The Gulf Coast has been gripped with fear since the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and blowing open the well 50 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. It has been spewing an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil a day that now cover almost 4,000 square miles.
As the oil is already lapping Louisiana shorelines, and images of oil-soaked wildlife multiply, the Tampa Bay area is obviously taking precautions in the event the oil slick heads toward our shores. But even if we avoid a direct hit, the economic and environmental impact is likely to be felt for years. Even Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has described the spill as a “unique and still-evolving and potentially an unprecedented disaster.”
Recognizing the enormity of this story, McClatchy editors are coordinating all of our newsrooms' coverage, which you'll find daily in the Herald and on our home page. The Bradenton Herald has created a special report here at Bradenton.com/oilspill, with an interactive map of the Gulf where you can click on icons for incident reports.
Led by Miami Herald Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal and Washington Bureau Chief John Walcott, this effort is allowing a far deeper report for all of us.
Journalists at the Biloxi Sun-Herald are on the front line in Mississippi and Louisiana. At the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, expertise is being gleaned on the oil industry. Staff at the Anchorage Daily News have enormous institutional knowledge from the Valdez oil spill, the largest in U.S. history until this disaster. The Miami Herald has sent reporters to the Panhandle, and along with the Bradenton Herald are examining every possible angle of potential impact to Florida. The Washington bureau is digging into political ramifications, environmental enterprise and more. The Kansas City Star, Merced Sun-Star and most all of the other McClatchy properties are contributing.
All in all, we plan to bring you the most thorough coverage possible as this catastrophic event unfolds.
Here's one of the most recent images off the coast of Louisiana:
Oil from the Deepwater Horizon well swirls in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. (Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times/MCT)