So this oil spill, it doesn't seem to be going away. huh
Photo credit: IBRRC
When the Deepwater Horizon rig first exploded in April (yeah, it was that long ago already) it was one of those "damn, did you see this, feel bad for the guys" moments, but right from the start politics were at play - to drill or not to drill. Oil or...well...less oil - there aren't really a lot of alternatives right now. And that's political, too.
It's also about economics. Oil is big money - and the company that happens to be to blame, or at least the head honcho of accountability, is not an American company that answers to the U.S. government. It's British Petroleum, who happen to be how many Brits pay their bills via pension funds. BP not giving dividends or losing a lot of money and stock value over a huge FUBAR faux pas is like what losing the auto industry would've done (and even did) to the U.S.and 401k market. And big oil has a big stick to swing, as shown by the head of the House Energy and Commerce subcomittee, Republican Barton from Texas (big oil country) apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward about President Obama's push to make the company pay the lawsuits via escrow. He apologized to BP for the U.S. making them clean up their own mess! That's like your mom apologizing to you for making you wipe your own butt when you're 16! More politics. And yet even more economics.The money set aside to ensure BP pays for its mess via suits filed by fishermen, local clean up crews, and state goverments doesn't count a second fund setup to pay for the oil rig works, who are now out of work, both directly because of the rig mishap and because of the fallout from it - a moratorium on new drilling agreements. BP, and possibly TransOcean (who owned the rig) and Haliburton (who poured the concrete that failed) screwed it up for everyone.
Then there's the ecological disaster. Louisiana struggled to get the Brown Pelican back. Their state bird was extinct from their state in the 1970s, now has nesting grounds on the islands along the marshlands in the Gulf - the same marshlands that are now dead and covered in sludge. Eggs are being stepped on by cleanup crews - birds are being cleaned and nursed at sanctuaries. The live to dead ratio is nearly 1:1. Dolphins are washing up dead on beaches, stained that awful reddish brown color of crude. And the beaches themselves are stained - affecting plant growth, erosion, and tourism - ecology and economics wiped out in one fell swoop - swoop, something the pelicans can no longer do.
And then there's health - the health of the animals who have to live in the mucked up water clouded with toxic dispersants that make it look cleaner from the surface than it really is - and we eat some of these animals. Though the FDA has said Gulf seafood is safe, but only in the areas not closed to fishing. And they have had to ramp up testing because there is every expectation that, at some point, the seafood will be unsafe. You can't pump hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil into the water and expect the fish, shellfish, and the plants they eat to stay pristine.
Beyond food safety though is a very real health problem for residents and clean up crews. The smell of the oil spill induces nausea and headaches. Anxiety and apprehension produce similar problems. The toxic sludge can cause skin rashes and long-term exposure to dispersants can cause organ damage. Chemical and aspiration pneumonia are just the beginning for some who will battle breathing and respiratory problems because they either live or volunteer where the oil is wreaking havoc.
It is a huge problem in so many ways, one that will likely become background noise, just something we get used to seeing and paying for. Just a big oily stain on our world.