Hat tip to Ace of Spades for the Ixtoc I information.
Let’s start with some history. The last big Gulf oil spill was from the explosion and sinking of the Mexican Ixtoc I oil platform in June 1979 – the well wasn’t capped until March 1980 – about nine months after the incident.
Here’s the NOAA Incident Report about Ixtoc I:
On June 3, 1979, the 2 mile deep exploratory well, IXTOC I, blew out in the Bahia de Campeche, 600 miles south of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. The IXTOC I was being drilled by the SEDCO 135, a semi-submersible platform on lease to Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX). A loss of drilling mud circulation caused the blowout to occur. The oil and gas blowing out of the well ignited, causing the platform to catch fire. The burning platform collapsed into the wellhead area hindering any immediate attempts to control the blowout.
…experts were contracted to bring in skimming equipment and containment booms, and to begin cleanup of the spilled oil. The IXTOC I well continued to spill oil at a rate of 10,000 – 30,000 barrels per day until it was finally capped on March 23, 1980.
The Deepwater well is leaking at a rate of 5,000 (officially) to 25,000 barrels per day. It is expected to be capped in 90 days – compare that to the nine months it took to cap Ixtoc.
Here’s an interesting tidbit about Ixtoc I from Wikipedia:
The US government had two months to prepare booms to protect major inlets. Mexico rejected US requests to be compensated for cleanup costs.
Compare that to BP’s response to the Deepwater incident:
BP will compensate all those affected by the oil spill saying that “We are taking full responsibility for the spill and we will clean it up and where people can present legitimate claims for damages we will honour them. We are going to be very, very aggressive in all of that.”
This is what NOAA has to say about the BP / Transocean Deepwater Horizon:
A fire and explosion occurred at approximately 11:00 PM CDT, April 20, 2010 on the DEEPWATER HORIZON, a semisubmersible drilling platform, with more than 120 crew aboard. The DEEPWATER HORIZON is located some 50 miles SE of the Mississippi Delta and contained an estimated 700,000 gallons of #2 Fuel Oil or Marine Diesel Fuel.
Since the Deepwater Horizon incident is so recent, details are still sketchy (and developing). Keep this information (NOAA update) in mind as you read about the oil spill – people died – the 11 “unaccounted for” are presumed dead:
126 people were on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when the incident occurred. 11 remain unaccounted for; 17 were injured, 3 of them critically. 1 injured person remains in the hospital.
I realize that this post is kind of choppy, but I wanted to get something out there. The bad news is pretty bad – the economic impact of this spill is expected to be tough on coastal businesses. The better news is that this too shall pass - Mother Nature’s winds and tides cleaned up the Mexican spill (with some human help). We should do better than the 1979 Ixtoc spill, in terms of capping the spill earlier and using improved technologies and mobilizing the clean up efforts.
*** MORE ***
Here’s the BP / Transocean website for the Deepwater Horizon Response:
Here’s a great roundup from Texas A&M:
Here are links to Alabama organizations that plan to help clean up the spill:
Right now they don’t seem to need volunteers (maybe as soon as tomorrow), but they are taking names (and donations) at their websites. Also from the Baykeepers:
…the best thing we can do right now to prepare for oil making landfall is to clean up the shorelines. The less garbage and debris on shorelines the easier they are to clean up. We know the weather is not going to be friendly, but if you can get to your favorite shoreline today or tomorrow you can help speed up the clean up process.
DO NOT remove any live plants. Simply remove any garbage, large shells, drift wood, etc. Debris should be removed to the extent that wave and tides can reach.
That sounds like good advice no matter where you live…