Thursday, April 29, 2010

Even Worse

 It's even worse than thought:
The estimated amount of oil leaking from a sunken rig in the Gulf of Mexico has increased to as much as 5,000 barrels a day—five times more than what was originally believed, a Coast Guard official said. Rear Adm. Mary Landry told reporters late Wednesday that the increased estimate is based on analysis from the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“This is not an exact science when you estimate the amount of oil,” Landry said, noting there are a lot of variables in calculating the rate of the spill.
“However, NOAA is telling me now that they prefer we use the 5,000 barrels [210,000 gallons] a day as an estimate of what has actually leaked from this well and will continue to leak until BP secures the source.”
If I am not mistaken the spill from the Exxon Valdez which released 10.8 million gallons was the worst so far. It too was in a ecologically sensitive area but if it takes weeks to seal this off, as they are guessing,  then we are looking at exceeding the disaster of the Exxon Valdez in less than a month. This is going to be a another tremendous catastrophe.

As I said in an earlier post,  this will have tremendous consequences for the wildlife, fishing, and tourist industries along the Gulf coast but of all of them the ecology of the region will suffer the most and will be devastated for decades. I don't think the average person realizes just how important the region is for the survival of a wide array of wildlife.  Most people probably visualize beaches covered in oil and concerned people with their bottles of Dawn cleaning up ducks and pelicans and while this will happen on some small scale  the complexity of the Gulf Coast and vast tidal wetlands will be impossible to protect and there is not even a remote chance of any but a small portion getting cleaned up. The big beaches will get repaired at a cost of millions and years worth of work but the thousands and thousands of miles of remote Gulf coast will be impacted for a century or more. Species like the brown pelican that just recently managed to make it off the endangered species list will be decimated.

If we see this play out as they are now predicting this will be a disaster of epic proportions which will cast a legacy of destruction and irrevocable harm over one of the most sensitive natural areas in the world. We may well see the extinction of dozens of species of birds, oysters, fish and other wildlife. Yet the powers that be want to double or triple the number of off shore drilling platforms which is pretty defines insane in my book.

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