Global environmental challenges
Boom or bust in oil spill fight
The giant Gulf of Mexico oil spill is breaching some of the apparently threadbare defenses that are being used contain it.
The National Wildlife Federation took a group of journalists on Thursday on a tour of some of the affected south Louisiana wetlands. Scientists on the tour took samples of oil that have washed into wild cane fields that tower more than 10 feet above the water.
The smell of oil hung thickly in the humid air and its presence was clear at the base of the green cane and reeds, which was darkly discolored.
Many of these small islands of wetlands were surrounded by the white protective boom which has been laid out to prevent the oil from seeping in. Clearly, the oil was flowing beneath it and/or washing over it, a point underscored by the dark splotching on the boom itself.
It is a well-established fact that this is not 100 percent effective. The boom in this case, I was told, is absorbent boom, which is designed to repel water and soak up oil.
But with more oil expected to come in from the Gulf, the boom effort seemed almost futile.
Photo shows scientist Douglas Inkley of the National Wildlife Federation pulling a broken oil boom on an island impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Barataria Bay, Louisiana May 25, 2010. REUTERS/Lee Celano