Failures Pile Up As The Big Black Blob Makes Landfall

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We last left you on the oil front on the premise that BP was having some success with it’s method ‘top kill’ to curtail the gushing oil. I will be honest, I knew later that day that it had already failed. But it was Memorial Day weekend, and beers were awaiting consumption.

So why did it fail? In short, like every method BP has unsuccessfully utilized, they were not prepared for this catastrophe one bit. ‘Top kill’ specifically failed though because the amount of mud they were pumping into the hole could not overcome the pressure of ‘oil faithful’ as I’m coining it.

The next attempt that the geniuses at BP employed was to cut off the damaged pipe that leads to the blowout preventer. This pipe is the reason that nothing can be securely fastened to actually cap the blowout preventer. They used a diamond-tipped saw operated by an underwater robot, but this morning hit a snag because the saw got stuck in the pipe it was trying to cut off—another failure to the list. That’s how many now? Repairing the blowout preventer, using chemical dispersants, lowering two containment domes, attaching a diversion tube, top kill, and cutting the pipe. By my count that’s seven different failed techniques from the brains at BP within six weeks—thankfully they do know how to generate between $7.5 and $8 billion in cash flow though.

While other coastal areas of the United States were enjoying their three-day weekend on the sand, Gulf Coasters were prepping for the landfall of the big black blob. Ever see the movie “The Blob” with Steve McQueen? It’s coming, they know it’s coming, and there is nothing they can do to stop it (especially BP).

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Landfall chart courtesy NY Times. This doesn't even include Florida on this map.

Landfall chart courtesy NY Times. This doesn't even include Florida on this map.

Tar balls began arriving early in the weekend across various beaches of the Gulf. Cassi Callaway, executive director of Mobile Baykeeper, pointed out in one New York Times report, “There are fish kills everywhere. One of our friends was on Dauphin Island when the tar ball washed up. Her 12-year-old daughter just started crying.”

Check out these informative interactive maps and charts on where oil is, wildlife affected, and the methods being used.

This despair will exist for years and years to come, but also filling in this weekend along with the tar balls was continued anger and early signs of justice. Yesterday, the Obama administration announced that it had begun civil and criminal investigations into the disaster. So who’s on the list to blame for disregarding important safety regulations? Certainly the government has to hold its share of responsibility for letting the culture of drilling project approvals become so pathetically ignorant—and Obama admitted this last week. BP is on the guilty party list of course, along with other corporations like Transocean, Cameron, and Halliburton, among others.

But the scent of hopefully impending justice is bittersweet. It’s like when you’re a kid and some bully comes by and stomps your sandcastle. Your parents may have seen it and let the parents of the bully know, and you might even see him getting a few over his dad’s knee. But does that actually bring back the sandcastle that you labored over?

The fishing industry, a line of work that the Gulf heavily depends on, is basically dead in the water for years to come (the federal waters boundary closed to fishing is ever expanding). The tourist industry of the white sand beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast, also dying—run, don’t walk from the blob. Hundreds of species of marine wildlife will see their populations dwindle. And with a WSW swell about to bring some knee-to-waist-high surf to the Gulf, expect those waves to be swathed in the black gold.—Ryan Brower

What You Can Do

  1. Federal Action Alert - Help us urge the Obama administration to demand more of a response at the spill site, and reinstate our Federal Offshore Moratorium. Over 10000 letters have been sent.
  2. Gulf Oil Spill Tracker - Surfrider Foundation and SkyTruth have launched an interactive website, that lets you document what’s happening to your coast. Using an interactive map, you can report text descriptions, photos, and links to video of your beach before oil hits and after.
  3. State Action Alert for Special Session (FL Only) – Our legislators are holding up Gov. Crist’s request for a special session to make oil drilling a 2010 ballet item.
  4. Training – BP has hired PEC Premier to organize training throughout Florida. There are a number of locations this weekend and next. Once you have done this step contact to volunteer your time.
  5. Walk your beaches daily to ensure no garbage or plastic debris is present. Do not disturb bird nesting areas!
  6. Save the Date: Hands Across the Sand Nationwide, June 26th event. Stay Tuned!

Contacts

  • To report oiled wildlife, please call 1-866-557-1401
  • To discuss spill related damage, please call 1-800-440-0858.
  • To report oiled shoreline or request volunteer information, please call 1-866-448-5816.


Head to Surfrider’s oil drilling specific blog oilonthebeach.blogspot.com for constant updates and tons more information on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.