Like the oil, there’s more news spilling out of (or is it into?) the Gulf of Mexico. And none of it is good.
Where to begin? The 5,000-foot-long pipe that links the oil well to Transocean’s now submerged rig has sprung a third leak, which could explain why scientists at NOAA just upped their estimate for the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf from 1,000 to 5,000 barrels a day. (British Petroleum officials dispute the new figures.) The slick is about 16 miles off the Louisiana coast and closing in. Forecasters expect a landfall sometime on Friday, but strong winds could send a rogue oil patch into Louisiana’s Pass-A-Loutre Wildlife Management Area even sooner. Governor Bobby Jindal has asked the feds for help.
Emergency crews set a small section of the spill ablaze on Wednesday in what they say was a “successful” burn. But attempts to use a remote vehicle to cap the belching well have proven unsuccessful so far, and the proposed solution for actually capturing the oil (with a submerged dome) is weeks out at best, untested at the 5,000-foot depth of the leak, and a little pie-in-the-sky, don’t you think? In a sign that BP may be in over its head in the cleanup department, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary E. Landry hinted that the Defense Department may be scrambled to provide techno assistance to the effort.
Meanwhile, Louisiana’s shrimping fleet is mobilizing to help deploy more than 20 miles of booms that may or may not protect the state’s fragile coastal wetlands from the encroaching slick, and the state’s fishing industry has filed a class action suit against BP, Transocean and others, charging negligence and seeking millions.
On the bright side, I guess, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs assured us that President Obama, a fan of offshore drilling, is closely tracking the situation in the Gulf. In fact, the president started his day with a special 20-minute briefing on the matter and pledged “all available resources,” including the U.S. military, to try and prevent what looks to be an ever more likely environmental disaster.
As the oil spreads, and the Gulf burns, we are reminded once again that the risks inherent in offshore drilling are simply not worth taking.