The coastal counties of South Carolina are especially vulnerable to economic disaster if they are harmed. Offshore seismic air gun testing is especially harmful to precious marine life. The sound produced by a single seismic blast can be heard up to 2000 miles away. The entire marine food chain may be thrown out of balance. Marine mammals, which rely on echolocation to find their food and to communicate with one another, are at risk of having their hearing impaired or destroyed. What happens when the fish leave our coastal waters? What happens to our fishing industry, and our renowned seafood restaurants?
Oil spills happen, and will continue to happen. What happens when our world-famous beaches are soaked in oil and our waters polluted? The oil industry will say that it will not happen and that they are prepared to deal with it and limit the damages. But has that been their history?
The scientific hard reality is that a big oil spill is virtually impossible to contain because it is physically impossible to quickly mobilize the necessary labor and cleanup methods fast enough. Collecting and removing oil from the sea surface is a challenging, time-sensitive, and ineffective process. Since the 1970s, the oil and gas industry has touted four basic methods to manage ocean spills: booms for containment of the oil, skimmers to skim surface oil, fire to burn it off, and toxic chemical dispersants such as Corexit to separate the oil into smaller globs. Only in calm and sheltered waters with small spills have these technologies made any a difference. None have ever been truly effective in containing large spills.
Chemical oil dispersants really only hide the oil by scattering the small droplets – and they often fail to do that since the water conditions have to be just right for them to work. Sadly, even still, for many spills the strategy is to ignore spills that happen out on open water – polluting the water and harming sea life. The spills are only addressed when the oil slicks may reach shorelines.