Critics say oil spill cleans up too slow
Environmental Health Sciences Professor Rich Ambrose assesses the Gulf oil spill cleanup effort on Australia's The World Today radio program.
The World Today is a comprehensive current affairs program which backgrounds, analyses, interprets and encourages debate on events and issues of interest and importance to all Australians.
RICHARD AMBROSE: Well I think the clean-up is making an impact but just not enough. And first of all we have a lot of efforts going on now but it took a long time to ramp that up.
On this spill actually we were very lucky in a way because it was quite a few weeks after the blowout before the oil actually started hitting the land. So it gave us a lot more time to prepare and to get equipment in place and things like that.
And that was really just because the ocean conditions kept the oil offshore a bit. It’s a long way from shore - 50 miles - but it also benefited from having relatively favourable ocean conditions, wind that kept it from coming ashore.
So we had a little more time to be prepared. But still it’s just not enough. It’s a big area that had to be covered. The oil, it’s complex currents through there and so the oil can go over a large geographic area. And it’s just hard to have people and machinery out everywhere where the oil can go.
You know one of the main tools that we have is to set up booms to try to keep oil from getting past an area into the land. And those booms are, I mean that’s old technology and when the weather is bad, we've had some bad weather through this time period and the booms just are not very effective then. Waves can just wash the oil right over the booms.
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Published: Friday, July 16, 2010