And The Oil Spills On
There was no oil spill, was the word from (BP) British Petroleum to the US Coast Guard, according to Retired Army General Jack Jacobs. The reality is that more than 200,000 gallons of oil a day are spewing from the blown-out well. What makes this spill different from the Exxon Valdez spill of ’89 is one thing. The oil spewing from the ocean floor is from an active well that knows no bounds. The oil that spilled from the Exxon tanker had a predetermined amount within, but responders don’t have that benefit this time around. With hurricane season approaching and no end in sight, the oil is expected to flow until June.
“Everyone is at fault” said the general. The person who owned the rig who was supposed to make sure the automatic shut off valve operated properly. It did not. British Petroleum was supposed to make sure the backups were backed up. They all failed. 5000 barrels flow each day and New Orleans Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency 4 days into the spill. Homeland Security did not act until 8 days into the spill.
The company, BP, was slow to ask for help. The company was accused of not moving aggressively, but not of outright lying about the spill as it had iniatially done. The administration hasn’t been faulted as much as BP has in the press. I believe it has to do with the amount of trust the government placed in BP to have gotten the situation under control.
Either way, the response timetable is troubling. The break occurred on April 20, taking 11 lives in the process. When the rig collapsed and oil began leaking, PB tried to plug the well but failed. They remained confident that they could handle the situation using private resources, which could be a reason the administration failed to quickly respond.
After the Coast Guard called a news conference where their initial leak estimaes quintupled, containment using only private resources no longer remained an option. If the oil reaches the US coastline, the consequences will have a huge impact on the fishing industry, beaches, resorts and tourism, not to mention the wildlife.