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The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is going from bad to worse. It seems only a week ago that we were told the mess wasn't all that bad, but now that oil is leaking out at a rate about five time faster than expected – up to 5,000 barrels of oil a day from three different leaks about a mile underwater – a lot of government officials like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and President Barack Obama are pushing for big help, fast. Jindal declared a state of emergency and the feds have sent a lot of ships and other resources to collect or burn as much of the oil as possible. The U.S. military is also involved in the clean up. Time is of the essence, since the spilled oil is making its way to the coast. The first mess is supposed to hit shore some time tonight. What are the dangers of the spill? Wildlife is obviously going to be affected, and that means fisherman could be in trouble, too.

What might the burning look like? NPR phrases it this way:
Crews turned to a plan to burn some of the oil after failing to stop the leak at the spot where the platform exploded and sank. A 500-foot boom was to be used to corral several thousand gallons of the thickest oil on the surface, which would then be towed to a more remote area, set on fire and allowed to burn for about an hour.
BP, the oil giant, is responsible for paying for the clean up because the company was leasing the Deepwater Horizon, the oil rig that sank after an explosion on board. The costs could top a billion dollars. That's not a whole bunch for BP, which had a net profit of $5.6 billion this past quarter.

Even with all of the clean up crews and ideas in the Gulf area, if we're really dealing with 5,000 barrels a day entering the ecosystem, it's one heck of a problem. As NPR's Wade Goodwyn put it:
There's no stopping this from coming ashore everywhere, and if it's going to be weeks of oil spilling out of this well before they can get it stopped, this could turn into quite an impressive mess.
To compare, the Exxon Valdez spilled 257,000 barrels of oil back in 1989. Thanks to James R. for the tip!

[Source: NPR, Yahoo | Image of California beach: ingridtaylar - C.C. License 2.0]


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  • 39 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yes, the oil spill is totally nasty -- the fishermen and resort folks are freaking. It is in one of the two blue fin tuna and sperm whale breeding grounds -- both are endangered species. Then there are the sea turtles, and 100's of other species of birds, fish, coral, etc. Very sad, and it will get worse.

      And, two more coalminers died, in Kentucky this time.

      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126392581

      Never mind the black lung deaths.

      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126021059

      We need to change how we get our energy, folks!

      Neil
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, nobody knows how much is actually leaking. The 5,000 number is an estimate based upon the measurements of the surface oil.

        The safety valve near the bottom hasn't been able to be closed. The experts expect that it will take at least 3 months, probably longer, before secondary bores can be drilled to plug up the leaking one with concrete and such.

        The type of oil in this deposit is thick, mixes relatively well with water, and as a result, it is more difficult to skim, burn, disburse or metabolize with bacteria.

        And, of course, hurricane season officially starts in June, but bad storms can develop whenever conditions are favorable. The choppy seas they already have make the booms largely useless.

        I've always wondered about the safety of these floating rigs. I was horrified a year or so ago when I first read about them. It seemed so ridiculously unstable, because the ocean is far more powerful than any tethers and floats and ballast tanks we can make. Even in this case, where the weather and waves were not a factor, a machine failure and/or human error destabilizes the whole thing. I was shocked that these things even exist. They really shouldn't. There is no safety tech to make these things "safer." As long as these things are floating on the ocean, it's a gamble.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Damn.. that's horrible.

        This could be close to the Exxon-Valdez affair.. not in terms of spill volume, but by the amount of crap affected by it.

        What we need is a football field sized coffee filter.. problem solved!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nep... We do not know how much oil will be spilled into the Gulf. It is not like their is container holding a certain amount of oil in a vessel. It could spew 5000 barrels or more each day for three months, maybe longer. These are uncharted oily waters that are being navigated for the first time. This may make the Prince Williams Sound/ Exxon Valdez spill look like a mud puddle compared to a Olympic size swimming pool. I hope not. We do not know for sure how much oil is escaping per day I imagine it is hard to tell by the size of the oil slick.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder if a full investigation will be done, to see if the rig was run and maintained properly....so far BP seems to be responding appropriately, but I wonder if all the necessary safety measures were in place before the explosion....sure hope so...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I saw on Discovery channel tonight that the emergency valves that were supposed to close didn't, and they were inspected only a few weeks ago.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let's at least hope all the sh&t ends up in Texas and in front GWB's front doorstep. Oh how nice that would be....and all the aholes with SUVs thinking they are cool.

      If only people felt the consequences of their actions....none of them would be huffing and puffing about how entitled they are to have everything they think they deserve to have.
        • 5 Months Ago
        "That is what happens when another country has your balls in a sack."

        I think between China and the mideast, those countries have America's balls in a vice. I'm going to do my part to get off fossil fuels. My next car will be an EV and I'm going to contact my utility company to see how much electricity I can get from renewables.
        • 5 Months Ago
        "W" lives in Plano, a suburb of Dallas. And he has a home in Midland/Odessa as well. Oil spills won't affect him and rightly so. I never voted for him (or any Republican) but he did the best he could with that psycho Cheney hovering around all the time. He is the first Republican president to make it clear and simple for the American people: We are addicted to oil. When the President of The United States visits Saudi Arabia we have absolutely zero pull or influence and the President is basically eating crow. That is what happens when another country has your balls in a sack.

        If you like that the Saudi's call the shots here in America then just keep using all the oil and gasoline you want. But if you do not approve of that then buy an electric car, electric motorcycle, scooter, bicycle etc., -OR- buy a flex fuel vehicle and run it on E85 at least half the time (more if you can).

        I call on all Americans to get off of foreign oil by 2015. We can do this. The American people will not stand for foreign dictators and potentates to tell us how to live. Let's do this.
        • 5 Months Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yesterday my solar panels made 35 KWH of electricity, and my electric car used 12.5 KWH. I don't have a number for what the house used, but I didn't run the heat of AC, so most likely it was low enough that I had a net energy positive day.

      It's going to be sunny again today.

      We don't have to burn oil and coal. We don't need some new, pie in the sky technology like carbon sequestration or nuclear fusion. We can do it right now, with what we have available right now.

      Yes, it will cost a little more money. My opinion on that:

      "Only when the last tree has died
      The last river has been poisoned
      The last fish has been caught
      Will we realize that we can't eat money"
        • 5 Months Ago
        A-men, brother! Pass the hat...
      • 5 Years Ago
      BP? Should be FBP! Failed Blowout Prevention... Valve. BP=Biological Pollution.

      Two fishermen companies are suing BP for 5 million dollars each.

      The drilling is so far down they can't readily work on it. Perhaps they should let them drill closer to land where it is more shallow, they could shut it off easier, I suppose it would make land fall sooner. The US Navy is watching BP to make sure they clean it up right. BP must pay for everything so the Navy just watches. Ain't technology grand. We have the technology to do deep water drilling. We just don't have the technology to shut it off if something goes wrong.

      How much of this goes on that we never hear about?
        • 5 Months Ago
        EV:

        When the laws are made by corrupt politicians whose pockets are lined by companies like BP and Halliburton, BP couldn't give a rat's a$$ about the environment or who sues them.

        They make so much money that suing them and any losses incurred due to problems like these are chump change for them. They'll absorb the losses in less than a few days in one quarter's profits.

        Couple the corrupt politicians with a general public who doesn't give a sh^t either, and this is what you end up with.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Exactly.

        How often are decisions like these made? More than anyone really wants to know.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @Matt who says "This week is the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. "

      Let me commend you on your cursory viewing of wikipedia. Applause all around. Now let me help you pull your head out of your ass.

      The Chernobyl reactor had NO containment vessel to protect against such an explosion. The US, Europe and Asia never, I repeat NEVER, had a reactor designed like that. The steam explosion at Chernobyl occurred during a test of the reactor when most of the safety equipment was disabled. The reactor did not explode as in a nuclear bomb. Steam pressure built up too much and burst the top off the reactor. It released a lot of radioactive material and many people died. But the problem was in the design, construction and operation of the reactor, once the largest nuclear power plant in the world. The soviets knew there were problems, years before the disaster, as recently declassified soviet documents show:

      "On February 21, 1979, when he was still head of the KGB, the former General Secretary of the Communist Party, Yuri Andropov, had warned the party's central committee about potential problems at Chernobyl.

      In a report titled "Deficiencies in the Construction of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant," a document marked "top secret," Andropov described violations of construction specifications "that could lead to technical failures and accidents." According to the report, safety procedures at the plant were not being observed, leading to 170 worker accidents within a span of only nine months."
      (source: http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,411684-2,00.html )

      The Chernobyl tragedy, however, can never happen here in the US. Our reactor designs (current plants are Gen II) were always more advanced and safer than Russian designs. The Gen III and Gen III+ designs that are going through approvals are far safer than any reactor we have now. Nuclear power plants will be an important part of our energy picture.
      (refer to: http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter7.html )

      For every nuclear power plant that ignorant thinking like yours halts or prevents, 2 or 3 coal plants need to be built. So you may be well meaning but you are functioning as a tool of the dirtiest industry in the world, the coal industry.

      Some day I'd like to hope that all our energy needs will be met with solar and wind energy. It will take decades to completely switch over to renewables. In the mean time energy demands keep going up each year and new power plants need to be built. Will you choose coal plants or nuclear power plants. I vote nuke.
      ( refer to: http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/the_lesser_evil_nuclear_or_coal/ )
      • 5 Years Ago
      DRILL BABY DRrrrr... oh, maybe that's not such a great idea

      Amazing how the total cleanup is projected to cost a quarter of one quarter of BP's profit. I hope BP is made to pay for all government spending and all lost productivity (reduced tourist traffic, contaminated fisheries, etc.)

      Hopefully, we will get stricter regulations of offshore drilling to prevent this from happening to America again... and hopefully we can wean ourselves off oil altogether...
        • 5 Years Ago
        SPILL BABY SPILL
        lasertekk
        • 5 Years Ago
        More like 'spill, baby, spill'.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is horrible. No matter what one politics are they can see that this is a GREAT reason to move away from offshore drilling and oil in general.

        Even putting CO2 aside, this a clear, real-time, disastrous environmental calamity.

        And we want to put more of these in the Gulf and around our other pristine coastlines?

        Sadly, even President Obama supports this crap. Between the horrors of mining coal and offshore drilling, there are great reasons (that have nothing to do with Climate Change) to avoid these practices.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hopefully this will be more motivation for BP to go 'beyond petroleum'...

      BA DOOM PSH!!!! Thanks.. i'll be here all night. Try the fish.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wonder how this will effect prices at the tank. My bet is that BP will find a way to pass the cost on to the consumer.
        • 5 Years Ago
        At the pump, rather.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It won't change the cost at the pump right now. That rig wasn't really producing oil, it was drilling exploratory wells. But the loss of that rig and the reduced drilling that may follow may affect prices a little bit later but not much.

        However, oil prices are still going to go up, up, up over the next 5 years due to demand exceeding the amount of oil that can be produced.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a mess... I hope people will learn their lessons and abandon these type of dirty (sic) energy sources. Wind, solar, second and third generation biofuels and small hydro are the way to go forward.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is creating a huge mess , Water is getting so much polluted . Lot of money and resources being used to clean up ...strange !!!

      Save fuel http://community.ecoanswers.com/search?q=fuel
      • 5 Years Ago
      "This present disaster is courtesy of BRITISH Petroleum - not an American company - which bears full responsibility.

      BP's "Deepwater Horizon" oil rig explosion and massive spill will be a nail in big oil's coffin. The vastness of this disaster (11 men killed, billions in eco-damage) will provide more non-climate-related pressure to transition to low carbon energy.

      The added cost of insuring deep water drilling will drive cost per barrel well beyond the present $85 fix. Unless oil is willing to pay for insurance out of their own pocket - which we have yet to see.

      38 coal miners killed in Kentucky, and 11 on the BP oil rig - looks like an irrefutable argument against fossil monopolies."

      Sulleny
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