CATASTROPHE AS 200,000 GALLONS OF CRUDE SPEWS INTO THE SEA EACH DAY.
May 2, 2010.
High winds and
rough seas have hampered efforts to prevent a giant oil slick from reaching US
shores and wreaking enormous environmental and economic damage on the fragile
The Gulf of
Mexico is a prime spawning ground for fish, shrimp and crabs, and a home to
oyster beds and a major stop for migratory birds.
governor Bobby Jindal warned that the millions of gallons of crude being driven
into shore by inopportune south-easterly winds formed a potential catastrophe.
"This oil spill threatens not only our wetlands and our fisheries, but also our
way of life," he said.
Environmentalists said it could take decades for the maze of marshes - more than
40% of America's ecologically fragile wetlands - to recover if waves simply wash
the oil over miles of boom set up to protect the coast. "The surface area is
huge," said Mark Floegel, a researcher with Greenpeace. "There probably isn't
enough boom in the world to protect what needs to be protected."
racing against time to shut off the flow of oil from a ruptured well some 50
miles (80 kilometres) off the coast but are getting nowhere fast as more than
200,000 gallons (around 750,000 litres) of crude spews into the sea each day.
area is huge," said Mark Floegel, a researcher with Greenpeace. "There probably
isn't enough boom in the world to protect what needs to be protected."
University researcher Hans Gruber said satellite images of the slick showed it
was three time bigger than estimated, covering an area of 3,500 square miles
(9,000 square kilometres).
At the current
estimated rate of leakage, it would take less than eight weeks for the spill to
surpass the 11 million gallons of oil that poured from the grounded Exxon Valdez
tanker in Alaska in 1989.
There has also
been political fallout as the White House put new domestic offshore oil drilling
on hold until the disaster has been fully investigated.