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The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill, the BP oil disaster, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the Macondo blowout) is an industrial disaster that began on 20 April 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect, considered to be the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry and estimated to be 8% to 31% larger in volume than the previous largest, the Ixtoc I oil spill. The U.S. government estimated the total discharge at 4.9 million barrels (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3).After several failed efforts to contain the flow, the well was declared sealed on 19 September 2010. Reports in early 2012 indicated that the well site was still leaking.
A massive response ensued to protect beaches, wetlands and estuaries from the spreading oil utilizing skimmer ships, floating booms, controlled burns and 1.84 million US gallons (7,000 m3) of oil dispersant. Due to the months-long spill, along with adverse effects from the response and cleanup activities, extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and fishing and tourism industries was reported. In Louisiana, 4,900,000 pounds (2,200 t) of oily material was removed from the beaches in 2013, over double the amount collected in 2012. Oil cleanup crews worked four days a week on 55 miles (89 km) of Louisiana shoreline throughout 2013. Oil continued to be found as far from the Macondo site as the waters off the Florida Panhandle and Tampa Bay, where scientists said the oil and dispersant mixture is embedded in the sand. In April 2013, it was reported that dolphins and other marine life continued to die in record numbers with infant dolphins dying at six times the normal rate. One study released in 2014 reported that tuna and amberjack that were exposed to oil from the spill developed deformities of the heart and other organs that would be expected to be fatal or at least life-shortening and another study found that cardiotoxicity might have been widespread in animal life exposed to the spill.
Numerous investigations explored the causes of the explosion and record-setting spill. The U.S. government September 2011 report pointed to defective cement on the well, faulting mostly BP, but also rig operator Transocean and contractor Halliburton. Earlier in 2011, a White House commission likewise blamed BP and its partners for a series of cost-cutting decisions and an inadequate safety system, but also concluded that the spill resulted from "systemic" root causes and "absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur".
The oil leak was discovered on the afternoon of 22 April 2010 when a large oil slick began to spread at the former rig site. The oil flowed for 87 days. BP originally estimated a flow rate of 1,000 to 5,000 barrels per day (160 to 790 m3/d). The Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG) estimated the initial flow rate was 62,000 barrels per day (9,900 m3/d). The total estimated volume of leaked oil approximated 4.9 million barrels (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3) with plus or minus 10% uncertainty, including oil that was collected making it the world’s largest accidental spill. BP challenged the higher figure, saying that the government overestimated the volume. Internal emails released in 2013 showed that one BP employee had estimates that matched those of the FRTG, and shared the data with supervisors, but BP continued with their lower number. The company argued that government figures do not reflect over 810,000 barrels (34 million US gal; 129,000 m3) of oil that was collected or burned before it could enter the Gulf waters