As we touched on in yesterday’s blog, April’s horrible oil rig mishap off the Louisiana coast continues to pump hundreds of thousands of litres of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This devastating occurrence has been wreaking havoc on sealife among many other elements of the eco-system for two weeks now. It is being called the worst disaster of its kind in America.
The week after the spill began, Campbell Robertson and Leslie Kaufmann reported in The New York Times that the rate of the oil leaking into the water was much quicker than what was first anticipated. They wrote that “Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry of the Coast Guard said a scientist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had concluded that oil is leaking at the rate of 5,000 barrels a day, not 1,000 as had been estimated.”
The Admiral emphasized that the leak was taking place at 5,000 feet below the surface of the water, so the new estimate was based on observations of the oil slick developing at the surface. The now sunken rig has left huge masses of brown oil globs sitting atop the once blue ocean. The devastation taking place beneath those globs can only be imagined.
Other reports have confirmed that dead sealife have already begun to wash ashore beaches throughout Louisiana and Mississippi. This, of course, only brings back into focus how important it is to protect our environment. Many environmentalists are calling for the stoppage of off-shore oil drilling to prevent future tragedies such as the current crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.
Others are just hoping that some sort of stoppage to the leaking of oil can be made. In addition, many are anxious to know just how the cleanup process, which is being assumed by BP, the rig’s owners, will take place. Robertson and Kaufmann explained that, in part, a burning process will work to eliminate most of the oil in the water.
They write that “cleanup crews began conducting what is called an in-situ burn, a process that consists of corralling concentrated parts of the spill in a 500-foot-long fireproof boom, moving it to another location and burning it. It has been tested effectively on other spills, but weather and ecological concerns can complicate the procedure.”
For many people, this oil spill refurbishes memories of the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989. Taking place in Prince William Sound, Alaska, an oil tanker headed for Long Beach, California hit a reef causing more than 40 million litres of crude oil to spill out into the ocean. 2010’s oil spill is projected to eclipse that of the Exxon Valdez disaster.
At this point, it is difficult to determine just how long the so-called cleanup process will take. As we all know, an environmental disaster such as this one will leave behind its tragic effects for years to come.