Â Bill Quigley is Legal director of the center for Constitutional Rights and professor of law at Loyola University New Orleans. His email is email@example.com
April 30, 2010
The Coast Guard estimates 5000 barrels of crude oil a day, 210,000 gallons a day, are pouring out of a damaged British Petroleum (BP) well in the Gulf of Mexico since the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. Eleven people died in the explosion. The oil rig burned and sank. The exploratory well, which is 50 miles away from the coast, continues to powerfully disgorge oil from the bottom of the 5000 feet deep surface of the Gulf.
Oil has now reached the Louisiana coast. The Associated Press (AP) reported there is an oil slick 130 miles long and 70 miles wide in the Gulf of Mexico. Birds covered in thick black oil have already been recovered. Efforts to stop the oil have not proven effective. The AP reports the oil is expected to reach Mississippi on Saturday, Alabama in two days and Florida in three.
Late Friday afternoon, the Mobile Press Register reported a confidential government report prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Emergency Ops concluded that if the pipe on the Gulf floor "deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought." An uncontrolled release of oil "could become an unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf."
Plans to set parts of the Gulf on fire have been pushed back by bad weather. The unprecedented idea was to burn up the oil spill before it reached land. "This is a great tool," promised a BP representative.
In response, one long-time Louisiana resident said, "You know you're in very serious trouble when the solution is for BP and the feds to set the Gulf on fire."
Worst hit in Louisiana are the coastal areas of Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes just now limping back from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
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