The Science and Technology Behind Cleaning Up an Oil Spill

Thursday, April 29, 2010

An oil slick from the sunk Deepwater Horizon drilling platform is seen off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. (Getty Images/Getty)

Last week’s oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico has resulted not only in lost lives, but in a steady flow of leaking crude oil that could threaten coastal areas, wild life, and marine life. The well head continues to leak about 42,000 gallons of oil per day, or roughly the volume of seven tanker trucks. The slick has spread out over the water and still threatens to drift into Louisiana's marshland. We look at the technologies being enlisted to combat this enormous oil slick. 

Guiding us through the ins and outs of this environmental catastrophe is Dr. James Cowan, professor of oceanography and coastal science at Louisiana State University. We also hear from David Biello, associate editor for Scientific American, who shares his knowledge of the various tools and techniques being brought to bear on this disaster.


David Biello and Dr. James Cowan

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [4]

Marcus from Westchester,NY

Where are all the politicians and conservative media figures screaming "Drill,baby, drill" now? It is incredible to me that the questioning of new offshore drilling policies is not a subject immediately brought up as part of the coverage of this event. This is the risk that is incurred for little real gain other than putting more money in the pockets of oil companies that are already making obscene profits. More drilling only postpones the inevitable- needing to find alternative, sustainable sources of energy- and at a potentially devastating cost.

Apr. 29 2010 10:09 AM
RJ from Miami

Tell our representatives we don't want oil spills in Florida!!

Apr. 29 2010 09:42 AM
debbie from Livingston, NJ

This was always the potential disaster those of us against offshore drilling as a solution to the energy crisis feared.

Are there still votes pending to proceed in other areas or is drilling a done deal along the entire US coast?

Three cheers to the wind farm allowed to be built off Nantucket.

Thanks for this story.

Apr. 29 2010 08:02 AM
Cynthia from NY

Apr. 29 2010 01:37 AM

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