Environmental Catastrophe: Gulf Oil Slick Reaches Shore

April 30, 2010

(ChattahBox)—What a mess. The sunken oil rig off the coast of Louisiana is now leaking more than 200,000 gallons a day into the delicate ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico, which is five times the previous claim of 42,000 gallons. And with all efforts to contain the oil spill and cap off the well, failing, the crude oil has crept into the Louisiana marshlands and has reportedly reached the shoreline of the Mississippi Delta, placing wildlife at risk. Worse, with bad weather forecast for the next two-days, containment efforts to combat the oil spill will be curtailed.

On Thursday President Obama, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a major federal response to deal with “a spill of national significance.” BP, the oil company leasing the Deepwater Horizon rig, that’s responsible for the costs of the cleanup, welcomed federal help. “To be frank, the offer of help from all quarters is welcome,” said David Nicholas, a BP spokesman.

The NY Times outlined the extent of the federal response, including Naval help and the opening up of additional command centers in the Gulf region:

“Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the creation of a second command post in Mobile, Ala., in addition to the one in Louisiana, to manage potential coastal impact in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.” And “Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered an immediate review of the 30 offshore drilling rigs and 47 production platforms operating in the deepwater Gulf, and is sending teams to conduct on-site inspections.”

“The Navy provided 50 contractors, 7 skimming systems and 66,000 feet of inflatable containment boom, a spokesman said. About 210,000 feet of boom had been laid down to protect the shoreline in several places along the Gulf Coast, though experts said that marshlands presented a far more daunting cleaning challenge than sandy beaches.”

Meanwhile, the lawsuits have begun pouring in from families of the victims of the explosion, which left 11 dead. And BP has been quick to point the finger at the owner of the oil rig, Transocean Ltd., as the responsible party for the failed the blowout preventer.

And the political implications from the spill can’t be overlooked in the wake of President Obama’s recent announcement of the expansion of offshore oil drilling. Drilling in the Gulf has now been halted and the White House, suggested yesterday that the oil spill disaster would have an impact, going forward, on any plans to expand offshore drilling:

Carol M. Browner, the White House coordinator of energy and climate policy, was quick to point out yesterday, that Obama’s expansion plans were preliminary. “That is the beginning of a process,” she said. “What is occurring now will also be taken into consideration.”

The current rate of the spill could ultimately end up to be worse than the Exxon Valdez, which dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

See The NY Times for more.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Handout


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