Close
Log in
Please enter your login details

Skip to main content

Breaking News
  • UEFA president Michel Platini says he will not challenge Sepp Blatter for FIFA presidency next year
  • Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has asked the US, EU and G7 countries to freeze Russian assets until Russian forces withdraw from Ukrainian territory – REUTERS
  • French President François Hollande says if Russian troops are on Ukrainian soil, it would be “intolerable and unacceptable” – REUTERS
  • Ukraine: a military source says Russian-backed separatists have taken the strategic high point of Savur-Mohyla in the east, which looks out over wide areas of the region – REUTERS
  • French President François Hollande says Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad “is not a partner in the fight against terrorism” in Syria and Iraq as “he is an objective ally of the jihadists” – AFP
  • Separatists, backed by Russian soldiers, enter Ukrainian south-eastern town of Novoazovsk, says pro-government fighter (Reuters)

a human, economic and environmental disaster

It was an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20 that created this oil spill, the consequences of which have never been seen before. Since then, British Petroleum has tried numerous tactics to stop the oil leaking. According to BP, around 800,000 litres (approximately 5,000 barrels) of oil have been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico per day. Many scientists though believe this calculation to be a significant underestimation on BP's behalf. They are suggesting the real figure could be between 70,000 and 100,000 barrrels per day, or more than 15 million litres.

The oil spill has had a disastrous effect on fishing, which is now forbidden in large areas of the gulf. A state of emergency was declared for the fishing sector in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The White House called the oil leak the worst environmental catastrophe in the history of the United States.

American authorities have launched civil and criminal investigations into the spill. The courts will decide if laws protecting water safety, endangered species, migratory birds and oil drilling safety have been broken. This legislation determines liability for clean-up costs and and other costs incurred by the federal state. Charges could also be brought regarding the deaths of the 11 workers who were on the oil rig when it exploded. BP has already accepted to pay 370 million euros in fines and damages in various out-of-court settlements relating to the spill.

The oil leak could last for months to come and the unprecendented nature of it means that experts assessing the damage to underwater and coastal ecosystems are unable to predict the exact scale of the disaster. The head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, recently said that the long-term effects of the spill on marine life remain unknown. Similarly, no-one knows the effect on the Gulf's food chain of the chemical dispersant used to treat the leaked oil.

For Douglas Rader, head oceanographer at the Environmental Defence Fund agency, the leak is affecting ecosystems both on the coast and far out at sea, something not seen before. The Gulf of Mexico has one of the richest supply of fish and sea-food in the world and provides around 10 billion dollars in revenue to the states around it, notably Louisiana. One study by the University of Miami suggests the spill zone has almost tripled in size in the last month and now covers 24.400 square kilometres, an area the size of Sardinia.

Majoroilspills3.jpg

noComment

Twitter
More from us on Twitter:
follow us: twitter.com/euronews