Due to deadline constraints, by the time you read this column written on June 10, the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico has certainly evolved. We pray the changes have been for the better.
United for the fist time in a long time, colossal issues now face the recreational and commercial fishing industry. What can we expect in the immediate future and how we deal with the long-term effects of the unprecedented environmental disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico are questions no one can answer. The oil spill is the largest in American history. It's devastating effects are so large and so widespread that the crisis has completely overshadowed unjust fisheries management and every other issue related to our community. What lasting effects tens of millions of gallons of polluting oil will have on our volatile ecosystems and fragile fisheries is now in the hands of Mother Nature, and will ultimately be determined by wind and currents. Even with the most sophisticated forecasting equipment, only time will tell.
What we do know for certain is that we are all very angry and frustrated and extremely disappointed. Countless lives have been changed forever. Businesses and billions have been lost and will never be recovered. Two months after Deepwater Horizon exploded and eventually sank, taking 11 lives with it, and oil is still leaking from a ruptured well 5,000-feet below the surface. The underwater footage of the toxic geyser is heart wrenching.
What we don't understand is how the technology exists to engineer and construct something as complex as a habitable space station hundreds of miles above Earth, and yet we can't do some basic plumbing a single mile below the ocean's surface. Yes, the environment is challenging, but the equipment and know-how to overcome the challenges exist or deep water wells like this wouldn't be there in the first place.
While the drama unfolds, the nation stands by and watches in utter disgust as the company that was negligent in the first place affixes a temporary containment device called a "top hat" over the leaking riser in an attempt to siphon a percentage of the billowing poison to a waiting tanker on the surface. BP claims this latest attempt at taming the monster is achieving a high level of success. Since the media is reporting that is the case, then why wasn't the "top hat" procedure implemented immediately while permanent solutions were considered? Instead, oil flowed.
To top things off, BP pumps nearly a million gallons of toxic Corexit 9500 into the sea in a propaganda effort to prevent the public from seeing the real scope of the situation. The toxic dispersant formulated to break down the oil into tiny particles and prevent it from floating to the surface where it's visible has resulted in poisonous plumes as deep as 3,300 -feet and as far as 40-miles away from the leak site. Mankind has no means to combat or clean these plumes, and fish larvae and eggs have no means to escape them.
Question is, "Why isn't BP attempting to plug the well for good?" Rumor has it if the leaking well is permanently sealed, the oil giant losses its leasing rights to the billion barrels of black gold below.The very same toxic, poisonous, gooey, life-threatening black gold that is currently wreaking havoc on our way of life and everything so many people have worked so hard to achieve. Regardless if the rumor is true or false, the public has a right to be outraged. As a matter of fact…we're infuriated!
At this point, it's time for our administration to stop pointing fingers and continue taking charge. All that we have heard along the way is, "BP is to blame. We will make sure they pay every penny." We've even heard our President say he's going to kick someone's ass.
Certainly accidents happen and no one expected a catastrophe of this magnitude, but when the possibility exists and so much is at stake every possible safety precaution, every possible asset, and a contingency plan for every contingency plan must be in place. Unfortunately that wasn't the case. Aboard Deepwater Horizon safety inspections were flawed and safety concerns dismissed. We know who is negligent, thank you, but no one is pulling the sheets over our eyes. There isn't enough money in the world that can make this right. You can't pay for an empty ocean and generations of lost fish, shrimp and shellfish. You can't put a price tag on destroyed reefs, marshes and mangroves. You can't compensate for shattered dreams and plummeting property values, and you certainly can't buy back eleven lives. The overall implications of the situation are truly unfathomable, and the spill could have been avoided or at the very least contained much sooner.
Today, "overkill" can't be in our vocabulary. United, we need to throw every resource we have at the cleanup process. Each ounce of oil we remove from our precious environment helps. Plus, just like Mother Nature has the immeasurable power to destroy, she can also heal. Let's just hope that our prayers are answered and that our efforts aren't too little too late.
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