Friday, July 16, 2010

BP stops Gulf oil leak, but the disaster continues

So BP has apparently stopped the oil leak -- for now.

And not a dead sea turtle too soon. (Seriously, click on this link to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which is posting "daily wildlife collection reports" as part of its oil spill response. It's sad and depressing and terrifying.)

Thanks BP! You're the best!


No, not really. You're not the best. And the catastrophe isn't over. Brad Plumer:

[T]he Macondo site won't be fully and permanently plugged until BP finishes drilling a relief well. Kate Sheppard has a great piece today about some of the challenges involved there, including this useful warning: "A relief well drilled to quell last year's Montara blowout off the coast of Australia took five tries before it succeeded -- with an average of one week between them." Now, BP claims it can bottle up the well once and for all by July 29, though do note that just happens to be the date of BP's second-quarter shareholder meeting.

And this doesn't mean the oil-spill disaster is over. There's a lot of crude bobbing along in the Gulf right now: Scientists estimate that between 92 million and 182 million gallons have gushed out into the ocean since the Deepwater Horizon platform first blew up back in April. BP is still using dispersants to break up the oil and send it down to the sea floor, even though no one quite knows how the chemicals might affect marine life in the area. And note that oil's still washing ashore, and Bobby Jindal's artificial "barrier islands," which were supposed to protect Louisiana, are now crumbling.

There may be reason for "cautious optimism," as Steve Benen puts it, but I'm afraid my anger is still -- and I think rightly -- getting the better of me. I want this to work, of course I do, but BP and its enablers must pay for the damage they have done, the full extent of which we cannot yet grasp.

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