Transocean Oil Rig on fire before it sank
Unlike the Beverly Hillbillies, BP's 'shot in the ground' - in this case a mile below the surface of the gulf - will not lead to a destitute family living in a mansion in Beverly Hills, happily ever after. That was fiction. In real life, shrimpers and fishermen, living catch to catch, will lose their livelihoods as the shrimp and fish lose their lives in a thick gooey mess, whose surface presence understates the enormous damage being done below the surface.
The Center for Biological Diversity has just put up a new, and constantly updated website where you can get a lot of information and take action steps.
This is a short recap of what may turn out to be the worst oil spill (really, it is a an oil gusher) in history, but it would be erroneous to compare it to the Exxon Valdez, which, at the end of the day, was just a single oil tanker with a finite amount of oil to spill (10 million gallons). The proper comparison is to the Ixtoc 1 Oil disaster, where:
Approximately an average of ten thousand to thirty thousand barrels per day were discharged into the Gulf until it was finally capped on March 23, 1980. Prevailing currents carried the oil towards the Texas coastline. The US government had two months to prepare booms to protect major inlets. Eventually, in the US, 162miles (261km) of beaches and 1421 birds and were affected by 3,000,000barrels (480,000m3) of oil. Mexico rejected US requests to be compensated for cleanup costs.
Today, BP will attempt to lower a cap - Chernobyl style - over the oil gusher, with a pipe leading to a waiting ship a mile above the surface to collect the mixture of oil and other chemicals, which, it is hoped, can be safely separated and disposed of while a new well is drilled sideways over the next few weeks and months in order to staunch the flow - a mile below sea level - by remote controlled robots. The technology has certainly improved since Ixtoc 1, but the risks have risen even higher. If this doesn't work, or it makes things worse, there is not much else in BP's or the Government's arsenal. Will this go on 9 months like Ixtoc 1, draining billions of gallons and deadening the Gulf, for decades?