Gulf Oil Spill Essay

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¶ … Gulf Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, a massive oil spill created an environmental crisis in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Gulf Shore. The spill resulted from a British Petroleum (BP) oil-drilling rig (Deepwater Horizon) that was working in 5,000 feet of water; the rig exploded and burned, causing the deaths of 11 oilrig workers. According to the report on CNN.com (Sutter, 2010), six months after the horrendous spill "…there is still much debate about what the United States has or hasn't learned from this disaster… [and] there are also accusations that we've all turned a blind eye to the nagging problems that caused such an enormous spill in the first place," Sutter writes.

Updated Literature: While the cleanup continues, much of the focus is on how to avoid a similar disaster in the future. As for the Obama Administration, it has issued many new rules that hopefully will prevent offshore drillers from "…chasing petrol profits at the expense of safety," Sutter continues. In fact the federal regulatory agency, the Minerals Management Service, has been restructured and re-named "The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management" and chopped up into two components.

One component is supposed to be a watchdog on offshore drilling and responsible for "conducting inspections" and the other component "…profits from issuing more offshore drilling leases," Sutter continues. Some say that dynamic for the agency "still creates a conflict of interest," and so objective observers have justification for wondering what has really changed in terms of offshore safety.

And the Department of the Interior -- ultimately responsible for issuing permits for oil companies that wish to drill offshore -- now "…requires oil companies to get independent audits of their blowout prevention systems" (Sutter, 2010).

Journalist Chris Kirkham of the Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans writes that there are presently 13,500 "responders" (individuals conducting clean-up) at work, which is far fewer than the number of responders (48,000) that were at work at the height of the disaster this past summer. And Kirkham insists that at the six-month mark of this disaster, federal government officials are reporting "…very little recoverable oil still in the water or on the bottom, barely even trace amounts of dispersant chemicals" and no evidence of "contaminated seafood in open water or in the marshes."

These findings go up against the public's assumptions that "the oil may have sunk to the bottom," Kirkham continues. Of course there is no definitive record of how many pelicans, sea turtles, seagulls, fish and other species were killed as a result of the spill -- which dumped more than 200 millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf. Wildlife was indeed "decimated" and marine ecosystems were hammered, Nadia Drake writes in The Mercury News (Drake, 2010, p. 1)

In fact, UC Santa Cruz research associate Mike Beck says that many of the negative effects from the spill were due to the "relief efforts, not the spill itself." Some of the responses to the spill were "hair-brained schemes," Beck says. For example, building offshore sand-islands and using oil-based dispersants was not smart, according to Beck, quoted by Drake. The oyster reefs were negatively affected by the building of the sand islands, Beck explained.

Oysters need freshwater to be "more productive, but they can't take a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Gulf Oil Spill.  (2010, October 20).  Retrieved December 13, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gulf-oil-spill/1772

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"Gulf Oil Spill."  Essaytown.com.  October 20, 2010.  Accessed December 13, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gulf-oil-spill/1772.