Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Reaches Louisiana Coast – April 30th, 201029.0N 88.9W
The massive oil spill pouring from a ruptured oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico has reached the coast of Louisiana, threatening an environmental catastrophe in the region.
The first fingers of oily sheen reached the mouth of the Mississippi River on Thursday evening local time, 24 hours ahead of previous estimates by the US Coast Guard.
Oil is escaping from the well at a rate of about 5,000 barrels a day, five times faster than previously estimated. At that rate, the volume of the leak will exceed Alaska’s 1989 Exxon Valdez accident by the third week of June, making it the worst U.S. oil spill.
As the sun began to set over the fragile wetlands surrounding the Mississippi, the oil was slipping into the South Pass of the river and already lapping at the shoreline in long black lines.
Although US government agencies and BP set up 100,000 feet of booms to protect coastal areas from the slick, rough seas sent five foot waves of oily water over the top of the booms into the river.
The oil slick is on its way to becoming America’s worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife in one of the world’s richest marine environments.
Even before the spill neared the coast, wildlife experts said a toxic mix of chemicals was poisoning the waters of endangered marine life and fisheries, including one of only two breeding grounds world-wide for Atlantic blue-fin tuna.