The BP Oil Spill and the Ixtoc 1 Spill of 1979

The BP Oil Spill and the Ixtoc 1 Spill of 1979

The BP Oil Spill and the Ixtoc 1 Spill of 1979For some, the recent BP Oil Spill is déjà vu. 31 years ago, an exploratory drilling site called “Ixtoc 1” experienced a similar blowout to the one that occurred on the now infamous Deepwater Horizon rig where 11 workers tragically lost their lives. Chris Hawley from USAToday.com details some of the similarities:

Like the Deepwater Horizon spill, the Ixtoc 1 spill on June 3, 1979, involved the failure of a blowout preventer device, a kind of emergency shutoff valve. In both cases, metal domes put over the well failed to stop the leaks.

And in both cases, crews turned to something called relief wells dug horizontally through the seafloor to stop the spills, a technique that can take months.

The Mexican spill was recorded as the largest accidental oil spill in history, with somewhere between 126 million to 210 million gallons of oil ultimately being released into the Gulf of Mexico. According to local fishermen, the Mexican spill of ’79 wiped out fishing on the Mexican coast for the two years following the incident.

The Ixtoc 1 spill occurred in only 160 feet of water, compared to the depth of 5,000 feet that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and pipe blew out. So far, it is estimated that at least 6 million gallons of oil have spilled into the Gulf, and efforts to drill a relief well nearby are about 3 months away from being complete.  A map of reports detailing the effects of the BP Oil Spill to date still shows that Clearwater, Pinellas County, and the Tampa Bay are mostly unaffected as of now (May 25th) but local fishermen and the tourism industry are already bracing for potentially tough times ahead.

We here at Perenich The Law Firm have faith that the advances in technology and the sheer will, intelligence, and ingenuity of the men and women working to stop and clean up the current BP Oil Leak will be able to limit the effects of this potential catastrophe. Our thoughts continue to be with those on the upper Gulf coast as they try to protect their shore, and also with those who are locally affected here in the Tampa Bay area as well.