The deepwater horizon oil spill, five years later

Guests sitting at a presentation of the deepwater horizon oil spill
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Five Years Later: Lessons Learned from the Deepwater Disaster event took place at The Bob Graham Center for Public Service

On Monday, the Emerging Pathogens Institute partnered up with UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Bob Graham Center for Public Service, UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education, and Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities Project to host “Five Years Later — Lessons Learned from the Deepwater.” The event took place at 6 p.m. in The Bob Graham Center for Public Service.

EPI Director and Project Director for Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities J. Glenn Morris participated in the event as a panelist and discussed public health impact of Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Eastern Gulf communities. Other panelist included:

  • Dr. Richard Powers, Adjunct Professor, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Former Director of Alabama Dept. of Mental Health
  • Marc Roy, Director for Disaster Management Services, Matrix New World Engineering, Inc.; Adjunct Professor, Tulane University, Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy
  • U.S.C.G. Captain Duke Walker, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Mobile; Former Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon Spill of National Significance Response
  • Greg Strader, executive director, Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies

The panel focused on research done in the region and the impact the Deepwater Horizon explosion had on lives. According to studies done in the region, after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, residents in impacted communities suffered anger, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Increased levels of mental health problems were identified in community members who experienced a loss of income. Although levels have decreased since the spill, they remain above average.

April 20 is the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill, which resulted in the loss of 11 lives and substantial environmental and economic impacts for residents along the Gulf Coast region. In 2011, UF became the lead institution on one of four Deepwater Horizon Research Consortia grants, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and other Institutes of the National Institutes of Health. The UF-led team has been studying the safety of seafood, the psychological and sociological coping skills and the resilience of community members that have helped communities to recover and prepare for any future potential disasters, man-made or natural. Project sites stretch along the Florida-Alabama coastline and include communities in Levy, Dixie, Franklin, Santa Rosa and Escambia counties in Florida and Baldwin County in Alabama.