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The BP Oil Spill—1 year and 6 days later

April 26, 2011

On April 20, 2010 the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 men and injuring 17. The oil flowed out of the uncapped well for 3 months and released 4.9 million barrels of crude oil.  1 barrel of crude oil = 19 gallons of gasoline. That’s about how much my car will hold. Theoretically, I could have driven over 1.5 billion miles on that load of crap that spilled into the ocean.

The short-term effects we’ve all seen: tar balls washing up on shores, oil plumes remaining underwater, oiled animals washing up, coastal habitats destroyed. But as the oil is slowly dispersed, it doesn’t mean that it has gone away from the ecosystem. It’s still there, but just in smaller batches and smaller parts. Oil that washes up on sandy beaches, for example, just sinks down into the layers of sand where it remains for decades, and possible centuries. There is still oil and tar on the beaches near Santa Barbara from an oil spill in 1969, and that spill was only 80,000 to 100,000 barrels.

So what about now? What are the long-term effects we are seeing? Well, for starters, some of the dispersal chemicals used in the cleanup process are known carcinogens to humans. So people involved in cleanup are at risk, and now these chemicals are out in the ocean where they have the potential to harm marine life as well. (If you haven’t noticed I’m probably more concerned with the marine life in the Gulf, who cares what happens to the humans involved.) Also, I’ve just read on Wikipedia that dispersants have a serious impact on phytoplankton as well. We’re killing the whole food chain/Gulf ecosystem from the bottom, up.

Other long-term effects we’ve seen: In 2011 alone, 77 dolphins have washed up dead on Gulf shores, but it’s also been concluded that that number may be up to 50 times less than the real number of dolphin deaths caused by the spill. I think there’s been about 200 since the spill. And what’s more is all this scientific data is now being held and won’t be shared because it is being used in the criminal investigation of the oil spill. So we won’t know for sure what’s going on for a while. You should check out this article, but beware of sad photos 😦

At least 250 dead sea turtles have washed up in 2011 alone, over 130 seen this month alone. Usually about 150 dead turtles wash up every YEAR. So we’ve hit some unfortunate records there. That doesn’t even count the other 400 plus turtles that were impacted because of the spill, primarily Kemp’s ridleys but also loggerheads, greens, and hawksbills that inhabit Gulf of Mexico waters.
STRP Action Alert click here!

On the human health side of things—oil is not good for you. It damages your respiratory tract, your skin and causes miscarriages. The fishing industry is suffering seriously from the spill, costing people their livelihoods. Gulf coast tourism was affected as well. Overall, is offshore drilling worth the risk? We’ll be seeing these effects for years and decades, probably centuries to come. I hope someday people will realize that fossil fuels are not the answer—we need clean, renewable energy now!

Someone please answer me: Why haven’t we learned from our mistakes?

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