When the burning rig sank on April 22, so too did the pipe connecting the rig to the 5,000-foot-deep (1,500-meter-deep) oil well. That bent, ruptured pipe is the source of the thousands of barrels still spewing daily into the Gulf.
Fireboats battle the blazing hulk of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in an exclusive picture taken in the Gulf of Mexico on April 22.
Remembering his air approach, U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Lim said in the new documentary (see a trailer), "I could see the glow of the burning rig at 90 miles [145 kilometers] away. I knew this was big … like seeing hell on Earth."
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig begins capsizing on April 22—a blow not only to its crew members but also to the teams that had fought for nearly two days to keep it afloat.
"When you lose a vessel, it’s a somber moment," salvage master Jim Waitt said in the Gulf Oil Spilldocumentary. "You feel the loss, you feel the failure.
"Unfortunately for us, we were fighting a losing battle from the start," he added. "Unless that oil was cut off, there wasn’t really too much anybody could have done to prevent the eventual outcome that we witnessed."