Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment
When a spill occurs and the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process starts, early restoration is a way to get natural resources back to normal faster. Early restoration can begin while the NRDA process is still under way. That's important, because NRDAs are complex and can last many years.
The Deepwater Horizon NRDA Trustees are continuing the Deepwater Horizon Early Restoration and Environmental Assessment process. This is the largest NRDA in U.S. history, impacting all five states on the Gulf of Mexico. Under the early restoration agreement signed by BP and the Trustees, BP has committed to provide $1 billion toward implementation of early restoration projects. All of this has resulted in a complex negotiation process. The purpose is to begin restoring the Gulf of Mexico and to compensate for natural resource injuries, including the loss of human use of Gulf resources, from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Stay tuned to the Gulf Restoration website for the latest developments.
The long-term damage assessment will continue while early restoration planning is under way. BP and the other responsible parties ultimately will be obligated to compensate the public for the entire injury and all costs of the NRDA.
- NOAA’s Gulf Spill Restoration - home page for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
- NOAA Publications - links to important documents
- Public Meetings
- DOI Administrative Record for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
- NOAA Science Missions and Data
BP Deepwater Horizon Background
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon, a semisubmersible drilling platform, exploded and caught fire, resulting in the death of 11 workers. Two days later, Earth Day, the platform sank releasing an estimated 4.9 million barrels (200 million gallons) of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The Deepwater Horizon well is located about 50 miles southeast of the Mississippi Delta, 130 miles southeast of New Orleans, and approximately a mile below the surface of the ocean. The discharge of oil from the well is estimated to have been approximately 53,000 barrels (2.2 million gallons) per day. Preliminary assessments have begun, and the well has been capped. It could be months or years before the full extent of the injuries are known. However, some restoration actions will likely occur in the short-term, to speed known resource injuries toward recovery, while other restoration activities can only be implemented once the full suite of natural resource losses are considered and appropriate restoration options are selected. The oil spill, along with associated removal activities, to adversely affect and threaten natural resources within the jurisdictions of the United States and the States of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida as well as potential lost human uses.
Pursuant to the Oil Pollution Act, designated federal and state trustees for natural resources are authorized to (1) assess natural resource injuries resulting from a discharge of oil or the substantial threat of a discharge and response activities, and (2) develop and implement a plan for restoration of such injured resources. The Trustees have made the following findings:
- The explosion on the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010, and other associated occurrences resulted in discharges of oil into and upon navigable waters of the United States, including the Gulf of Mexico, as well as adjoining shorelines.
- The discharges were not permitted pursuant to federal, state, or local law; are not from a public vessel; and are not from an onshore facility subject to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authority Act.
- Natural resources under the trusteeship of the Trustees have been and continue to be injured and/or threatened as a result of discharged oil and associated removal efforts. The discharged oil is harmful to natural resources exposed to the oil, including aquatic organisms, birds, wildlife, vegetation, and habitats.
Discharged oil and the response activities to address the discharges of oil have resulted in adverse effects on natural resources in and around the Gulf of Mexico and along its adjoining shorelines, and impaired services that those resources provide. The full extent of potential injuries is currently unknown, and may not be known for many years; however, current natural resources and resource services that have been impacted due to the discharged oil include but are not limited to the following:
- Hundreds of miles of shoreline habitats, including salt marshes, sandy beaches, and mangroves;
- A variety of wildlife, including birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals;
- Lost human use opportunities associated with various natural resources in the Gulf region, including fishing, swimming, beach-going and viewing of birds and wildlife;
- Waters of the Gulf of Mexico and adjoining coastal states;
- Various other biota, including benthic communities and fish;
- Water column habitat.
Technical Working Groups
A number of technical working groups made up of technical and legal representatives for the Gulf coast natural resources trustees have been established to evaluate potential impacts to the fate and effect of oil and dispersants. These groups develop and carry out pre- and post-impact field studies. For Deepwater Horizon, the technical working groups are collecting data on:
- Water Column
- Fisheries and plankton
- Submerged aquatic vegetation
- Subtidal habitats
- Shallow and deepwater corals
- Marine mammals and turtles
- Human uses, for example, fishing, hunting, and beach closures
Workplans and Data from these technical working groups.
Fish and Wildlife Links
- Keeping Seafood Safe
- Deepwater Oil Spill Federal Fisheries Closures
- Bird Impact Data
- Sea Turtles and Marine Mammals
- Official Federal website for Deepwater Horizon oil spill
- USFWS Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response
- Mapping the Response to BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico
- Oil Budget
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- United States Department of the Interior, as represented by:
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on behalf of the United States Department of Commerce
- United States Department of Defense
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
State of Texas
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Texas General Land Office and
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
State of Louisiana
- Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
- Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office,
- Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality,
- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
- Louisana Department of Natural Resources