While maritime lawyers mark the one-year anniversary of the devastating BP-Transocean oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico last year, it would help to remember that a repeat of an explosion like this is not impossible. According to retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Alan, who helped lead the federal response to the disaster last year, no one can guarantee that an explosion like this could ever happen again. Allen is warning that post the explosion, we're in danger of a repeat of the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez disaster. After that accident, which resulted in 11 million gallons of oil being spilled into the water off Alaska, research into disaster response began at an earnest pace. However, the research stopped after about 2-3 years. Allen is warning against something like that happening this time around. We need to continue to invest in researching and developing new methods as well as technological improvements that can help with oil spill response. On April 20 last year, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, setting off a chain of events that left 11 people dead, and more than 100 workers injured. The explosion caused the Macondo well to rupture, leaking millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. A year later, much of the damage has been contained, but the neighboring communities that were severely affected by the spill, are far from back to normal. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the spill affected more than 1,050 miles of marshland. More than 6,000 birds were killed, and the 2010 fishing and shipping industry was killed in an instant. Federal authorities estimate that much of the environmental damage from the disaster has been contained. However, for the families of the 11 deceased workers, the damage can never be undone.
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