Wednesday, February 13, 2013

BP Oil Spill

More than three years have gone by since the BP deep water horizon rig spill, which caused more than 200 million gallons of oil and also 1.8 million gallons of dispersants to be dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. At the peak of the crisis, in June 2010, 37% of Gulf waters - a total of 88,522 square miles - were closed to fishing due to contamination. There were also eleven people that were working on the rig that died in the explosion, while 16 other workers were injured. Three BP officials were accused on criminal charges in connection with the 2010 Deep water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP pleaded guilty to 14 criminal charges, including a dozen felony charges, and the company agreed to pay $4 billion in fines and penalties. BP was not the only company involved, BP, Transocean and Halliburton all share responsibility for the deadly explosion that resulted in The Gulf of Mexico. The three companies "violated a number of federal offshore safety regulations," according to a report.
An oil spill is very damaging to an ecosystem, oil is actually made up of thousands of compounds and not all are equal. After the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 some researchers found out that the majority of toxic chemicals in oil are a family of compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). PAHs are often left behind after the majority of the oil is cleaned up. The oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico probably have caused thousands more dolphin and whale deaths than have been observed. After analyzing historical data on populations and death rates of 14 species in the northern Gulf, the scientists determined that carcasses are found in only 2% of cetacean deaths. A new study suggests that for every dead dolphin or whale that washes up on Gulf Coast beaches, there may be 50 more that no one ever sees. The scientists urge environmentalists and authorities not to rely solely on carcass counts in judging the severity of an event because there is actually a larger number, and the BP oil company should be held responsible for ALL the damage they did.
Understanding the effects of the oil spill are not only important in the process of helping damaged ecosystems recover but also to help the people that depend on fishery for their income and even their food. The large amount of research being funded to better understand this disaster will hopefully help people learn how to prevent something like this from happening, and if not it will help people become more prepared to deal with another disaster that may happen in the future.

By, Cory Antonucci ( Wednesday @12 seminar)

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