Search This Blog

Thursday, April 20, 2017

April 20, 2010

Throughout history, April 20th has been seen as a very strange day.  It's a date that has been host to some of the most shocking tragedies in the world, and is the birthdate of one of the most tyrannical leaders in modern day history.  And it also happens to be the date in which marijuana use is celebrated.  As I said.  Weird date.

So what event will I focus on for this week's
Throwback Thursday?  I haven't decided yet.  Maybe if I take a look at some of the other events of the day, I will figure it out.

1534 - Jacques Cartier begins his first voyage to the area known as Newfoundland and Labrador

1775 - The Siege of Boston begins during the American Revolutionary War

1792 - France declares war against the King of Hungary and Bohemia which leads to the direct cause of the French Revolutionary War

1826 - Major Gordon Laing becomes the first non-Muslim to enter Timbuktu

1836 - The Wisconsin Territory is established

1861 - Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army to command the forces of the state of Virginia

1889 - Adolf Hitler, the man who would become the most hated and feared man around the world, is born in Braunau am Inn, Austria-Hungary

(and no...I'm not afraid to share my dislike and disgust of the above either)

1902 - Radium chloride is first refined by Pierre and Marie Curie

1912 - Both Fenway Park in Boston and Tiger Stadium in Detroit open to the public; also on this date author Bram Stoker passes away

1914 - Voice actress Betty Lou Gerson (d. 1999) is born in Chattanooga, Tennessee

1918 - "The Red Baron" shoots down his 79th and 80th victims - one day before his death

1943 - Actress/model Edie Sedgwick (d. 1971) is born in Santa Barbara, California

1945 - Twenty Jewish children are killed in the basement of the Bullenhuser Damm school - the children were used for medical experiments at Neuengamme

1946 - Race car driver Gordon Smiley (d. 1982) is born in Omaha, Nebraska

1949 - Figure skater and painter Toller Cranston (d. 2015) is born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

1951 - Singer Luther Vandross (d. 2005) is born in Edison, New Jersey

1961 - The Bay of Pigs invasion fails

1972 - Apollo 16 lands on the moon's surface

1992 - British comedian Benny Hill dies at the age of 68

1999 - Twelve students and one teacher are killed and twenty-four others injured during the Columbine High School shootings - the perpetrators were two students of the school who later took their own lives

2007 - A shooting takes place at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas - the gunman and one male hostage lose their lives

2008 - Danica Patrick becomes the first female racer to win an Indy car race (the Indy Japan 300)

2013 - An earthquake strikes near Lushan County, China, killing 150 and injuring thousands

2016 - American wrestler Joanie "Chyna" Laurer dies at the age of 45

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following people turning one year older; Leslie Phillips, Guy Rocher, Elena Verdugo, Pat Roberts, George Takei, Ryan O'Neal, Michael Brandon, Alasdair Cooke, Andrew Tobias, Craig Frost, Veronica Cartwright, Jessica Lange, Steve Erickson, Gilles Lupien, Rodney Holman, Don Mattingly, Mike Pniewski, Crispin Glover, Andy Serkis, Rosalynn Sumners, Julia Morris, Felix Baumgartner, Shemar Moore, Carmen Electra, Stephen Marley, Todd Hollandsworth, Tina Cousins, Joey Lawrence, and Miranda Kerr.

All on a date in history where potentially anything could happen, what date have I decided to go back in time to?

Well, it's only seven years into the past.  The date?  April 20, 2010.

I'll be the first to admit that this particular day's events seem quite hazy to me.  Come to think of it, 2010 was one of those years that seemed quite forgettable upon retrospect as nothing really major happened in my life.  However, one thing I do remember in relation to today's blog topic is the aftermath - an aftermath which was quite devastating.

I'm sure most of us remember at some point logging online and seeing the camera footage of a gigantic oil spill that took place in the Gulf of Mexico through a miniature underwater camera.  It was strangely mesmerizing to see the oil flowing through the water, but ultimately it would be a gigantic environmental disaster in the world.  With an average of 340,000 gallons of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico per day, the spill was the largest oil spill ever recorded within the United States.  It certainly was larger and more damaging than the earliest oil spill I can remember - the Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989.  By the time the oil leak was patched, the oil had flowed into the Gulf of Mexico for eighty-seven straight days.

Naturally, people were upset about the massive oil spill and rightfully so.  A lot of the underwater ecosystems directly in the path of the spill were forever destroyed, thousands of sea creatures were displaced or were killed as a result of the spill, and it left behind a gigantic mess that as of 2017 is still being cleaned up.

But what caused such an environmental disaster to occur in the first place?

Sadly, it dealt with another tragedy.  One that killed eleven people, and threatened the lives of another one hundred and fifteen.  It was a disaster that spawned the 2016 film "Deepwater Horizon".

The Deepwater Horizon, of course, was the name of the drilling rig that was searching for oil buried underneath the ocean floor off the coast of Louisiana.  The oil rig that exploded exactly seven years ago today and was the direct cause of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The first signs of trouble aboard the oil rig were reported on April 20, 2010 at 9:56pm.  At the time, 126 crew members were aboard, representing British Petroleum (BP), Transocean, Anadarko, Halliburton, and M-I Swaco, and it was around the time listed that the first reports of flames being sighted aboard the rig.  Many of the crew members aboard the rig saw lights flickering inside the rig followed by at least two strong vibrations that shook the entire rig.  According to the internal investigation launched by BP, the cause of the vibrations was reportedly due to a bubble of methane gas that escaped through the oil well, and expanded as it traveled through the rig.  Eventually the pressure grew too great and the bubble exploded, causing extreme damage to the rig itself.

When the explosion occured, the fire spread quickly, and by dawn on April 21, the fire had engulfed the entire platform.  Fortunately the quick actions of most of the crew aboard ensured the safety of one hundred and fifteen people aboard the rig.  Sadly, the following eleven people lost their lives; Keith Blair Manuel, Donald Clark, Dewey Revette, Stephen Ray Curtis, Karl Kleppinger Jr., Aaron Dale Burkeen, Jason Anderson, Gordon Jones, Roy Wyatt Kemp, Adam Wiese, and Shane Roshto.  The youngest casualty was just 22 years of age.

Meanwhile, the fire continued to burn on top of the oil rig for one whole day until the rig sank to the bottom of the Gulf the morning of April 22.  Ironically, April 22 is Earth Day - a day in which environmental protection and conservation is celebrated.  That same morning was the day that the oil spill was first noticed.  Two days later, it was confirmed that a damaged oil wellhead was leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  And, well...we all know the rest of the tale.

The end result left a bad taste in everybody's mouth, and BP received a lot of the criticism in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

In June 2010, the House Committee of Energy and Commerce ruled that BP should have tested cement at the well, which might have prevented the disaster from happening in the first place.  However, in September 2010, BP issued a statement that crew members should have taken notice at some of the warning flags that erupted just before the explosion occurred, such as riser pipes losing fluid.  Transocean, meanwhile pointed the finger at BP, stating that their faulty well design was the real cause of the disaster.

The desire to find culpability was almost as messy as the oil spill itself.

By November 2010, the Oil Spill Commission had issued their findings, and stated that although BP hadn't intentionally sacrificed safety plans for profit, they did make it clear that poor decision making caused by bad management of the project caused risks to significantly increase.

One year after the explosion, BP filed a group of lawsuits against Transocean, Halliburton, and Cameron (the company in charge of the blowout-preventer) to the tune of $40 billion, and several of these companies did pay BP some money in damages.  However three years later in 2014, a judge ruled that BP was guilty of gross negligence willful misconduct under the Clear Water Act, and issued fines towards BP (67%), Transocean (30%), and Halliburton (3%).  As of 2015, BP is estimated to have lost close to $54 billion for the cost of the clean-up, as well as fines accumulated from environmental and economic damages.

A hefty price to pay.  And that's not even counting the eleven lives lost that day, as well as the casualties to the underwater ecosystems and the businesses that relied on the coast to make money.

It was a terrible tragedy on all accounts.

No comments:

Post a Comment