Thursday , 17 October 2019

Oil Cleanup in Progress

A map shows the projected spread of the oil slick off the Louisiana coast. Courtesy U.S Coast Guard 8th District
A map shows the projected spread of the oil slick off the Louisiana coast. Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard 8th District

By Ian Graham

Though oil still continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico after an oil rig off the Louisiana coast exploded April 20, officials in charge of clean-up operations say they’re doing the best they can to contain the spill.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Eighth Coast Guard District based in New Orleans, La., said on a conference call yesterday that all possible measures are being taken to stop the leak and contain the oil that has spilled so far. As of today, the spill has not reached the shoreline; though Landry has coordinated with Gulf Coast states so they’re prepared should the slick head their way.

Crude oil is emptying into the gulf at a rate of about 1,000 barrels a day; Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for British Petroleum, said it should take two to four weeks to clean the spill.

Suttles said clean-up crews are “at pace” to control the leak and to gather oil that has already spilled into the Gulf. More than 1,100 barrels (nearly 50,000 gallons) of oily water have been collected so far.

Concerns have been raised about the environmental impact of such a large spill, especially following a report that sperm whales were seen near the slick. Charlie Henry, the lead science coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that so far there hasn’t been any known impact on the animals.

The NOAA has cautioned, however, that the slick may reach land by this weekend, and could potentially require a huge cleanup effort on shore.

The Deepwater Horizon, leased to BP by Transocean, an oil mining contractor, caught fire after an explosion and sank last week. Eleven workers are still missing. The rig, with a platform bigger than a football field, was one of the most modern and was drilling in 5,000 feet of water about 40 miles from Venice, La.