Deep Trouble in the Gulf of Mexico: ‘A Disaster of Epic Proportions’

The oil spill from the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico could turn into the biggest environmental catastrophe in US history. It could take months to stop the oil flow, and the damage to the local economy and wildlife could be huge. The accident is likely to hamper US President Barack Obama’s plans to extend offshore drilling.

Orange booms made of resilient rubber, filling with floating foam, serve as the front line in the battle against the oil. Workers are loading meter after meter of the booms from the pier at Bud’s Boat Rental onto Miss Katherine, a supply ship that normally carries crews and materials to the oil rigs.

Captain Leonard Murrel glances sullenly over at his men and wrinkles his nose. A brisk ocean breeze is laden with the heavy odor of crude oil. “It’s really a huge mess out there,” says the weather-beaten American, who has been working in the coastal town of Venice on the southeastern tip of the Mississippi Delta for the last 10 years. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”… More

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