Gulf Oil Spill: Fisheries Closed, Louisiana Wetlands Now in Jeopardy

By Andrew Moseman | May 3, 2010 9:23 am

NASA Gulf oil Apr 29A week from today the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will still be pouring vast volumes of oil into the water. And that still might not be the end of it. That’s the latest word from the oil company BP, whose efforts to shut off the leak have met with failure so far, and whose new plan will take another week—if it works at all.

BP PLC was preparing a system never tried before at such depths to siphon away the geyser of crude from a blown-out well a mile under Gulf of Mexico waters. However, the plan to lower 74-ton, concrete-and-metal boxes being built to capture the oil and siphon it to a barge waiting at the surface will need at least another six to eight days to get it in place [AP].

There are presently three leaks that were created when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank into the gulf. BP says today that it still hopes to install a shutoff valve on one of them, but that’s not an option for the others. So the company wants to place one of these “containment domes” on the largest leak in about a week, and then another on the final leak a couple of days after that.

But while BP, with help from the military, struggles to stop the flow, some of the environmental consequences are becoming clear already. Over the weekend, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that fishing would be closed across the Gulf region, from the Mississippi River to the Florida panhandle, for 10 days at least.

The U.S. Gulf coast is a rich breeding ground for fish, crabs, oysters and shrimp and accounts for about 20 percent of the nation’s total commercial seafood production. The shrimp and oyster supply, in particular, is heavily concentrated in the Gulf [Reuters].

In addition, crude is now creeping toward the fragile wetlands of the Gulf Coast, and Louisiana in particular. Due in part to pollution, construction, and natural disasters like hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the marsh lands of the Mississippi delta have shrunk drastically; since the 1930s, Louisiana lost an area the size of Delaware to the sea.

Healthy wetlands would have some natural ability to cope with an oil slick, said Denise Reed, interim director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences at the University of New Orleans. “The trouble with our marshes is they’re already stressed, they’re already hanging by a fingernail,” she said. It is possible, she said, that the wetlands’ “tolerance for oil has been compromised.” If so, she said, that could be “the straw that broke the camel’s back” [The New York Times].

It would be not only an ecological disaster if the oil influx killed off this ecosystem: Compromised wetlands mean less protection for New Orleans against the storm surge brought by hurricanes.

On the political side, BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward, has said that the company accepts full responsibility for the spill and would pay up for “legitimate” claims of damage caused by the slick. However, the scope of this spill is so vast that the list of damages may stretch on and on. Already last week Louisiana shrimpers filed suit against BP for endangering their livelihood. If the spill indeed destroys ecosystems on the Gulf coast, the courts will probably have to sort out responsibility for that, too.

Our previous posts on the Gulf Oil Spill:
80beats: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches U.S. Coast; New Orleans Reeks of “Pungent Fuel Smell”
80beats: Uh-Oh: Gulf Oil Spill May Be 5 Times Worse Than Previously Thought
80beats: Coast Guard’s New Plan To Contain Gulf Oil Spill: Light It on Fire
80beats: Sunken Oil Rig Now Leaking Crude; Robots Head to the Rescue
80beats: Ships Race To Contain the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Image: NASA

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment
  • Woody Tanaka

    I think that BP should be required to pay every penny, up the full value of all of the assets of the company, any parent or subsidiary companies, as well as the personal assets of every executive and major shareholder, until this water is free of oil, the fisheries are fully restored, the fisherman and others affected are fully compensated, the Coast Guard and DOD are fully reimbursed and an enormous fine is paid. Anything less is more of the same “capitalism for profits; socialism for losses” corporate welfare that the repuglicans and the evil conservatives (sorry for the redundancy) always push.

  • Cory

    Don’t be fooled — there’s no difference between liberal and conservative politicians in the States. Both of them know exactly where their paycheck comes from.. corporations.

  • AlexB

    Cory and Woody: Both good points.
    Those same corporations that write our politicians’ checks will only be willing to bend over so far, mostly to preserve public image. Past that, and their lapdog bureaucrats will come to their rescue. You see, a company can’t just start throwing money around, it’s bad for business. And you don’t want to be anti-capitalist, do you?

    Well yes, I do. I personally would love to see BP’s offices empty, and their CEO out in the Louisiana wetlands scrubbing rocks for his dear life. These people have no remorse or concern for our planet, why should we show them any?

    The worse thing is that environmental tragedies like this will continue until the big oil companies feel like moving on. There is no real progress unless the right people will it.

  • Ozzy

    I grew up hearing the tales of an oil fire extinguisher named Red Adair. He was world famous for putting out oil well fires. The method he used was placing explosives near the fire and detonating them. The result was the collapse of the surface surrounding the fire and caving the earth in to smother the fire. Why can’t the same be done with the BP well? A submarine with a well-aimed torpedo could collapse the well on itself and stop the flow. What does anyone think of this idea?

  • TRJ

    BP is British Petroleum. Since it is not a US company, there is only so much that the US government can do.

  • fatmax

    the exxon valdez spill left fishermen and others damaged by the dissaster waiting for 20 years. the republican side of the supreme court ruled that exxon did not have to pay the punitive damages that a jury awarded us. we are still waiting for fisheries to come back to pre spill levels and there is still exxons oil on our beaches 20 years later.until personal werlfare of everyday americans is put before corporate welfare these disasters will continue to happen. as many oil wells that are in the gulf of mexico there should be hundreds of fishermen and other boaters trained and ready for spills like this. i feel very bad for all that have and will be impacted by this disaster. this brings back some very bad feelings about politics, lawyers corporations and our juditial system, i hope you all can do much better with your compensation than we did . good luck

  • W Tell

    For millennia they have known I was down there
    And for millennia they have been warned not to open that door
    They knew that I would entice them with riches
    A life of ease and the fulfillment of all their dreams

    They have always known of the price they would pay
    How I would destroy their lives and all things dear to them in the end
    They knew that the cost would not be worth their decadence and lust
    And the self pleasuring monsters that they would become

    They knew that they would watch the world slowly blacken
    And all the beautiful living things wilt and lose their light
    From their outer beauty to the inner glow of their souls
    I will murder all things of hope right before their horrored eyes

    They knew that they would be haunted by the screams of terror
    And primordial death wails from the overwhelming grief
    Or even worse the muffled whimpers of the ones of those
    Who in their last breaths have resigned to accept their fate

    Their lust for pillage and plunder has brought them here to me now
    I am sure that I will fulfill their dreams of domination at no matter what the cost
    They have always been this ugly and mean though amateurish and naive
    But soon there will be no denying when like me their looks befit their dreams

    And when I am done with this world and destroyed everything that is cherished
    When this world is a black lifeless corpse disgusting and rancid
    We as one will slither and creep back down to the hell from which I came
    And together we will patiently wait least one fool does survive

    As I tell them of their future I can see the look of disdain upon their faces
    The look of ignorance and arrogance of self indulged ageless fools
    And when they turn away from me I know the world’s fate has now been sealed
    When I hear them shout out to the world, “Drill, baby, drill!”

  • Tami

    We need you. “Oil spill” EVTN has a pump that will separate oil from water.It separate approximately 99% of oil from the water.The pump recycles the oil on the spot and returns the water to the ocean/Gulf,it’s a win-win situation.The largest separator has a capacity of separating up to 100,000 barrel per day. The technology is proven as the State of Alaska is using it and the U.S. Navy is using it. EVTN is a Florida company based in Broward county. However, this is not a local, political, religious or race issue.The Gulf region includes not just our State but other States and, therefore it is a National environmental issue. The spill will have a domino effect across the country. We have contacted all of the local news agencies in addition to others and all we hear about are products like powder to drop on the water, then it has to be scooped out—bla bla bla. Hair tubing-please get serious.This environmental event will impact all of us and the response to pass it on to affiliate stations is not acceptable. The Company just needs some exposure and we are disappointed that no one will give it a look and consider featuring it on newscasts or in the newspaper.The voraxial separator is ready to be deployed. The Company has even offered to donate a separator. The separator can be shown to you anytime. Please help us to save our coast, our wildlife and our economy.You can view videos at http://www.evtn.com

  • K Clark

    I think Haliburton should pay. They are the ones responsible for the concrete not sealing properly, which led to the explosion. It would not suprise me a bit to find they did it intentionally, at the request of the Illuminati who want to keep America dependent on foreign oil, so that the Bushes can keep their alliances with the Saudi’s. Obama is just a puppet president, doing their bidding. Just my opinion.

  • http://www.ruthbutler.com Ruth

    Tami,
    I’m with you. I have followed EVTN and it’s technology for years. They have a recent 300% improvement in the voraxial separation process. Way back when they designed a skimmer to collect the oil and recently (last week) demo’d it at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. They showed a small, but scaleable voraxial processing an oil spill cleanup.
    I too am surprised that the local Florida media hasn’t put a spotlight on this gem of a company. They have a simple solution already designed. If anyone doubts their credentials read evtn’s letters of recommendations at the bottom of this page: http://www.evtn.com/casestudies.html
    They are professional and deliver on time.
    Sometimes it’s difficult to see what’s staring us right in our eyes so I wanted to emphasize, too what Tami is saying. We can clean this mess up before it damages the coastline and wildlife.

  • Steve Archie

    There is a flange just above the blowout preventor where the riser was attached. Why not remove the bolts and flange and bolt on a gate valve in the open position that can be closed once it is bolted in place?

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  • http://lejujoke.livejournal.com/;lejujoke;50hr2j59 Penis Enlarger Pump

    Your website won’t render properly on my iphone 3gs – you might wanna try and fix that

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