Environmental Consequences of the Recent Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico

Environmental consequences are already occurring in the Gulf of Mexico. British Petroleum (BP) has endeavored to clean up the oil and to stop the leak but so far the leak has not been stopped and according to estimates oil is leaking at a rate of 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day.

The estimates going back to May 4 are that the oil was leaking at a rate of 210,000 gallons of oil per day. Government estimates are that four million barrels have leaked into the Gulf since April 20, the day the rig exploded.

This environmental mishap is a two-fold problem in that the oil needs to be cleaned up and the leak has to be stopped. It would appear that stopping the leak should be the main focus but with it leaking every day, the focus has to also be at cleaning it up.

With the cleaning up of oil to prevent environmental devastation also comes the act of using environmentally harmful chemicals and other environmentally dangerous ways to clean up the oil which adds to the environmental devastation since chemicals and bioremediation have proved more harmful than the oil itself.

In the meantime while scientists and environmentalists, the government, and BP are trying to come up with a suitable solution, the environmental consequences are going on.

Fishing grounds have been shut down. Hundreds of turtles, seabirds, and dolphins have been killed. The coastlines of four US states have been covered in crude oil, upsetting and destroying habitats, beaches, and the entire ecology of four US states. Eventually this oil will contaminate the inland waterways such as rivers, streams, wetlands. It will get to aquifers and groundwater which are our Emain sources for drinking water.

Pensacola Beach is now three miles of a thick, oily sludge not fit for animal or human. 

BP workers have been burning juvenile Kemp’s ridleys along with ocean debris.  What is the consequence of killing these sea creatures? Possible extinction. 

How do animals logged in crude oil survive? Most do not but volunteers and other workers are attempting to save them.  How do fish survive?  The worst nightmare is the coral reefs that are home to the beginning of the food chain. 

The coral reefs around the world are already devastated by the amounts of garbage and pollution that eventually reaches their habitats from the beaches and rivers where careless people have deposited their trash. Add crude oil to the mixture and what will you get?  More environmental devastation…death of the corals…death of the sea creatures that thrive with the corals…death to other fish that feed on the smaller sea creatures.