Sunken Oil Rig Raises Fears of Environmental Disaster in Gulf
April 23, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-For days, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burned while rescuers searched in vain for 11 missing workers. Finally on Thursday the fire was extinguished, after the rig off the coast of Louisiana, sunk into the ocean taking all of its crude oil with it. Underwater robots equipped with video cameras were monitoring the oil rig yesterday and so far, it doesn’t seem to be gushing out crude oil as feared. But visible yesterday, was a 1-mile-by-5-mile layer of oil shimmering on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.
In the worst case scenario, 336,000 gallons of crude oil per day, could leak from the rig, destroyed by the blast, harming the delicate ecosystems of Louisiana and Mississippi. Of particular concern, are fragile coastal wetlands, which provide nurseries for fish and shrimp and a habitat for birds. The area is also home to a pod of sperm whales, which feeds near the oil rig.
According to the Houston Chronicle, BP PLC, the firm that leased the rig, is coordinating a major response to a potential oil spill that could reach the shore, causing an environmental disaster similar to the Exxon Valdez in Alaska:
“BP PLC, which leased the rig and took the lead in the cleanup, said Friday it has “activated an extensive oil spill response,” including using remotely operated vehicles to assess the subsea well and 32 vessels to mop up the spill. BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward said the company will do “everything in our power to contain this oil spill and resolve the situation as rapidly, safely and effectively as possible.” He says the company can call on more resources if needed.”
“Ed Overton, an LSU environmental sciences professor, said he expects some of the light crude oil to evaporate while much of it turns into a pasty mess called a “chocolate mousse” that ultimately breaks apart into “tar balls,” small chunks of oily residue that can wash ashore. “It’s going to be a god-awful mess for a while,” he said. “I’m not crying doomsday or saying the sky is falling, but that is the potential.”‘
Meanwhile, the lawsuits have already been filed. Family members of two missing crew members workers filed lawsuits against the owner of the rig, Transocean and BP of negligence. The 11 missing workers are presumed dead.
Photo Source: BBC