The BP/Deepwater Horizon spill is not unprecedented. A similar spill occurred in the Gulf back in 1979. A Mexican shallow water exploratory well hit a gas pocket and the rig exploded. USA Today covers it very well. It took nine months to finally stop oil from spewing into the Gulf.
Despite the horrific effects of that spill , the Gulf recovered.
The biggest difference between the 1979 disaster and the present disaster is the depth of the two wells. The Mexican well was at 160′ compared to the BP spill at 5000′. Operating nearly a mile underwater presents unique challenges. You can’t put mobile humans down there. You can put them on the moon, where there isn’t any pressure, but you can’t put them at that depth. So BP has to rely on robots. They have succeeded in putting a cap on the well and capturing a significant proportion of the flow. That is a good sign that progress is being made and that this spill will not be ass bad as the 1979 spill.
For some reason, the LSM would much rather compare this spill with the Exxon Valdiz spill in Alaska. There are major problems with such comparison. The Exxon Valdiz spill occurred in a sound, a relatively enclosed body of water. The impact on the immediate shoreline was swift and devastating. The more comparable spill in 1979 had an environmental impact but it was not as devastating as the Alaska spill.
BP has a cap on the spill. It can’t yet capture all the oil spewing out of the well, but it seems likely to do so soon.
Down the track the bigger question should be why BP had to drill there, instead of onshore in Alaska, or in many other safer places in America.