It’s been almost a month since an oil rig about 50 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and resulted in what has since promised to become one of the greatest ecological disasters of all time. Within 2 days of the explosion, an oil slick approximately 5 square miles appeared in the Gulf. At the time, it wasn’t known if that was residual oil from the fire on the rig or if there was a leak. Within a few days, it’s confirmed that there is an active leak with initial guesstimates by the Coast Guard put the oil gushing out at about 1000 barrels a day; it was then upped to 5000 per day. That number has since been revised to upwards of 70,000, but BP won’t allow scientists to use special equipment in an effort to better estimate that number.
By the end of April, over 100,000 gallons of chemical dispersant are used to prevent the oil from reaching shore. This in itself is a problem. In most circles, chemical dispersant is seen as a necessary evil: something that keeps lots of oil from reaching shores, yet something that’s chemical makeup is unknown to the public. Because dispersant is not known to the public, it’s safety is a question. In fact, one such dispersant being used, Corexit, is banned in Britain. Corexit was used in the ’89 clean up of the Exxon Valdez and has been linked to health problems in humans and development problems in wildlife.
Dispersants, as the name implies, (more…)
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