Blog - BPs Oil Drilling Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico
Friday, 19 August 2011 19:11
This morning I set out on a long flight to investigate reports of oil sightings near BP’s Macondo well, the site where the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank into the Gulf killing 11 workers and spewing at least 4.9 million barrels of oil. Whenever I here reports like this I tend to get antsy and want to fly out to see for myself so I can document and report back. So, thanks to the generous support of Lamar Billups, I was lucky enough to fly again with Bonny Schumaker of the nonprofit On Wings of Care and GRN’s Canvass Director, Tarik Zawia. You can read Bonny's report from the flyover here. It was a long and productive flight so there are lots of things that I could write about. Nevertheless, I will cut to the chase and just highlight the most important things.
First, we spotted oil on the surface above the exact location where the Deepwater Horizon and Macondo well are located, in Mississippi Canyon Block 252. Take a look at the captions in the photos for coordinates. Obviously, from the air I cannot confirm that the oil is BP’s and from their Macondo well. I can only report that I spotted oil above that location. I reported this to the National Response Center and had a lengthy conversation with a Coast Guard official. Notice that the oil seems to be clustered in round formations. I have no idea why or how this could happen and neither could the USGC official. I can only speculate. The formations are clearly rainbow in color and in some cases have also a brownish tint. Take a look:
Second, we spotted an oil slick near the Taylor energy leak that has been leaking since 2004. The last time I visited this site was in the spring (with Bonny) and there were no boats or rigs nearby. I posted a blog about the leak then, but if you missed it please have a look here. I also filed a report with the National Response Center and filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement seeking any and all information on the leak, particularly what was being done to stop it and enforce the Clean Water Act fines and penalties that should be levied. Today there was, once again, activity at the location. Go figure. It looks as if there is a submersible deployed from the vessel just above where the leak is emanating from.
Third, we spotted two or three leaks in and around Breton Sound. I say maybe two or three because two of the leaks may be connected. With at least two of the leaks there are clear sources of the oil. Again, check the photo captions for coordinates.
Finally, the best news of the day was that we spotted 4 Whale Sharks and three Sperm Whales! It was nice to see something spectacular and happy. We also saw Bottlenose dolphins, Hammerhead sharks, sting rays and lots of schools of fish! By far, that was the highlight of the day.
I have a feeling this is not the last we will be hearing about what all was documented today and I am sure lots of questions will be coming my way once this blog gets posted and reposted (please share!). In the meantime, take a moment to help protect the Gulf and those amazing creatures we spotted today by taking action on our action page, Bpdrillingdisaster.org. If anything, today’s multiple oil sightings just screams for the need for a Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council to watchdog what is going on out there.
Jonathan Henderson is the Coastal Resiliency Organizer for GRN.