WEEKLY MULCH: OIL SPILL COULD BRING MASS EXTINCTION TO GULF COAST

GREETINGS,

Weekly Mulch: Oil Spill Could Bring Mass Extinction to the Gulf Coast

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

A cap placed over a severed pipe is siphoning some oil from the broken BP well in the Gulf Coast, the company said today. The company’s CEO said this morning on CBS that it was possible that this fix could capture up to 90% of the oil, but that it will take 24 to 48 hours to understand how well this solution is working. Adm. Thad Allen, the former Coast Guard chief and oil spill incident commander, called the cap “only a temporary and partial fix.”

Despite the capping procedure, it became clear this week that the onrush of oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon rig will not cease any time soon. Even in the best case scenario, thousands of barrels of oil will still flow into the ocean. Destruction is already spreading along the Gulf Coast, and before the oil stops leaking, species might be extinct and industries destroyed.

In the coming months—it’s not clear how many—oil will continue to pollute the Gulf of Mexico. BP and the Obama administration are talking about August as the end of this crisis, but other experts have projected that the spill could last until Christmas.

As Justin Elliott reports for TPMMuckraker, BP told the government it could handle a spill much larger than this one. In the initial exploration plan for the well, BP claimed “it was prepared to respond to a blowout flowing at 300,000 barrels per day — as much as 25 times the rate of the current spill,” Elliott writes. BP cannot, it turns out, respond to a blowout flowing less than 20,000 barrels per day, and the consequences for the Gulf communities are only beginning to emerge. The first casualty will be Gulf ecosystem and its inhabitants. The second casualty will be the livelihood of Gulf communities that have depended on fish, shrimp, and oysters for survival.

How long?

In 1979, another company released torrents of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, in much shallower waters than where BP was drilling. As Rachel Slajda writes for TPMMuckeraker, the clean-up methods the oil industry relied on three decades ago are similar to the technology BP is trying now. The Ixtoc spill was comparatively easy to address; yet it still took 10 months to stop.

During that spill, the nearest state, Texas, had two months to prepare for the oil to hit shore, and still “1,421 birds were found with oiled feathers and feet,” Slajda writes. The fishing industry escaped much damage, but the tourism industry lost 7-10% of its business.

Dead fish

In Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and other states affected by this spill, fish, fowl, restaurateurs, and oystermen won’t get off easy. As Care2 reports, the National Wildlife Federation has already documented the deaths of more than 150 threatened or endangered sea turtles and of 316 seabirds (“mostly brown pelicans and northern gannets”).

And BP is trying to keep images of the animal victims away from the public. Julia Whitty, reporting from Louisiana, writes for Mother Jones:……HERE IS MORE

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