About the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Early Response.

Early response.

On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon MC252 drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico caused the rig to sink and oil began leaking into the Gulf. Before it was finally capped in mid-July, almost 5 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf. The magnitude of this spill is something our nation has not seen before, causing significant impacts to wildlife and the fishing community along the large coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, and Florida. Although it will be months before the full extent of the damage will be known, NOAA acted quickly to begin preliminary assessments and plan for restoration along the coast.

With 20 years of experience restoring habitat impacted by oil, including restoration activities conducted in the Gulf prior to the spill, NOAA is prepared to lead the effort to develop a range of restoration strategies. We will be involved in both short-term and long-term restoration efforts to return the Gulf to pre-spill conditions.

NOAA’s Role

To help determine the type and amount of restoration needed to compensate the public for harm to natural resources as a result of the spill, NOAA will conduct a Natural Resource Damage Assessment. Although many agencies are involved in this process, NOAA is a lead federal trustee for coastal and marine natural resources, including marine and migratory fish, endangered species, marine mammals and their habitats.

Key Facts

  • NOAA responds to as many as 150 oil spills every year.
  • In response to oil spills, NOAA has restored thousands of acres of coastal habitat in the past 20 years.
  • NOAA and the other trustees involved hold the responsible party accountable for assessment and restoration costs.