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Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

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Environmental impact

The area where the oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon rig includes 8,332 species(Biello,2010). This means that the oil spill put every one of these species at risk. The dolphin species are one of these species that have suffered dearly from the oil spill. During 2010, nearly 90 dead dolphins were reported to be found at the Gulf. This number did not decrease either as a further 200 dead dolphins were found, during January to late March of 2011, in the Gulf (Coleman,2013). Due to this, NOAA conducted a study in 2011 that stated the health complications that arise when dolphins that came into contact with petroleum. These dolphins suffered a drastic decrease in body mass, low blood sugar as well as many either suffering from liver or lung cancer(Kaufman,2012) .The deaths of dolphins even an entire year after the notorious oil spill indicates the long term impact that this event had on marine life.

Dolphins weren’t the only species that died from the oil spill. The oil that was spilled into the Gulf contained a methane content of 40%. Methane reduces oxygen levels significantly and hence the oil spill lead to many species not having enough oxygen to survive and hence suffocating to death. The oil spill not only resulted in the deaths of several species but it also led to the mutation of marine life. (NBC News, 2010) Such mutations include eyeless and/or clawless crabs as well as half the shrimp in the Gulf being found with no eyes or eye sockets. (Dahr,2012) These are just a few examples of why and how the Deepwater Horizon tragedy was considered the worst environmental disaster in history.

The impact on BP

Due to BP taking majority of responsibility for this disaster, BP lost a lot of market value which meant that by 2013 they dropped from the second to the fourth largest of the major oil companies.(Tourism Economics, 2011) In order to afford expenses such as grants to the Gulf States, fines, penalties as well as compensation, BP had to sell $75 Billion worth of their assets. (Breen,2010) This impacted their profitability terribly as BP faced billions in losses. BP’s reputation also became tarnished as they were “found guilty of gross negligence and wilful misconduct under the Clean Water Act”. Due to this, consumers gravitated towards supporting BP’s competitors and this lead to BP’s sales dropping between 10% and 40% in the United States during the time this crisis.(Weber,2010) An oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co notes how drastic BP’s downfall was after the oil spill by explaining [that] before the accident, BP had a market capitalization of $180 billion. The accident actually shaved off one-third of the market capitalization of the company. It’s a miracle that the company is still in business. It is evident how BP’s company faced major repercussions for their decisions that contributed to the oil spill.

Social Impact

The oil spill released various toxins in the air that harmed those residing in surrounding areas of the Gulf. Two months after the incident, 103 spill-exposure cases of workers involved in the clean-up of the spill as well 35 spill-exposure cases of residents were reported already. (Louisiana DHH,2010)The cause of these cases were supposedly from dispersants (which were used to break down the oil after the spill) as dispersants made the oil more toxic. Those who were exposed had a high presence of chemicals in their blood notes environmental scientist, Wilma Subra. The spill caused long-term health consequences for many. Dr James Diaz who writes for the American Journal of Disaster Medicine stated that these consequences include mental health disorders, birth defects, developmental disorders, various forms of cancer. In addition, many involved in the clean up efforts post this disaster became hospitalised for heat stress as they were working in heat-intensive conditions for an extended amount of time. The fact that this oil-spill put strain on the health of many emphasises how much turmoil this disaster brought about and how those 11 who died on the day of the oil spill are not the only ones who would have died as a result of the oil spill.

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Economic Impact

Fisheries in Louisiana were impacted negatively in the United States. The seafood industry in Louisiana makes up for 40% of the supply of seafood in the United States. After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the NOAA closed a large area of the Gulf of Mexico and because the Gulf of Mexico borders Louisana, this meant that Louisiana could no longer supply as much seafood to the United States.(The Sun News, 2010) Not only did this mean a decreased supply of seafood throughout the country but it also meant many risked losing their jobs or facing salary decreases. Louisiana’s seafood industry employed over 27000 people (Reuters, 2010)at the time of the crisis meaning that this oil spill impacted many on a larger scale.

Tourism was impacted negatively and positively during the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the United States. The negative impact was the fact that many cancelled their vacations due to the spill. Due to this many hotels cut their prices and an increase in promotional deals such as free golf was observed. However, the hotel industry was not losing much profits as they became filled up with those who had come to the Gulf of Mexico to assist with the oil removal efforts. (Reed,2010)

Despite such efforts, the tourism industry’s revenues in 2010 were much less than they were in 2009. Hence it is evident how negatively the tourism industry was impacted by this disaster.

The cost of real estate depreciated for properties on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. People were not buying or renting properties within that vicinity. From April 2010 to June 2010 one real estate agent was not able to sell a single house in the areas surrounding the oil spill. This impact was felt the most on those who depended on rental income to fund things like their retirement according to ABC News, further emphasising the economic impact of this disaster.

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Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
“Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from:
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