Five years ago this month, the exploratory oil well that the Deepwater Horizon rig was drilling in the Gulf of Mexico blew out. The ensuing explosion and fire killed 11 men aboard the rig and seriously injured others. After burning for over a day, the Deepwater Horizon sank in almost 5,000 feet of water. For the next 87 days, the well released oil into the Gulf, resulting in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The spill caused serious economic and environmental damage in the Gulf region and created significant health hazards for its residents—impacts that endure today.
As part of legal settlements with the companies involved, the National Academy of Sciences was asked to establish a new program to enhance oil system safety and the protection of human health and environmental resources in the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. outer continental shelf areas. This program, known as the Gulf Research Program, is dedicated to improving understanding of the region’s interconnecting human, environmental, and energy systems and fostering application of these insights to benefit Gulf communities, ecosystems, and the Nation.
Learn more about the Gulf Research Program and browse a list of relevant resources from the National Research Council.