Tuesday, May 25, 2010

the 36-day anniversary since BP was caught "black-handed"

The British Petroleum oil spill has officially marked its 36th day of continuous oil plaguing the Gulf of Mexico. New estimates confirm that at least 6 million gallons of oil have already spread throughout the gulf, and with no new successful attempts at plugging the leak, BP is on its way to defeating the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 in which 11 million gallons of oil were spilled off the Alaskan coast.

While BP remains in charge of the cleanup, protesters and critics continue to pressure the Obama administration to take over the operation. BP Chief Officer Doug Settles defended their efforts on Monday, "I don't think anyone else could do better than we are. I know that that's frustrating to hear and our performance, to this point, I wish was better...I don't actually believe anyone could do any better, unfortunately." Many government officials tend to agree, saying that they simply do not have the technology BP has to stop the leak. "They can fire BP and take it over but the truth is, the federal government probably doesn't have the capacity to do that," Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee included last Sunday.

Some of the attempts that have been or are being made to stop the spill.

In Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal grows impatient, and prepares to go to prison if federal authorities interfere with their private attempts to stop the oil from reaching inland marshes. Currently, they are attempting to create sand berms, or manmade islands to protect their coast from further damage. However, environmentalists criticize that these berms can do more bad than good and will create additional ecological problems in the future, such as coastal erosion and changes in currents.

In the meantime, local fishermen sit idle unsure of what to do. They wonder if they are allowed to or even can continue with their livelihood, whether they are going to be asked to assist with the implementation of protective booms (as BP said they were going to do), or how long they are going to live off of BP's assistant checks which do not even count for a third of what a normal fishing trip brings in.

As tensions rise, the heat towards BP is even felt on the popular social networking website Twitter. A satirical user account named @BPGlobalPR continues to "tweet" political mockery such as, "The good news: Mermaids are real. The bad news: They are now extinct," and “If we had a dollar for every complaint about this oil spill, it wouldn’t compare to our current fortune. Oil is a lucrative industry!” The fake account now has nearly four times as many followers as the actual BP account @BP_America which posts updates on procedures, video clips, and photos.

BP's next trial to plug the leak is called "top kill" and involves pumping a thick fluid called "drilling mud" directly at the leak. This has never been attempted for underwater leaks before and at 5000 feet below the surface, officials can only hope that this will diminish the flow enough to pump cement into the seal. If this doesn't successfully stop the flow, the next step is to try a "junk shot" which is literally plugging the leak with garbage like ropes and tires in addition to the drilling mud.

Meanwhile, veterinarians provide care to local wildlife and volunteers continue to try to clean up the oil that washes up onto the beaches. But the oil just keeps on coming.


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