Yesterday when I learned of the spill I went over to the banks of the Mississippi in the French Quarter and took some pictures. The smell of the fuel oil polluting the air: it's noxious qualities enough to give me a headache. Not a good day to sit at Café du Monde to sip café au lait and eat beignets .
Close to 1/2-million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Mississippi River when a 600-foot Liberian flagged tanker called the Tintomara ran into a barge being pulled by a tugboat at 1:30 am.The clean up began yesterday, though it is still not operating on a massive scale as yet. The Mississippi is closed from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico (over 100 miles). There are disruptions in the ferry service in the area (for the most part it is completely closed down) and in the water service. Water will have to be trucked in to many of the municipalities. A major traffic pile up has begun on the river.
It was first reported that much of the oil would evaporate, but that isn’t the case. The oil is too thick and if not skimmed off the top of the river, it will sink. A handful of clean up crews were working all through the day yesterday and this morning. They are using a couple different techniques to remove the oil. One is laying out pom-pom like devices tied together along the coast to absorb the oil; another uses a boat that has a belt like apparatus that laps up the oils.
The investigation into the crash has revealed the tugboat operator had only an apprentice mate’s license and wasn’t qualified to be at the wheel. There are also rumors on NOLA’s website, in the comment section, after today’s article on the spill, claiming the operator had been fired for a failed drug test but then allowed back at a lower status. Whatever the case, this is the kind of crime that leaves us all victims. The ecosystem of Louisiana, the wetlands in particular, are fragile and already stressed by industry. New Orleans' first defense against hurricanes has taken another blow. The negative impact this spill will have on the environment is a story in the making.
“Is it a big spill?”, someone at the agency I gave my images to try to syndicate, asked?
Thursday, July 24, 2008
“What is considered a big spill these days?” I wonder. It's big.