Sunday, 30 January 2011

Officials Prepare to Burn Growing Oil Slick in Gulf of Mexico

What was originally believed to be a manageable oil spill is growing daily into a very large environmental disaster, leaving the Coast Guard and other agencies scrambling to try to stop the spewing oil. So far, robotic submarines have been unable to shut off the damaged well nearly a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to the depths and the spewing oil, teams are battling weather issues in the area.

While that effort is continuing, teams on the surface are trying desperately to corral the growing oil slick and contain the damage as much as possible. The Coast Guard announced that it may begin setting fire to the most dense areas of the surface slick as early as today. It is believed that setting fire to the oil is the best way to minimize the environmental impact of the spill, although it will admittedly cause significant air pollution in the form of thick oil smoke from the fires. The technique has proven successful in the past, but not necessarily in the conditions faced in this instance in the Gulf of Mexico.

Prevailing winds and weather patterns indicate that the slick is headed for the shores of Louisiana and Mississippi and possibly other beaches as well. If and when the slick reaches lands, it will become an immediate problem for indigenous species of birds and plant life. A spill of this magnitude reaching land would also be devastating for the tourist industry that relies on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.

"This is the worst possible thing that could happen to the Mississippi Gulf Coast," said Louis Skrmetta, 54, who runs a company called Ship Island Excursions in the Gulf. "It will wipe out the oyster industry. Shrimping wouldn't recover for years. It would kill family tourism. That's our livelihood."

By Buzzle Staff and Agencies
Published: 4/28/2010