Major Oil Spill Worries the United States

An environmental disaster has occurred off the coast of the United States when a huge oil rig collapsed, spilling crude oil into the ocean. President Barack Obama has declared it as the US government’s number 1 priority to contain the spill in an attempt to prevent any further damage to the environment.

Deepwater Horizon was the oil rig rented by BP, near the Gulf of Mexico. After an explosion 2 days ago, the rig has been in flames ever since and finally gave way this morning. Now massive amounts of oil are flowing from the previously floating platform into the Gulf. There is also a risk of it washing ashore in the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, making this the worst oil spill since the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled 11 million gallons back in 1989.

At the time of the explosion, there were 126 people on board the oil rig. Eleven of these people are still missing, and four others are in critical condition, fighting for their lives. The incident was an absolute tragedy, both for the environment and for the families of those lost in the explosion.

At the moment, the majority of the oil is around 45 miles away from the coast; a slick can be seen on the water’s surface, measuring a mile wide and 5 miles long. This size is considered a major spill. BP have already sent special ships in order to help with the clean up operation, and all efforts are being made to prevent the oil from reaching the shores of America.

The oil rig is owned by a Swiss company called Transocean; on hearing the news that there had been an explosion, they tried to use a special under water robot to cut off the flow of crude oil, but the machine failed and was unable to stop the oil. A spokesperson said that this failure was due to the inability to “stem the flow of hydrocarbons prior to the rig sinking”. The robot is designed to activate a device located 5000 feet below the water’s surface, on the seabed. This device can completely cut off the flow of oil, so if it had worked the environmental damage could have been significantly reduced.

Our American escorts have been very concerned since the incident occurred, and are keeping their fingers crossed that the spill can be isolated and cleaned up quickly.