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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