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How Bad Is the Gulf Coast Oil Spill?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the exxon-who dept.

Earth 913

Dasher42 writes "Claims are circulating on the Internet that the Coast Guard fears the Deepwater Horizon well has sprung two extra leaks, raising fears that all control over the release of oil at the site will be lost. The oil field, one of the largest ever discovered, could release 50,000 barrels a day into the ocean, with implications for marine life around the globe that are difficult to comprehend. So, considering that losing our oceanic life, with subsequent unraveling of our land-based ecosystems, is a far more possible apocalyptic scenario than a killer asteroid — what do we do about it?" Other readers have sent some interesting pictures of the spill. One set shows the Deepwater Horizon rig as it collapsed into the ocean. Others, from NASA, indicate that the spill's surface area now rivals that of Florida. The US government has indicated that it intends to require BP to foot the bill for the cleanup. And the Governator has just withdrawn support for drilling off the California coast.

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913 comments

Oil is Black Gold (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32077938)

Oil is black. Niggers are black. Therefore, if you have a problem with oil being in the ocean, it's because you are racist against niggers and would deny them the human right of swimming in Earth's oceans. You bastard.

It's not really that bad (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32077970)

I mean, really. Stop listening to the liberal media and learn to THINK FOR YOURSELVES.

Re:It's not really that bad (5, Insightful)

neogeographer (1568287) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078014)

Then why are you posting anonymously? When Nixon signed all the current environmental laws in the 1970s, it was because pollution was so bad that it could not be denied as a figment of liberal media. And here comes another such event. Welcome to your worst nightmare. And mine.

Re:It's not really that bad (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078094)

Maybe he's posting anonymously because some of us just want to. So go pound sand, hippie.

Re:It's not really that bad (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078260)

Everyone knows Nixon was a sissy liberal. He met Elvis and his evil gyrating hips.

Re:It's not really that bad (3, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078376)

It is sad that the US has swung so far to the right, with such extreme abuses of power that Nixon now comes across as a relatively honest moderate.

Re:It's not really that bad (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078394)

Everyone knows Nixon was a sissy liberal. He met Elvis and his evil gyrating hips.

And "Elvis" is an anagram of "evils". How much more proof do you need?

Re:It's not really that bad (5, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078314)

I think the supporters of offshore drilling, at least the intelligent ones, and I am not saying the "Drill Baby Drill" crowd was knew there would be serious accident eventually. Its just a common sense no matter what precautions you take if you engage in a fundamentally dangerous activity often enough eventually the odds will catch up with. Skiers break bones, drivers have accidents, nuclear reactors melt down or leak, coal mines collapse, drillers have spills, these things happen.

We should do our best to learn what went wrong and our best to avoid it in the future but we must accept that this is a consequence of the life style we enjoy the rest of the time. Experience with other major spills shows us the environment will recover eventually. This is a tragedy and its going to impact some of us more than others. I bet though for every Gulf Coast fisherman or tour operator that gets put out of business there was AT LEAST one who was/is making a comfortable living in oil and gas. I think you also have to consider all the good in terms of quality of life cheap petroleum and energy in general has done our nation as whole and will no doubt continue to do. When you look at this in broad objective terms its hard for me to conclude it was not worth it. Maybe when all the consequences are known I will change my mind but for now lets be sensible and keep in mind the old saying "no pain no gain."

Re:It's not really that bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078110)

I mean, really. Stop listening to the liberal media and learn to THINK FOR YOURSELVES.

yeah baby!

drill baby drill! drill baby drill! wait what did you say?

Say what now?

oh, oh, ok uhm


Drill Baby Drill, Somewhere else, Drill Baby Drill, Somewhere else!

Re:It's not really that bad (1, Interesting)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078268)

Actually, it's been modified to Drill, after assuring that the requisite safety systems that were already supposed to be installed, are installed, baby Drill. This wasn't so much of a problem because of the rig itself blowing up as the safety systems which were supposed to have been installed at the drill site itself not being there.

Also, everybody notes the schtick about BP being forced to pay for this, but I'm pretty sure that won't suss out legally.

Re:It's not really that bad (1)

Lotana (842533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078238)

You are doing it wrong.

You aren't suppose to use logic or reason. It is the end of the world (Again...), so start acting like it!

Re:It's not really that bad (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078388)

It wouldn't be the end of the world. It could only ever be the end of human life or life as a whole but it would take a whole lot worse for the planet to suffer.

Not that it has to be the end of human life either. Just the mere fact this will fuck up a lot of people's jobs in the local fishing industry, their surrounding environment, etc should be enough for people to realise it is bad. But who cares if people end up broke and living in a shit hole when we need oil?

Re:It's not really that bad (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078250)

Yeah because shit loads of oil has always been known to be good for the water and life within it.

In fact my gold fish take 30 weight oil quite happily but anything over that doesn't really agree with their stomachs.

Other fun facts (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32077976)

The spill's smell now rivals that of New Jersey.

Serves you right (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32077980)

And me, for letting you.

Don't worry BP ... (5, Insightful)

macaulay805 (823467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32077982)

We will be footing the bill, not you. With higher gas prices that is.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078000)

Here's hoping obama pushes BP over a barrel and rapes them with no lube for this.

Cap their pricing.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (1)

TreyGeek (1391679) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078126)

I realize that BP is not a US company... but is it "too big to fail"? What if the cleanup expenses are so great BP goes bankrupt. Will government agencies then provide them handouts?

Re:Don't worry BP ... (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078208)

I don't know and I don't care because this time I won't bailing them out with my taxes they will with theirs. Or they will grow balls and let them sink.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (0, Troll)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078480)

Would Obama make them pay for cleanup if it was a US company?

Re:Don't worry BP ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078032)

We will be footing the bill, not you. With higher gas prices that is.

Your response to this is in regards to pricing? What on earth is wrong with you?

Re:Don't worry BP ... (1)

macaulay805 (823467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078106)

It really is a shame this environmental disaster happend. My view tends to interpert this as "everything has failed" sceanario. Typically, we would want to stick the responsible parties to clean-up this mess and have some type of a negative consequence. Realistically, the negative consequence will be passed onto the consumers, while the company continues business as normal. This system is backwards, as it rewards failures. People can/will just do nothing except buy gas (as we're dependant on it). What would you do to have BP feel the consequences of this sceanario without the management to try and pass the buck (and in the corporations eye's, buck = responsibility) to the consumers?

Re:Don't worry BP ... (5, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078152)

Better that the consumers of a product causing environmental destruction pay for it than everyone.

It also makes the cost proportional to use.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078356)

Except they can't pass that cost on to the consumer, because they're still competing in a highly fungible market. Exxon isn't having this problem, Shell isn't having this problem - it's just BP. Which means that if BP raises its prices, people will buy gas from companies that don't have to deal with a multi-billion dollar clean-up.

And if past Oil disasters are any indication, there are probably fines coming along as well. Along with bills related to government operations that had to deal with the spill.

BP won't get off free here.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (2, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078270)

For the GP: Here's a thought. Drive a car? Heat your house with Oil? Ride a Train? Use Plastics?

Guess what, your hands are just as dirty as BP.

I know this is INCONVENIENT to the Anti-corporate, anti-petroleum, liberal crowd. But unless you live a life apart from petroleum based products, you're complicit in the oil spill, because without your demands for their product, BP would not be in the ocean drilling.

It is easy to drill in a barren desert in a far away land, which is run by religious nuts, where if there is an oil spill, you just don't care. And it is easy to decry the failure of this on oil rig, while driving (or being driven) down the road (or track) in your internal combustion engine vehicle of choice.

So until you're completely removed from the benefits of petroleum based products (including many plastics), you're at least partially responsible for the problem.

Of course, we can stop all off shore drilling completely and all drilling anywhere where we "care" about the "environment" but I think you'd be whining then about $100/gal gas prices and more of our money going to wacko religious nutjobs in the Middle East.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (0, Offtopic)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078280)

Well, the price of shrimp is going to shoot through the roof for the next 3-5 years.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (4, Interesting)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078086)

And how are they going to raise rates when none of their competitors face a multi-billion dollar charge?

I think they take a charge and their shareholders eat much of the cost this time. No way around it.

Then if anything comes out regarding culpability for the disaster, the shareholders can sue the executives for breach of fiduciary duty.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078364)

Oil is a supply constrained commodity. If everyone tries to buy from the other sources, the price will go up.
BP will find someone to sell to.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (1)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078374)

I think they take a charge and their shareholders eat much of the cost this time. No way around it.

I think the only question is how much they are going to be able to sue the other players for.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (2, Interesting)

asquithea (630068) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078134)

Not BP's equipment, nor BP's procedures.

They're pretty much being forced to take responsibility for the accident, but I have to question whether they deserve the opprobrium being heaped upon them.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078338)

In a contract between contractors/well owners its common for liability of disasters to fall upon the owners. Its BP's wells, BP's profits, BP liability.

BP is self insured and their risk assessors know that this kind of thing happens over a long enough time line.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078478)

If you hirer someone to do a job then it's your responsibility to make sure they are doing that job to your standards.

If you hier a contractor to build a house, and he sub-contracts a framer that does an inadequate job and the structure fails as a result, you still go after the contractor. If he goes for the framer after the fact that's his business, but it's still his fault for hiring them.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (0, Redundant)

sarujin (1526843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078146)

I agree with the other poster. BP can't raise rates without being at a disadvantage with its competition.

Re:Don't worry BP ... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078412)

Really?
Because it seems like in a competitive market other producers would supply oil at a lower price than BP and thus prevent it from passing on costs.

If this is not true, why don't they just raise prices whenever they want?

Well... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32077994)

Last i heard they were going to drop a giant concrete dome down on top of the hole and pump that out directly.

As for all the oil already floating around... well... sucks to be an animal in the ocean this month.

Re:Well... (4, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078300)

Here's my question: How come something like this hasn't happened before naturally, as the result of an earthquake or something? (Or has it, and we just weren't paying attention that century?)

Re:Well... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078524)

From what i understand it does happen. All the time.

But theres a huge diffrence between a natural crack or fault covered with sediment and mud, often a pretty thick layer. And a nice large bore hole drilled right down to the oil.

The 'natural' oil leaks take some time to filter up to the surface and many of the 'heavy' parts of the oil are trapped in the seabed and very little makes it to the ocean surface.

And also in a natural leak you don't have an oil company pumping water or other waste down the hole to boost the pressure and bring the oil up.

Most our oxygen is produced by.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078010)

..lifeforms in the ocean.

Volcano (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078026)

The spill has been described as a volcano at the ocean floor. I haven't read anywhere that anybody knows how to cap it. Has our thirst for oil unleashed an apocalypse?

Re:Volcano (3, Funny)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078186)

I'm rather certain it's the oilpocalypse.

Re:Volcano (3, Interesting)

ceeam (39911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078210)

> apocalypse

Well, if uncapped it is bound to start burning at some time, isn't?

1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key of the shaft of the bottomless pit; 2 he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.

Re:Volcano (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078282)

...he was given the key of the shaft of the bottomless pit; 2 he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.

And that, my friends, describes fairly accurately my first experience toking up on a bong and its subsequent effects on my dorm room. Ah, the memories...

Balrogs (5, Interesting)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078408)

1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key of the shaft of the bottomless pit; 2 he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.

Personally I was reminded of the dwarves digging too deep and unleashing a Balrog upon Middle Earth. Have we learned nothing from Tolkien?

Re:bound to start burning... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078556)

So.....we're about to convert one of the biggest oil fields in the world directly into CO2 without even getting the energy from it?

Burn: Apocalypse
No burn: Apocalypse

Hard to see a way out of this one if the oil is coming out under pressure.

Re:Volcano (1, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078254)

The spill has been described as a volcano at the ocean floor. I haven't read anywhere that anybody knows how to cap it.

My understanding is that since oil is not water soluble and floats that a capture device could be places over the "leak", the buoyant oil channeled to a surface collector and pumped out. That may be simpler than a cap that attempts to plug the "leak".

--
Perpenso Calc [perpenso.com] for iPhone and iPod touch, scientific and bill/tip calculator, fractions, complex numbers, RPN

Re:Volcano (2, Interesting)

Sebilrazen (870600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078330)

Generally that channeling mechanism is a pipe of some sort, you can't just hope that the oil will float predictably upwards to a set location through a mile thick medium of salt water that has its own currents.

Worse than nuclear fallout? (5, Interesting)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078044)

We worry about nuclear plants going Chernobyl, but how much do we worry about that chemical refinery 20 miles away? If it had an uncontrolled fire, it could spew toxic chemicals into the air that would be about as disastrous as fallout. It's like worrying about a plane crash when you drive like a maniac.

Yet we still need oil, so we'll keep pumping. Greeks protest and riot when they realize they are going to have to start paying for their entitlement programs, and we complain when we need to pay more for gas. Well, we can't have it both ways. If we want to live 25 miles from where we work, we're going to have to pay for it. If we don't pay for it at the pump, then we'll have to pay for it when a shared resource, like the ocean, is destroyed.

I'm still a supporter of offshore drilling. Ask me again in a year, when this whole episode has concluded (or not), and I may change my mind.

Re:Worse than nuclear fallout? (4, Insightful)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078116)

Agreed. And unfortunate how most anti-nuclear arguments use Chernobyl as an example - we can build them so much safer today. Looks like the oil drilling technology hasn't come as far, while still capable of producing devastating effects for years to come.

Re:Worse than nuclear fallout? (5, Insightful)

CityZen (464761) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078318)

Chernobyl could have been built much more safely than Chernobyl (was built). But it cost less to build it as they did.

This particular oil rig could very likely have been built/operated more safely than it was. But who'll make BP do that?

Similarly, oil pipelines can be very safe, but they have been operated very unsafely, with maintenance neglected until accidents happen. It turns out that it's cheaper that way, lawsuits and all.

It's not a matter of what "we" can do. It's a matter of what government will actively regulate business to do. Business doesn't like regulation, and they often have more influence on lawmaking than "we" do. As long as no one pays much attention, they get their way.

Re:Worse than nuclear fallout? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078204)

Your first sentence reminded me of watching the Chemical Safety Board videos on youtube. They are fascinating:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2Ez7lkjg1Y&feature=related

(there are many more, this one is just an overview).

There is also an hour long special on an accident that happened at a BP (same company as from this oil spill) refinery. Scary (but not surprising) to hear what they saw about how lax safety was there:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuJtdQOU_Z4&feature=related

Oil Gusher (4, Insightful)

fyoder (857358) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078050)

It really seems like an understatement to call this a 'spill', as though it were a limited quantity from an oil freighter or something. It's an underwater gusher. I knew it was a huge disaster when it was reported as such with the addendum of at least 30 days to fix. At least. How would they even fix something like that? Has anything like this been attempted before?

Re:Oil Gusher (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078164)

It is very similar to the Ixtoc pemex 'spill' of 1980. It flowed for almost a year before they got it closed. It ruined the Texas coast for years, You couldn't even walk on the beach without taking a can of kerosene to wash the tar off your feet. That leak was at less than 200 feet. This one is at 5000.

Re:Oil Gusher (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078168)

I knew it was a huge disaster when it was reported as such with the addendum of at least 30 days to fix. At least. How would they even fix something like that? Has anything like this been attempted before?

Same kind of disaster happened last August 21 out by Australia. [timesonline.co.uk]

Re:Oil Gusher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078200)

They will have to "blow up" the hole - collapse it - and drill a new one for production. Anything else is a disastrous and very stupid waste of time. If no one has thought of this eventuality, they're all outright incompetent. Put them away. Where is Red Adair these days.. dead or alive? He blew up stuff all the time to stop "leaks".

Re:Oil Gusher (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078202)

Not on the seafloor I don't think. In Kuwait they used explosives, as I recall. That had its own special challenges as the Iraqis had lit the wells on fire, and the temperatures were tremendous. But it was still above water at normal atmospheric pressure for sea level. Doing any kind of complex operation 5,000 feet below the surface is damned tricky, and pretty much every plan has the disclaimer "We've never tried this before", which sort of translates into each plan being a trial balloon with no guarantee of any degree of success.

It's pretty much a worst case scenario, but BP, and I suspect a whole lot of politicians, went out of their way to minimize the potential. But even if it is unlikely, the law of averages pretty much guarantees that the longer you do something, even if it has a relatively low risk, will eventually lead to a major disaster.

I don't think anyone is quite sure why the explosion happened, but what's very clear is the fail safes failed. It may be a while before we know why, of course, but it does signal at least the possibility that insufficient precautions were put into play. It seems elementary to me that when you're designing such a drilling system, and realizing the vast pressure these oil deposits are under, that when operating in conditions that make fixing a gusher or blow out of some kind extremely difficult, you make damned good and sure your capping system is going to bloody well work.

Re:Oil Gusher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078360)

In Kuwait they used explosives, as I recall. That had its own special challenges as the Iraqis had lit the wells on fire

They only used explosives to put out the fires (it gets rid of all the oxygen and puts it out.) Then they had to recap the well heads.

Re:Oil Gusher (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078418)

I was wondering about explosives, just have an American sub fire off some torpedoes to collapse the hole. But 5,000 feet translates to roughly 1500 meters. Looking at this wikipedia article on operational depths of subs [wikipedia.org] , the hole is below the crush depth of even the deepest diving sub listed there. No doubt special purpose deep exploration devices exist, and perhaps they'll play a role, but simply having a sub cruise on by and fire off some torpedoes doesn't look like an option.

Re:Oil Gusher (1)

ZeBam.com (1790466) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078248)

It took supposedly state of the art equipment to drill it. It'll take better stuff than that to cap it. AFAIK, this is one of the deepest wells in the Gulf. Please post add'l info if you have any.

The Incident (1)

WarpedCore (1255156) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078068)

Did these people on the rig have on Dharma jumpsuits?

Well the governator is capable of learning (3, Funny)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078078)

How about Bobby Jindal [wikipedia.org] ?
Or is crying for the feds "You're not doing enough!" all he can do?

Re:Well the governator is capable of learning (0, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078136)

That's all Kathleen Blanco did after Katrina and it worked out pretty well for her - all the blame landed squarely on the President.

Bad, but please don't overreact (4, Interesting)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078100)

Oh, we're far from facing the death of the oceans. Even acidification and warming and ocean current changes won't do that.

What the added oil is is another stressor to the system.

Instead we'll see a slow collapse of traditional fisheries, meaning lots of people going poor and hungry, and Red Lobster offering all-you-can-eat Giant Squid and tilapia dinners.

That said, it's good this happened in the Gulf, which is relatively contained. Good for the oceans as a whole, bad for the Gulf sea and shoreline ecosystems.

* * *

One of cool things folks forget about the movie Soylent Green: The green stuff is supposed to be made from krill. Edward G. Robinson's character goes to the euthenasia parlor after reading a Soylent Corporation research study taken from a murdered executive's home. The reason that the Soylent corporation is making the crackers from corpses is an ocean ecosystem collapse. I don't remember if they made the connection, but the movie also invokes the greenhouse effect. In 1973.

Re:Bad, but please don't overreact (4, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078234)

It's not really over-reacting, things ARE pretty bad. I'm no marine biologist, but the last time I checked, most creatures have some variable level of tolerance when it comes to acidification and warming. That being said, we've still managed to kill a lot of creatures by affecting those changes. Ecosystems still have trouble recovering after a regular oil tanker spill.

And I am not aware of any creature that was able to survive an oil spill without human aid. Now, normally aiding creatures is in the process of cleaning it up, but we haven't even hit that part yet, its still uncontained.

How many creatures would normally migrate through the gulf but won't be able to this year? This is going to unbalance a lot more than just the gulf.

Re:Bad, but please don't overreact (4, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078258)

That said, it's good this happened in the Gulf, which is relatively contained. Good for the oceans as a whole, bad for the Gulf sea and shoreline ecosystems.

That's providing it stays contained. There seems to be a growing consensus that the Gulf Stream may pick some of this up, so anyone sitting on the Atlantic coast whistling with relief may not be happy in a few days.

Re:Bad, but please don't overreact (1)

Luke has no name (1423139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078326)

I think a spill in the middle of the ocean would have been MUCH better than having it within 100 miles of coastline. The oil would have dispersed much more, spreading the damage to have minimal impact on any land. Fisheries and sensitive land areas wouldn't have been affected near as much., assuming dispersal.

IMO

How Bad Is the Gulf Coast Oil Spill? (0)

Phizzle (1109923) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078122)

Bad!

Re: How Bad Is the Gulf Coast Oil Spill? (1)

CityZen (464761) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078362)

Reee-yull bad!

Long term data from WW2 tanker sinkings? (1, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078158)

Anyone know of any research into the long term environmental effects of World War 2 tanker sinkings? They should represent a range of climates and a range of developed to pristine locations. Some with surface oil burning, some not. Surely there is something to be learned from that era of history.

--
Perpenso Calc [perpenso.com] for iPhone and iPod touch, scientific and bill/tip calculator, fractions, complex numbers, RPN

I think you overestimate the size of ships (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078486)

An individual tanker isn't all that large, at least in WW2. There is a reason we call modern tankers: super-tankers.

It is like people who think CO2 emissions don't matter because volcanoes do it as well. Indeed they do, but have these people never heard of adding up. This spil comes on top of all the others. On top of the coral reefs already dying, on top of fish stocks already being over fished, on top of the plastic we have been dumping whole sale in to the ocean.

Will this be the straw that killed the camels back? Hard to say, but if fishing is hurt then that means some areas need to pay more for their food then they do now and not everyone can afford that. Plus the replacement food will have to be grown somewhere else.

And down the line, some fish migrate and others are dependent on long food chains. I don't know what grows in place X that is eaten in place Y that has an effect on populations in Z.

This isn't about one tanker sinking with the oil inside. It is about tanker after tanker being emptied in one single spot with no way to end it so far except waiting for one of the biggest oil fields to run out. And that could be REALLY bad because according to the people who want to drill everywhere, oil doesn't run out.

The apocalypse won't come in a flash of thunder, it will the eco-system slowly dying from being over-stressed. Less 2012, more YKK or Testament.

The customer ALWAYS pays (1)

Monoman (8745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078170)

BP is going to pay? I don't think they are going to take it out of BP employee salaries. Let's face it, if BP pays then the costs get passed on to the customers. Whatever BP doesn't pay will get passed tot he US taxpayers.

If BP doesn't pay, then should their business licenses be revoked in all affected states? in the US?

Commodities... (4, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078310)

If BP raises their prices, it opens the door for their competitors to under cut them.

The price of oil will be set by the supply and demand of the other producers if BP raises it's price. The the other producers can't meet demand, the price will rise to BP's costs. If the can, then BP will be losing sales and income to them.

-Rick

Re:Commodities... (1)

qmaqdk (522323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078488)

I don't think you need to worry for them. Now they'll only be making profits. Not obscene profits.

Re:The customer ALWAYS pays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078452)

There might be an uptick in price, if you are worried about the volatility of oil you should consider using less oil byproducts. Cheap commodities are not a right.

But to the point - Costumers will NOT pay. The cost will fall on shareholders. The other oil producers do not have to deal with the cost of this cleanup.

Re:The customer ALWAYS pays (1)

Raffaello (230287) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078464)

BP is in a commodity industry. That means that exactly what they sell is available from a dozen other firms. Not something like what they sell; exactly the same thing. They can't raise their prices - if they try, all their customers will just buy gasoline/crude oil/heating oil from shell, or exxon, etc. They have no choice but to eat the cost of this and have it directly impact profits.

This is a good thing. This is how it is supposed to work. BP's losses will serve as a very, very strong financial incentive to both BP and its competitors to get safety right in order to avoid multi-billion dollar losses in the event of any future accidents.

Shut up you nancy boy enviro-nazis (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078172)

Every time one of you hippies exaggerates shit like this and "global warming", I do a few burnouts in my 2006 custom Dodge Viper (supercharged v10, over 800 brake horse power).

LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR!!!! [youtube.com]

Drill baby drill! I need me some fresh viper juice!

Slashdotted (1)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078176)

NASA's contribute has been taken by a slash and a dot!

Withdrawn support for drilling (-1, Flamebait)

overshoot (39700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078184)

And the Governator has just withdrawn support for drilling [CC] off the California coast.

So who cares what a Eurotrash socialist on the Left Coast supports or doesn't support? This is California we're talking about -- they can afford to have oil wells, refineries, power plants, factories, etc. mess up someone else's landscape and just buy the goodies they need.

Re:Withdrawn support for drilling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078272)

Uh...the governator's republican...you just critfailed your clue check.

Re:Withdrawn support for drilling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078492)

were you just some AC i'd have thought you were just trolling, but seriously? politics aside, California's economy is huge, the 8th largest in the world http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_California . regardless of what you think about the policies, when California does something, the world does take notice.

GOP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078194)

Drill Baby Drill!

Alexander Higgins? (5, Insightful)

ZeBam.com (1790466) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078206)

Why do we have to go through the slashdotted blog.alexanderhiggins.com to see images hosted at NASA? This is the dumbest thing so far this month.

Re:Alexander Higgins? (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078308)

Why do we have to go through the slashdotted blog.alexanderhiggins.com to see images hosted at NASA? This is the dumbest thing so far this month.

Just wait and see what slashdot has in store for you during the rest of the month! Today is only the third day of the month - by the time the month is over that link won't look even remotely stupid.

What to do about it? (5, Insightful)

PSandusky (740962) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078222)

There are two ways of looking at what to do -- proximate and ultimate.

In the proximate sense, one thing to do is volunteer time or supplies if you're in an affected area. I'm in Florida -- in my area, I know right now of Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary ( http://www.seabirdsanctuary.com/uploads/oil.pdf [seabirdsanctuary.com] ) and Audubon Florida ( http://audubonoffloridanews.org/ [audubonoffloridanews.org] ), which are each asking for volunteers, money, and/or supplies. Other organizations may be looking for help -- help if you can, spread the word even if you can't.

In the ultimate sense, it's hard not to become reactionary to things like this. Clearly there's a need for some serious prevention, and however that comes about, it must. There are boycotts, letter writing campaigns, and the like, and while they may seem awfully pedestrian, the first step in each is something that's been needed for an exquisitely long time -- awareness. People don't tend to realize that the oceans are just downstream from everyone -- for example, just how many people do you think recognize the oil spill that dribbles into the Gulf every year from runoff into the Mississippi watershed? It's once people start to realize what's happening, what's important, and where changes need to happen that movement toward change occurs. Oil being the trigger word that it is these days, it's hard to say whether or not ocean health is foremost in people's minds. Building awareness -- even inland! -- is about getting it there.

I don't know what the key is. Maybe it's kids asking whether the animals they love seeing at the aquarium are going to be lost because of the oil spill. Maybe it's fishermen who lose their livelihoods because their fisheries are either contaminated or outright destroyed. Maybe it's people who worked in tourism and sports industries that previously thrived on healthy beaches and coastal waters. Whatever that key is, some catalysis needs to happen soon, and it needs to start with people simply caring enough to understand and do something, wherever they are, however they can. Too much is at stake.

Re:What to do about it? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078538)

Does this not just remove the cost of what BP did from them?

It seems to me you are volunteering for BP if you do this.

Why are we responding so damned slow? (1, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078224)

When we first saw the images of the rig burning and collapsing is when we should have started our response (if not sooner). Instead we sat around saying "oh, that's too bad". Why didn't we get ships out there immediately with containment booms to hold back the slick? Was it really that outlandish to expect an oil leak to come from this?

Sure, containment booms (like we used for the Exxon Valdez) wouldn't have solved the problem on their own - and likely wouldn't have been able to contain all the oil coming up from 5,000+ feet down - but it would have at least been able to keep a good portion of it from spreading out.

This response has been pathetic, to be kind. Why we thought that the oil companies could honestly handle this on their own is beyond me.

Re:Why are we responding so damned slow? (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078292)

Considering the weather conditions that have largely persisted since the explosion, what exact good would putting out booms earlier done? Other than, of course, BP and the politicians briefly looking a little better (and by that I mean very briefly). I'd prefer responses that actually do something to responses which seem more designed as photo-ops for BP's CEO and the President.

Re:Why are we responding so damned slow? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078444)

Considering the weather conditions that have largely persisted since the explosion, what exact good would putting out booms earlier done?

I accept that we would not have been able to contain all of the oil with booms - I even said that in my post. A lot of that is due to not knowing which direction the oil will rise from the sea floor. However, with a sensible number of booms we could have contained a good portion of the oil. Instead we have essentially contained none of the oil so far. Our best strategy to date has been to attempt a "controlled burn" of some of the oil from the surface, which hasn't done a whole lot (while allowing more of it to disperse further at the same time.

Being as we can't stop it from coming out of the sea floor, we need to at least contain it on the surface - which is exactly what booms are for. Unfortunately we've blown our chance to do that now as well; we could try to contain just the sheen part of the slick at this point but that wouldn't do much in terms of preventing environmental disaster.

If you have a suggestion for the problem, now or earlier, I'd love to hear it. And if you know of a way that we could have contained the slick immediately after the rig sank, I'd like to hear that as well. Unfortunately the strategy implemented so far has been do to nothing, which is accomplishing ... nothing.

Re:Why are we responding so damned slow? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078450)

To be fair, even 24-48 hours after the destruction of the oil rig, the government, which had been investigating the situation using ROVs, believed that there was no leak. Therefore, there was no reason to be placing booms and organizing a response of the nature that is actually necessary.

I look in a mirror and see the cause! (0, Flamebait)

Old Flatulent 1 (1692076) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078242)

We will all just have to get in our SUVs and drive down to the nearest oil company head office and protest! I remember not too long ago when a Republican President poo hooed the heck out of Al Gore about his statement that the "greatest threat to American society is our reliance upon the personal automobile". This statement might have cost him the election, certainly in Florida the result would have been different if not for his political gaff of telling the truth! His statement is still far too true to be funny....

If there is anyway BP is going to actually pay for this disaster then we all are going to lose. BP will not survive this and will just be absorbed by some other multinational. Perhaps even some corporate entity associated with the Bush and Chaney crowd. It was all well and good to bail out the auto industry but we are just delaying the inevitable social collapse caused by our collective stupidity and greed!

This doesn't mean we should stop drilling. (3, Insightful)

Luke has no name (1423139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078244)

Do people really think offshore drilling should be stopped because of this?

Transitions should be made to other forms of power, but my Lord, what else is there to substitute for oil for transportation in the short-mid term? Nothing. We need to get more oil. The WSJ reported that the Department of the Interior knew about failings of shear rams in deepwater conditions (the mechanism that should have shut this well down) since 2004 but didn't do anything about it.

Thanks, Uncle Sam. BP holds blame, the US government holds blame, and Transocean holds blame. But we should increase safety mechanism reliability and oversight without going Greenpeace on this.

Note of credibility: I love LA and am from the Gulf Coast. I grasp what this can do to the local economy and my oyster appetite. I can see rigs from 1/4 mile from my old back yard. Without proper safeguards, this shit happens. But it's unavoidable that we drill. Let's manage risk better.

Re:This doesn't mean we should stop drilling. (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078316)

Let's manage risk better.

Risk management costs money. Why pay for risk management when you can ignore it; and when worst comes to worst and the government tries to get cash out of you, tie them up in courts forever.

Re:This doesn't mean we should stop drilling. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078372)

I don't think it's economically feasible to stop drilling. But at the same time it raises a lot of serious questions about how to make sure it happens in a way that doesn't end up doing so much harm. But let me ask you this, if you were a shrimp fisherman down there, would you want them to keep drilling, and what would be your feelings when everyone said "Ultimately, your way of life is expendable."

Perhaps what we should have is a flat tax on all oil extraction, held in trust and payable to those who are damaged when things go wrong. If nothing goes wrong during the process, and ten years pass without any further incidents (to take care of bad cleanup, as is happening with the Alberta oil sands), then the companies get the money, with whatever interest it accrues, back.

Corporate Weaselspeak (4, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078266)

An NPR interview this morning with a BP executive asked two simple questions:
1. Are you responsible for the leak?
2. Will you pay for the results of the leak?

The response was along the lines of "We will cooperate with cleanup and containment efforts, and will pay any legitimate claims."
I think this will be a long (decades?), dirty fight to hold BP accountable.

...what do we do about it? (3, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078284)

We all die, of course. It's the end of the world. This is utterly catastrophic and utterly unprecedented. No such thing could ever happen naturally, At no time in the entire history of the planet has erosion or tectonic activity ever ruptured a large oil reservoir. There are no bacteria that metabolize oil and it does not oxidize or decay naturally in any way, and it kills everything it touches. It will float on the surface of the ocean forever, bringing an end to all life.

Maybe it's just what we need... (4, Insightful)

MpVpRb (1423381) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078332)

to finally convince people to support alternative energy.

Very Bad but not Cataclysmic (4, Interesting)

uncadonna (85026) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078366)

The Gulf of Mexico is huge compared to a sailboat, but tiny compared to the whole ocean. The volume of the ocean is 1.5 x 10^18 tons. Even if a ton of oil contaminates a million tons of water, 50,000 barrels a day would take over half a million years to do the job by my calculations.

It may be a decent sized oil reservoir (it is far from "one of the largest ever" per the article) but it isn't THAT big. Sometime in the next half million years it will stop gushing on its own. Probably before that.

This is a very serious event on the scale of the Gulf, but it is nowhere near as serious as ocean acidification from atmospheric CO2, which affects the entire ocean.

Bad hell! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078380)

I just got me a row boat and a bucket. Free oil! Woo Hoo!!! The arabs can kiss my oily ass!

Could it happen in the North Sea? (2)

Bureaucromancer (1303477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078420)

The thing that's been on my mind a lot over the last couple of days is that I've heard numerous accusations over the years that the whole Gulf offshore industry is a health and safety nightmare compared to European (notably North Sea) operations... While we don't know the cause of the explosion yet (and, obviously, North Sea rigs have had explosive accidents) does anyone have any real commentary about Euro vs NA safety, and/or the likelihood of an equivalent type of accident in Europe?

Any mirrored sites? (1)

irreverant (1544263) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078458)

Some of the links have been /. and are unavailable at the moment, any one have mirrored sites?

1day, 1week, 1month (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32078468)

So a week after the event, it was just garnering enough attention that law-makers decide to do something. And now, 2 weeks after the event, we're talking about possible unimaginable catastrophic future for oceanic life.

Why did everyone sit on their hands the first week? You're telling me NO ONE had a contingency plan in place for such an event to occur?

I wonder if decreasing the entire US coastal fishing industry by half or more for a few years, or a decade, will make people wake up to the consequences of our actions?

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