BP Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico
While the spill is over, you need to remember that the oil will be changing the gulf for many years. We don't have any video feeds, but we will put information up once scientists are allowed to study the area.
The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has created an environmental disaster. Eleven people tragically lost their lives in the rig explosion and over 5,000 barrels of oil per day are currently leaking from a broken drill pipe. The spill is also spreading each day due to ocean currents and winds.
Many scientists are against the use of dispersants to break up the oil spill. They have shown that the dispersants only dissolve the oil into the water and do nothing to remove it. The only way to clean the water is to physically remove the oil. Since the original accident, the oil has reached the beaches and marshes of the gulf states. Louisiana was the first to find oil along their shoreline.
This live webcam image is from the source of the oil spill. The lighting at 5,000 feet below the surface is all artificial. It is pitch black down there. Tan plumes reflect mud being pumped into the pipes. If you see black plumes, that is oil coming out.
4/22/10: Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire, and sinking occur.
4/29/10: Doug Suttles of BP told NBC's Today Show that the leak was between 1,000 to 5,000 barrels a day.
4/30/10: Early reports of the oil reaching the marshlands of Louisiana. Heavier oil still remained offshore.
5/4/10: First congressional briefing with BP, Transocean, and Halliburton.
5/9/10: BP attempts to lower bell/box ("Top Hat") and pipe to siphon off oil from the seafloor at the broken drill pipe. Ice crystals eventually plugged the device.
5/16/10: BP experiments with lowering a large pipe to the sea floor to siphon off the oil. Due to shifts and inability to make pipe connections, the attempt failed.
5/19/10: BP agrees to place a live video feed from the broken drill pipe.
5/24/10: EPA directs BP to reduce the use of Corexit, an oil dispersant chemical. They based the recommendation on the fact that BP's analysis on the environmental effects of the chemical was flawed.
5/25/10: Early reports of cleanup workers becoming ill from toxic clouds and fumes at the water's surface. Those most affected may not have been wearing respirators. Investigation into the role of oil evaporation and Corexit are underway. Coast Guard says that hazmat training for workers will improve. (Subjective note: Imagine what it's like for all of the birds and marine mammals that breathe the air at the surface. How sick are they getting?)
5/26/10: "Top Kill" effort to plug the leak by pumping mud and then cement into the drill pipe begins. This effort eventually fails to plug the hole. The pressure of the oil just forces the mud out. Additional attempt called "Junk Shot" where debris is shot into the pipe to clog it also fails.
5/28/10: The US government estimates that the leak may actually be 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil per day. That is well more than double and up to four times BP's most recent public estimate.
6/1/10: New effort to cut pipes and place a siphon on top begin. If this attempt fails, there will be a significant increase (at least 20%) the flow of oil into the Gulf. The flow will probably last another 60 days until the next plugging plan is implemented. Early attempts are slowed as the saw designed to cut the pipe gets stuck.
Link: Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming (US Congress)
Two NASA satellites are capturing images of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which began April 20, 2010 with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. This short video reveals a space-based view of the burning oil rig and, later, the ensuing oil spill through May 24. The timelapse uses imagery from the MODIS instrument, on board NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. The oil slick appears grayish-beige in the image and changes due to changing weather, currents, and use of oil dispersing chemicals.
Link: NASA Imagery of BP Oil Spill (NASA)
The above image shows the projected range of the spill as it spreads into the Gulf of Mexico. (as of 5/27)
The above image shows the projected range of the spill as it heads towards the coastline of the gulf states. The red crosses show areas where the oil has been found on the beaches. Blue colors represent the density of the oil from light to heavy. (as of 5/27)
Link: Deepwater Horizon Incident, Gulf of Mexico (NOAA)
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