After five months of continuous effort, the Macondo well is finally “sealed,” thanks to operation “bottom kill.” Now, to clean up the rest of the mess- not on the shores, but on the environmental, legal, economic, political, and social fronts. Economically, BP announced $17 billion in losses during the second quarter alone. Politically, the House of Representatives is looking into preventing BP from obtaining future leases for offshore drilling. Socially, BP must deal with the responsibility for the eleven deaths in April 20th blowout. (Other parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon explosion are Transocean Ltd., the owner of the rig, and Halliburton Co., the project’s cement contractor.)
It is estimated that 4.9 million barrels of oil escaped into the Gulf of Mexico this summer. Government estimates state that a quarter of that total evaporated or dissolved, another was burned or captured, and a quarter can be seen as a sheen on the water’s surface, a gooey mess washing up on shore, or tar balls that will continue to hit the shore for years. But what happened to that last quarter? It’s still out there, floating below the ocean’s surface.
Many are asking how long the effects of the spill will last. To some, it is the question of when gulf seafood will again be trusted. To others, it asks when tourists will return. Louisiana owns most of the 109 miles of affected coastline, and scientists say oil could be washing up on beaches for the next 20 years.