BP Oil claims to be a friend of the environment, but its green image has been butchered due to a massive oil spill.
On April 20th the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, caught fire, and sank over the course of 36 hours. The rig is owned by Transocean and leased to BP. Nearly 100 workers made it ashore safely, while 21 others suffered minor and critical injuries. Families of 11 missing workers presume that their loved ones have perished in the explosion. The public was initially alerted there had been no oil spill, but the government soon updated that message. Two active leaks, spewing an estimated 5,000 barrels per day, have been detected, while complications have halted any efforts to seal off the well. At this rate, it will take just over a month for the spill to surpass the 1 million gallons the Exxon Valdez rig expelled two decades ago in Alaska, where wildlife is still ingesting oil. Though it's more than 50 miles from the Louisiana coast, oil from the rig is beginning to creep upon Venice and Port Fourchon. Inflatable foam barriers, or booms, have been strategically placed in efforts to minimize damages, which BP will be legally responsible for. But are these efforts too little too late?
Updates on multiple news outlets are keeping Americans abreast of the magnitude of the disaster. Florida has declared a state of emergency in six of its coastal counties. Other far-reaching effects will continue unfolding in the weeks and months ahead.
Environmental concerns include the devastating massacre of marine life and possible destruction of wildlife reserves. Media outlets, however, have been focusing on how this will impact the seafood industry. Fishermen are scampering to harvest oyster, shrimp, and other marine life. Many struggling Gulf industries are still in a recession following the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, and this man-made disaster is likely to further depress food and tourism, currently a bright spot of New Orleans' economy. This will also affect jobs related to Louisiana's $3 billion fishing industry; but hundreds are already in line for oil-spill clean-up positions.
A month ago President Obama announced a plan to allow new offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. This catastrophe could threaten those plans. "No additional drilling has been authorized, and none will until we find out what happened here and whether there was something unique and preventable here," he said on ABC. He called for investigations of working oil rigs, and new safety precautions to be implemented in hopes to avoid any further "accidents."
Local organizations are seeking volunteers to assist in the cleanup and to rescue oiled wildlife. Matter of Trust has been accepting donations of hair since 2000 to create booms and mats to soak up oil in crises such as these. Find out how to donate here.