You’ve heard of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. On April 20, 2010 an explosion occurred on a British Petroleum oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The rig was drilling an exploratory well in 5,100 feet of water. Of the 126 crew on board at the time of the explosion, eleven were killed. The Deepwater Horizon platform sank two days later. That was just the beginning of what would become the world’s largest oil spill.
Almost immediately a large oil slick was evident and spreading fast. The oil continued to leak for 87 days at a rate of 62,000 barrels per day. Estimates put the entire oil spill at nearly 4.9 million barrels. Satellite images showed the spill affected 68,000 square miles, an area comparable in size to the state of Oklahoma.
Within weeks, oil was washing ashore along 125 miles of Louisiana’s Gulf coast. Within months oil was coating 491 miles of beaches in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida to the east and in Texas to the west. Over the next three years oil was still being reported almost daily. Marine life and the area’s fishing industry were devastated. Now there is another.
Is An Even Larger Oil Spill Unfolding Now?
In 2004 Hurricane Ivan wreaked havoc on oil platforms across the Gulf of Mexico, destroying seven platforms, 7 drilling rigs and damaging over 100 underwater pipelines. Twelve miles off the coast of Louisiana, mudslides caused by the hurricane sank the Taylor Energy oil platform. The oil wells that fed into the platform were never capped and have been leaking approximately 300 to 700 barrels a day. Fourteen years later the oil continues to leak and the coverups continue to coverup.
Dirty Little Story
“This is one of those dirty little stories that has been hidden for too long,” said John Amos, founder of SkyTruth an environmental watchdog group. Adding, “That’s the problem with these chronic, slow-moving things. They don’t slap you in the face like the BP oil spill did.”
In July of 2008 the Coast Guard that had been monitoring the spill told Taylor that the spill had become “a continuous, unsecured crude oil discharge” posing “a significant threat to the environment,” Taylor maintains there’s no evidence to suggest its wells are leaking and in the meantime Taylor Energy was sold to a South Korean consortium in 2008.
No End in Sight
Last September, the Department of Justice submitted its own independent study stating that earlier studies “had drastically underestimated the extent of the leak.” As the case moves through the courts the oil continues to leak with no end in sight. Read more in the Washington Post.
On October 22, The Washington Post published an article warning that Taylor’s former production site is leaking up to 700 barrels (29,400 gallons) of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico. The warning was heard. “On Oct 23, a day after the Post’s report was published, the U.S. Coast Guard ordered Taylor to “institute a … system to capture, contain, or remove oil” or face the $40,000-per-day penalty. Great news for cleaning up the waters of the Gulf.”
Let’s Pump More
In January of 2018 the Trump administration proposed an enormous, expansion of oil and gas offshore drilling in nearly all US waters, including along the Atlantic Coast. An area previously off limits to offshore oil production. With an alarming increase in the size and frequency of hurricanes hitting the Gulf and Atlantic coasts more oil spills are guaranteed.
We just witnessed the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Michael, the third most powerful Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States. Can you imagine the destruction that Hurricane Michael would have inflicted on oil platforms in its path.
Mid-term Election Update: One result of the 2018 mid-term elections was the passage of Florida’s Amendment 9, banning offshore oil drilling. Meanwhile two initiatives, one in Washington State to charge a fee for carbon emissions (which would be the nation’s first) and one in Colorado for a partial ban on oil drilling on public land were both defeated. The fossil fuel industry spent more than $73 million to defeat these two initiatives, the Huffington Post reported.
“Unleashing American Energy” At what Cost?
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