03 June 2010

Notes from the Gulf

3 June 2010

Arrive at FairHope, AL Airport, thunderstorms approaching.

We decide to go eat breakfast and wait for storms to pass.  Grits not bad, biscuits mediocre.

Taking off in a Cessna 182.

Rear seats and cargo door have been removed to enable photography.

As we get offshore, I see sunshine on Dauphin Island, which has had “no swim” directives issued today, as the oil is supposed to hit Alabama shores today.

Seeing first oil.  Bright red tendrils and sheen on the water.  Dodging thunderstorms as we make our way out to “the source” as it’s called.  It’s a bit surreal like Apocalypse Now, going through the clouds, music playing in the headphones, knowing they are right now desperately trying to cap the gushing pipe on the floor of the ocean.

We count 37 vessels involved in skimming operations, and 15 ships at the source.  There are two drill rigs, one drill ship, and one utility rig at the source.

Everything leaves a wake of oil, either from its movement or the current.  The skimmers are generally two boats with a boom/net between them.  The oil is sometimes red, sometimes “oily” colored.  Interestingly, it’s hard to shoot as the red is more visible when reflections are cut and the oily layer on the surface shows up with the reflected light.

Other rigs on the water seem to be operating “business as usual.”

Don’t see the beaches covered in oil that the media has led me to expect.  Maybe that’s further west in Louisiana?

Everywhere there is an expectation of disaster approaching.  This must be similar to the approach of a hurricane.

For years I have expected an infrastructure disaster here in “hurricane alley” where 40% of our oil is refined.  Not sure what percent originates here.

To see a few more images from the Gulf, click here.

1 comment:

Heather Flournoy said...

Henry- thank you for the first-hand reporting...I'm so grateful for your work