Even while the arguing goes on as to how much oil is leaking from three spots in the crimped well over a mile down; there may be even larger threats on the horizon.
According to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the leaking well may be spewing as much as 25,000 barrels of oil a day to the surface of the Gulf. It the well totally breaks that figure could go to 100,000 barrels a day. Current estimates for fixing the leak center around ninety days. If the 25,000 barrel-a-day estimate is accurate and if the leak lasts for 90 days, that’s 2.25 million barrels, or 94.5 million gallons. By comparison, the Valdez released an estimated 10.8 million US gallons back in 1989.
That spill, in the Prince William Sound area, caused thousands of animals immediate death; the best estimates include 100,000 to as many as 250,000 seabirds, at least 2,800 sea otters, approximately 12 river otters, 300 harbor seals, 247 bald eagles, and 22 orcas, as well as the destruction of billions of salmon and herring eggs. The effects of the spill continue to be felt today. Overall reductions in population have been seen in various ocean animals, including stunted growth in pink salmon populations. Sea otters and ducks also showed higher death rates in following years, partially because they ingested prey from contaminated soil and from ingestion of oil residues on hair due to grooming.
Almost 20 years after the spill, a team of scientists at the University of North Carolina found that the effects are lasting far longer than expected. The team estimates some shoreline Arctic habitats may take up to 30 years to recover. Exxon Mobil denies any concerns over this, stating that they anticipated a remaining fraction that they assert will not cause any long-term ecological impacts, according to the conclusions of 350 peer-reviewed studies. However, a study from scientists from the NOAA concluded that this contamination can produce chronic low-level exposure, discourage subsistence where the contamination is heavy, and decrease the “wilderness character” of the area. You have to wonder, then, what would happen to the Gulf region if over 94 million gallons get dumped there!
But, wait! Things could be worst! Homeland Security must now be contemplating this disaster, from the perspective of terrorists, if another couple of platforms could somehow suffer the same fate. The effect on the United States economy would be paralyzing. Indeed, the effect could easily cause world wide disruption that could signal the collapse of democracies everywhere.
To that end, I understand that Swat forces have been deployed to the remaining platforms in the area. That’s probably a good idea. (If it were up to me, I would have a few Aircraft carriers out there too). America is currently sailing some pretty tough waters and will need the cooperation of everyone to get though this time in our country. That includes making sure we protect our assets to our utmost ability.