On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon mobile drilling unit exploded, caught fire, and sank in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 50 miles off shore. Tragically, 11 workers were killed and 17 were injured by the explosion and fire. Oil and other substances from the rig and the well head immediately began flowing unabated approximately one mile below the Gulf’s surface. Initial efforts to cap the well were unsuccessful, and for 87 days oil spewed unabated into the Gulf impacting both federal and state trust resources including the five Gulf States (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi).. Over the duration of the release, approximately 3.19 million barrels (134 million gallons) of oil were released. In addition, approximately 771,000 gallons of dispersants were applied to the waters of the spill area, both on the surface and at the well head one mile below.
Oil eventually covered a vast area of thousands of square miles, and carried by the tides and currents came in contact with and injured natural resources as diverse as deepsea coral, fish and shellfish, productive wetland habitats, sand beaches, birds, endangered and threatened sea turtles, and protected marine mammals. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the largest off-shore spill in U.S. history. It was an environmental disaster of unprecedented proportions. It delivered a devastating blow to the natural resource-dependent economy of the region.
On April 4, 2016, a historic $20.8 billion global settlement agreement with BP was approved. According to the settlement, BP will pay the Trustees up to $8.8 billion for restoration to address injuries to natural resources. These funds will be used to implement the Trustees' Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.
The settlement also includes $5.5 billion in Clean Water Act penalties. As required by the RESTORE Act, 80% of those funds will be directed to Gulf restoration as determined by the RESTORE Council members. More information about the RESTORE Council can be found at the Council's website: https://www.restorethegulf.gov/.
All public documents associated with this case can be found at DOI Deep Water Horizon Response and Restoration