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Oceana Magazine: Spring 2010

Catastrophe in the Gulf

Twenty years after Exxon Valdez, the Deepwater Drilling Disaster shows how vulnerable we still are.

By Suzannah Evans

In the evening of April 20, two days before the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, something went wrong on the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico, a mile underneath the oil rig named the Deepwater Horizon.

An explosion of methane, oil and mud erupted where the Deepwater Horizon’s pipeline met the seafloor in a blowout that ruptured the pipeline, resulting in a gush of oil and natural gas from the underground reservoir directly into the ocean. The explosion coursed up the drill column and ignited the rig in an inferno that rivaled the most dramatic apocalypse movies.

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