When it comes to ecologically dangerous events, oil spills are right up there with other seemingly apocalyptic occurrences. Oil contaminates ecosystems, gets stuck to landmarks and wildlife, and is near impossible to remove, despite man’s best efforts and most diligent clean-up crews.
The spill, which came from an offshore drilling plant operating in the Gulf of Mexico, has slowly been making its way towards the Louisiana coast, is growing and unless stopped, could very well reach land. The U.S. Coast Guards had plans to set the spill on fire to stop its growth, but so far attempts have been less than successful.
When the Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded last week, a main pipeline bringing in oil broke off and has been leaking the thick, toxic substance ever since. The slick, which has been expanding since then, now measures up to 80 miles, and with the northwestern winds has made slow but steady progress towards the coast.
The oil spill is not the only consequence from the explosion. After rescuing 115 workers, eleven still remain to be found.
BP, the parent company, has so far been trying to shut off the flow of oil remotely, to no avail. Containment methods have been used, however, with the Coast Guard deploying nearly 50 vessels to slow the thin yet dangerous spill.
Hopes for the ignition of the spill are not yet gone. Despite several unsuccessful attempts as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 28th, the Coast Guard has high hopes for the success of the method. Proven to be effective, igniting spills tend to destroy the majority of the spillage so the remaining fragments can then be cleaned manually. All smoke and solid remains from the controlled burning are then expected to be blown out to sea and promptly forgotten.
What will not be forgotten however are the lasting ecological consequences that tend to result from such common spills. Off-shore drilling, despite bringing in huge amounts of oil, is very prone to accidents, and in this day and age mankind simply cannot afford another Exxon Valdez disaster. Though not nearly as notorious, this spill could be one of the worst in the history of the United States, with the pipeline losing up to 42,000 gallons each day. As a result, ban proposals have come to light with environmental activists taking a staunch stance against the practice.