After oil rig explosion, leaking crude threatens Gulf of Mexico

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
April 26, 2010



Just weeks after a Chinese coal barge rammed the Great Barrier Reef, cutting a nearly two-mile swath through the reef and spilling three tons of engine fuel, fragile marine ecosystems are again threatened. Last Tuesday a BP oil rig platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, likely killing eleven workers. The blast also left oil leaking from the drill hole estimated at 42,000 gallons (or 1,000 barrels) of oil per day.

While officials are scrambling to stop the leak, fears have risen that the leaking oil could reach the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida within a few days, threatening coastal marshes, beaches, and islands.

"I don't think anybody knows with confidence what the effects will be. We've never seen anything like this magnitude," George Crozier, executive director at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, told the Washington Post .

Officials at first stated that oil was not leaking from the drill hole, however that statement changed after a few days. Yesterday a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) was sent to plug the leak, but failed. Several others are en-route.

Important fishing grounds, the Gulf of Mexico is also home to sea birds, dolphins, coral reefs, and even alligators.

If emergency efforts to stop the leak over the next few days fail, officials estimate it could take over a month to stop the oil spill.

Last month, US President Barack Obama announced a new plan to open up offshore drilling along the northern coast of Alaska, the Atlantic coast, and the Gulf of Mexico, essentially opening up millions of acres that had long been off the table to oil interests. While applauded by some Republicans and the oil industry, the plan was vigorously opposed by most environmental organizations and some coastal governors and senators.







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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (April 26, 2010).

After oil rig explosion, leaking crude threatens Gulf of Mexico.

http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0427-hance_oil_spill.html