Friday, April 30, 2010
The Times-Picayune reports New Orleans has been overwhelmed by a “pungent smell” and that officials believe is the onslaught of the massive oil spill, pushed ashore by 20 mph winds, now five times larger than originally thought.
The White House announced Thursday that it would take a more active role in trying to contain the looming ecological and environmental disaster. At a White House news briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano labeled the accident “a spill of national significance.” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency.
Meanwhile, fingers of oily sheen had reached the fragile Mississippi River delta late Thursday with thicker oil was about five miles offshore. Migrating birds and others nesting on the shoreline, such as pelicans, and even river otters and mink living on Louisiana’s barrier marshes were among the animals being hit first by the massive oil spill. Oil clumps seabirds’ feathers, leaving them without insulation and when they preen, they swallow it. Prolonged contact with the skin can cause burns. The oil slick imperils one of the world’s richest seafood grounds, teeming with shrimp, oysters and other marine life.
The spewing oil, about 210,000 gallons a day, comes from a well drilled by the rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded in flames April 20, killing 11 workers and sank two days later. British Petroleum was operating the rig owned by Transocean Ltd.
President Obama recently bowed to Republican and oil industry pressure to open huge swaths of U.S. shoreline to new oil exploration. From New Jersey, running south to Florida, and along the eastern Gulf of Mexico, would under Obama’s new energy plan, would be approved for developed and exploration.
But the mantra of “drill, baby drill,” may soon ring hollow as the latest oil rig disaster has the potential to dwarf the catastrophic Exxon Valdez oil spill.