Hurricane Season May Worsen Oil Spill

Forecasters are predicting a bad hurricane season, which begins today. It’s feared that the expected strong storms will exacerbate the Gulf oil spill.

Three to seven major hurricanes — involving winds of at least 178 km/h — are expected. Up to 14 hurricanes with winds of 119 km/h are also expected. Such winds could be disastrous for BP’s latest attempt to contain the flow of oil gushing from a broken pipe above the Gulf’s seabed. On Monday, underwater robots sawed through the pipe, preparing to cover it with a tightly sealed containment dome that will direct the oil to a tanker on the surface. But if the hurricane brings strong winds and high waves to the Gulf, “the [tanker] would not be able to remain there, which means there would be unabated flow,” Carol Browner, the White House adviser on energy and climate change, said Tuesday. That, or failure of the new containment dome, would be the worst-case scenario and “deeply, deeply troubling,” she said. “If it is not able to contain the oil, we would be in a situation where it is conceivable that there would be oil leaking at a rate of something on the order of [1.9 million to 3.2 million litres] a day until the relief wells are dug,” Browner said.