02 May 2010

They're Coming Faster and Faster

The next disaster is here and it's a gusher...literally. "Deepwater Horizon" is the name of an offshore drilling rig like the one pictured. It was located in the Gulf of Mexico near the Louisiana coast when there was an explosion and fire and it subsequently sunk on April 22nd.

It was the deepest well ever drilled, more than a mile below the surface of the water, extending some six miles into the earth's crust. No one knows if it was caused by equipment failure or terrorism, but all you need to know now is that this "gusher" is pumping 25,000 barrels of oil per day into the ocean and nobody knows how long it could go on or how to stop it.

They're calling it "Obama's Katrina."

Underwater oil gusher a crisis no one imagined

...The problem with the spill that followed the Deepwater Horizon explosion is that it isn't a spill: It's a gush, like an underwater oil volcano. A hot column of oil and gas is spurting into freezing black waters nearly a mile down, where the pressure nears a ton per inch — impossible for divers to endure. Experts call it a continuous, round-the-clock calamity, unlike a leaking tanker, which might empty in hours or days.

"Everything about it is unprecedented," said geochemist Christopher Reddy, an oil-spill expert and head of the Coastal Ocean Institute at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. "All our knowledge is based on a one-shot event. ... With this, we don't know when it's going to stop."

It was revealed Friday that British Petroleum (BP) had downplayed the possibility of a catastrophic accident at the oil rig. In its 2009 exploration plan and environmental-impact analysis for the well, BP suggested it was unlikely, or virtually impossible, for an accident to occur that would lead to a giant crude-oil spill and serious damage to beaches, fish and mammals.