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BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (Essay Sample)


1. Provide an overview of the events and implications of the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
2. Explain the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, including why it was enacted, its general provisions, and OPA 90's effectiveness in terms of containing a major spill.
3. Which type of control would have been most helpful to BP in averting the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Provide one (1) supporting fact to support your response.


BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
Institutional Affiliation
BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
The BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill occurred in 2010 at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The oil well over which the rig was positioned was 4, 993 feet under the surface extending another 18, 000 feet below the seabed. A gush of natural gas forced open a concrete core that had been used to seal the well. It later emerged that the concrete core used was too weak and could therefore not withstand the upward pressure. Equally, the blow out preventer installed by BP malfunctioned permitted the natural gas and oil escape to the platform where the gas ignited leading 11 workers to lose their lives while 17 others were injured (The Ocean Portal Team, 2007). The rig eventually capsized rupturing the riser. Oil began rising to the surface and spread through the Gulf of Mexico. Initial efforts to contain the spill were unsuccessful and it is estimated that to be 60, 000 barrels daily though BP claimed a lesser figure of 1000 barrels. Efforts to seal the wellbore fruits in September six months since the accident occurred.
Oil Pollution Act of 1990
The Oil Pollution Act (OPA) 1990, updated and strengthened the ability of environmental protection agency to prevent catastrophic oil spills. OPA was enacted following the environmental agitation that followed the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Prior to this spill, there were other spills which had raised environmental concerns with the most notable ones being Torrey Canyon spill in 1967 and the Santa Barbara Channel oil spill (1969). This opened the eyes of the Congress and paved way for the establishment of the Federal Water Pollution Act (FWPCA) in 1970 (Morgan, 2011). Under this Act, parties responsible for oil spills would be held liable for cleanup. FWPCA was followed by a number of amendments to cater for different types of spills including those from vessels and offshore production facilities. The Exxon Valdez oil spill is the one that finally led Congress to rethink existing laws a

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