News / USA

Oil from Sunken Rig Threatens Gulf of Mexico Shorelines

Greg Flakus

A sunken oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico about 100 kilometers off the coast of Louisiana is leaking petroleum at the rate of about 1,000 barrels per day as industry officials and the U.S. Coast Guard struggle to contain it.  There is concern the oil slick could reach the shore and damage the local ecology.

The oil is leaking from two areas in the drilling pipe some 1,500 meters below the surface.  Crews working in the area are using underwater robots to assess the damage and find a way to stop the leaks.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry says experts are working around-the-clock to solve the problem and minimize the damage to aquatic life as well as nearby islands and mainland beaches.

"Right now, we are focusing on securing the well," said Admiral Landry. "But absolutely, we are monitoring 24/7 to make sure there is no additional leak beyond the 1,000 barrels a day."

The leaks resulted from an explosion on April 20 on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform owned by Geneva-based oil services company Transocean, Ltd., and operated by London-based BP, the third-largest international energy company.

Emergency response teams rescued most of the 126 workers were on the rig.  But 11 crew members have not been found and are presumed dead.

Coast Guard crews said initially that there was no sign of oil leaking from the rig.  But that assessment changed after it sank.  Experts say the weight of the sinking rig might have bent pipes near the shut-off valve, causing them to develop leaks.

BP Chief Operating Officer for Exploration and Production Doug Suttles says his company is making every effort to determine the cause of the explosion that led to the rig sinking, but its main focus now is on containing the damage.

"We are also working with industry experts to devise and deploy a method to collect the oil close to the sea bed to minimize spill impacts," said Doug Suttles.

Suttles says crews might be able to use pipes and tubes underwater to collect oil from the leaks to keep it from flowing to the surface and adding to the already serious problem.  Officials estimate that the oil slick caused by the leaks covers an area more than 70 kilometers long by 60 kilometers wide.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that it will take several days for the oil slick to reach sensitive coastal areas like the Chandeleur Islands off Louisiana or the beaches near Pensacola, Florida.  The coastal region is home to sea birds, dolphins and marine life that provide livelihoods for many people in the commercial fishing and tourist industries.

The sinking of the oil rig is an unusual event in the Gulf of Mexico, where oil and gas operations have proliferated during the past three decades with very few problems.  The incident comes at a time when President Barack Obama has proposed opening more coastal areas to oil and gas exploration and development.  Analysts say that damage from the oil slick could embolden environmental groups and others who oppose expanding such operations.  

You May Like

Photogallery Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid