The oil leak triggered by a deadly rig blast off the coast of Louisiana has the potential to cause more environmental damage than the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, one of the largest ecological disasters ever recorded, some observers say.
“As it is now, it’s already looking like this could be the worst oil spill since the Valdez,” John Hocevar, oceans campaign director for Greenpeace USA, told msnbc.com on Thursday.
“It’s quite possible this will end up being worse than the Valdez in terms of environmental impact since it seems like BP will be unable to cap the spill for months. In terms of total quantity of oil released, it seems this will probably fall short of Exxon Valdez. But because of the habitat, the environmental impact will be worse.”
“Probably the only thing comparable to this is the Kuwait fires [following the Gulf War in 1991],” Mike Miller, head of Canadian oil well fire-fighting company Safety Boss, told the BBC World Service.
“The Exxon Valdez is going to pale in comparison to this as it goes on.”
The spill was triggered by an explosion last week off the Louisiana coast that sank an oil rig operated by BP. Eleven workers are missing and presumed dead.
So far the leak from a blown-out well 5,000 feet under the sea is not nearly as big as the Exxon Valdez disaster, which spilled about 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound 21 years ago. BP’s well is spewing about 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the ocean, the Coast Guard estimates.
But if the leak is not capped, millions of gallons of oil could spill into the Gulf of Mexico. The environmental impact could be disastrous if the oil reaches the ecologically fragile U.S. coastline.
Also see: “Gulf oil spill could reach shore Thursday night.”
Drill baby drill.