Disaster on Gulf Offshore Platform: a Grim Tragedy on this 40th Earth Day
Posted April 23, 2010
The disastrous explosion, fire, and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico is a tragic reminder that offshore oil and gas exploration is dangerous business. This is a terrible loss – a loss no one wanted to see, but unfortunately, one that many families now have to face. Our hearts go out to the loved ones of the 17 workers who were injured and those 11 who are still missing.
The rig burned for 30 hours before sinking into about 5000 feet of water 50 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana. Although it is often claimed that advanced technology makes offshore oil and gas exploration safe, this and other accidents show that even the most state-of-the art operations still involve very serious dangers for workers and the environment.
The measure of environmental impacts of the accident are yet unknown, but there will almost certainly be significant ecological and economic costs in the Gulf region. Coast Guard investigators interviewed by CNN stated that the Deepwater Horizon rig was producing about 336,000 gallons per day of crude oil – it currently is unknown whether and how much oil is leaking into the ocean from the well head. The Coast Guard also stated that about 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel could leak into the ocean from the sunken rig.
On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the Deepwater catastrophe was a strong reminder that there are significant dangers associated with offshore oil and gas exploration. As the debate over our nation’s energy future is expected to heat up in Washington next week, this tragedy will serve as an unfortunate reminder that we should focus on energy efficiency and clean energy alternatives, rather than increasing our reliance on dirty fuels and dangerous technologies.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.
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