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The Mineral Management Service and the consequences of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico


May, 2010



The recent attempts of British Petroleum to stop the oil leak from the oil platform that exploded on 20 April in the Gulf of Mexico proved unsuccessful. Since the beginning of the oil spill disaster, hundreds of people have been volunteering to prevent ecological tragedy or at least to restrict the size of the damage, while the Mineral Management Service (MMS), the U.S. regulatory agency responsible for overseeing extraction of oil, gas and other minerals, has been continuing to grant companies with licenses for offshore drilling. The Centre for Biological Diversity said yesterday that since 20 April MMS approved 27 new offshore drilling projects. "This oil spill has had absolutely no effect on MMS behaviour at all," said for the Guardian Kieran Suckling, the director of the centre. "It's still business as usual which means rubber stamping oil drilling permits with no environmental review."


According to the National Wildlife Federation, about 40 percent of the coastal wetlands in the lower 48 states are found in Louisiana. These millions of acres of wetlands were built over thousands of years by Mississippi River floodwaters that deposited huge amounts of sediment at the river's delta. Now more than 400 species of fish, birds and wildlife living in these areas are endangered from the oil spill.

The marine biologist Joe Griffitt from Gulf Coast Research Laboratory told AFP Friday "the oil -- which is a toxic substance -- could have a very negative impact on shrimps, fish, oysters and crabs in the Mississippi Delta. The development of the young, the juveniles -- if exposed to oil -- could be very strongly impacted." Griffitt said that oil dispersants like Corexit that BP used last week to remove the oil from the surface of the sea are nefarious to sealife. "Those products don't make the oil go away," Griffitt said. "It just falls to the sea bottom. That's where you'll find the sediments and the larvae. So the toxic effect is double."

The nightmare scenario is if the oil enters in the Gulf Stream. Several experts said that if the oil enters the stream, it would flow around the southern tip of Florida and up the Eastern Seaboard. "It will be on the East Coast of Florida in almost no time. I don't think we can prevent that. It's more of a question of when rather than if," said for Kanzascity.com Hans Graber, the executive director of the University of Florida's Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing.


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