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  • Date Submitted: 09/16/2010 02:44 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 68.1 
  • Words: 555
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Troubled Waters

By Andrea Delbanco
Four and a half months after an explosion deep under the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, the region is still recovering from what President Barack Obama calls the "worst natural disaster in our nation's history."
On April 20, one mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, an explosion aboard an oil rig working for the oil company BP rocked the region. The accident killed 11 workers and became the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. For three months, attempts to plug the leak failed (see "Disaster in the Deep"). The well spewed 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.
Nearly 2 million gallons of chemicals were then used to break it up. Oil washed up on the shores of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
Deep Impact
The oil upset many aspects of the Gulf's ecosystem, but birds were hardest hit. As of August 30, 2,034 oil-covered birds had been collected alive, and 2,145 had been found dead. Sea turtles also suffered (see "Special Delivery," page 6).
Thousands of workers have pitched in to clean the oily areas. "It could have been a lot, lot worse," said Mike Carloss, a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist who has been doing rescue work.
The human impact of the spill is harder to measure. In Mobile, Alabama, 80% of seafood packing plants have closed since the spill. With so many people out of work, more than 30% of residents claim that they need help. BP set up a fund to help, but no amount of money can make up for the stress on these coastal communities. Towns that rely on beach visitors have been empty this summer. Hotels, restaurants and stores need business.
No one yet knows the health consequences of the spill. So far, studies of the health of cleanup workers and tests of the safety of seafood have been very reassuring.
What Lies Below?
Now, the region is looking toward recovery. Most affected waters are open again for fishing, and the government is working to...


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