2. BP: Gulf of Mexico Disaster (2010)
What happened? An burst pipe at a BP oil rig leaked 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico causing massive pollution, harm to wildlife and harm to local fishing industries across an area larger than the size of England & Wales combined.
What did BP do about it? Well they footed the bill for the cleanup, including buying 1,000,000 gallons, or one third of the world’s supply of Corexit, a chemical dispersant. Unfortunately it turned out that Corexit raised the toxicity of the Gulf of Mexico 52 times. However, they also established the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), a $20 billion fund to handle claims resulting from the disaster. They also agreed to pay $4.5 billion in fines and other payments.
Who came out on top in the end? No one, although it could be argued that the Nalco Holding Company made some decent sales in Corexit as well as being able to conclusively test the fact that it shouldn’t be used.