The 31 Year Oil Spill Echo
2010-06-05 0:00


Ixtoc I was an exploratory oil well being drilled by the semi-submersible platform, Sedco 135F in the Bay of Campeche of the Gulf of Mexico, about 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche in waters 50 m (160 ft) deep.[1] On 3 June 1979, the well suffered a blowout and is recognized as the second largest oil spill and the largest accidental spill in history.

In the next nine months, experts and divers including Red Adair were brought in to contain and cap the oil well.[6] Approximately an average of ten thousand to thirty thousand barrels per day were discharged into the Gulf until it was finally capped on 23 March 1980, nearly 10 months later.[7] Prevailing currents carried the oil towards the Texas coastline. The US government had two months to prepare booms to protect major inlets. Eventually, in the US, 162 miles (261 km) of beaches and 1421 birds were affected by 3,000,000 barrels (480,000 m3) of oil.[7] Pemex spent $100 million to clean up the spill and avoided paying compensation by asserting sovereign immunity.[8]

The oil slick surrounded Rancho Nuevo, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which is one of the few nesting sites for Kemp's Ridley sea turtles. Thousands of baby sea turtles were airlifted to a clean portion of the Gulf of Mexico to help save the rare species.


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