Gulf Disaster Aftermath, Louisiana Hurting

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico  has not stopped yet, but better days seem to be ahead. The relief well drilling seems to be on schedule.  The black gold spread all over the  gulf  coast and marshes of  Louisiana and other gulf states is not a desirable sight.  It works better  when it is captured and shipped in barrels.

Courtesy NOAA

The Louisiana coast is probably the most oil damaged coastline because of the exposed area and amount of oil reaching its shores and marshes.  It has been more than a double whammy for Louisianians. They were still trying to recover from the catastrophic aftermath of Katrina and other hurricanes of the past few years. Though the damages from the past hurricanes were huge, they did not impact the way of life for Southern Louisianians. The fishing and the offshore oil industry  fairly quickly picked up the pace and was on its way to a decent recovery after Katrina.  Lot of people were back on their jobs and went about their way of life,  even the displaced ones who were moved to other states. This oil spill catastrophe on the other hand has hugely damaged their capacity to earn a living. A lot of  of  south Louisianian  made a living working in the oil drilling and refining industries.  Quite a few of them were  employed in shrimping business and fishries. With some drilling moratorium in effect and no place to harvest sea food, their way of life is under threat.  The folks who did not work in these trades were employed in tourism and hospitality  industry. The beaches contaminated, the tourism  industry has not fared any better either.  The small shops and cafes run by mom and pop are empty.

The estimated response cost of the gulf catastrophe to date  is nearing $3B.  This  includes the cost of containment efforts, the relief wells drilling efforts, the grants to the Gulf states, the claims paid to some individuals and businesses, and the Federal and the State costs. BP agreed to the creation of a $20 billion fund to satisfy its obligations arising from the event. Though the cost so far has only been close to $3B,  it is too early to accurately estimate with a fair degree of certainity, other potential costs and liabilities associated with the incident.

Here is a compilation of the facts by National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior about the Exxon Valdez incident.

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Facts & Figures

* 257,000 barrels……of oil were spilled (equivalent to 11 million gallons or 125 olympic-sized swimming pools).
* 17,000 barrels……of oil were recovered (750,000 gallons).
* 1,300 miles……of shoreline were impacted.
* 460 miles……the distance the spill stretched from Bligh Reef to the village of Chignik on the Alaskan Peninsula.
* 512,000 feet (almost 100 miles)…of containment boom used for cleanup.
* 11,000 people…employed by Exxon to assist with cleanup efforts.
* 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs……the ‘best’ estimate of how many animals died outright from the spill.

Courtesy NPS, Kenai Fjord National Park

The cost of the Exxon Valdez incident is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $4.3B. The resources  deployed by US Coast Guard,  and BP  alongwith Federal, State and Local governments,  to tame the spewing well in gulf of Mexico and its ill effects are of the order of magnitude higher if not more. Here are few numbers.

BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Statistics  (April 20, 2010 to June 16, 2010 )

* 3.4 million barrels plus  …….  of oil were spilled  (60,000 x 56 )

The spill has not completely stopped yet and we are hoping that it will be contained once the relief well is complete. AndIThoughT© …….. if anyone is seriously calculating  …………….  the actual cost over the next few decades, that will be borne by the people living on the gulf coast. If the real cost of the environmental cleanup will be in trillions of dollars as claimed by some.  Assuming cost of cleanup per barrel to be similar to Exxon Valdez incident   , $20B will definitely not be enough to clean the gulf and make the residents whole.  AndIThoughT© …….. It will take decades for the gulf to come back to the pre spill conditions.  AndIWondeR© …….. if it is reasonable and BP will consider those claims as legitimate claims and increase the size of the BP Gulf  Fund. AndIWondeR© …….. what the lawmakers were thinking when they set the cap of $75 million dollars on the  corporate liability for environmental damages and individual and business claims by those affected by a disaster. AndIWondeR© …….. who were the people who lobbied and championed for this $75 million dollars cap .

Here is an   interactive website developed by NOAA that can be very helpful to people looking for information.