Thursday, 27 January 2011

Have We Forgotten the Gulf Oil Spill Disaster? A Few Notes on the Oil Spill Clean Up Efforts

The Gulf oil spill disaster is the worst in the history of the world. Media coverage was heavy at the outset, but lately I find less and less coverage by the major networks and newspapers. It's hard to tell if public interest has waned, or if it's now become politically incorrect, given that the oil spill clean up efforts on the part of both BP and our government has been less than efficient and quick. The magnitude of this oil spill surpasses the impact of almost any other environmental disaster. Recent reports indicate that the amount of oil has been grossly underreported. Now, we find that in reality, the figure is 10-12 times higher than previously thought: a total of 4.8 million barrels of oil have polluted the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
When the oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded, 11 people were killed. In an investigative piece, '60 minutes' discovered that a key piece of security equipment aboard the rig had failed. BP executives toured the rig just hours before the explosion. Although informed of the equipment failure, the crew was told to continue?and speed up - work, as they were behind schedule. With such an irresponsible, profit-oriented response, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that the ensuing oil spill clean up efforts have been, at best, too little and too late.
The impact has been monstrous. The fishing industry in the Gulf has been virtually destroyed. Fish, shellfish, turtles, dolphins and birds have been poisoned.
During the hurricane season, the warmer the water, the fiercer the hurricane becomes. With the volcanic mud bed of the Gulf, the pressure from the earth's magma against the leaking well threatens with a methane explosion that would reshape the entire Gulf and adjoining states and islands. This also causes an increase in the water temperature that results in horrific climate changes and increased hurricane force.
The sea life and coral reefs in the area may be now decimated. The pollution of the public water supply in the region has already been established. The oil has also shown up in the rainfall. Get out your atlas and take a look at the water currents that circle the globe. How will this 4.8 million barrels of oil eventually be distributed? It's unclear what the long term effects might be. While politicians and BP executives have bickered over legalities, the oil spill clean up efforts are now being downplayed in the major media.
Here's just one example of the attention given to political issues, at the expense of a rapid and efficient oil spill clean up effort: the U.S. received international offers to send oil skimmers, which are oil spill clean up ships, with a capacity of skimming up to 500,000 gallons of oil a day. Those offers were refused.
Now, there are reports of many people, who worked on the oil spill clean up effort, or live in the immediate area, now are suffering from unexplained internal bleeding. Some medical experts attribute this bleeding to be the result of poisoning from the various chemicals in the oil dispersants.
The entire effort, from the oil spill containment, management, and response, must be characterized as unconscionably incompetent. There is probably not a single factor in the ecosystem that has not been affected. This disaster is likely to impact the world for decades. There's no question that the oil spill clean up has already failed. This disaster cannot be undone.
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