Gulf Oil Spill Impacts Both Human and Animal Life
A short article I wrote about the Gulf Oil Spill for the Bethel University school paper.
Gulf Coast Oil Spill Impacts Both Human and Animal Life
By: Nick Habisch
With the Gulf Coast oil spill having gone on for 20 days now, there is concern about how the spill will affect both human and animal life. The spill has increased to 4 million gallons as of today. According to the Associated Press the oil “is rushing up from the seabed at a pace of about 210,000 gallons per day”, which could potentially have severe impact on the fishing and energy industry’s that work out of the Gulf.
One of the major issues is the impact on the fishing industry that operates out of Louisiana. According to Jaquette White of NOLA.com, “Louisiana seafood production has an estimated economic impact of $2.4 billion. Production of about 23 percent of that amount has been temporarily shut down by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration because of the oil spill.” This is a problem because this shutdown impacts a lot of people, including those who are still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the gulf coast region.
One good thing is that the energy industry is projected to not be affected by the spill. The massive explosion only caused the shutdown of just three other rigs, out of more than 700 in the Gulf waters. The oil slick remains small enough that most pipeline and shipping routes have not been impacted, and the legal and cleanup costs for the disaster will be concentrated on the federal government and BP, which as a single company in a competitive industry with price-sensitive customers will not pass its new costs on. Even with this, BP is still not in the clear, according to the Minnesota Independent which says “The company is spending $6 million a day on cleanup; recently granted $25 million each to the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida; is drilling two “intervention wells” at a cost of $300 million; has civil liabilities estimated in the low billions; and has watched its stock drop from around $60 to around $50 a share, where it has stabilized.”
The other impact is on the wildlife in the Gulf. One of the scares is that it will become like the Exxon spill. The Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 left more than 250,000 animals dead. If the oil in the Gulf continues to flow at its current estimated rate, it would take about six weeks to eclipse the Valdez spill. One of the problems with animals and oil slicks is that animals usually die because every inch of their bodies gets covered in the oil. Harry Cowin of CBS states “turtles and birds will actually eat food that’s covered in oil, which can affect their digestive systems. In birds, also, the oil seeps into their feathers and impairs body insulation, exposing them to cold and making it difficult for them to move.”
The problem with oil spills and wildlife is that even after the initial spill is cleaned up, animals still suffer. Even after the sludge and layer of oil is cleaned away, there is still oil in the water, which makes it contaminated. This causes disease and sickness in animals.
Another question is how does this affect us here in Minnesota. I asked a number of students here at Bethel University in Saint Paul, and only a few of them were even aware that something like this was going on. Granted it may be because they are college students, but does the average Minnesotan even know what is happening in the Gulf? It won’t effect much here, about the only thing is that seafood prices may go up; but they were expensive to begin with so that won’t be seen as an abnormality. This just goes to show how people are unaware of events that don’t impact their vicinity of life, even something as potentially deadly as the Gulf oil spill.