Exxon Valdez, Source for image is Scientific American
Summary Include volume of oil American use each day.
Oil wells off gulf, show pinpoint of all wells
What we don’t know…
Spilling the Story Joelle S. Underwood and Janelle A. Schwartz Loyola University New Orleans Photo: Times-Picayune , 2010
The BP/Deepwater Horizon well exploded on April 20, 2010, killing eleven people. The resulting oil slick was visible on satellite images just six days later. As of July 20, 2010, scientists estimate that approximately 5.5 million barrels of the crude oil-methane mixture will have escaped from the damaged well. Preliminary estimates indicate that over 500 miles of shoreline have been impacted. Photo: NASA Images, 2010
On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, releasing 257,000 barrels of oil into the sound. Over 1300 miles of coastline were impacted. In response to the spill, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 was enacted to improve the United State’s ability to “prevent and respond to oil spills.” Photo: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, 1989
On June 3, 1979, the Ixtoc-1 well off the Mexican coast exploded. Over the ten months that it took to get the well under control, more than three million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, impacting both United States and Mexican coasts. Photo: NOAA, 1979
Exxon-Valdez (0.3) Ixtoc-1 (3.3) BP/Deepwater Horizon (5.5)* Daily U.S. Oil Consumption (20) Volume of Oil Spills Compared to U.S. Oil Use *as of July 20, 2010 oil (millions of barrels) Photo: Times-Picayune , 2010, Graph: JSU, 2010
Drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, specifically off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, account for 12% of United States oil production and 25% of United States natural gas production. Image: MMS, 2008
Over 50% of the United States’ coastal wetlands are located along the Gulf of Mexico. The marshland is a vital habitat for numerous species of fish and wildlife, not to mention humans. For example, in addition to the waterfowl that nest here, 75% of all birds that migrate through the United States stop over on the beaches and marshlands of the Gulf. Photo: Times-Picayune , 2010
The Gulf of Mexico supports some of the world’s most fertile fisheries. For example, Gulf shrimp account for 70% of all United States shrimp. Gulf oysters account for 59% of all United States oyster harvests. In addition, recreational fishing accounted for 190 million fish caught in the Gulf in 2008. Photo: Times-Picayune , 2010
Some Remaining Questions What is the impact of dispersants? How much oil is in the water column rather than on the surface? What is the long-term impact on fish and wildlife? What is the long-term impact on the people and culture of the Gulf? Photo: Times-Picayune , 2010
Photo: Times-Picayune , 2010 So what is the “truth” of the Gulf Oil Spill?