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Gulf Oil Spill: 80 Days and Counting

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Gulf Oil Spill: 80 Days and Counting

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Over 80 days into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis, black crude continues to spew from the bottom of the ocean, bringing the oil spill total to an estimated 169 million gallons. The spill has already cost oil giant BP $3.12 billion. The multifaceted crisis has wide-reaching effects:

Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT
Oil drips from a pelican that was picked up by rescue workers on Grand Terre Island, Louisiana (June 5, 2010).
Stephane Jourdain/AFP/Getty Images
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks with workers, mainly fishermen, involved in the clean-up effort of the spill on a command post boat near Barataria Bay, Louisiana (June 15, 2010).

• Oil continues to wash onto beaches along the Gulf coast, ruining some of its primary industries: tourism, fishing and offshore drilling. At the request of the U.S. government, BP has set aside $20 billion to pay the victims of the spill.

• President Barack Obama told the nation in a televised speech: “Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it’s not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.”

• As of the end of June, BP used over 1.74 million gallons of chemical dispersants, such as Corexit, in an attempt to break down the oil slicks. Yet the chemical’s effectiveness is not completely known, with some scientists worried that oil mixed with dispersants is more toxic than oil by itself.

“We are still deeply concerned about the things we don’t know. The long-term effects [from Corexit] on aquatic life are still unknown, and we must make sure that the dispersants that are used are as nontoxic as possible,” the Environmental Protection Agency stated in the Miami Herald.

• Some are worried the widespread use of Corexit could have long-lasting health problems for children in the Gulf region: “Early exposure to toxic chemicals can cause permanent damage to developing organs resulting in lifelong chronic illnesses and disability” (AOL News).

• As the Gulf region moves into hurricane season, turbulent weather may slow cleanup efforts as ships cannot navigate stormy seas.

For example, Hurricane Alex “didn’t get anywhere near the well, but it did stir up rough seas, which spread far across the Gulf, stopping skimming operations and delaying BP’s efforts to install a new oil collection system on the sea floor” (NPR).

To learn more about this growing catastrophe, read the article “Gulf Oil Spill: Why Another American Disaster!” 

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