Friday, October 15, 2010

Water Pollution: How the BP Oil Spill Affected the Nation

All life on earth is very dependent on water. Water is significant in every person’s everyday practices and activities such as personal hygiene, eating and cooking. For fishes and corals, different bodies of water also serve as their natural habitat. And in turn, these fresh fishes feed the mouths of many people. But as we have long probably noticed, the world is undergoing crises in water, and it is getting worse by the minute.

Pollution has been the most rampant problem in water. Some of the more prominent water pollutants include dirty sewage water being gushed down to other bodies of water, people dumping garbage on the shore, the discarding of industrial and radioactive waste by industrial facilities or factories, and the accidental leakage from underwater storages. However, lately it seems that oil leaks and spills have also become notorious not only in the US but in other countries as well.

One such incident of oil spill was the recent accident in the Gulf of Mexico that started off with what was known as the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion. In April 20, 2010, a drilling rig owned by offshore contractor Transocean and under lease to oil and gas company BP located at the southeast of Louisiana coast exploded and got burned down, causing the death of some employees and a massive offshore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The leaking lasted for almost three months. After releasing about 185 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the disaster became known as the largest accidental marine oil spill and environmental disaster in the history of petroleum industry. The government of the United States, as well as the concerned parties, did all they can to stop the leaking and disperse the oil, but it was too late as it had already affected the lives of many.

The weakening tourism of some states prompted tourism development councils to launch marketing campaigns for their beaches that were not affected by the spill to attract tourists. Along with this, businesses had to offer discounts and other deals for visitors. But more than tourism, it was marine life that suffered the most.

Commercial and recreational fishing areas of federal waters had to be closed down for the time being because the oil had reached it or to avoid cases of poisoning due to intake of affected fishes. Other species of marine animals like the endangered Kemp's Ridley turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, gulls, egrets, and blue herons became at risk, some of them eventually dying. Of course, who can forget the images of brown pelicans heavily covered by the crude, making them look chocolate-covered. The photos made it to the headlines and served as an eye-opener regarding the gravity of this oil spill.

According to Federal investigators, BP or at least one of the companies involved in the accident will likely face criminal charges because of what happened. More than the $75 million civil liability cap may have to be paid.

While the explosion may have been considered as merely an accident, it could have been prevented or acted upon as soon as possible to avoid further damage. Hopefully, other companies, not just those in the industry of petroleum, and ordinary citizens like us learned a thing or two about the importance of water from this tragedy.