The oil spill six month timeline

Follow our timeline of the BP oil spill, from the construction of Deepwater Horizon to date

April 20

Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes about 42 miles off Louisiana, killing 11 men.

April 22

The rig, having burned and been showered with water during firefighting efforts, sinks. The force of the sinking breaks off the rig's drillpipe, allowing oil to spew out into the gulf.

May 2

The federal government closes 3 percent of federal waters in the gulf to fishing.

May 6

BP tries to stop the spill by lowering a 98-ton "containment dome" over the leak. The effort eventually fails, as crystallized gases cause the containment dome to become unexpectedly buoyant.

May 26

BP begins "top kill" attempt, shooting mud down the drillpipe in an attempt to clog the leaking well. After several days, the effort is abandoned.

May 27

President Obama announces a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling in the gulf.

June 2

37 percent of federal waters in the gulf are closed to fishing, the largest extent of the summer's closures.

July 15

The well is finally closed. BP closes the last valves on a tight-fitting "containment cap," and the well stops leaking after 87 days. The government estimates that 4.9 million barrels (205.8 million gallons) leaked, 19 times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill.

September 17

BP begins "bottom kill," a final injection of cement at the well's base that rendered it physically incapable of spilling another drop.

October 1

Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive when the spill began, steps down. Hayward had come under criticism for verbal gaffes during the spill, including a statement that "I would like my life back."

October 12

Obama lifts the moratorium on deep-water drilling ahead of schedule, pledging stricter oversight of safety on rigs.

October 15

The government re-opens nearly 7,000 square miles of federal waters to fishing, the ninth re-opening since the leak was capped. Only 7 percent of federal waters in the gulf remain closed to fishing.

SOURCE: Staff Reporting. GRAPHIC: David Fahrenthold - The Washington Post, Oct 20,2010.

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