Boy, so far this isn’t looking good…..
NEW ORLEANS — Coast Guard officials said Monday afternoon that the oil spill near Louisiana was now covering an area in the Gulf of Mexico of 48 miles by 39 miles at its widest points, and they have been unable to engage a mechanism that could shut off the well thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface….
The Coast Guard also said in a statement Monday that an aircrew from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service spotted sperm whales in the vicinity of the oil spill on Sunday.
“The unified command is monitoring the situation and is working closely with officials from Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA to understand the impact the spill and response activities may have on whales and other marine wildlife in the area,” the statement said.
Officials determined through weather patterns that the sheen of oil and water would remain at least 30 miles from shore at least until Tuesday. But states along the Gulf Coast have been warned to be on alert….
Doug Helton, a fisheries biologist who coordinates oil spill responses for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, said the oil emanating from the riser was taking the shape of a giant ice cream cone as it drifted toward the surface. He said there were no reports of dead animals yet, although that was expected to change if the leaks were not sealed.
BP, the oil field lease holder, says it has dispatched 32 spill-response vessels (skimmers, tugs, barges, recovery vessels) and five aircraft to the scene to try to control the spread of oil. “In Houma, La. where the field operations response is being coordinated, almost 500 personnel on- and offshore have already been deployed to coordinate the oil spill response,” the company said.
And as the Wall Street Journal notes, BP’s efforts are being closely watched by others with a lot at stake in the outcome:
“The rest of the oil and gas industry will no doubt be supporting BP in this endeavor. If the oil slick reaches the shore it will turn what is already a human tragedy into an environmental disaster. This could have consequences for the Obama administration’s plans to open the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic seaboard to oil drilling.
“This is inevitably going to give environmentalists a stronger weapon to question whether operations like this should be expanded,” said another London-based industry analyst.
“The Gulf of Mexico had very tight regulations anyway to mitigate against any type of explosion. What else can they do? It’s difficult to see,” he said. Green groups will argue that, “if you demonstrably can’t prevent this from taking place, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it,” he said.”