The associated press today is saying that the leak in the gulf is 210,000 gallons per day, up from the original coast guard guess of 100 barrels a day, which converts to 42,000 gallons, ish. This is a more dangerous volume of oil. They are using "dispersants" on it, to emulsify the oil in the ocean. The EPA assures us that they are considering the cost benefit ratio and deciding accordingly. I'm just not sure that the EPA uses the same values in the equation that I do. The obvious thing a dispersant does is break up the slick so that there are no photo ops of shorelines and wildlife coated in great globs of fossil fuel. To catch the story of this disaster, photographers will have to go underwater. This disaster could finish off another of the planet's great reefs, if there are any left.
The cheap and short term solution to pollution is always dilution. So far they've sprayed over 400,000 gallons of dispersant on the BP oil slick. The engineers and authorities would have us believe that the oil, once "dispersed" using chemicals and diverted from sensitive wetlands using booms, will dissipate harmlessly. The environmentalists, and I suppose I must count myself among them, worry about what happens to the sea creatures and plants when engulfed in clouds of emulsified oil. I suppose it might be like trying to breathe downwind of a prescribed burn in the national forest. Pretty much unbearable, and potentially lethal if you can't uproot and get away from it.
Today I heard that the reason for the oil leak is the failure of a "blowout preventer". Excuse me? They didn't prevent any blowouts, and the entire system failed. It is not just a poorly designed part to blame. It is a set of men who care far more about profit and power than they do about life on earth.