Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Oil Spill Continuing for 14 Years Could Become Nation's Worst Environmental Disaster

Insights + Opinion
Oil Spill Continuing for 14 Years Could Become Nation's Worst Environmental Disaster
WWLTV / YouTube screenshot

By Andy Rowell

It may be a New Year, but there is an old oil spill that keeps on spilling. The trouble is that you will probably have never have heard about the spill.

But you need to know. Because, for more than 14 years, some 10,000 to 30,000 gallons of oil have leaked daily from a sunken oil rig owned by Taylor Energy into the Gulf of Mexico, about 12 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River.


The disaster began way back in September 2004, when the company's oil platform, known as MC-20 Saratoga, was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan. Although the company contained some of the pollution caused by the loss of the platform, it did not stop all the leaks.

Unless the oil spill is stopped, the sunken rig could carry on leaking for 100 years, becoming America's worst environmental disaster. Even now, if you take the high end of the leak estimate, the site may have released an estimated 150 million gallons of oil. This is silently creeping towards the estimated 200 million gallons spilled by BP during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

Back in November last year, the U.S. Coast Guard directed Taylor Energy to implement a new containment plan which "must eliminate the surface sheen and avoid the deficiencies associated with prior containment systems." In theory the company could be fined $40,000 a day for failing to comply.

As you would expect, the company responsible for the spill, Taylor Energy not only disputes the figures concerning the leaks, but even whether it is to blame for the leak itself. Over the years it has tried to dismiss the leak as nothing more than a mere "trickle." That is hardly surprising because it could cost an estimated $1 billion to fix.

The bottom line is that this a slow unseen disaster that could have been stopped years ago. As NOLA reports, some six years ago, Skytruth, an environmental group based in Shepherdstown, measured the oil sheen coming from the platform at over 20 miles long and urged the authorities to act. However, it was not until 2016 that the U.S. authorities began investigating the ongoing pollution.

Dustin Renaud, communications director for the Gulf Restoration Network told NOLA, "The time to clean this up was 14 years ago. Taylor Energy has shown nothing but negligence all this time."

He is rightly not the only one concerned about what is going on. Writing in The Guardian at the end of last year, Janis Searles Jones, the CEO of Ocean Conservancy and Philippe Cousteau, from EarthEcho International, said the thought of the spill carrying on for decades is a "nightmare scenario that should terrify anyone who cares about the health of the wildlife and people who live along the Gulf coast."

Taylor Energy's tricks continue. Just before Christmas, according to NOLA, "The company filed a federal lawsuit in New Orleans asking the court to toss out a recent Coast Guard order to contain the leak." The company said that "containing the leak is unnecessary."

And the ongoing spill has not stopped the pro-oil Trump administration attempting to open vast amounts of offshore areas for drilling.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.

Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth on April 2, 2012 in Western Australia. James D. Morgan / Getty Images News

By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge

In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less

Trending

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less
New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less