With tar balls washing up in Galveston Texas, the gulf oil spill now directly effects all five of the gulf states. Texas now joins the other Gulf states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida impacted by the oil that continues to gush from BP’s broken underwater well. Some 492 miles of U.S. shoreline across the five Gulf states have been touched by the disaster.
Oil cleanup efforts have been hampered this week by rough seas and high winds, the effects brought about from the first hurricane in the gulf. The Deepwater site was spared a direct hit by hurricane Alex but it demonstrated the precarious clean up operation going into the hurricane season. Officials hope that a giant Taiwanese ship, described as the world’s largest oil skimming vessel, soon will be in operation to bolster those efforts.
The “A Whale” tanker cruised near the Deepwater Horizon oil spill but Bob Grantham, a spokesman for the super-skimmer’s owner, TMT Shipping, said results were “inconclusive in light of the rough sea state we are encountering.” Grantham said the company, working with the U.S. Coast Guard, would continue testing the ship “to make operational and technological adjustments” for the supertanker. The ship is believed to be able to suck up to 500,000 barrels (21 million gallons) of oily water a day through its “jaws”, a series of vents on the side of the ship. By comparison, more than 500 smaller vessels in 10 weeks have only managed to collect some 31.3 million gallons of oil-water mix between them.
The U.S. government estimates that 60,000 barrels of oil spew from the well each day.
NOAA experts calculate that most of Florida’s west coast should not be impacted by the Deepwater Horizon accident, while the Florida Keys, Miami and Fort Lauderdale stand a 60%-80% chance of seeing some oil, due to ocean current patterns. Federal scientists also estimate that coastlines from the Mississippi River Delta to the Florida panhandle have the “highest probability for impact” (81%-100%). Much of Texas’ coastline should be spared from the spill, as well as most of the Eastern Seaboard.
Numerous attempts to stop the flow have failed. BP is now in the process of drilling a relief well that should be completed by next month and, it is hoped, stop the oil gusher. BP says the cost of the response has surpassed $3 billion, not including a separate $20 billion fund the company created for damages related to the spill.
It’s news is expected for the first time that the impact of this spill will be felt by another country. Tens of thousands of Canadian migratory birds are threatened by the environmental crisis caused by a spreading slick of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, says a Canadian bird expert Ted Cheskey.
Mr. Cheskey is the manager of bird conservation with Nature Canada, said “dozens of bird species use the Gulf coastal region for feeding and other purposes on their way from Canada to Central and South America, in addition to those who spend longer stretches in the affected areas.”