Photo by Brian Merchant
Yesterday, as we discovered that oil had made landfall in the mainland of Louisiana, we discovered another disturbing trend--that a bevy of booms, set up to block the fragile marshland from oil contact, had washed up on shores. This of course renders them useless. After the jump, some video of the booms in and out of action. Reports of boom washing ashore in the stormy weather that's been hitting the Gulf over the last few days haven't been rare. But considering that this is one of BP's primary prevention techniques, one of the methods it's invested most in, their fallibility needs to be made known. It needs to be said that they are, in the words of Rick Steiner, conservation scientist and oil spill expert, "an exercise in futility."
While we were investigating oil leakage in Louisiana's South Pass, Steiner explained what these booms were doing:
And that's in the best case scenario, when the booms stay put that they collect only a small fraction of the oil in the water. Just half an hour later, we came across huge stretches where boom had washed ashore entirely -- and this happens with regularity up and down the coastline its intended to protect.
Steiner says he's glad that BP is trying. But the fact is, large swaths of oil are flowing past and under the booms, even when they haven't been blown ashore.