"The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the largest and most complex our nation has ever confronted, more analogous to the challenges posed by Apollo 13 than the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989. It was complicated by the lack of human access to the Macondo wellhead, which was located 5,000 feet below the ocean surface and 45 miles offshore. We were fully dependent upon the use of remotely operated vehicles and remote sensors to access the well site to control the release of oil. The continuous discharge of oil from the well, from April 22 until July 15, 2010, did not result in a single monolithic spill, but rather thousands of smaller disconnected spills that repeatedly threatened and impacted the coastlines of all five Gulf Coast states. Additionally, we were challenged by the complexity of accurately measuring the volume of oil being discharged and responding to the continuous omnidirectional spread of the oil. Every day, for 87 days, we faced a major new oil spill. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is also the first incident in U.S. history to be declared a Spill of National Significance (SONS), and the first to designate a National Incident Commander (NIC). These first SONS and NIC designations have tested, under extreme conditions, the existing laws, regulations, policies, and procedures that govern oil spill response and the fundamental principles regarding the respective roles of responsible parties and federal, state, and local governments in oil spill response."
U.S. National Response Team: http://www.nrt.org/