Gulf Coast Oil Spill Worsens

The oil spill that resulted from the explosion at an oil drilling facility off the Gulf of Mexico continued to grow, raising fears of a larger disaster than the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident. A recent inspection of the affected area shows that traces of oil have reached as far as the Mississippi River delta. Thick oil is already visible around five miles offshore.

David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that “the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling.” Latest estimate shows that the slick is about five times larger than it was imagined. Government officials said the underwater oil well that exploded on April 20 is releasing 5,000 barrels of oil a day. It could take about three months before the gushing well is plugged, making it possible that the Deepwater Horizon rig could spew more than the 11 million gallons that was released during the Exxon Valdez disaster.

The Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 people and raising the specter of what could become the worst man-made environmental disaster in the United States. The oil spill is expected to have a significant effect on the fishing industry since the Gulf Coast is one of the world’s most fertile seafood grounds.