Photo Essay – Massive Oil Spill Buried in News

Two ships float near in the massive oil slick spreading in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank last week off the coast of Louisiana.

Update from NPR: Officials had estimated about 42,000 gallons of oil a day was leaking into the gulf from the blown-out well. That would be closer to 210,000 gallons a day with the new estimates. Eleven workers are missing and presumed dead, and more than 100 escaped the blast, the cause of which has not been determined.


Data taken from NPR’s and National Geographic’s coverage of the spill.  Pictures are linked with their original websites.

More than 5,000 barrels of oil have poured into the Gulf of Mexico since a deep water drilling rig leased to BP exploded, caught fire and sank last week.  Oil has spread over an area 100 miles long and 45 miles wide.   Authorities will not estimate how much oil has spilled altogether since the April 21 explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig site, which is leased to the energy company BP. Oil continues to flow at the rate of 1,000 barrels (42,000 gallons) a day from damaged pipes 5,000 feet underwater, the Coast Guard’s Landry said.

The oil spill is now just 20 miles from the coast of Louisiana.  Offshore of the Delta National Wildlife Refuge—home to American alligators, brown pelicans, peregrine falcons, and piping plovers—workers were positioning long, tubelike booms in the Gulf on Tuesday in an attempt to keep any approaching oil at bay.

For the last three days, robotic submarines have been trying to activate a large valve on the floor of the Gulf to shut off the oil leak but the operation hasn’t been successful.  The Coast Guard is considering setting fire to the Gulf, to try to burn off as much oil as possible before the slick makes landfall.

This graphic shows the current location of the oil sheen produced by the Deepwater Horizon incident. Unified Command Center

This graphic shows the current location of the oil sheen produced by the Deepwater Horizon incident. MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA

A WORLD OF SPILLS This map shows the 439 reported oil spills of ten metric tons or more from tankers and barges between 1989 and 2007. Since the 1980s, spills of 700 metric tons or more dropped from an average of nine a year to four. NGM Maps.

A South Korean environmentalist held a mallard covered in oil after a tanker was punctured in 2007. The oil is washing ashore and blackening an 11-mile stretch of scenic coastline. The 2.7 million-gallon oil spill is Korea's worst. (Korean Federation for Environmental Movement via Associated Press)

Korean oil spill in Yellow Sea, 2007

Korean Oil Spill 2007

This isn’t an American problem.  This is a worldwide problem that affects everyone and everything.  Drive less, use less plastic, power down, and vote.

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