This summer, there have been oil spills all over the world, especially in North America.
In June, there was a series of oil spills in Alberta, a province in Canada, by the company Canadian Natural Resources at the Primrose tar sands extraction site. This spill has been ongoing (as of July 23rd) and officials are not sure what caused the spill or quite how to stop it. There has been no official ruling of how many barrels of oil have leaked, but this plant produces 120,000 barrels of oil per day, so we can only wonder. Officials of the plant say that the spillage is under control, but other reports suggest that the oil is collecting under a body of water, so it is hard to tell how much has spilled.
July 15th 2013 marked the third anniversary of the stopping of oil from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I have blogged about this topic numerous times, and even created an iBook about it! BP has said that they have made a large cleaning impact on the Gulf, but if you read my BP oil spill update blog post from Earth Week, you will see that this isn’t the case. Animals are still being rescued and recovering from the spill, oil is still present, and the Gulf is experiencing a dead zone due to the microbes in the water being killed by oil. In June 2013, BP and other officials said they were finished with “active clean-up” of the Gulf. Who knows what that actually means – but I know that the clean-up is far from done.
Not only is there clear evidence of the oil spill still present in the Gulf, but the Huffington Post reports that in July 2013, there were oil sheens seen in the Gulf that are a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sinking. These new sheens were caused by oil that was trapped in the sunken Deepwater Horizon ship.
On July 17th, 2013, Exxon Mobil gas company protested a hearing about an oil spill that happened in 2011 in the Yellowstone River in Montana. This spill totaled 63,000 gallons and originated from a pipeline break. Exxon is being charged $17 million in penalties for not correctly stopping the flow of oil into the surrounding soil. Exxon wants the penalties reduced because the company feels that they were sufficient in the clean-up efforts.
Lastly, more bad news for the Gulf: on July 23rd, there was a gas leak on an off-shore well, forcing an evacuation of about 40 workers. It wasn’t a BP oil well (because they were banned from buying new oil-drilling leases in the Gulf for a certain amount of time) but caused by equipment from Walter Oil & Gas Company. The workers were drilling a sidetrack well, which is drilled in the side of a well because of past problems that wouldn’t allow there to be drilling in the original well. The next day, the rig caught fire.
Clearly, there has been no changes in how companies deal with clean-up. BP, among other oil companies, seem to think that the problem is over when the oil stops flowing uncontrollably. That is simply not the case.