Officials Clamor for a Spill Solution - Oceana USA
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May 10, 2010

Officials Clamor for a Spill Solution

After this weekend’s attempt to place a dome on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill failed, and as tar balls began washing ashore in Alabama, officials are scrambling to figure out what to do next.

One plan involves building up almost 70 miles of barrier islands by dredging sand and mud, including some from the bottom of the Mississippi River, and depositing it onto the outer shores of the islands, a process that would normally require years of environmental assessment.

Sediments from the river are likely to be contaminated with a host of other chemicals, like mercury, which could add insult to injury in the already badly contaminated Gulf waters.

Some of these islands are home to bird and wildlife sanctuaries, including the Breton National Wildlife Refuge. The plan may not work because the barrier islands have shrunk significantly, in part as a result of human engineering that has altered the flow of Mississippi for a variety of reasons — including in efforts to facilitate oil and gas production.  

This so-called solution also may introduce additional contaminants into the system, which could cause continued problems for years to come.

Another “junk option” includes clogging the well’s failed blowout preventer with debris such as golf balls and shredded tires. But any further damage to the blowout preventer resulting from these efforts could make oil flow at 12 times the current rate.

And BP continues to pump dispersant chemicals underwater at an unprecedented depth. Since these chemicals are toxic, this practice would almost certainly be illegal on any other day, and it remains to be seen what effects the chemicals will ultimately have on marine life.

Desperate measures, indeed, for a debacle that should never have happened in the first place, and for which there is no end in sight.

Tell President Obama and Congress today to ban new offshore drilling to prevent this from happening in other sensitive coastal areas.