By David A. Fahrenthold and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post, May 1, 2010
The cord-grass marshes of south Louisiana are nurseries for baby shrimp, stalking grounds for blue crabs, and barriers that slow down waves before they bite off more of the mainland. On Friday, they were becoming defenseless sponges for sticky, dark oil.
The locals said the foul-smelling mass had the goopy look of chocolate mousse. The scientists said the enormous slick had the potential to bring environmental ruin to this treasured coastline.
The oil is spilling out of the seafloor at 5,000 barrels a day, or maybe much more, from a well about 50 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, and it could soon eclipse the volume of the infamous Exxon Valdex spill in 1989. That disaster spilled oil onto rocky Alaskan beaches, but it is at least possible to wash oil off a rock. In the Gulf, the oil is floating into wetlands that could hold on to its toxins for years to come.