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From Valdez to BP: Louisianans Kicked While They're Down

Across America, oil spills have wrought havoc on our land, wildlife, and the health of our families and communities. March 24 and April 20 represent the anniversaries of the worst oil spills in U.S. history, the Exxon Valdez and the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, respectively. Together, these events dumped more than 5.65 million barrels of dirty oil in U.S. waters.

In light of this toxic anniversary, the Sierra Club presents a three-week look at oil companies' poisonous legacy across our nation.

D11 - Oilslick Breton Sound Post-Katrina - NOAA                          Oil slick in Breton Sound, Louisiana. Photo credit: NOAA

In a further blow to an area already dealing with its share of hardships from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 540 separate oil spills were found to have occurred, totalling approximately eleven million gallons. The spillage came from industrial plants, storage depots and other facilities around southeast Louisiana.

Working for nearly three weeks at search and rescue operations following the destruction of Katrina, the Coast Guard and other agencies were unable to respond for some time to environmental problems. The spilled oil, mixing with overflowed sewage, chemicals, and other pollutants created an environmental and health disaster right in the middle of residents' already devastated communities.

Five years later, the region continued to deal with the hurricane-related spills and assessing damage to natural resources, wildlife, public health, and tourism, when the BP Deepwater Horizon exploded, releasing 206 million gallons of oil into the still-recovering Gulf.


--By Claire Price, Lands Team Intern

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