This Is What a 90,000-Gallon Oil Spill Looks Like
by Ryan Schleeter
May 14, 2016
Earlier this week, almost 90,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico near Shell’s Brutus drilling platform. New photos taken today show that it’s not a pretty sight.
© Derick Hingle / Greenpeace
In the midst of a remarkable global wave of resistance to fossil fuels, we’ve received another stern reminder that it’s time to keep it in the ground.
Shell’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico this week — just 90 miles off the coast of Louisiana — is the largest since BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the effects of which are still resonating throughout the region.
Currently estimated at 88,200 gallons, the Shell spill is just shy of qualifying as a “major” spill under the Coast Guard’s classification system, but ask coastal communities in the Gulf and they’ll tell you the impacts of chronic exploitation by the fossil fuel industry are nothing to downplay.
Jonathan Henderson is a New Orleans native and the founder of Vanishing Earth, an environmental watchdog group documenting and exposing oil industry failures in the Gulf South. Since 2010, he’s taken hundreds of trips out into the Gulf, including earlier today to document the Shell spill.
“Nothing really prepares you to see spills of this size,” he said. “When you see this much oil out over the Gulf of Mexico, it’s startling. It looks the Gulf was punched in the face and has a black eye.”
And that part about this not being a “major” spill? Jonathan has his doubts.
“The industry routinely grossly under reports the amount of oil leaked,” he said. “They have an economic incentive to do that, because they’re fined per barrel of oil released under the Clean Water Act. I don’t see how you can not call this a major oil spill. On Friday they estimated the size of sheen at two by 13 miles, and today it looked like it had spread from that.”
The good news is that there is a clear way to stop spills like this one and protect our climate at the same time: keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
Tomorrow, activists and grassroots groups are rallying in front of the White House as part of Break Free DC, demanding that President Obama stop new offshore drilling in the Gulf, the Arctic, and the Atlantic.