Louisiana Oil Spill Now the Size of Rhode Island and Headed For Shore

April 27, 2010

(ChattahBox)—The sunken oil rig off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico is now oozing out crude oil at an estimated 42,000 gallons per day, threatening the sensitive ecosystems of the region, including a feeding ground for sperm whales. The oil slick is now larger than the State of Rhode Island and is headed for the shoreline during tourist season. The oil slick could make landfall in a few days. Because the oil well sits 5,000 feet below the surface, efforts using robots and remote-controlled submarines to cap off the leak have failed. The oil rig explosion, which caused 11 deaths and an environmental disaster in the making, has all the signs of becoming the worst spill since the Exxon Valdez.

The mobile oil rig, named Deepwater Horizon, leased by BP PLC and owned by Transocean Ltd., exploded on Tuesday and sunk into the Gulf waters on Thursday. On Saturday, crude oil began leaking at a rate of 1,000 barrels a day. The Deepwater Horizois known for boring the deepest oil and gas well in the world, at 35,050 feet. And as a consequence, the deep well is hampering cleanup efforts. According to a report in the LA Times, BP officials acknowledged any backup plans to stem the leak would take weeks. But the crude oil is expected to land on shore within days:

“The company was taking other steps to try to deal with the spill if the submarines prove ineffective. The company has filed permits with the federal government to drill new relief wells that could intersect with the original well and stop the leaking. Construction has also begun on a dome-like collection device that could be positioned over the leak to capture the oil, then send it through pipes to a barge on the surface. But oil company officials said that both of these solutions would take several weeks.”

Meanwhile, other steps are being taken to disperse the oil slick itself. Ayana McIntosh-Lee, a BP spokeswoman, told reporters that “skimming vessels were expected to begin removing the oil from the surface of the water, after choppy seas prevented them from doing so over the weekend. Airplanes have been spraying dispersing chemicals on the oil slick as well.”

In the wake of the disaster, questions are being raised about the safety records of the Deep Horizon’s operations. Families of missing workers, presumed dead, have already filed lawsuits against BP and Transocean Ltd., alleging negligence and a pattern of ignoring workplace safety over production. The Huffington Post uncovered numerous instances of both companies vigorously fighting against increased safety regulations, by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

“BP and TransOcean have also aggressively opposed new safety regulations proposed last year by a federal agency that oversees offshore drilling — which were prompted by a study that found many accidents in the industry.There were 41 deaths and 302 injuries out of 1,443 incidents from 2001 to 2007, according to the study conducted by the Minerals and Management Service of the Interior Department. In addition, the agency issued 150 reports over incidents of non-compliant production and drilling operations and determined there was “no discernible improvement by industry over the past 7 years.”

Photo Credit: CBS News/Edison Chouest Offshore


One Response to “Louisiana Oil Spill Now the Size of Rhode Island and Headed For Shore”

  1. Patricia Young on April 28th, 2010 12:54 pm

    I find it ironic that this happened on the 40th annual celebration of Earth Day, which was April 22, 2010.

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