BP Oil Disaster Is Not A Spill. More Like A Catastrophe.

BP Oil Disaster Clean Up Efforts

BP Oil Disaster Clean Up Efforts

When the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 people and injuring 17 others, it began a massive disgorgement of oil.  A full two months later, the oil continues to surge into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate that BP estimates of up to 100,000 barrels per day.

This disaster was and continues to be no ordinary oil “spill” or “leak.” A “spill” is something that happens on your kitchen floor and is easily mopped up and dried, or when a ship wrecks and dumps a certain amount of oil. A “leak” is what happens under your bathroom sink, remedied with some duct tape or at worst, a call to the local plumber. A “leak” may also be small amounts of oil that trickle from underwater oil pipelines. 

What is happening in the Gulf is nothing short of catastrophic.  An ecological “game-changer.”

Current estimates place the amount of oil that has flooded into the Gulf at more than 100 million gallons to date, and perhaps three times that amount – a staggering figure that makes the Exxon Valdez disaster (a total of 11 million gallons of crude) pale in comparison. Until now, the Valdez “spill” was widely known as the largest in U.S. history. By the time the flow is stopped, the catastrophe in the Gulf may well constitute the largest oil disaster in the hemisphere, and perhaps the world.

The evolution of the Gulf Loop Current from a strong downstream delivery phase on May 7 to a cutoff eddy phase on June 11, temporarily detaining oil pollution. Credit: NWS.

The endlessly expanding oil slick – which continues to spread far beyond the immediate area of the well, propelled by the Gulf Loop Current – covers thousands of square miles and has created underwater plumes that have proven exceedingly difficult to measure, let alone contain. 

Large amounts of oil have been sucked into the large eddy that formed from the northern part of the Loop Current, fated to drift northwestward towards Texas.  Only the chance development of this eddy on June 1 prevented oil pollution from reaching as far downcurrent as northern Cuba, Florida and beyond.

Only time will tell the final measure of this catastrophic blowout,  and its lasting damage to wildlife, the Gulf environment, fisheries and the regional and national economies.

But this much we can say: Characterizing what’s happening in the Gulf as a “spill” is like calling Hurricane Katrina a “shower.”

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3 Comments

  1. Posted July 1, 2010 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Obama told America that if we can win WWII and put a man on the moon, we can plug this leak and solve our dependency on fossil fuels.

    But there's a missing piece: the soldiers in WWII had the Pentagon and Neil Armstrong had NASA. What's the man on the street supposed to do to solve the fossil fuel problem? Is it time for an organized, funded effort? One that will prevent crises like the spill from happening while figuring out a way to get off of fossil fuel?

    The following link is to a satirical video, but it underscores this issue in real terms.

    Link: You're Soaking In It

  2. Second_of_7
    Posted July 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    At a rate of 100,000 barrels (4,200,000 gallons) a day gushy uncontrollably from the BP (Big Pigs) well a mile under the Gulf of Mexico waters about 40 miles off our shores. At day 75 I figure that 7,500,000 barrells (315,000,000 gallons) have filled the waters. Just in fines alone of $4,300.00 per barrel (based on government set fines), BP owes the American people $32,250,000,000 (Thirty Two Billion Two Hundred and Fifty Million) dollars to date and growing. Plus, based on the cost of the Exxon Valdez spill of 10 million gallons or about 239,000 barrels and adjusting for gas inflation rate of about 3X from 1989 when Valdez spill occurred. I figure that BP owes 18 billion dollars for every 10 million gallons they spill into our waters. So the formula is 315 million gallons divided by 10 = 31.5 (times the size of Valdez spill) times $18 Billion (cost per 10 million gallons for clean-up) = $567,000,000,000 (Five Hundred and Sixty Seven Billion Dollars). So that coupled with their fines, they owe us $599.25 Billion dollars. The sad thing about that figure is that the people, wild-life, the plant-life, the land and water they have murdered can never be fixed or brought back to life. History tells us that these people don't follow the law, they lie, they cheat, they steal, they kill, they destroy… The board of BP need to be arrested NOW!!! BP assets need to be frozen NOW!!! As we speak BP has an army of accountants hiding assets so they do not have to honor anything. The money they have thrown at this Armageddon Catastrophe is a piss in the Gulf of Mexico (literally). England needs to take responsibility for their corporation, David Cameron and the queen need to climb out from the rocks they are hiding under and take responsibility….NOW!!! Before they get away…All people need to stand up and demand they pay for their crimes. Scream it from the roof-tops.
    Second_of_7

  3. Posted July 9, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    We don't seem to be the same people who rose to the occasion in the Depression and war effort. Our Federal government certainly isn't. All our agencies and branches have devolved into complete dysfunction. Congress couldn't right a good bill if their life depended on it and none of our agencies seem to be able to respond to any crisis with any efficiency, effectiveness or even a sense of urgency.

    And too few people seem willing to change. I don't even see any more people refusing plastic shopping bags when I shop or using fewer plastic bottles than before this happened. And they still drive round and round the parking lot wasting fuel looking for the closest possible place to park. If people can't even make these simple changes, then I doubt they'll do much else.