On April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico fifty miles off the shore of Louisiana, an explosion occurred on BP's offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, leaving eleven rig workers dead and injuring seventeen others. Four days later it was discovered that the damaged wellhead was leaking oil into the Gulf. Learn more about this eco disaster at this week's website roundup.
"The BP Gulf oil spill is the worst ever when you combine its size and location. While it may not be the biggest, as you can see from the graphic, it certainly will be one of the most economically damaging and costly, simply because it occurred in some of America's most productive waters." Click on the infographic to enlarge it, and you will see the Deepwater Horizon oil spill compared to other accidental spills, dating back to 1967. Because the extent of the Gulf disaster has not been completely tabulated yet, Deepwater Horizon is represented by both a best case and worst case estimate.
This LiveScience article dated April 28, 2010, answers six common questions about the Gulf oil spill, and is followed by links to additional oil spill FAQs, such as "The Science and History of Oil Spills." Questions answered include "How does the spill compare to the Exxon Valdez disaster?", "How big is the oil slick and how fast is it growing?", and "How is the oil leaking out?"
Newsweek brings us a "numerical look at the magnitude of the disaster and the enormous response" with a slide show of photos, videos, and statistics. "About 520 miles (2.76 million feet) of boom - a floating barrier to oil - have been deployed to protect sensitive areas of the Gulf Coast. If laid out in a straight line, that length of boom would reach from New York City to Columbus, Ohio. Unfortunately, boom isn't perfect and can be overcome by the elements. High winds and waves, for instance, can send oily water sloshing right over it and on toward shore."
This illustrated slide show examines how a dozen different species are affected by the Gulf oil spill. "It's all bad news for wildlife in the Gulf and along its shores. Everything from minuscule plankton to enormous sperm whales is at risk, including animals on both land and sea." Despite its small size, the loss of plankton might be one of the biggest problems, because, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, plankton are the basis of the marine food web, so what affects them, has repercussions across the entire marine food chain.
This PBS oil spill infographic, updated on May 3, 2010, illustrates a dozen pertinent facts, including that 21% of fish caught in the U.S. comes from our southern coast, and that 47% of Louisiana's population lives by the Gulf Coast. For more news and statistics, check out the off-site resources listed below the infographic. More PBS oil spill coverage can be found on the Oil Spill link at the Rundown news blog (in the horizontal navigation menu.)