The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is on the forefront of many American’s minds as we are closing in on the third week of the disaster. Unfortunately, much of the attention that the spill is garnering is political in nature, rather than environmental and economical, as it should be. Even before this horrible event occurred, the political world was broken up into two parts, those who think offshore drilling is a great idea and those who are against it. Furthermore, the government has been under a lot of pressure from environmentalists to stop the drilling, which is largely ineffectual, unless you count superficial statements as progress. I do not. Because this spill is the perfect opportunity to highlight the environmentally sane side of issue and bash the oil addicted side of it, this oil spill has caused a political carnival. It seems like politicians are gunning for voters by jumping on the safe side of this issue faster than they are coming up with solutions to the obvious problem. Speaking of the problem, here are some facts about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, without any of the “this politician said that” commotion.
The 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was caused by an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oilrig. The explosion occurred on April 20, 2010. The oilrig sank on April 22, 2010, causing massive amounts of oil to begin leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.
Eleven workers who were on the Deepwater Horizon were presumably killed in the explosion (they have yet to be found). Another seventeen workers were injured. That is not to mention the countless numbers of animals and organisms that have been and will be killed or injured over the next days, weeks, months and possibly even years.
The Deepwater Horizon was owned by Transocean Ltd. However, it was leased by a British energy company, known as BP. BP, not Transocean Ltd., will presumably be held responsible for the cleanup costs of the oil spill.
The Deepwater Horizon was worth more than 560 million dollars. The cost to clean up the mess BP’s rig made has been estimated at 12.5 billion dollars. BP has stated that they will pay all costs. Unfortunately, for those of us who care about the environment, this statement covers only monetary costs. It is doubtful that there will be any attempts to replenish the ecosystems that will undoubtedly be crippled by the spill. Sure, animal rescues and cleanup will be underway, but what about the inevitable diminished population of creatures in the area?
When the 2010 BP oil leak first occurred, it was estimated that roughly 1,000 barrels of crude oil were leaking into the ocean per day. The estimate has risen and is currently 5,000 barrels a day. That is roughly 210,000 gallons per day.
The spill occurred some fifty miles off the coast of Venice, Louisiana. How much oil, when and where, will wash ashore is currently unknown. As of now, oil is seeping into the wetlands of Louisiana. BP is saying that it may be months before the oil is contained. Who knows how many animals and people will be affected by then?
Various organizations are currently working on keeping the oil as contained as possible. Methods in use include dispersants and skimmers. However, the oil is leaking under 5,000 feet of water. These methods may not prove to be as useful in this situation as they have been in others. At this point, all we can do is hope that a few competent people can stem this disaster before the Gulf of Mexico has yet another “dead zone.”
The New Economy, BP oil spill 2010: How much will it cost?, retrieved 5/5/10, csmonitor.com/Money/new-economy/2010/0503/BP-oil-spill-2010-how-much-will-it-cost
Reuters: Gulf of Mexico oil spill timeline, retrieved 5/5/10, telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsby sector/energy/7677198/Gulf-of-Mexico-oil-spill-timeline.html
BBC News, Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico in maps and graphics, retrieved 5/5/10, news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/51333.stm