The Gulf Oil Spill: could local water supplies be affected?

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The immediate damages resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are many: oil-soaked seabirds, warnings of seafood contamination and tar balls washing ashore. Damages to beaches are another prominent concern. Panama City Beach, Fla., hotels are fielding calls from would-be vacationers checking the status of beaches. The City of Destin, located in Florida’s panhandle, added a page to its website to update beach goers. In Bay St. Louis, Miss., a city that receives roughly 40% of its revenue from tourism, a boom—an inflatable device used to contain an oil slick—lines the beach. While some effects are already apparent, the potential catastrophe of water supply contamination is a more slowly-building threat.

Much of the New Orleans, La., metro area water supply comes from the Mississippi River, but there are communities that rely on local bayous. As the oil encroaches on area marshes, the bayous become vulnerable to oil contamination. Planning for potential leaks is in the early stages in communities such as Lafourche Parish, La. Drinking water contamination is also a concern in Florida’s panhandle and Tampa Bay communities where local officials are working with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to prepare for any potential threats to Florida’s aquifers. The Florida Aquarium may also feel the effects of the spill—saltwater used at the aquarium comes from the Gulf. The aquarium’s spokesperson said that the aquarium would file a claim with BP should an expensive option, such as sourcing water from the Atlantic or preparing saltwater at the aquarium, become necessary.

During a June 16 hearing held by the Subcommittee on Health, panelists from the Department of Health and Human Services discussed the agency’s monitoring operations and potential health hazards of the Deepwater Horizon spill. Testimony indicated that while drinking water supplies are not expected to be contaminated, the health effects of the oil spill—from water or food contamination, contact, inhalation—is still unknown and may remain so for years to come. While communities along the Gulf Coast would of course be the first affected if oil leaks into water supplies, cities nowhere near the coastline are also then at risk of experiencing the detrimental effects of the spill.

2 comments on “The Gulf Oil Spill: could local water supplies be affected?”

  1. When exposure to toxins is dramatically increased, as is the case for people in the Gulf area, the body rapidly becomes overwhelmed and the detoxification pathways normally used to excrete toxins cannot keep up with the exposure.
    It is well known that airborne toxins documented to be present in a number of Gulf communities are at levels that are many times the maximum allowed by the EPA.
    These toxins are coming from both the oil leak and from the chemical dispersants being used to mitigate the accumulation of oil on the water surface. When the body becomes overwhelmed by this level of exposure, it will then “scramble” to store these excess fat soluble toxins in fat cells throughout the body. As these toxins accumulate, the increasing toxic burden can trigger a multitude of health problems.
    This document suggests emergency medical treatments with safe non-toxic substances for anyone feeling the signs and symptoms being reported in the Gulf region. To read more go to: http://imva.info/index.php/2010/07/medical-treatments-for-airborne-poisons/

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