Oil spill defining moment in history

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Looking back on history, there have always been those definable moments in time – the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the World Wars, putting a man on the moon and such.

Just the other day, I was just saying to someone – what are going to be our generation’s moments of history?

I think I know at least one of those now, and each night as I watch the news, I’m positive that I do. This oil spill will have a lasting effect on this nation as sticky as the gooey residue on our shores.

This is one of those events that will be remembered alongside of 9-11, Hurricane Katrina and the passage of nationwide healthcare.

And it makes me wonder about a lot of things.

I wonder and worry about the families of those poor oil rig workers who lost their lives in the tragic explosion on the Deepwater Horizon Rig.

It makes me think twice about eating seafood from the Gulf.

And it makes me wonder, should I take my children to the beach?

I’m not one to take them and let them play in the oily, greasy water.

And I’m wondering if they’re old enough to understand that this is one of our nation’s defining moments, one of those things they’ll tell their own children about.

I think the oldest one is old enough to treat the trip as a social studies/science experiment. She’s interested enough to learn that in less than two months, hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil have been dumped into the Gulf. She’s old enough to understand it’s taken weeks and an untold number of engineers and scientists to get us to the point at which a cap could be placed over the spewing pipe and the oil pumped away to parts unknown.

On the other hand, the other two are just young enough to not understand why we went to the beach and couldn’t get in the water, couldn’t pick up seashells and couldn’t walk along the coastline.

They would be mad – like a lot of folks around.

Now, there’s talk that the leak is bigger than the folks at BP and the government have claimed.

The cap that was put on the ruptured well last week collected about 620,000 gallons of oil on Monday and funneled it to a ship at the surface

Scientists studying the leak are now saying that it was a “reasonable conclusion” but not a final one, to say that the daily flow rate is, in fact, somewhere between 798,000 gallons and 1.8 million gallons.

The most recent government estimates put the total amount of oil lost in the seven weeks since explosion at 23.7 million to 51.5 million gallons.

We all wish there was some magical solution that would put an end to this mess and set things right; but, alas, that’s not going to happen.

There are countless families like mine wanting to go and enjoy the beach and a similar number wondering how to put the next meal on the table, all waiting to see an end to this chapter of American history.

I can pretty much predict, with 100 percent certainty, it won’t be in time for the July 4 holiday weekend.