On Yahoo News this morning is yet another story from the Associated Press about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. See the story HERE. One part caught my eye.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara faced questions on all three network television morning shows Friday about whether the government has done enough to push oil company BP PLC to plug the underwater leak and protect the coast.
At a depth of 5,000 feet underwater, you don’t just go down and “plug a leak.” It’s not that simple. No ROV is going to be able to go down there and stick a giant cork in the hole. 5,000 feet is a looooong way down. Go out on some straight stretch of road and look at something a mile away. That’s how far the leak in Mississippi Canyon 252 is from the surface.
In truth, I have no idea how you would go about accomplishing such a task of stopping this leak. But I know that it cannot be easy. Drilling the hole in the first place is hard enough. And I know that nothing will happen quickly. Some reports indicate that it may be as much as 90 days before the leak can be stopped. Let’s hope those making such predictions are being unnecessarily pessimistic so that if it happens in 30 days we’ll all be happy.
Meanwhile, oil continues to leak out every hour of every day.
Watching the local news, I see that the predictions show that the oil will spread out to the east. This is probably due to the strong outflow current from the Mississippi River more than anything else. Below is a graphic I lifted from an online Associated Press article. Sure enough, it shows that one part of the oil slick has now spread eastward beyond the Florida state line. However, there are two factors in where the oil will go from there: water current and wind direction.
From this point, there’s a good possibility that the spill could drift northward to the coast with onshore winds. I hate being a pessimist, but in my mind I can see oil on beaches as far east as Panama City, Florida.
Of course, there’s always a possibility that a strong cold front with north winds could come and push the oil further out into the gulf. There, wave action and the sun would break much of it down.
As a pilot for Petroleum Helicopters, I often saw small oil spills out in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil companies are diligent about not spilling oil but it happens. Even small amounts of oil make a very big mess. If a mechanic on a shrimp boat or workboat does an oil change and the guy tosses the old filter over the side, you can absolutely tell where it lands by the sheen it produces until all the oil percolates out of it.
On a calm day, spills are very apparent, and they linger. They are also easily spotted in rough water, but a funny thing happens: The waves quickly break up the oil to nothingness. But in this case we’re talking about a whole lot more oil. This stuff ain’t going away on its own.
This whole thing is odd. It’s like watching an explosion in slow motion. And as this event progresses, I get the feeling that we’re still not getting the full story.