May 7th, 2010
02:05 PM ET

Gulf oil spill from the air: Like paint covering a floor

You hear it's massive but that word oftentimes is used too loosely. In this case, it is sadly the right choice.

We had just left Houston's Hobby Airport when the captain came on saying if the clouds weren't too thick, we'd be flying right over the oil slick in the Gulf on our way to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  He'd let us know.

Less than an hour later, he's back on the speaker, "If you're sitting on the left side of the plane, that's the mouth of the Mississippi."

We were flying at 39,000 feet, he said.  With the clouds only scattered, we'd have a good look at the slick out of both sides of the plane.

From that altitude, I wondered how much I would see probably not much.

Within minutes, it was below us the oil stretched out in long, rust-colored streaks, tentacle after tentacle like the arms of a dozen octopus.

To put it another way, think of what it would look like if someone took a gallon of paint and threw it across a floor.  The Gulf is a large body of water, but this was truly massive.

I heard the folks at window seats around me just sighing in disbelief.

As we flew, you could periodically see a boat or two moving between the strings of oil. They looked like ants caught in molasses. There were places where the rust color thinned to a sheen on the water.

But then we'd fly over a few other spots that were imbedded in the rust color. The water was black. I don't know what the folks on the right side of the plane could see. But the captain had said, they'd see even more.

We weren't over the area of the spill for more than 10 minutes at the most. As we moved farther east, the color returned to that beautiful Gulf blue.

As we made the turn down the west coast of Florida, the white sand beaches stood out as they always do and hopefully that's how they'll stay.

soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Robert K

    Time to go with nuclear power, which will pave the way toward thermonuclear fusion. Nothing will raise the standards of living of billions of people on this planet faster than efficient, inexpensive power for manufacturing, infrastructure, high-speed rail, agriculture, etc. The large initial construction cost will be more than paid for by increased worker productivity and living standards. Besides, countless high-paying, skilled jobs will be created in construction, operation, maintenance, electrical grid improvement, scientific discovery, and others. Nuclear fission and fusion for both civilian power use and space travel are the next logical steps in human development. Naturally, as our population grows, we must increase our energy flux density accordingly.

    May 14, 2010 at 1:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Alan

    Where are the giant oil tankers, floating storage bins and dredgers and super suckers to vacuum the oil?
    Why isnt there a wall or fence containing the oil to a certain area while vacuuming it up?

    "You really don't need a nuke to handle it, you are trying to seal the pipe, big explosions are used to snuff burning wells so you can cap them.

    The ocean holds approx 326,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons of water.

    The one quart is an extrapolation of some real data.

    http://www.awma.org/enviro_edu/fact_sheets/oil_spills1.html

    Which says under ideal conditions, a quart of oil may pollute up to 150,000 gallons. We had bigger spills during the gulf war then this, and due to the war clean up and dispersal efforts where not done for a long time. And the Gulf, survived, (we survived)

    But if we use the 250,000 number we still have 97023809 days before the ocean is polluted, but then again the well will run out of oil way before then. And that is assuming the oil does not blow ashore which it is, it assumes that the oil does not bond and sink which much is, it assumes some does not evaporate which yes oil does, it assumed they don't use bonging agents to sink the oil, it assumes they don't use chemicals to disperse and break up the oil.

    Simply put we have a long long long long long time before it will impact us to an extent other then making a few people rich, and a lot of us poorer as the fear factor drives food and fuel prices up.

    But that aside the well is not 30,000 feet deep it did drill that deep of a well in the tiber field in 2009, this well was not very deep yet. It did not land on top of the well. Oddly enough when a floating vessel sinks it does not go straight down, current carry it and move it as it sinks, it is resting on the ocean floor about 1/4 mile away from the well.

    All that said currently remote subs are placing a liner inside the existing pipe to seal it and pipe the crude to the surface.

    Really they don't want to seal the pipe itself, as that is a huge loss as in the cost of the drilling, and then loss of the oil. I don't agree with that, the well could have been sealed on day one, if they wanted to, but they want the oil.

    The internet is full of fun news sites, most of them run by people with hidden agenda's and motives, many who are just interested in having fun...

    You always need to temper what you read with common sense. Verify what you read by cross referencing the references and checking the resources. Often the easiest give away is the English and grammar.

    Wheres our tax payer dollars going ?

    This is not hurting us but its hurting you and your families for possibly generations

    There are 50 empty British tankers siting in port
    They each hold millions of gallons

    How about building recycling plants in the ocean or on the shore or mobile recyclers on tankers?

    May 23, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Seriously People?

    Do you think BP did this on purpose? "Hey, you know what sounds good? Let's blow up one of our oil towers.", NO. Accidents happen.

    May 24, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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