Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Stumberg/US Navy/Reuters
It’s our first oil volcano and its spilling black lava into the sea. I feel sad for the younger generations for mine and the one that came before have done so much to damage our environment. Sociologist Steven Picou at the University of South Alabama calls the Gulf oil leak a “monster catastrophe that boggles the mind.” Some believe that the pocket of oil that’s been hit is so powerful and under so much pressure that it may be virtually impossible to contain it. Many things are being proposed but no promises have been made.
BP said it was trying several options to control the leak without being sure they would work. Among plans under consideration for the gusher, BP is looking at cutting the riser pipe, which extends from the well, undersea and using larger piping to bring the gushing oil to a drill ship on the surface, a tactic considered difficult and less desirable because it will increase the flow of oil. That’s a scary option but at this point they are “trying anything people can think of” to stop the leak, said Ed Overton, a LSU professor of environmental studies.
The oil began washing up on beaches in thick blobs last weekend bringing a renewed sense of urgency as dime to golf ball sized balls of tar washed up Saturday on Dauphin Island, three miles off the Alabama mainland at the mouth of Mobile Bay. Initial reports were of only 1,000 barrels of oil a day (46,000 gallons) but now the estimates are up to almost 4,000 barrels a day (175,000 gallons) or more.
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration video, shot as officials coordinated response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, shows that federal officials almost immediately worried that the oil well could leak up to 110,000 barrels per day, or 4.6 million gallons. In one scene, officials say that the estimate for the leak in a worst-case scenario is between 65,000 and 100,000 barrels per day. A dry erase board on the wall reads “Estim: 64,000 to 110,000 bbls/day. CNN reported 300,000 gal/day.”
At that spill rate, 32 million gallons of oil would enter the Gulf every week. We were originally told that a thousand barrels of oil was leaking per day but now almost 20 days later we are told an estimated 3.5 million gallons has risen from the depths since the April 20 explosion that killed 11. Now two days later their estimates put out in the press are 4 million gallons.
If the wellhead is lost, oil could leave the well at a much greater rate, perhaps up to 150,000 barrels — or more than 6 million gallons per day — based on government data showing daily production at another deepwater Gulf well. By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spill was 11 million gallons total. The Gulf spill could end up dumping the equivalent of 4 Exxon Valdez spills per week.
Fears are growing of a prolonged environmental and economic disaster for the U.S. The projected westward spread of the massive slick, swelled by crude gushing unchecked from a ruptured BP-owned seabed well, has raised fears of an impact on rich fisheries areas filled with shrimps, oysters, crabs and crayfish, and even on major shipping channels off the Louisiana coast.
There is no doubt that this is a catastrophic event with catastrophic consequences. If the river of oil cannot be stopped the United States of America will be in real trouble as the oil makes its way around the gulf and then up the East Coast, which is where the Gulf Stream will eventually carry the oil. It sounds like already it’s going to be a total wipeout to the fishing industry in the Gulf and that really matters with world food stocks being so low.
Mike Adams said, “This is disastrous for both the seafood industry and the people whose livelihoods depend on it. It’s also devastating to the local wildlife which could begin to die off from petroleum toxicity. There’s no telling where this continuous stream of oil will end up and what damage it might cause. We cannot live without life in the oceans. Man is arrogant to drill so deeply into the belly of Mother Earth.” Adams is already talking about this as a life extinction event, and though it’s a little early to call or even utter such words this is a really serious event that will keep expanding if they don’t cap that well.
Seems like the Coast Guard early on had similar concerns.
(AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard) This image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Saturday April 24, 2010, shows oil leaking from the drill pipe of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig after it sank. A confidential government report on the unfolding spill disaster makes clear the Coast Guard feared the well could be on the verge of becoming an unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf.