An oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following last week's explosion may be the worst offshore oil rig spill in 40 years. The explosion of a BP platform took the lives of 11 workers and is wreaking havoc in the surrounding ocean waters. Officials have deployed underwater robots to stem the massive 42,000 gallon oil spill being pumped into the Gulf of Mexico in an attempt to activate a "blowout preventer." The "blowout preventer" is a 450 ton valve located on the ocean floor which may be the only solution to stopping the massive destruction of the oil spill. Four underwater robots will attempt to dive 1,500 meters or 5,000 feet to the depths of the ocean floor to activate the pipes and valves associated with shut down of the former oil platform.
Oil industry experts report that it may take months to contain the leak unless the robot crews are successful within the next 24 hours. The Coast Guard has been on the scene monitoring the areas around the Deepwater Horizon Oil rig leased by BP which exploded April 20, 2010. Many workers were injured, 100 workers were rescued, and 11 workers are still missing and presumed dead. The Coast Guard has upgraded the oil spill from "managable" to a "serious environmental problem" for areas in the Gulf of Mexico. High winds and large waves have impeded clean up efforts of vessels attempting to skim oil from the surface of the water. The oil spill is an estimated .003 millimeters thick and expanding into an area measuring 600 square miles and increasing as 1,000 gallons of oil pump from the fallen BP platform.
Researchers predict it will take 3 days before the spill affects low-lying marshes and fisheries on the coast of Louisiana. Containment booms have been installed to prevent damage to Louisiana's fish and ocean life though experts fear a far reaching, long term devastating impact on fishing, shrimp, and crab industries.