I've been wondering recently whether we'll see the worst of the BP gulf oil spill at all; whether the combined use of toxic chemical dispersants and media corralling would prevent the public from ever fully grasping the extent of the disaster. While those principles are still very much in play, it looks like we will: thick oil is now unfortunately hitting an estimated 70 miles of Louisiana shoreline, coating threatened brown pelicans and other birds. And one intrepid video crew from ABC just dove headfirst into the spill to show us what the oil/dispersant mix looks like swirling around underwater:
ABC invited Planet Green correspondent Phillipe Cousteau to dive into the oily mess and see what the water column actually looks like for the first time. And suffice to say, Cousteau's reaction wasn't one of optimism . . .
This video is a great example of the potential dangers of relying on the dispersant Corexit, a toxic chemical that is said to render oil relatively harmless by speeding the evaporation of its toxic elements. But as we definitively see here, the oil is being pushed into the water column, where it swirls about in a mass below the surface -- where the dispersant-affected oil can impact fish and other marine life.
A common line I hear employed to argue in favor of the use of chemical dispersants goes something like "well, if they weren't using the dispersants, you'd be mad they weren't doing anything." But that's narrow-minded reasoning -- I simply think that we should be using containment efforts that have been well-tested, and that we know. An advanced containment and skimming plan to corral and clean up the surface spill would have been preferable in my mind than blasting the source with hundreds of thousands of gallons of a toxic chemical untested on this scale, and having it enter every conceivable strata of the food chain. But that's just me.
Regardless, we can all agree on one thing -- as this video proves, the Gulf spill is making a huge mess underwater too.