Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico

June 23, 2010
By , Logan, UT
One of the most devastating oil spill in recorded history occurred April 20, 2010. 60,000 barrels of oil - 2.5 million gallons, are leaking into the Gulf of Mexico each day, spreading a trail of toxins in the black gold it possesses. Humans use 90 million gallons of oil each day, and that need is growing as many developing countries increase in population and usage. The effects of the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be felt for decades, possibly even centuries, but some good may emerge from this disaster. A catastrophe on this massive scale is a warning call from Mother Nature, and hopefully, we can curb our greed and dependency on oil.

The destruction of the oil pipe, leading to the oil spill, occurred in three stages. At 10 P.M. of April 20, 2010, a methane bubble from the ocean vent underneath the oil pipe slowly ascended up the oil pipe on the rig, Deepwater Horizon, gradually enlargening as the water pressure decreased. Usually, safety precautions are present in order to expel these bubbles harmlessly into the atmosphere, but the Deepwater Horizon’s safety valve was broken. The now gigantic bubble exploded at the surface, igniting the oil rig and its full supply of fuel, creating an inextinguishable fire that burned for days and killed 11 people. Ironically, British Petroleum executives were celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the “high” safety standards of the rig, which had had no accidents during the previous year.

As the fire raged on, the rig began to collapse and sink, breaking the oil pipe as it fell to the sea floor. The now broken pipe should have had an emergency shut-off switch, but the safety mechanism was missing. Oil started flowing, and has not ceased for 62 days, as of now.

British Petroleum was recently ordered to pay 20 billion dollars in fines, and uttered a few measly apologies, but these aren’t enough to make up for the damage caused. 400 species of animals are threatened; many of them only found in the Gulf of Mexico. However, what is even more disturbing is the fact that 27 additional offshore drilling operations have been approved since the oil spill, including two operations licensed to British Petroleum.

The world urgently needs to find alternative energy sources and become more efficient energy users. The total oil spilled from the Gulf of Mexico could power the U.S. economy for only four hours! Everyone can be a part of the recovery effort for a cleaner planet. Ride the bus instead of driving to places. Turn off lights and water when they aren’t in use. Anything, whether large or small, is significant and our generation, together, can make a large difference. "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."- Dr. Seuss, from The Lorax. I urge Teen Ink readers to “go green”!





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