Oil Spill in the Gulf still a worry
On April 20th this year a a semi-submersible exploratory offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded after a blowout and sank two days later, taking with it eleven lives and causing a significant oil spill threatening the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Since then the oil well leased and operated by British Petroleum has been spewing over 210000 gallons of oil a day into the surrounding seawater. BP has assured the public that they are doing everything in their power to stop the leak including the employment of an unprecedented piece of engineering aimed at sucking the oil from the source. If successful, BP says, the "pollution containment chamber" could reduce the underwater oil splurge by more than 80 percent and provide the first success in industry and government efforts to control the spill. The challenge however lies in the fact that the gushing well is 5000 feet below the surface a depth at which it is impossible for humans to get to. In terms of oil disasters this pales in comparison in some of the worst in history with the oil having to leak for years to match the disasters of Bay of Campeche in 1979 and Kuwait in 199. In the latter, more than 36 billion barrels of oil was dumped into the Persian Gulf by retreating Iraqi Forces as they fled Kuwait.
Oil leaks are extremely hazardous to the not only marine life but to the coastline as well often leading to irreparable damage none more so than the Exxon Valdezaccident of 1989, which contaminated 1,300 miles of largely untouched shoreline and killed tens of thousands of seabirds, otters and seals along with 250 eagles and 22 killer whales. The US coast guard has responded promptly to the spill and with the winds easing over the last few days, have been able to begin clean-up efforts. Individual groups have also begun combing the shoreline trying to save marine animals stuck in the oil. This disaster has drawn the ire of President Obama who’s plans to expand off shore drilling in the Atlantic as a means to cut down America’s dependence on Middle Eastern Oil has taken a considerable hit. At the same time he did acknowledge the deep impact this disaster would have on people living on the coast and in a deep dependence on the sea. He proposed that this economic damage could be alleviated somewhat by employing these people in the clean-up efforts and also assured the media that if proven guilty, BP would be held accountable for their error. BP is warding off allegations that they exceeded the limits of their drilling permit by over 2000 feet hence causing this disaster.