During my college years at UCSB I went through gallons of turpentine removing oil tar from my feet and surfboards. The environmental effects were far more reaching.
“On the afternoon of January 29, 1969, an environmental nightmare began in Santa Barbara, California. A Union Oil Co. platform stationed six miles off the coast of Summerland suffered a blowout. Oil workers had drilled a well down 3500 feet below the ocean floor. Riggers began to retrieve the pipe in order to replace a drill bit when the “mud” used to maintain pressure became dangerously low. A natural gas blowout occurred. An initial attempt to cap the hole was successful but led to a tremendous buildup of pressure. The expanding mass created five breaks in an east-west fault on the ocean floor, releasing oil and gas from deep beneath the earth.”
“For eleven days, oil workers struggled to cap the rupture. During that time, 200,000 gallons of crude oil bubbled to the surface and was spread into a 800 square mile slick by winds and swells. Animals that depended on the sea were hard hit. Incoming tides brought the corpses of dead seals and dolphins. Oil had clogged the blowholes of the dolphins, causing massive lung hemorrhages. Animals that ingested the oil were poisoned. In the months that followed, gray whales migrating to their calving and breeding grounds in Baja California avoided the channel —their main route south.
“Union Oil’s Platform A ruptured because of inadequate protective casing. The oil company had been given permission by the U.S. Geological Survey to cut corners and operate the platform with casings below federal and California standards. Investigators would later determine that more steel pipe sheating inside the drilling hole would have prevented the rupture.”
The amount of oil spewing from the destroyed rig in the Gulf of Mexico is now estimated to be as high as 210,000 gallons per day, the equivalent of the entire Santa Barbara oil spill. Let’s pray that the efforts of those involved limit the effects of this catastrophic event.