Okay, so unless you live under a rock, you should be well aware that we have a little problem in our Gulf. About five thousand barrels of oil has been spewing into the Gulf of Mexico on a daily basis since April 20th so far we have a grand estimate of 75,000 barrels or 3,150,000 gallons of oil, and just to bring this into perspective Florida used a total of 361,302,000 barrels of petroleum in 2007 alone; this oil spill could have fueled Floridas petroleum consumption for three days, and there is no end in sight.
Shockingly, the Deepwater Horizon rig is owned and operated by BP, a company that has prided itself on being among the more corporately responsible oil extraction companies. BP has placed a high emphasis on safety techniques over the past decade and focuses on Prevention, Preparation, and Performance. As of 2009, BP reported a decrease in the number of oil spills by 30% since the previous year, and a decrease in volume spilled over the same period of approximately 9 million gallons of oil. BP has stated that they will pay for the damages caused to the waters.
Sadly, oils spills arent unusual to U.S waters, or international waters for that matter. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that Hurricane Katrina caused oil spills in this region of 7.7 million gallons of oil, and in 1979, about 10,000 gallons of oil leaked into the same waters each day for almost a year in the IXTOC 1 Oil Well disaster.
So, how is this gunk cleaned up? Well, I know that kitty litter works in my garage, but I dont have oceanic conditions in my garage, so what are the clean up procedures for the oil spills that happen in our waters? BP has deployed boom, a barrier that repels oil; to keep the oil as far from shores as possible, over 70 vessels have been sent out to skim, collect, and recover as much oil as possible, and chemical dispersants are also being sprayed from airplanes to encourage the oil to break down faster, but none of these efforts are going to reverse the damage that has already been done to the surrounding eco-systems. As reported by Chris Kirkham in The Times-Picayune, Clean up crews have decidedly chosen to disregard potential damage to marine mammals in efforts to keep the spill from reaching shores. Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of the Gulf Restoration Network said, "In the end, all of the options require us to choose potential harm to marine species in hopes of saving impacts to species in our coastal wetlands and beaches."
BP are currently working to deploy a giant plug to try and stop the leak, but if those efforts fail, this oil spill could be worse than the Exxon-Valdez spill of 1989, which leaked 10.8 million gallons into The Prince William Sound.
If you would like to volunteer help to any organizations, please contact one of the following agencies:
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium (727)441-1790
The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary (727) 391-6211
Mote Aquarium (941) 388-4441
Save Our Seabirds Inc (941) 388-3010