Capping The Well
by: Davis Yancy Clegg
There is nothing more refreshing than jumping in the ocean on a scorcher of a summer day. Growing up in a small town in central Mississippi just outside of Jackson, we experienced our fair share of summer heat. Thankfully, we had some close family friends who lived in Biloxi, MS at the time. We would go down to visit them maybe twice a year to enjoy the water and the beach. Over the years, the coastal town began to go throw some changes. As more and more casinos and hotels sprung from the sand, more money was both being invested and profits were soaring for the Gulf Coast. While it wasn’t the gulf I grew up vacationing in, it was in its prime and who can fault anyone or anything for that.
The unthinkable occurred. It was the single greatest disaster in the oil industry ever, spilling up to 31% the amount of oil of the Ixtoc oil spill. When Deepwater Horizon exploded and was destroyed, the ocean floor began gushing oil at an alarming rate. If you are like me, and don’t know the first thing about an oil rig or what happens when one has a fatal malfunction, this isn’t that alarming. We just figure: “Ah…they will fix it.” The truth though is much more gut wrenching than the on-looker may suggest. First, I should tell you there were eleven people that were never found and presumed dead as a result of the incident. Imagine for a moment being on the rig when what you see above took place. Sheer horror is all that comes to mind.
Environmentally, we still do not know the extent of the damage to marine life. So many of the animals like the sea turtle’s (see one of my previous articles “Save a Light, Save a Life”) and dolphin’s population will have to be monitored for the next 15-20 years for us to even begin to know the long term effects of the spill. It is believed that some 4.9 Million barrels were spewed into the ocean. I did the math on this and that’s 210 Million gallons of oil. We all have seen the pictures of the seagull covered entirely in oil. However, we have to remember there is so much damage that we don’t see. After several failed attempts to stop the oil gusher, every BP employee with half a conscience was ready to throw themselves on top of the well if that meant stopping it. After 87 days of spillage, the well was finally capped on July 15, 2010. In September of that year, the well was declared sealed. There are many studies that suggest the well continues to leak.
There have been measures taken to begin rejuvenating the areas affected by the spill. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men trying to put the ocean and beaches together again! There were almost 2 million gallons of dispersants released by plane onto the spill. These dispersants are basically a clotting solution that turns the oil into small beads that are submergible. While this might make things a little less scary for life on the surface, the submerged beads have affected the level of health in underwater marine life. One study showed that the oil was creating heart development issues in the blue fin Tuna. If you are unaware, this is one of the most commercially distributed fish in the world. They reproduce just miles from where Deepwater Horizon sunk. While BP has put out over 40 Billion US dollars in both civil and criminal lawsuits, we are still in just the beginning stages of the aftermath.
Thankfully, we are an evolving race and I am confident that we can find a way to make our ventures offshore a little more safe.
Until next time, stay salty friends.
Come and join us on the next Eco-Shrimping Tour and learn more about marine life here in the NE Florida area.