On April 20th, 2010 a Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded and killed 11 workers, spawning what is predicted to be the biggest oil spill in this country's history. The oil is spilling out at over 5,000 barrels a day due to the three breaks in the well pipes and hit the Louisiana coastline late Thursday night, nine days after the initial spill.
The oil company that owned the oil drill, BP, is completely responsible for the cleanup, although Obama and his office is enforcing environmental reforms, saying they will help the clean up in any way they can, including giving the aide of the Department of Defense, if necessary. The National Coast Guard has approved an experimental plan by BP to apply chemical dispersants underwater to help stop the oil spread, and the federal government is sending as much help as they can:
· There are over 50 boats and aircraft deployed from the Department of Homeland Security to help the spill
· The DHS also put out 174,060 feet of absorbent foam booms and recovered 18,180 barrels of an oily mixture from the gulf's surface
· Interior Department deployed SWAT teams to inspect 30 other drilling rigs in deepwater sections of the Gulf of Mexico
· DHS is setting up a headquarters in Alabama as well as the already stationed Louisiana post
· Navy is sending 66,000 feet of inflatable boom and seven skimming systems
· Navy is offering its base in the region as a staging area for the operation
· National Guard troops are mobilized and ready to assist
· The situation was deemed an incident of national significance which means a National Response Team composed of 16 federal agencies will coordinate a federal response
This spill is predicted to be the largest oil spill in US history, larger than the 1989 spill from Exxon Valdez that spilled 11 million gallons of oil into an ecologically sensitive area of the Prince William Sound. The difference between the spills is that in 1989 the cause was an oil tanker which holds a finite amount of oil; this spill is tapped to an underwater oil well which is predicted to spill up to 3 months.
Effect on the Environment
Environmentalist efforts are being spawned everywhere, from Mexican and American volunteers to the oil company workers. The spread of the oil spill to the coastline poses a serious threat for marine habits as well as human health. The Environmental Protection Agency is monitoring the air quality of the affected area to measure the impact of the controlled burning. There are two national wildlife refuges around the area of the spill that has not yet been affected by the spill, but has the potential to be.
It was predicted by local fishermen/farmers that if the oil spill hit the shore, the entire population of shrimp, crab and oysters would be destroyed.
Change of Environmental Reforms
This spill comes at an inopportune time for Obama and his administration, who just last month stated they would continue in their efforts at finding less environmentally damaging ways of getting oil and said they were opening up over 150 million acres of water property for oil drilling.
The White House is now saying there will be no new offshore drilling until the investigation as to why the explosion occurred is finished.