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Oil Habit Unchanged on Two-Year Anniversary of BP's Gulf of Mexico Spill | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

Two years ago, 11 men lost their lives as a backlash of gas exploded into the night from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. In the ensuing months, roughly 5 million barrels of oil and more than 6 billion cubic feet of natural gas spewed into the ocean from the Macondo well more than a kilometer underwater. It took the combined efforts of the U.S. government, the world's major oil companies and, finally, a lonely hydrologist working through the night from a cellphone picture of pressure reading graphs to cap the spill on July 15, 2010.

Two years later, Gulf seafood remains suspect in consumers' minds, despite the "sniff test." Fishermen and scientists report an excess of deformed or sickly sea life, and more than a million barrels of spilled oil remain "missing," likely never to be found. The Gulf's dolphins have been dying, deepwater corals remain coated in hydrocarbons and many people involved in the clean-up complain of poor health.

It will take decades to fully reckon the toll of BP's 2010 oil spill. In fact, science is still grappling with the after effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill. It took three years for Prince William Sound in Alaska's herring fishery to collapse and 20 years to reach a legal settlement.

Meanwhile, an invisible leak of natural gas is ongoing in the North Sea from an offshore platform operated by French oil company Total. Oil spills occur weekly in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. And the oil industry has resumed deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico as well as prospecting in the melting Arctic, without adequate oversight or the resources to contain or clean up any future spills in the frigid north.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2012 at 02:20:25 PM EST
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