Oil Spill the Size of Manhattan Spoils Gulf of Mexico

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Another day, another massive ocean oil spill to report.

This time, a drilling rig operated by Royal Dutch Shell is to blame for spilling an estimated 90,000 gallons (or 2,100 barrels) of crude oil into the ocean in the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement confirmed the spill, but said the cause of the spill isn’t yet known.

The disaster is now contained to an area of the ocean surface about 100 miles south of the Louisiana coastline that is the size of the island of Manhattan in New York City, or about 22 square miles.

We’ve Heard This One Before

If a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico sounds familiar, it should. The same general area of the Gulf was the site of one of the worst environmental disasters in history – the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, which released 4 million barrels of oil into the ocean.

Shell’s and BP’s spills aren’t the only ones to hit these waters — according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the area has seen six other large disasters in the last few decades.

BP eventually agreed to pay $18.7 billion in fines for the Horizon disaster, which in 2015 was the largest corporate settlement in U.S. history.

When Will We Learn?

The risks of ocean spills and other dangers of offshore drilling are well known, but the Gulf’s oil activities are ramping up. Oil and gas production in the Gulf is expected to hit new highs in 2016 and 2017, despite low crude oil and gas prices, officials said.

Continuing to rely on fossil fuels like crude oil to power our world is becoming increasingly dangerous and damaging to our environment. Ocean disasters like last week’s Shell spill are troubling, but they are also just part of the problem.

Wars waged over oil around the world claim the lives of thousands each year and have displaced millions from their homes. Refinery explosions and fires both here and abroad kill scores more each year, all while solar power – a safe and increasingly viable and cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels – goes underused.

Which brings us to a joke we like to tell around the office. "Do you know what they call a massive spill of solar energy?" A beautiful day. Tweet This

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