Environmental dilapidation is usually known to be a result of human economic activities and endeavors. Frequently, these activities end with the discharging of harmful pollutants into the air and clean water bodies, hence preventing their resourceful intents to harm the health of those exposed to them. Such environmental issues costs a countrys economy and its peoples welfare, while the same costs and magnitude are subsequently unmeasured and unknown. Therefore, a country is usually left with unsatisfactory information on the level of damage caused by these environmental disasters. This paper is therefore going to look at the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and some of the environmental concerns arising from it.
The root cause of the problem
The Gulf of Mexico is an American treasure that borders Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Many people who live these states largely depend on the Gulf for job and survival with the fishing industry drawing billions of pounds from fish and shellfish each year. However, on 20th April, 2010, a disaster struck the region as an oil rig located off the coast of Louisiana exploded in a series of glitches. The oil rig named Deepwater Horizon, was drilling for oil about a mile below sea level when the explosion occurred and despite killing some on board, it proved to be catastrophic as it broadly affected the larger environment. Deepwater Horizon was owned by Transocean Limited but was leased to the British Petroleum (BP). Five million barrels of oil is estimated to have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico by end of August 2010. It is the largest oil spill in Americas coastal waters since it lasted three months (Farrell, 2011).
The Threat to the Environment
Millions of gallons of oil and gas were gushed upwards as a result of the damaged well and also caused a massive oil slick to spread across the Gulf of Mexico. The oil spill was predominantly serious due to the fact that it hit an ecosystem that was previously struggling from fishing, development, and pollution pressure. Subsequent to the oil spill, hundreds of thousands of mammals, fish, seabirds, and jellyfish were smothered by the gelatinous thick oil while marine turtles were washed up dead on the beaches (Croitoru & Sarraf, 2010). The ecological effects were also not limited to both soil and water contamination as weathered oil could be easily washed down into the water column to settle on the oceans bottom floor. These effects are brought about by the processes of dispersion, dissolution, emulsification, evaporation, and photo-oxidation which are all promoted by the oil spill. The lower oxygen levels in the water are largely contributed by the fact that most microorganisms digested the oil resulting from the spill.
Proposed solutions to the issue
In order to attack the oil slick from different fronts, a fleet of some barges, tugs, skimmers and other vessels were deployed. One of their main plan included collecting oil from the surface. Sponges, sandbags, and long miles of booms were also put in place to try hold the oil until it could be recovered or dispersed, while planes dropped subsea dispersants that would reduce the damage. In some instances, the coast guard attempted burning off some of the oil (Schoen, 2010). The environmental clean up processes were undertaken and funded by BP as various oil-water separation and sand decontamination technologies are continuously been deployed. BPs containment cap ended up containing the well leak. However, this whole issue led to the proposal of tougher environmental laws relating to offshore drilling.
Possible consequences if the issue if unchecked
The oil spill would have a long term effect on the general productivity of the ecosystem and gradually deplete the lives of most organisms living in the water. It could also lead to human health hazard because oil contains a string of saturated compounds which include hydrocarbons known as biomarkers. These biomarkers are liable for much of the toxicity since they do not degenerate very quickly. This environmental issue could also have a long term effect on the surrounding communities that deeply rely on fishing as means of livelihood, and would also see a decline in tourism income (Croitoru & Sarraf, 2010).
Relation to Saint Leos core values of Respect and Responsible Stewardship
Since our creator blessed us with an abundance of resources as seen along the Gulf of Mexico, its our duty in the spirit of service to employ all our resources into protecting both our ecosystem and community, in order to promote sanctity, serenity, and development from such man-made disasters.
Croitoru, L., & Sarraf, M. (2010). The Cost of Environmental Degradation: Case Studies from the MiIDle East and North Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications. ISBN-0821383183, 9780821383186.
Farrell, C. (2011). Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill. North Mankato, Minnesota: ABDO. ISBN
Schoen, J. W. (2010). Clear Solutions Elusive on Gulf Oil Spill. Retrieved from
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