The Gulf Coast braced for a greasy and unwelcome tide Thursday as the region’s largest oil spill in decades threatened the marshlands and beaches at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The rig sat atop an oil well that is now spewing up to 210,000 gallons of light sweet crude a day into the Gulf of Mexico. BP, the well’s owner, has been trying to shut off the flow using eight remote-controlled submarines. It’s had no success up to this point.
Wilma Subra, a chemist who advises the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, said hundreds of spotters are watching for signs of the slick along the shoreline. But until the damaged well is capped, the coast could be hit over and over again when weather patterns shift.
Subra expressed hope the planned burning would limit the slick’s advance, “but it all depends on how the weather moves.”
“This is just going to be unbelievable,” Subra said. “It’s not going to be just a one-time event.”
It has come to light that the oil rig was not owned by BP, but leased from a third party company who neglected to inform BP of the lack of emergency shut off remotes to control a massive oil leak.
We will have to wait to see how this will all work out, and whether the company TransOcean Ltd will be held liable for costs of cleanup and environmental impact.