05/06/2010 - All depends on the wind. Just as Ireland’s travellers anxiously await news of the shifting winds, so too with the coastal communities of the Gulf of Mexico. Oil still gushes unchecked from 1,500 metres beneath the sea since the huge Deepwater Horizon rig sank into the gulf on April 20th. To date, however, winds have kept the enormous slick off shore. Although the capping of one of the three oil pipe breaches by BP and the window of fairer weather have raised some hopes, the potential for disaster remains.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has estimated the well is spewing some 5,000 barrels of oil a day. At that rate, the spill would exceed Alaska’s 1989 Exxon Valdez accident by the third week of June. And long before it reaches the shore the oil is already causing huge damage. Some 40 per cent of America’s fish catch comes out of the gulf, and its deeper water harbours 10 species of threatened sharks, six of endangered turtles, manatees, whales and innumerable fish. Christopher Mann of the Pew Environment Group, warns that “the iconic images of oiled seabirds are just the tip of the iceberg, because oil spills affect life up and down the food chain.”
Read the full article Oil Spill in Louisiana on The Irish Times' Web site