As of today, one month later, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is leaking 10,000 gallons a day into the Gulf of Mexico. Far worse than anyone had expected, but this still is not a definitive number, it is only an estimate. The oil has penetrated the marshland of Louisiana, home to many species of wildlife, where over 150 dead sea turtles have washed onto shore. Oil has also just entered what is called the “loop current” in the Gulf, a faster current that travels along the Gulf across the Florida coast and on to the Atlantic coast. And now the fumes from the oil are causing toxicity-related sicknesses in residents along the coastal towns and cities of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
With all of these tragic effects from the spill, the government seems to have turned a blind eye to the disaster. In light of BP’s denial of responsibilty, a few Senators sought to raise the cap on liability for oil companies in such situations. It is currently set at $75 million, and the proposal would set the cap to $10 billion. The proposal was blocked by a Senator from the landlocked state of Oklahoma, James M. Inhofe, claiming that the cap would not be fair to independent oil companies(per LA Times).
The New York Times reported that scientists have stated that the NOAA(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has not made any tests public on the effects of the spill. The 5 NOAA ships that are in the Gulf are only doing plankton research – not oil research. There is also no exact tally on the amount of oil spilled, or the amount spilling out everyday that the leak is not plugged. There are research boats contracted by BP, but none of their data has been released.
The residents who live nearby, as well as fishermen who are cleaning up, are suffering from headaches, sore throats, hacking coughs, and stuffy noses just from breathing the air. The Huffington Post reports that the EPA(Environmental Protection Agency) had posted air quality reports on its website, but then removed them 2 days later. The data in those reports stated that on-shore, the federal limits for VOC’s were being exceeded by 100-1000 times. After criticism from the media and scientific community, the EPA placed the data back on the website, claiming it had never been removed. The air quality is so bad that surrounding oil rigs were temporarily shut down for fear of fires. In spite of this, no move by the federal government has been made to relocate residents, or even provide respirators to the fishermen who are working in the waters.
In case there is any confusion on the severity of the situation, The Huffington Post has a series of devastating photos from the site. It seems the government should see this to grasp that it has let the people down and needs to step up.