How Bad is the Spill?

Not as bad as it could be, according to the NY Times,

The ruptured well, currently pouring an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the gulf, could flow for years and still not begin to approach the 36 billion gallons of oil spilled by retreating Iraqi forces when they left Kuwait in 1991. It is not yet close to the magnitude of the Ixtoc I blowout in the Bay of Campeche in Mexico in 1979, which spilled an estimated 140 million gallons of crude before the gusher could be stopped.

And it will have to get much worse before it approaches the impact of the Exxon Valdez accident of 1989, which contaminated 1,300 miles of largely untouched shoreline and killed tens of thousands of seabirds, otters and seals along with 250 eagles and 22 killer whales.

These comparisons may be a little misleading — a bit like saying that we shouldn’t worry about 9/11 because a a hundred times more people died in the Battle of the Somme in World War I.  Something can be very serious without being “the worst ever.”  Also, the total amount of harm isn’t just a function of the size of the spill or the amount of direct impact — the Gulf Coast ecosystem is already under tremendous stress, and this blowout could be a tipping point. Still, it’s worth putting this event in perspective.

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Reader Comments

One Reply to “How Bad is the Spill?”

  1. What a beautiful leak – twenty thousand barrels of lovely lube a day. I love the oily mass that bulges outwards from a bent pipe. A brown Rorschach blot of the automobile culture. A creamy dreamy brown chocolatey nougat for the wildlife to absorb. Living towels soon to be buried by trowels.

    An endless orgasm of brown to win the King’s crown. The ejaculate of Hell sent by the wind-whipped swell.

    My most fervent hope is that all efforts to stop and mitigate this masterwork are failures. The incontinent flow of hydrocarbons shall continue for the decay of all.

    I would love to see a sea of greasy Devil’s blood flowing into the ocean forever more. The spew that flew right on through.

    Then the World can move on into its next phase, the Dark Phase of death, decline and destruction. Soon, all the works of humans will decay and so too will themselves be brought to the altar of slaughter, to account for their crimes of existence.

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About Dan

Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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