The rig explosion that killed 11 workers now threatens valuable beaches, fishing grounds, marine life, and marshes. The Coast Guard admits it’s nearly impossible to estimate how much oil has leaked since the April 20 blast, after guessing it was about 1.6 million gallons.
President Obama plans to visit the region Sunday to assess whether the government and/or oil company BP PLC should have done more to ward off disaster. Experts have warned that a dreadful situation is in the making, should the still uncontrollable gushing oil be carried by the Gulf Stream toward the Atlantic. Reports Allen G. Breed, “These people, we’ve been beaten down, disaster after disaster,” said Matt O’Brien of Venice, whose fledgling wholesale shrimp dock business is under threat from the spill.
“They’ve all got a long stare in their eye,” he said. “They come asking me what I think’s going to happen. I ain’t got no answers for them. I ain’t got no answers for my investors. I ain’t got no answers.” Not only will tainted waters hit the fishing economy, so will tourism.
Oceanologists studying satellite photos (which show width but not depth of the oil spill) are speculating there could be 9 million gallons spilled. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, appointed Saturday by Obama to lead the government’s oil spill response, said no one could pinpoint how much oil is leaking from the ruptured well because it is about a mile underwater.
“And, in fact, any exact estimation of what’s flowing out of those pipes down there is probably impossible at this time due to the depth of the water and our ability to try and assess that from remotely operated vehicles and video.”’
It’s difficult to ascertain what exactly is causing the leak, because the well is one mile underwater. Oil that stays below the surface is nearly impossible to track. Environmentalists are concerned about the consequences to birds, coral and marine life around the Gulf. Weather has hampered the efforts of animal rescue workers, as well as fisherman would like to lend a hand.