The Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 22, 2010 may become nothing less than profound. While its impact to the environment seems assured, its impact
to social and political institutions may be just as significant...
Lawyers flock to Gulf Coast for oil spill lawsuits
This is an EPIC disaster in slow motion.
It may also become the legacy most remembered by our decendants.
Let's see how:
This oil spill 'the bad one': recipe for disaster
What makes an oil spill really bad? Most of the ingredients for it are now blending in the Gulf of Mexico.
Experts tick off the essentials: A relentless flow of oil from under the sea; a type of crude that mixes easily with water; a resultant gooey
mixture that is hard to burn and even harder to clean; water that's home to vulnerable spawning grounds for new life; and a coastline with
Gulf Coast experts have always talked about "the potential for a bad one," said Wes Tunnell, coastal ecology and oil spill expert at Texas A&M
"And this is the bad one. This is just a biggie that finally happened."
So how much "relentless flow" are we talking about?
Well, first the estimates were 1,000 barrels a day
... Then that number was quickly revised to 5,000 barrels
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revised their estimates of the amount of oil that has been leaking from the oil
well from 1,000 barrels a day to up to 5,000 barrels a day, or about 210,000 gallons.
Then the number was revised yet again to 25,000 barrels a day.
Experts: Oil May Be Leaking at Rate
of 25,000 Barrels a Day in Gulf
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill could be leaking at a rate of 25,000 barrels a day, five times the government's current estimate, industry experts
Basing their calculations on government data and standard industry measurement tools, the experts said the Gulf spill may already rival the historic
1969 Santa Barbara, Calif., and 1989 Exxon Valdez disasters.
Ian MacDonald, professor of oceanography at Florida State University who specializes in tracking ocean oil seeps from satellite imagery, said there
may already be more than 9 million gallons of oil floating in the Gulf now.
That's not good.
Incredibly, this past Friday, a new number was suggested.... 50,000 barrels a day!!!
Leaked government report fears
A leaked report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Emergency Ops document dated April 28 has the Coast Guard preparing for a
worst case release that could potentially become an unchecked gusher meaning that instead of releasing 5,000 barrels a day or 210,000 gallons a day,
it would release 50,000 barrels a day, or 2.1 million gallons a day.
"The following is not public," reads the report, "Two additional release points were found today. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow
could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought."
The actual evidence looks no less grim:
Oil slick's area triples in size
The surface area of a catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill quickly tripled in size...
The Coast Guard conceded Saturday that it's nearly impossible to know how much oil has gushed since the April 20 rig explosion...
"The spill and the spreading is getting so much faster and expanding much quicker than they estimated," said Hans Graber, executive director of the
university's Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing. "Clearly, in the last couple of days, there was a big change in the
And the bad news keeps pouring in...
Woodward does say there is a "nightmare scenario" which could actually bring oil to Georgia's coast. That's because if the volume of spreading oil
is not contained enough, some of it could get into the Gulf Stream, which connects to the shorelines of the Eastern Seaboard states.
"There's some concern if the volume of oil is not reduced somehow that we'll get quantities of oil entrained in the loop current and
subsequently in the Gulf Stream and it will be brought up the eastern seaboard...which is a kind of a nightmare scenario."
If 50,000 barrels (or 2,100,000 gallons) of oil a day is an accurate number, in November, the size of this disaster will exceed the largest of its
kind in history...the Gulf War Oil Spill:
Gulf War oil spill
The Gulf War oil spill is regarded as the largest oil spill in history, resulting from actions taken during the Gulf War in 1991 by the Iraqi
It caused considerable damage to wildlife in the Persian Gulf especially in areas surrounding Kuwait and Iraq. Estimates on the volume spilled range
from 42 to 462 million gallons; the slick reached a maximum size of 101 by 42 miles and was 5 inches thick. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the
size of the spill, figures place it 5 to 27 times the size (in gallons spilled) of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and more than twice the size of the
1979 Ixtoc I blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico.
The wikipedia article continues to say:
According to a study sponsored by UNESCO, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, the
spill did little long-term damage. About half the oil evaporated, a million barrels were recovered and 2 million to 3 million barrels washed ashore,
mainly in Saudi Arabia.
So maybe we get lucky.
But the crude is different...and the locations are different. And none of the solutions being discussed right now look like they can be accomplished
in the next several months...or that they will even work.
I suppose we'll all know soon enough.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, "we lost a total well head-- it could be
100,000 barrels or more a day."
Oil Spill Tracker Map
Edit by request
[edit on 7/5/10 by masqua]