Difference between BP Oil Spill and Exxon Valdez
Oil spills are probably some of the most devastating man-made disasters to occur, particularly from the standpoint of marine environmentalists. The Exxon Valdez oil occurred more than twenty years ago but its effects are still being felt to this very day. Imagine then the uproar at the recent BP oil spill, which many are predicting will have even more serious consequences. Let's take a look at the damage wrought by each.
Cause And Source Of Oil
The source of oil in the Exxon Valdez oil spill was one of the company’s tankers, which spilled its cargo after hitting a submerged reef. The accident occurred on March 24, 1989, and the leak was mostly confined to the surface of the ocean.
The BP oil spill on the other hand, was a very recent occurrence caused when a heavily damagedwell pipe burstcausing an explosion on the oil platform owned by Deepwater Horizon, releasing oil 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. The BP oil spill began on April 20, 2010.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill was a major catastrophe to be sure, but it at least had the advantage of being limited to a single–albeit huge–tanker. As much as 10.8 million gallons of oil were spilled into the ocean on that day, covering an area of more than 1,300 square miles.
As for the BP oil spill, the fact that it is such a recent occurrence means that there is no telling how much oil will be spilled and how extensive the damage will be. In any case, things don’t portend well for the region, with at least 210,000 gallons being poured into the ocean every day. What's worse is that the amount is still increasing and this will go on until the leak is fully plugged. As of April 30, 2010, the spill had already covered an area of 400 square miles.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill has affected various animal and plant species living in and around the coast, including brown pelicans, egrets, terns, sperm whales, tuna, sea turtles and more. The spill also resulted in the death of as many as 250,000 seabirds, including 247 bald eagles. The spill also severely affected the fishing and tourism industries in the area, as well as the local residents’ livelihoods. Lawsuits against Exxon were tied up court for 20 years.
As for the BP oil spill, it also affected virtually all the same species that the Exxon Valdez oil spill affected, although the full extent of the damage will not be known for many months or years to come. At current, BP is pointing its finger at the rig owner, Deepwater Horizon. 60 Minutes featured testimony of a rig worker who claims BP officials overrode rig operations and forced a ‘speedy’ grand opening rather than consider the consequences of several broken parts needing repair prior to commencement.
Similarities and Differences
- Oil spill was caused by an Exxon Valdez oil tanker hitting a reef and occurred in March 24, 1989
- Leak was mostly confined to the surface
- As much as 10.8 million gallons spilled and covereda total area of 1,300 square miles
- Affected numerous birds and marine creatures including brown pelicans, reddish egrets, sperm whales, tuna, and sea turtle
- Also severely affected commercial fishing, recreation, tourism, and many other local industries
BP oil spill
- Caused by a broken well pipe with a subsequent explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform
- Safety concerns of crew were overlooked by BP official
- Occurred on April 20, 2010
- Leak occurred 5,000 feet below the ocean surface
- Spill estimated at 210,000 gallons a day, though this estimate may be conservative
- Covers an area of 400 square miles as of April 30, 2010, and it is still growing
- Affected numerous wildlife species including most of those affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill
- Full extent of the damage and its long term effects have yet to be determined