsibility for the spill and would pay all legitimate claims and the cost of the cleanup. The Interior Department orders safety inspections of all 30 deepwater drilling rigs and 47 deepwater production platforms.

* May 1 - Coast Guard says leak will affect the Gulf shore.

* May 2 - Obama visits the Gulf Coast to see cleanup efforts first hand. U.S. officials close areas affected by the spill to fishing for an initial period of 10 days.

* May 5 - A barge begins towing a 98-ton containment chamber to the site of the leak. BP says one of the three leaks has been shut off by capping a valve, but that would not cut the amount of oil gushing out. Officials plan a controlled burn to remove oil from the open water, the first since April 28.

* May 6 - Oil washes ashore on the Chandeleur Islands off the Louisiana coast, uninhabited barrier islands that are part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge and important nesting and breeding areas for many bird species. President Obama declares month-long moratorium on deepwater drilling.

* May 7 - BP engineers use undersea robots to move the containment chamber over the larger of the two remaining leaks on the seabed. The firm abandons efforts to close valves on a failed blowout preventer with underwater robots. A fishing ban for federal waters off the Gulf is modified, expanded and extended to May 17.

* May 8 - BP's containment dome hits a problem when a buildup of crystallized gas forces engineers to postpone efforts to place the chamber over the oil leak and siphon oil to the surface. "Tar balls" suspected to come from the leak wash up along a half-mile stretch of Dauphin Island, Alabama.

* May 9 - BP says it might try to plug the undersea leak by pumping materials such as shredded up tires and golf balls into the well at high pressure, a method called a "junk shot."

* May 10 - Forecasts suggest the oil spill could move significantly west of the Mississippi River delta as brisk onshore winds prevail. BP announces plans to place a small containment dome, known as a "top hat," over the blown out well to funnel oil to the surface.

* May 11 - Executives with BP, Transocean and Halliburton appear at congressional hearings in Washington, where Senators criticize their safety records. The executives blame each other's companies for the explosion. The oil slick washes ashore on a third land mass: Louisiana's Port Eads area, on the southern edge of the Mississippi Delta.

* May 12 – Oil still moving towards shorelines. Many sea animals reported dead.

* May 13 – Companies argue over oil leak fault as oil continues to suffocate gulf; Obama plans tax hike on BP to pay for oil spill.

* May 14 - Accuracy of oil spill flow challenged . Believed to be more than 5000 barrels per day.

* May 17 – Latest BP attempt at stopping oil leak successful to some extent. A tube is inserted into the broken well pipe and is used to divert some of the oil to a tanker floating on the water's surface.

* May 18 - Additional fishing ground closures. 19% of the entire Gulf of Mexico is now closed to fishing.

* May 19 - The first heavy oil from the spill sloshes ashore in fragile Louisiana marshlands and part of the mess enters a powerful current that could carry it to Florida and beyond.

* May 22 - BP reports that tube used to collect some of the oil from the damaged riser is now working at only 40% of its previous capacity.

* May 26 - A "top kill" maneuver starts, involving pumping heavy fluids and other material into the well shaft to try to stifle the flow.

* May 27 - President Obama extends deep water drilling moratorium to 6 months.

* May 28 - BP CEO Tony Hayward flies over the Gulf. BP says the disaster has so far cost the company $930 million.

* May 29 - BP announces that "top kill" maneuver to plug the well has failed.

* June 1 - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announces that the Justice Department has launched a criminal and civil investigation into the rig explosion and the spill. Scientists claim they have found more than one oil plume, one of them "22 miles long, six miles wide and more than a thousand feet deep" but BP is disputing this claim.

* June 2 - BP continues work on a new plan to try to capture most of the escaping oil. This involves cutting off the broken riser, then putting a cap combined with a new riser on the well to direct oil to the surface. Fishing restrictions expanded to cover 37% of federal waters in the Gulf.

* June 4 - President Obama makes his 3rd trip to the Gulf area and warns BP against skimping on compensation to residents and businesses.

* June 7 - BP estimates that it has now spent $1.25 billion on the spill.

* June 8 - U.S. weather forecasters confirm that some of the oil leaking has lingered beneath the surface is spreading as underwater oil plumes rather than rising to the top.

* June 10 - U.S. scientists double their estimates of the amount of oil gushing from the well, saying between 20,000 and 40,000 barrels (840,000 and 1.7 million gallons) of oil flowed from the well daily before June 3, BP says it has collected 73,324 barrels (3.1 million gallons) of oil since installing the capping system.

* June 13 - BP begins installation of sensors into the containment cap to measure the oil flow.

* June 14 - BP unveils a new plan to vastly boost the amount of oil it is siphoning off 60,000 to 80,000 barrels a day by mid July by bringing in 2 more collection vessels.

* June 16 - BP agrees to fund a $20 billion escrow account. Transocean officials report that since the spill, 210 burns have been conducted to remove a total of 5.2 million gallons of oil recovered from the well.

* June 17 - Vandals slice up a 600-foot chunk oil boom at Garcon Point in Pensacola. The Coast Guard releases a public service announcement against vandalism of the booms. Coast Guard also pproves return of vacuum barges which had been temporarily removed so the Coast Guard could complete inspections and certifications.

* June 21 - The estimate for the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf is increased to between 60,000 and 80,000 barrels (roughly 2.5 and 3.4 million gallons) per day.

* June 22 - Judge Martin Feldman of the US District Court in New Orleans granted an injunction against the President's 6 month moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf.

* June 23 - Containment cap removed briefly after robotic submersible collides with vent. 62 rehabilitated brown pelicans and one rehabilitated northern gannet are released at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. NOAA opens 8,000 square miles of the Gulf to fishing 78,597 square miles—approximately 32.5 percent of federal areas in the Gulf are still closed.

* June 24 - Christian Sciene Montitor in article headlined "Raining oil in Louisiana? Video suggests Gulf oil spill causing crude rain" reports on an amateur video which supposedly shows oily rain in Louisiana. The article also quotes the EPA saying it "has no data, information or scientific basis that suggests that oil mixed with dispersant could possibly evaporate from the Gulf into the water cycle."

* June 25 - BP hires former FEMA director James Lee Witt. Mr Witt will evaluate BP's response and make suggestions on improvements.

* June 30 - EPA releases study of oil dispersants which indicate that none of the eight dispersants tested, some of which have been used in the Gulf, display biologically significant endocrine disrupting activity.

* July 1 - The supertanker A Whale, billed as the world's largest skimmer, arrives in Boothville, Louisiana. Reportedly it can skim 21 million gallons a day – 250 times the capacity of the fishing boats being used. Wind and waves from Hurricane Alex slow down cleanup efforts.

* July 4 - The facility to treat oily birds at Fort Jackson, Louisiana is moved to Hammond, Louisiana to avoid hurricane complications.

* July 5 - Oil is reported at Rigolets raising fears it will hit Lake Pontchartrain. Tests with the supertanker A Whale prove inconclusive because of high waves. First reports of tarballs in Texas near Galveston.

* July 7 - Scientists and environmnentalists criticize Louisiana's plan to build rock islands to protect the coast from oil because it would disrupt the ecosystem

* July 10 - The old cap is removed from well as a first step in attaching the new cap. Reports now show that a crushed second pipe has been found in the blowout preventer. It is believed that when the rig exploded, this second pipe fell down into the blowout preventer, blocking the shears from severing the well riser and closing it.

* July 12 - A capping stack is installed, completing the installation of the new 40-ton containment device sealing cap. Tests are started to determine well integrity.

* July 14 - BP begins slowly closing the valves that are siphoning off oil so that the cap can be tested.

* July 15 - At 1:15 p.m., closing the well begins. At 2:25 p.m. BP says that the flow of oil into the Gulf has stopped. A successful test will show constant pressure of 8000- 9000 psi.

* July 16 - Pressure in the cap is 6,700 psi. It needs to get to 8,000 psi or more to ensure there are no leaks. But while there is concern about the low pressure in the containment cap, it might be a sign of depletion rather than an indication of ongoing leakage.

* July 18 - Pressure is at 6,778 psi and there is no indication of leaks. BP plans to keep the cap closed at least until the relief well is finished.

* July 19 - BP is considering a "static kill" of the well. This procedure will involve pumping heavy mud through the new cap in a process known as bullheading.

* July 22 - Ships and personnel begin to leave the area as Tropical Storm Bonnie approaches. Relief well drilling is stopped and and the static kill procedure on the new cap will be suspended during the storm. NOAA reopens 26,388 square miles of Gulf waters to commercial and recreational fishing along the west Florida shelf. The re-opened area is one-third of the total closed area.

* July 24 - BP reports that its internal investigation has cleared itself of gross negligence and promises to publish a report of its investigation in the next month. Plans for the static kill procedure are continuing.

* July 25 - Temperature in the new cap is reported at 40F, which is a sign of stability.

* July 26 - BP spokesmen say that the environmental impact from the spill may be minor, with marshes expected to recover by Spring 2011.

* July 27 - The static kill procedure is scheduled to begin August 2. Robert Dudley will replace Tony Hayward as BP CEO effective October 1.

* July 30 - Clearing debris in the well is expected to push the static kill procedure date back to August 3. Cleanup plans are being made to collect 11 million feet of oil booms. Well pressure and temperature are stable at 6,969 psi and 40F respectively.

* August 2 - A hydraulic leak delays the start of the static kill process.

* August 3 - BP begins to pump drilling mud at 13.2 pounds per gallon via the top cap at approximately 4 PM.

* August 4 - BP reports that the well achieved “static condition” shortly after 2,300 barrels of drilling mud is said to fill the well.

* August 5 - BP begins pumping cement into the well from the top and completes the cementing at 2:15 PM CDT.

* August 9 - BP pays its first $3 billion into the spill trust fund. It will pay $1.25 billion each quarter until it reaches $20 billion

* August 10 - Work on the relief well has been suspended because of an approaching tropical storm. NOAA reopens 5,144 square miles (13,320 km 2 ) of Gulf waters to commercial and recreational finfish fishing (along west Florida coast). Another 52,395 square miles remain closed – down 22 percent from its height

* August 11 - BP downsizes its Florida command center at 1001 Brickell Bay Drive in Miami from 120 to 45.

* August 12 - Work on the relief well resumes.

* August 14 - The "bottom kill" procedure is authorized. The relief well is currently horizontally 50 feet from the intercept point but has been delayed while a review is underway.

* August 16 - BP says it will contribute $52 million to help address the immense behavioral health issues arising from the spill.

* August 18 - The bottom kill process is delayed while an evaluation is conducted to see whether the the procedure might damage the seal on the well.

* August 20 - Scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute released data documenting a massive 22 mile long underwater plume of oil which was recorded and measured at the end of June. Further studies are underway to determine the number and location of other such plumes.

* August 23 - Gulf Coast Claims Facility takes over the claims process from BP.

* August 24 - Scientists discovered the new microbe while studying the underwater dispersion of millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf after the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.And the microbe works without significantly depleting oxygen in the water, researchers led by Terry Hazen at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., reported Tuesday in the online journal Sciencexpress.

* August 27 - More than 4,000 sq miles of fishing grounds reopened off the west coast of Louisiana.

* August 30 - Ken Feinberg, head of Gulf Coast Claims Facility, states that thousands of claims submitted so far do not have the required documentation needed for them to be approved. He said 18,900 individual claims were submitted in the first week and all were reviewed, but payments were only authorized to 1,200 individuals.

* September 1 - St Bernard Parish claims that BP failed to pay rent on properties used by the Parish for the oil spill cleanup, causing the Parish to face eviction from those sites.

* September 2 - Temporary cap which stopped the oil flow in July is removed from the well. The well remains sealed with no detectable leakage. More than 5,000 sq miles of Gulf waters are re-opened to fishing.

* September 4 - Damaged blowout preventer which failed to shut off the oil flow after the explosion last April is recovered and brought to the surface for study.

* September 5, 6, 7 - Plaquemines, Cameron and Lafourche Parishes in Louisiana report sightings of oil or tarballs.

* September 7 - Scientific studies by the oil spill Unified Command's Joint Analysis Group show that biodegradation of oil in plumes within 60 miles of the failed BP Macondo oil well have caused levels of dissolved oxygen in deep water of the Gulf of Mexico to drop by as much as 20 percent, but no oxygen-void dead zones have been created.

* September 8 - BP releases their internal report on what lead up to the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which killed 11 workers and caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history. NASA is winding down turtle egg rescue program, which moved a total of 278 sea turtle nests to the space center from the Gulf Coast from the end of June until mid-August. Wildlife officials organized the relocation because of fears the oil spill might endanger the hatchlings.

* September 12, 13, 14 - Oil or tarball sightings reported in Plaquemines, St Bernard and Lafourche Parishes.

* September 13 - Failed blowout preventer is displayed at the NASA Michoud facility in New Orleans East.

* September 17 - BP reported that the ruptured Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico was been intercepted by a relief well at 17,977 feet below the water's surface. Cement is now being pumped into the well for a permanent seal.

* September 18 - Cement plug completed. Well officially declared sealed and dead!