“The Gulf of Mexico is literally on fire because a pipeline ruptured,” Brian Kahn, the managing editor at Earther, tweeted a few hours ago. He shared a video that looked like it was CGI, but sadly, it wasn’t.
The Gulf of Mexico is literally on fire because a pipeline ruptured pic.twitter.com/J4ur5MNyt1
— Brian Kahn (@blkahn) July 2, 2021
Reuters reported that the fire happened west of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and that it was started from a gas leak from an underwater pipeline. The fire took over five hours to fully extinguish, according to Pemex, the oil company whose pipeline was the leaky culprit. The pipeline connects to Pemex’s flagship Ku Maloob Zaap oil development. The platform is located near the southern rim of the Gulf of Mexico. Pemex confirmed that no one was injured and that its production from the project wasn’t affected. It’s also investigating the cause of the fire.
Reuters pointed out that Pemex has a long record of major industrial accidents at its facilities. Angel Carrizales, head of Mexico’s oil safety regulator ASEA, took to Twitter to give a few updates since this was technically in Mexico’s territory in the Gulf.
La @agencia_asea da seguimiento al evento ocurrido esta mañana en la Sonda de #Campeche, relacionada con una línea de #gas, la cual ya fue atendida y controlada por personal de @Pemex conforme a sus Protocolos de Respuesta a Emergencias. El hecho no generó ningún derrame.
— Ángel Carrizales (@acarrizales_) July 2, 2021
Translated (via Twitter), he said that the ASEA followed up on the fire and it’s already been “attended and controlled” by Pemex staff “in accordance with its Emergency Response Protocols.” Good to know. “The event did not generate any spill,” they added.
One of Reuters‘ sources shared that the Pemex incident report said, “The turbomachinery of Ku Maloob Zaap’s active production facilities were affected by an electrical storm and heavy rains.”
Ku Maloob Zaab is Pemex’s largest producer of crude oil and accounts for over 40% of its daily output of around 1.7 million barrels.
Although the fire is extinguished, the fact that there was a pipeline leaking gas into the ocean and then exploding into a fire should alarm you. There’s no telling how long it was leaking before the gas caught on fire. It could have been minutes, it could have been weeks. Seriously, it takes a lot for something underwater to catch on fire. Lightning striking the ocean where there’s gas is a possibility.
Fossil Fueled Disasters Are Never Good For The Ocean — Or Our Planet
What we do know is that toxic spills leaking or spilling into the ocean are never good. People Magazine reported just today that several hundred dead sea animals including dolphins were washing ashore in Sri Lanka after a cargo ship filled with poisonous chemicals caught fire and sank. There were 4 whales, 20 dolphins, and 176 turtles discovered dead, so far.
Local officials think that the deaths of the animals are related to the toxins released from the boat fire. The New York Times interviewed the chairperson of Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority, Dharshani Lahandapura. “It is very obvious that the deaths of these sea animals are connected to the ship,” said Lahandapura. “Last year, during the same time period only two turtle deaths were reported.”
One of the ship’s containers had already been leaking nitric acid by the time it entered Sri Lanka’s waters. After catching fire, oil, caustic soda, methanol, and plastic pellets also spilled into the ocean, the article noted.
Although gas isn’t as bad as oil, it’s still bad when there’s a gas leak, as you can see from the videos. Gas is highly flammable and there’s really no telling how much gas got out into the water. How will it affect our ecosystem? How will it affect the food chains? Your favorite seafood could have an extra spice that isn’t good for you. However bad underwater gas leaks are, they are an all-too-common occurrence.
In 2012, Watershed Sentinel published an article by Dr. Irene Novaczek titled, “Environmental Impact of the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry.”
“The environmental consequences of releases of natural gas into the sea are especially severe when they happen near shore, in shallow waters or in areas with slow water circulation.”
She added that it’s toxic to fish and shellfish and explained that natural gas can rapidly penetrate the bodies of fish, causing damage to their gills, skin, eyes, and more. Gas leaks render fish unable to control their buoyancy.
“At concentrations of 0.02 — 0.05 mg/l, gas will be sensed by fish and they will move away. If however, fish are exposed to concentrations above 1 mg/l they become excited within seconds of contact, then disoriented and unable to flee. Within 15 — 20 minutes fish exposed to such concentrations show signs of acute poisoning, and they die within 1-2 days of exposure. Shellfish are also killed by exposure to gas. Zooplankton and phytoplankton can tolerate higher concentrations of gas than fish or shellfish can (i.e. they die at 2 – 5 mg/l).”
Sometimes, I seriously think the fossil fuel industry is secretly trying to kill us all and destroy this planet.