Senator Nelson calls for investigation of oil drilling safety listen04/23/10 Seán Kinane
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His letter comes after an explosion earlier this week that sank a drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast. Eleven workers are still missing.
In the letter, Nelson says the accident “raises concerns about the most recent claims of the industry that advances in technology have made drilling safe not only for workers but also the environment.”
Nelson says the coast of Florida could be affected by the spill.
Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu has also called for an investigation.
The group Progress Florida is opposed to expanded fossil fuel drilling off the coast of Florida. Their executive director, Mark Ferrulo, says “we hope our legislators are paying attention.”
There was a deep-water offshore oil rig called the Deep Horizon, that suffered a catastrophic blowout. At least that’s the preliminary thinking is that they experienced a blowout, which led to a massive fire, and complete, utter destruction of the rig—and unfortunately a tragic, potentially tragic loss of life. And the rig, the fire burned out of control for a number of hours, and eventually the rig sank. And it spilled a significant amount of fuel oil, and especially crude oil, into the gulf.
Q. Does that threaten the coast at all, the coast of Louisiana, or even the coast of Florida?
Well, right now there isn’t a threat to the coastline from this spill. The prevailing winds have pushed the current slick, which is about five miles long and one mile wide at last report, away from the coast. Unfortunately, it has pushed it into the breeding area of the endangered sperm whale, and bluefin tuna, and some other really imperiled species. But the coastline right now does not look threatened. And the latest report we have from the Coast Guard is that the oil spill itself may be contained. It’s still not absolute, but preliminary reports are that the spill may have been capped.
Q. Recently, the Obama Aadministration has suggested expanding oil drilling along the Atlantic coast and also in the Gulf of Mexico. And also, until a few days ago, the Florida Legislature was considering expanded oil drilling off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. And they say they might bring that back next year. What do you think about that, those ideas?
Well, I think it’s clear that this incident shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that when the oil industry claims that rig safety means that the potential for catastrophic spills is so infinitesimal, that they should be allowed to drill into sensitive areas, like Florida’s coast, any shadow of a doubt is put to rest after this accident. In fact, this is the second major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, this month. Earlier this month, it was eighteen thousand gallons of oil spilled into the Delta Wildlife Refuge from an offshore oil rig pipeline. And you know, Australia is still cleaning up the mess in the Timor Sea. So we hope the Obama Administration recognizes this.
The biggest threat to our coast right now is the fact that the incoming leadership, the incoming speaker of the Florida House, and the incoming president of the Florida Senate, are really pushing to drill as close as three miles off our beaches. If this same accident that happened Tuesday night happened within ten miles of Florida’s coast, we’d be seeing pictures on the nightly news of oil lapping up on our beaches, and covering our wildlife here in Florida. So we hope the legislators, we hope our legislators are paying attention.
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