Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oily obturation operation...

A few hours ago the LA Times reported that engineers had managed to succeed ("at least temporarily") in stopping the flow of oil and gas from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon (Macondo Prospect) oil spil. Click on the image to enlarge and get a decent view of the view from space, courtesy of NASA and Wiki. It seems odd that the "top kill" plan (an attempt to stem the flow of oil by pumping drilling fluid - "mud"...sludge - at high pressure into the well, then concrete to seal it: this latter is not yet done) could succeed within less than two days when the origianl explosion and subsequent spill started over five weeks ago!

Not only are dozens of US government officials heading southwards, so are the opinion polls of Obama's handling of the situation; naturally he is on the defensive about the US government repsonse. 

The news coverage, certainly in the UK and Europe (IMHO!) hasn't been as in-depth as I would have expected, especially seeing as the company involved, BP probably among - if not THE - jewel in the British crown. And considering the size of the spill is estmated to be between 2500 and 9000 square miles [Wiki]; just to put that in an understandable mental image: Wales is just over 8000 square miles (FFS!)

The ecological disaster has bearly been mentioned yet it will be among the worst ever in the history of ecological disasters! The Gulf is laden with beautiful coastline, marshland, wetland ecosytems, nature reserves etc much of which is still recovering from Katrina...but there is more: this is the first oil "blowout" to spill oil in such deep waters: nearly a mile deep and so the damage to the various and distinct ecosystems at different levels will be one of "The Great Unknowns in Gulf Oil Spill" [Newsweek]. Also this year's hurricane season fast approaches, we are currently in the middle of "Hurricane Preparedness Week". This should be of great concern to the efforts to stop the spillage plus the containment and clean-up operations.

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