Watch the Earth Bleed


As I write this, I am watching BP’s live video feed of crude oil spewing from the ocean floor.  Underneath the sickening expulsion of oil is an “oil leak widget” that ticks away the gallons of oil expelled.  The tally increases over ten gallons roughly every second.  Projected leak updates are updated frequently.  Today the numbers more than doubled when an underwater vehicle struck a cap that had been capturing 700,000 gallons a day.  The Department of Energy quickly revised their estimates to 1,470,000 gallons per day; BP’s worst case estimate is 2,520,00 gallons per day; and the experts’ worst case is 4,200,000 gallons per day.

And while the rupture in the earth continues to bleed, there are the tragedies we can see:  immeasurable damage to wildlife and wetlands with their fragile ecosystems and the devastation of the fishing industry and the families whose livelihoods depend on the ocean’s ecological balance. Thousands of gallons of oil have been collected or diverted from the Gulf Coast. Over 275 burn-offs have been conducted.  BP recently bought 32 of actor Kevin Costner’s centrifugal oil-and-water-separators that could feasibly aid in the clean-up. Costner bought the technology, originally developed with the help of the Department of Energy after the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989.  He turned it over to a team of engineers and scientists – one of whom is his brother – for fine-tuning.  It’s fine-tuned and it works, and BP intends to have the machines up and running in a few weeks.

And in the meantime, the earth bleeds.  It is one of the most frightening things I have ever seen. Since April 20, BP has repeatedly tried to cap the hole with no success.  Efforts to “top fill” the well failed. They’ve been working on drilling two relief wells since May 2.  The estimated completion date is approximately three months from the start of drilling, or August 2.  No one knows if that will work.  No one has addressed the question, “What will happen if the leak can’t be stopped?”

If you think you have the stomach to watch, you can see the live feed at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/horizon-oil-spill.html.

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