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The Deep Horizon Oil Spill And The Bahamas (ReEarth Editorial)
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Page 1 of 1Total of 1 messages
Posted by:Jun 5th 2010, 12:53:30 pm
Fig Tree News TeamYour comments much appreciated!

ReEarth Newsletter
Nassau, Bahamas

It has been 44 days since the Deep Horizon well exploded, dumping 75 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, to date. Revised estimates from video calculations confirm that the volcano spewing oil from the Gulf ocean floor is leaking at a rate of 1.68 million gallons a day, The Gulf and all the waterways it intersects may be expected to be impacted by 200 million gallons of oil as the “Macondo field” is estimated to contain some 50 million barrels of oil. (There are 42 gallons to a barrel of oil)

Here in The Bahamas we are wondering when this oil will reach our shores, and what will be our response. Computer generated flow diagrams show that when the oil enters the Gulf Stream , the western flank of our island chain, Cay Sal, Andros, The Biminis The Berries and West End Grand Bahama are all on the initial receiving end of this spill. Hurricane season is here and should we have a hurricane this could have the capacity to facilitate further movement of the oil toward the central and eastern Bahamas.

The lack luster response of the Bahamas government has been shocking and we are wondering what is the plan? Minister Deveaux does little to impart confidence in our Government’s ability to contain a matter of this magnitude. In one of his early statements he said that he was scared for his country if such a spill occurred in The Bahamas yet, whilst supporting the idea of oil drilling here, he stated "We would have the top experts in the world advising us and would certainly look for the best in class to ensure our oversight of any oil exploration or drilling in The Bahamas is done with the highest safeguards,"

For your information Minister Deveaux, neither BP nor the US Government has been able to respond adequately to contain the Gulf spill at source after 45 days of trying. Despite their vast resources and professional consultants, experts, and international support at their fingertips, BP were scrambling for almost 2 days to get the necessary equipment to the explosion site to try and put the fire out and now 45 days later are no closer to a solution to plug the well. Additionally, the improved track record of the US Government in preventing oil spills and containing them has not been proven in this instance and both parties are wavering in direction, on the brink of a global disaster.

The response from the Bahamas Oil Response Team to the Gulf leak has been underwhelming. Although there is evidence of them having met, there have been no reports made to the terrified nation on how we will deal with the spill, not if, but WHEN, it soils our beaches. Again, we have to wonder if there is a plan?

Here is what I know. the Oil Response Committee have sent a team to take baseline studies of Cay Sal which is likely to be hit first by the leak. They are taking samples of animals, sand and sea to determine the status of the island before oil hits. They have apparently contacted a oil clean up company, no details on who, or what arrangements have been made, or at what cost we can expect to receive assistance. Again, what is the plan? Where is the plan?

If this rupture will not be sealed until August, as BP suggests, then The Bahamas may very well have a catastrophic situation on its hands. Cay Sal, The western flank of Andros, The Bimini chain, The Berries, and western Grand Bahama could all be affected. This will affect our fisheries by contaminating the live fish, making them unfit for consumption and killing off fish eggs. The oil has the capacity to travel beneath the ocean and enter caverns which most likely will lead to the water table in Andros. Already fishermen who have traps in the Cat Sal bank are concerned as their catch is down, and with the spill looming toward them things look even worse.

Oil Spill Effects
The consequences of an oil spill persist for many years after the initial spill is “cleaned up”. The cost of oil spills can quickly reach billions of dollars as a result of lost revenue for businesses, as well as continued poisoning of beaches, soil and water tables. Fumes from oil spills affect people living nearby. I have experienced that first hand at Clifton with the Bunker C fuel. Oil spills are one of the worst environmental disasters affecting fisheries, fishermen, wildlife, and tourism...expect tarred beaches and contaminated drinking water for many years after the spill. Prince William Sound Alaska, the site of the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 11 million gallons has yet to recover, 20 years later.
Crude oil includes many chemicals that cause long and short-term health problems to humans. Some of the chemicals include benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which cause dizziness nausea, increased blood pressure, eye irritation, headaches, light-headedness, and poor coordination in the short term and can affect the liver, blood, kidneys and cancer in the long term. The nervous and respiratory systems are also affected. When oil comes into contact with the skin it can cause irritation and blistering.

We have a moral responsibility to protect the environment for present and future generations. Continuing to power ourselves with oil will inevitably lead to more disasters. We have to think about the capacity of the Earth’s ecosystems to continue to absorb the “mistakes” we continue to make. Alternative energies exist and work, as the present generation we have an obligation to begin to make that switch in a meaningful way. As Jeremy Peterson from Illinois commented on our NO OIL NO SPOIL petition;

“It's time to truly look ahead to our future and decide whether or not we want one.”

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