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Controlled Burn’ Implemented for Gulf Oil Spill

Posted on May 03, 2010 by bp complaints

Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry, the Coast Guard’s on-scene coordinator for the Louisiana oil spill disaster, indicated a “controlled burn” will be implemented to contain the massive oil spill inching closer to ecologically sensitive Louisiana coastal areas. Admiral Landry said previously, “We fully understand there are benefits and trade-offs,”quoted The New York Times.

The spill is now within 20 miles of Venice, Louisiana and covers an area as wide as 42 miles across, and up to 80 miles in length.


An estimated 42,000 gallons a day of crude oil are spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.Workers have been unable to stop the leak from a broken pipe fastened to a well 5,000 feet below the surface. At first thought manageable, the leaks were discovered Saturday, days after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, where the pipe was connected, exploded and sank about 50 miles southeast of Venice, La., said The Times.

On Tuesday, officials speculated the slick would not reach land for a few days due to wind conditions. Exactly where along the Gulf Coast it will first arrive is still unknown.

“If some of the weather conditions continue, the Delta area is at risk,” said Charlie Henry, scientific support coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, quoted The Times. That part of Louisiana contains about 40 percent of the country’s wetlands and is a spawning area for numerous birds and fish.

The controlled burn was considered after previous containment attempts failed. They have been done before, Admiral Landry said, and had been”effective in burning 50 to 95 percent of oil collected in a fire boom,” she continued, but the downside was a “black plume” of smoke that would put soot and other particulates into the air, said The Times.

The proposed burn alarmed fisherman and ecologists along the Louisiana coast. Gov. Bobby Jindal requested that the Coast Guard establish a protective boom around several wildlife refuges in the Delta, said The Times. However, a burn would likely ease the impact on wildlife.

The oceanic agency issued a guide to the burn that advised this:

“Based on our limited experience, birds and mammals are more capable of handling the risk of a local fire and temporary smoke plume than of handling the risk posed by a spreading oil slick. Birds flying in the plume can become disoriented, and could suffer toxic effects. This risk, however, is minimal when compared to oil coating and ingestion,” quoted The Times.


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