Deepwater Horizon, the offshore oil platform that had an explosive fire on April 20, 2010, has sunk into the Gulf of Mexico, just 41 miles south of the Louisiana coast. The U.S. Coast Guard is on scene and have recovered all but 11 crew members from the platform. Additionally, the sinking of the drilling platform has created a 5 mile oil slick.
Oil slick may not just be oil
The platform was held on the surface by large pontoons, but also anchored to the sea floor. The pontoons, though, hold approximately 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and there was also a reported 8,000 barrels of crude oil on the platform. British Petroleum has announced that they have “mobilized a flotilla of vessels and resources” to aid in the dispersal of the oil slick.
At the time of this writing, it is not known which source is creating to oil slick. It is thought that the oil slick was created by the oil on board the vessel before it sank, but it may have also come from the pontoons. What is known is that the Coast Guard has released in their press release that the slick is one mile by five miles in size.
Mississippi and Louisiana in for more heartache
Many of the employees on the oil platform were from southern parts of both Louisiana and Mississippi. At least one of the missing crew members is from Mississippi, and a lawsuit has been filed on his behalf, according to a report by CNN.
Those living on the coast of either state could be in for more problems. According to weather reports from the area, the winds are coming out of the south, which would push the oil slick towards the Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama coastline. At present, the Gulf currents are pulling the oil slick southward, but, according to Accuweather.com, a storm system moving into Louisiana and Mississippi is likely to shift wind patterns and bring the oil slick northward.
An oil slick that reaches the coastline would be devastating to the local economies on the Gulf Coast. Every major business on the Coast would be affected, from tourism to shrimping. After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts five years ago, and a recession that pummeled households still rebuilding, only now are families fully recovering to pre-Katrina levels. An oil slick may be the straw the breaks this camel’s back. BP, though, has assured residents and employees that the oil slick can, and will, be contained before it causes any major damage.