April 2010 - A massive oil spill happened in the Gulf of Mexico (starting on April 22, 2010) from a blown-out oil well on the ocean floor (about 5,000 feet deep under the ocean surface). The well exploited by the oil company BP is located deep into the ocean off the Louisiana coast. Massive amounts of oil (up to 5,000 barrels which equals 210,000 Gallons) extracted daily through the well operation are now freely pumped into the ocean as it seems to be problematic to shut off the well. Basically, the unfavorable conditions on the ocean floor along with the extremely high pressure of the extracted oil were impeding the attempts (using underwater robots) to shut off the well, while the oil continued to be pumped out into the ocean. It looks like the oil will continue to be spilled freely, causing water pollution, until another solution is implemented (i.e., covering the well with a giant inverted funnel that will capture the oil and channel it into a tanker ship at the surface). This spill is already considered the second worst oil spill ever after the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 in Alaska. However, depending when the well is successfully shut down, it has the potential to become worse than the other spill. At the same time, considering that this spill threatens to affect highly populated areas, it may already be seen as one of the worst oil spills ever.
Once released in the ocean water at the bottom, oil is moving up until it reaches the surface of the ocean due to the release pressure. Once it reaches the surface of the water, the oil floats on water because it has a density below that of water (in other words it is lighter than water). Thus, the oil will cover the water surface expanding over large areas. The spilled oil looks thus created a sheen of "rainbow" colors on the surface of the ocean. Obviously, once on the water surface, due to currents and weather conditions, the spilled oil sheen is transported away. What is of great concern is that the spilled oil is heading toward the shores of Louisiana and other states in proximity, washing up the wildlife refuges and seafood grounds in the area.
Apart from Louisiana shores, other states may be affected including Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
The residents of the listed states (especially those who live in the proximity of the shores) may be affected in a large variety of ways, including:
Note: If you live in one of the affected coastal cities and believe you could be affected or have been already affected by the spill, please contact us. We will try our best to provide additional specific information applicable to your case and seek adequate legal support, as you may be entitled to compensation for your loss/damage.
Additionally, it is not clear yet how the spill may interfere with shipping channels in the area that may affect crude oil imports into the U.S. Yet so far, there are no sign that this activity is affected.
Protective booms. The authorities (U.S. Coast Guard) deployed protective booms along the coast of Louisiana and other potentially affected states in order to capture the spilled oil before it reaches the shore. Dozens of ships and aircrafts are already deployed in what seems to be one of the largest spill containment efforts.
Controlled Burning. The controlled burning of the oil sheen is also an alternative. Although it may be difficult to deal with the large areas affected, it may provide some local relief.
Final Solution. Ultimately, a solution is sleeked to cut the source of the oil (the broken underwater well). BP intends to cover the well with a giant inverted funnel that will capture the oil and channel it into a tanker ship at the surface. However four weeks or more may be needed to implement such solution. In between oil continues to be spilled and consequences to humans, wildlife and environment may be hard to predict.
One thing is sure though: this spill has put on hold for the time being (at least until the review of the current spill) Obama plans to expand off-shore drilling. Maybe it is "a wake-up call" from Mother Nature to prevent other catastrophic events, of which much can be learnt by all of us!
EPA has established a webpage (http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/) dedicated to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in order to provide updates on: