Oil spill: Gulf of Mexico burn is last-ditch effort to stop landfall
To contain the oil spill, Gulf of Mexico slicks will be set alight. The hope is that this will stop the oil spill before it hits land. But oil burns are a sign that other efforts have failed.
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But in the current case, the Macondo wellhead could spill more than 4 million gallons of oil (the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons). Given the difficulty in containing the spill so far, the total volume of oil, and the relative infancy of emergency surface burns, however, the task force will have to start small. Its plans are to corral a 500-foot-long section of the oil spill with a fire-resistant boom, tow it to a remote area, then burn it, according to a statement.Skip to next paragraph
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If this works the task force will repeat the process in a series of controlled, one-hour burns, the statement added.
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday they'll investigate possible criminal or civil violations on the part of Swiss-based Transocean, the contract driller, and other related companies, as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The fire and plume may not be visible from land, but the prospect of swaths of the Gulf burning for potentially weeks on end could raise more questions about the safety and viability of more offshore drilling.
"Maybe the biggest risk the offshore industry has had all along is the public relations risk, and the way this is unfolding it could be an incredible public relations disaster," says Robert Bryce, author of "Power Hungry: The Myths of 'Green' Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future."