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Gulf Disaster Brings Home the Real Costs of Fossil Fuels

Triple Crisis - “An upside-down faucet, just open and running out.” That’s how an oil-spill expert at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute describes the massive release of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico that began April 20th at British Petroleum’s Deep Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. [See live video feed of the spill here.]

The disaster has opened an information faucet, too: every day, more truth about the real costs of fossil fuels is emptying into public view. Desperate efforts to control both spills are underway.

After its 450-ton blowout preventer failed, BP tried burning the oil slick, creating the macabre spectacle of the ocean on fire.

The company then tried using chemical dispersants to reduce the oil reaching the surface, a strategy that helped to create enormous underwater oil plumes – as much as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick – now floating toward the powerful loop current that could “slingshot the oil into the Atlantic Ocean around the Florida Keys” and threaten the eastern seaboard. The dispersants themselves are toxic, but their impacts on marine ecosystems are poorly understood because the chemical recipe is a proprietary secret. Read more.


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