The BP Drilling Disaster Timeline: One Year Later

The nation’s attention has drifted back to the Gulf for a moment, prompted to remember the disaster that the Chilean miner drama knocked from the headlines. 

Why? because it’s been 365 days since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, ending the lives of 11 men and changing the Gulf of Mexico forever.  Our nation, our media is drawn to anniversaries.

However, there are a heck of a lot of other dates that are important in the ongoing, slow-motion destruction that BP’s crude has brought to the Gulf.  Here are some that jump to my mind.

It has been 360 days since I first saw the site of the disaster with my own eyes, thanks to our partners with Southwings, and was shocked by the size and scale of the ‘mousse’and sheen which stretched for miles and seemed to cover the Gulf.

It has been 337 days since GRN got into the video producing business with the creation of our series “Gulf Tides: Monitoring the BP Drilling Disaster.”  You can check out our newest episode, released today, right here:

It has been 326 days since President Obama appointed the oil spill commission to investigate the causes and consequences of the BP disaster, and it has been 99 days since they issued their gold-standard report on what went wrong, why, and how it can be avoided in the future. Oh, and it’s been 282 days since Drew Landry serenaded them at their first NOLA meeting.

It has been 315 days since BP’s CEO Tony Hayward told folks in Louisiana that “I want my life back.”

It has been 298 days since the BP board announced Mississippi native Bob Dudley would replace Hayward as CEO.

It has been 277 days since the BP macondo well stopped flowing, 86 days and 168 million gallons of oil flowing into the Gulf later.

It has been 198 days since 46 community, environmental, fishing and faith organizations came together at Camp Beckwith in Fairhope, AL to draft the Weeks Bay Principles for Gulf Recovery.  It’s been 37 days since those groups came back together to develop the action plan for implementaion of those principles.
It has been 197 days since the President signed an executive order establishing the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to develop an implementation strategy to ensure the Gulf’s recovery is a national priority.

It has been 152 days since 90 musicians, including folks like Ozzy Osborne, Pearl Jam, REM and Trent Reznor sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to see Gulf restoration through to implementation, and to hold BP accountable for every penny they owe the ecosystem.

It has been 51 days since BOEMRE has started issuing permits for offshore oil drilling.

It has been 38 days since mother of 6 and wife of a laid-off oil industry work, Cherri Foytlin began her heroic walk to Washington to demand our national political leadership reengage in the Gulf and ensure more is done for the health, the economy, and the ecology of this precious national treasure.  It has been 6 days since she arrived, met with White House, EPA, HHS and GCERT leadership, as well as spoke to thousands of fired-up youth activists at Power Shift, and led a march on BP’s DC lobbying headquarters.

It has been 31 days since the latest massive oil spill in the Gulf was reported – large amounts of crude oil have washed up on Grand Isle, despite the company’s assertion that it had released less than 5 gallons.

It has been 14 days since BP’s court filings first revealed they were working to diminish their clean water act fines, fines which could be used to jumpstart Gulf restoration.

It has been 6 days since BP locked out Gulf Coast residents from attending their shareholder meeting in London, despite the fact that they held valid proxies and should have been allowed entry.

It has been 5 days since BP made it clear they don’t intend to pay to reseed oyster beds damaged by the state of Louisiana’s efforts to push BP’s crude out of oyster leases by opening up fresh-water diversions on the Mississippi River.

It has been 3 days since LSU fisheries scientist Jim Cowan described bacterial infections and enlarged internal organs on deep-water species red snapper as “there’s no doubt it’s associated with a chronic exposure to a toxin,” stating “it’s a circumstantial case, but at the same time I think we can get a conviction.”

It has been 2 days since GRN saw, thick, black, viscous crude on the marsh in Bay Jimmy, and 2 days since we’ve been hassled by BP contractors with a Coast Guard offical on his boat, restricting the public’s ability to view the ongoing clean up efforts, no matter how destructive it is.

There are a significant number of important events that have happened in the past 365 days.  One event that you WON’T see however, is any action by Congress to learn the lessons of the BP drilling disaster, and pass legislation to implement the recommendations of the oil spill commission.  After 365 days, I wouldn’t expect to truly understand the ecological impact of the historic release of BP’s crude, but I would expect our leaders to be moving to make the Gulf safer and more resilient.  Send them that message here: 

Aaron Viles is the Deputy Director of the Gulf Restoration Network, a 16 year old environmental advocacy group exclusively focused on the Gulf of Mexico. GRN’s mission is to unite and empower people to protect and restore the natural resources of the Gulf region for future generations.


Photo courtesy of GRN
NOTE: This is a guest post from Aaron Viles, Deputy Director of the Gulf Restoration Network


W. C
W. C3 months ago


William C
William C3 months ago

Thank you for the information.

Chris J.
Chris J6 years ago

Moving to Pensacola, FL this summer, I encountered tar balls for the first time. Going to the beach, you're going to step in them or pick them up when you collect sea shells. It is so sad and a wake up call. They choke you when you take a sniff. I had no idea what I had it my hand till I rubbed it apart and it left a literal tar substance on my fingers which wouldn't come off. The smell is worse than deisel. It's worse than when I had a 1000 gallon oil tank buried leak in my basement. Even more shocking to me is the BP gas station that locals fill up their tanks with. You'd think that they'd be completely shut down in protest after BP trashed the beautiful local beaches.

Ann F.
Ann F6 years ago

agree with Pat B

Elizabeth R.
Elizabeth R6 years ago

I am not sure I want to help save us...

Guinaviere Bisel
Guinaviere Bisel6 years ago

I don't think there is any hope for the environment anymore. We continue to rape & poison the earth. We are past the point of no return. We might as well just sit and watch all the animals & ecosystemecosystems disapear. There's no help for the world.

pat B.
pat B6 years ago

Where is all the wind and solar energy ?
We are decades behind .
If you are not familiar with the term peak it.
Oil is a finite resource and runs the world and that is where the insanity of the situation is.

pat B.
pat B6 years ago

Money talks and wildlife and people will continue to get sick and/or die.

gerlinde p.
gerlinde p6 years ago

very interesting read, they have issued new permits although they know that the thing supposed to stop the leak, doesn`t really work.

Yvette T.
Past Member 6 years ago

The pain is dreadful which these precious life forms are experiencing! Not only the physical...they have no control over their own natural environments and are at the mercy of senseless, cruel poisoners. BP MUST MUST MUST be fined so HEAVILY as to be put out of business! The GULF is so TOXIC now! What are humans here for? We are not in material bodies to destroy this material realm and all other material bodies, psyches, spiritual paths, natural lives! We are here to do the OPPOSITE! To collectively raise our awareness via opening of inner vision and loving all that Creation provides to all for sharing. I can not bear this suffering of all of the once pristine life and elements. We need to reduce our every action and effect we have on everything.