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A enormous smoke plume on the ocean next to a boat which looks small in comparison.
Controlled burn during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (Credit: USCG).

30 Years of Restoration After Oil Spills

October 1, 2021

This month we are marking 30 years of restoration after oil spills.

NOAA and our co-trustees have recovered funds for restoration after 78 oil spills, including a historic $8.8 billion settlement to fund restoration after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest offshore spill in U.S history. 

On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion, which killed 11 men, caused the rig to sink and started a catastrophic oil leak from the well. Before it was capped three months later, approximately 134 million gallons of oil had spilled into the Gulf. NOAA worked with our partners to assess injuries to natural resources, such as fish, as fish, bottom-dwelling organisms, nearshore ecosystems, birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals. 

Today, restoration funded by the historic $8.8 billion settlement is ongoing. Learn more about this work on the Gulf Spill Restoration website


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Bottlenose dolphin with oil adhered to the head, July 2010.