A blanket of oil swamped the Louisiana wetlands like a thick layer of syrup on Wednesday, as a seemingly endless geyser of oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico. The oil has invaded marshes near the Mississippi River’s mouth at Pass a Loutre, North Pass, and South Pass.
Satellite images show that the oil stream has entered the Loop Current, which could drag the blob across Florida’s coast. National Geographic reports that the Loop Current could carry the oil south to the Gulf Stream, which would inevitably drag the mess around Florida, and north across the East Coast.
BP announced on Sunday that – after three weeks – it had finally managed to contain one-fifth of the constant stream of oil. But no one knows for certain how much that actually amounts to, because BP and the U.S. Coast Guard will not allow independent scientists, researchers or journalists into the area to monitor the situation up close.
BP originally reported that 1,000 barrels of oil per day were filling the Gulf. Five days later, the federal government raised the official estimate to 210,000 barrels per day. After BP released footage last week of the actual leak, many scientists and oil experts have argued that the leak could be as much as 20 times that official estimate.
BP’s current plan has been to spray the ocean with record-breaking amounts of a toxic chemical called Corexit. The chemical make-up of Corexit is kept secret under competitive trade laws, but it has been linked to human disorders, such as respiratory, nervous system, liver, kidney and blood disorders after its use during the Exxon clean-up. Corexit is banned in England and other European countries.
Another variable to consider is the impact of hurricane season. Not only could tropical storms disrupt clean-up efforts; hurricane winds could carry oil to fresh water lakes and rivers, where it will destroy more of the U.S. ecosystem.