Monday, November 15, 2010

The Oil Spill Six Months Later

With the rising demands for oil and the shrinking reserve, the oil industry has move drilling from the shallow rigs to deep water. One of the problems is that clean up methods have not been keeping pace with technology. Since 1969 there have been ten platform spills including Deepwater Horizon. The federal agency, Minerals Management Service, that regulates off shore drilling claimed that there was less that one percent chance of a blowout.

Then, on April 20, 2010 the 9 year old semi-submersible Deepwater Horizon drilling rig leased to BP exploded after fail-safe blowout preventer allowed methane gas to spewed out of the drilling column. Eleven platform workers were killed and 17 others were injured. Many of BP's decisions have been brought into question. Decisions like having one long pipe, or the decision to have only six centralizers instead of 21 when there were indications that the well wasn't stable. They [BP] underestimated the worst-case spill and listed a marine biologist that had been dead for years as an emergency responder. Poor decisions don't start there, if you look at BP's history you will find that after the merger with Amaco and ARCO BP forced experienced workers into early retirement. All of these factors added up to their bumbling the worst oil spill in history.

For three months 4.9 million barrels of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico from the sea floor. Skimmers were brought in along with local shrimp boats that corralled the oil on the surface and ignited it with homemade napalm. It is estimated that BP only cleaned up a quarter of the oil. The oil that has fallen to the bottom in the Louisiana marshes will not be broken down and can debase the environment for decades.

On July 15 the well was capped. Five months after the explosion the federal government declared the well "effectively dead." Since that time this disaster has moved to the back pages. We cannot forget the tremendous devastation that has resulted from this incident. There has been damage to the marine life, to tourism, the fishing industry, and the oil industry. As a resident of South Mississippi, I fear these issues are being swept under the rug. I have heard stories from friends on the coast of cover ups by BP employees, to mask the scope of devastation and present an inaccurate picture of the clean up efforts to government officials.

Even if you haven't been directly affected by the oil spill, it is our responsibility to know what's happening. To keep up to date on the clean up efforts and the effects on our environment check out the following sites.

The Audubon's Oil Spill Videos Huffington Post Sea Turtles of the Gulf Oil Spill from Nov 9, 2010 The Daily Green Sea Turtles Threatened article National Public Radio Oil Spill Investigation Posted Nov 8, 2010

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