Fears Grow Over US Oil Spill Crisis
5:37am UK, Saturday May 01, 2010
Efforts to prevent an environmental and economic disaster from a giant oil slick off the coast of America are being hampered by the weather.
A barrier meant to block the flow of oil is washed up on a Louisiana beach
The southern US states of Alabama and Mississippi have now joined Florida and Louisiana in declaring a state of emergency.
Oil from the Gulf of Mexico slick has begun to wash onto Louisiana shores, crossing barriers designed to stop its flow.
Animal rescue groups along the coast have started to receive their first patients - seabirds coated in thick, black oil.
The US Coast Guard is helping clear up the massive slick
President Barack Obama has called for a "thorough review" of the disaster and there is already finger pointing between oil giant BP and the US government.
Up to 200,000 gallons of oil a day are spewing into the Gulf after the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank last week.
It is not known what caused the blast, which has left 11 people missing, presumed dead.
A NASA image shows the oil slick from above
There are fears the slick could soon rival the Exxon Valdez disaster as the worst oil spill in US history.
US federal and state officials have warned BP that its resources appeared insufficient for the rescue mission.
Although it looks like only small quantities of oil have so far washed up on the Louisiana shoreline, the real fear is the weather.
Environmentalists are worried about hundreds of species in the marshland
The winds are bringing the oil towards the coastline and they are making it impossible for emergency crews to operate effectively.
The choppy waters mean that crews cannot burn or skim the top of the surface.
And it looks like the weather is here to stay for a few more days causing anxiety to grow.
Fishermen in Louisiana listen to a local BP representative
This is one of the most sensitive wildlife areas in the US and also home to a fishing industry which is of massive concern to people in this area.
There is a real concern that whatever is being done at sea is not enough.
That is why we are starting to see some finger pointing between the Obama administration and BP.
Although it is BP's responsibility a lot of people in this area feel that their government has taken a long time to get involved.
They feel a lot more needs to be done to prevent an ecological and economic disaster in this part of the US.
I hope that BP starts doing the right measurements in the right places, immediately!