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Chronology Of A Catastrophe

June 14, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 24

Credit: UPI/Patrick Kelley/U.S. Coast Guard/Newscom
Credit: UPI/Patrick Kelley/U.S. Coast Guard/Newscom
Credit: UPI/A.J. Sisco/Newscom
Credit: UPI/A.J. Sisco/Newscom

April 20

Initial explosion on Deepwater Horizon exploration rig kills 11 people. (1)

April 22

Second explosion sinks rig.

May 2

BP starts drilling first intercept relief well.

May 7

BP lowers containment dome over leaking wellhead, but methane hydrate crystals clog tube and the attempt fails. (2)

May 12

Research vessel Pelican finds data that suggest a giant underwater oil plume.

May 15

EPA approves subsurface use of dispersants.

May 16

BP inserts tube into riser to siphon off a small part of leaking oil and gas.

May 17

Drilling of a second relief well begins. (3)

May 19

Order to restructure Minerals Management Service is signed.

Credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
Credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

May 20

EPA directs BP to find less toxic and more effective dispersants.

May 26

EPA calls for reduction in dispersant use and says it will look for an alternative.

May 27

U.S. Geological Survey estimates leak to be 17 million to 39 million gal, making it the worst oil spill in U.S. history; Obama announces freeze on new exploratory drilling activities; and MMS head S. Elizabeth Birnbaum resigns. (4)

Credit: Newscom
Credit: Newscom

May 29

Attempt to plug well with drilling mud fails.

June 3

BP cuts pipe from well, lowers containment cap onto it, and begins to funnel oil. (5)


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