Our Gulf Waterkeepers–Louisiana’s Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper and Louisiana Bayoukeeper, Alabama’s Mobile Baykeeper, and Florida’s Emerald Coastkeeper–are the first line of defense during this ongoing disaster. Our Waterkeepers need your help; CLICK HERE to donate now.
For more news on the BP Oil Disaster, visit our webpage devoted to keeping you informed.
Waterkeeper Alliance’s Gulf Coast groups are working to ensure transparency and to track the drifting oil in their localities. Given the slow pace of the government and oil industry response, it is crucial to involve local Waterkeepers, fishermen, ecologists, and others familiar with the waters and shores that will be affected.
On April 20, BP's oil drilling rig "Deepwater Horizon" was in the final phases of drilling a well off the coast of Louisiana when an explosion occurred on the rig and it caught fire. The rig burned and sank on April 22, leaving 11 dead and an open well on the ocean floor in water approximately 5,000 feet deep.
More than a spill, this disaster has left crude oil gushing from the sea floor in what is now feared to be the worst oil spill disaster in U.S. history. First estimates of 42,000 gallons a day were soon revised to 210,000 gallons a day, and on May 4, BP officials said the spill rate could be as much as 2.5 million gallons (60,000 barrels) a day. At this rate of flow, the spill would surpass the amount leaked from the Exxon Valdez in a bit more than four days. That 1989 spill dumped 10.8 million gallons into Prince William Sound.
Fishing has been banned in much of the Gulf as the bodies of endangered sea turtles wash up onshore, while people of the Gulf coast wait for oil to reach the shores. The ecological and economic disaster can only be imagined as it remains unknown when the flow can be stopped.
Concerns about Halliburton’s cementing process on the “Deepwater Horizon”—and about whether rigs have enough safeguards to prevent blowouts—raise questions about whether the industry can safely drill in deep water and whether regulators are up to the task of monitoring them.
BP and TransOcean have aggressively opposed new safety regulations proposed last year by a federal agency that oversees offshore drilling in response to a study that found many accidents in the industry. The leaking oil well lacked safety devices, required in European waters, that could have capped this well when disaster struck and should be required in the U.S.
Attempts to stop the flow have included the use of chemical dispersants, many of which contain toxins that may cause additional impacts while having questionable effects on the oil slick.
Quite a Price to Pay: Offshore oil drilling accounts for just 7% of the 20 million barrels of oil consumed in the U.S. every day. All 35,000 offshore wells combined only provide the annual equivalent of 26 days worth of oil, yet they continually threaten wildlife, the environment, coastal economies and tens of thousands of families and livelihoods for years and, in some cases, decades. Conservative estimates show that conservation and energy efficiency improvements combined with "clean" renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and cogeneration could easily generate more energy than the "dirty" and nonrenewable nuclear, coal and oil fuel sources that severely threaten our environment and livelihoods.