A Whale  (Source: Columbus Dispatch)
No one is allowed within 65 feet of the Deepwater Horizon

The U.S. Coast Guard has announced that there is a new rule for vessels in the Gulf: No ships or vessels are to come within 65 feet of booming operations in effect surrounding the Deepwater Horizon, which exploded on April 20 and sank two days later causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history

The 65 feet is a safety zone that has been put into effect under the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, and restricts any ship from coming too close to oil spill response operations or booming operations. The Captains of the Port for New Orleans, La., Mobile, Ala. and Morgan City, La. established the safety zone rule.

Originally, the Coast Guard tried to set the safety zone at 300 feet, but it was set back to 65 feet. This safety zone protects the operation of response equipment, the installation and maintenance of oil containment boom, the environment by limiting access to and through deployed protective boom and members of the response effort. 

Those outside of the 65 feet are allowed to photograph the area, but are still encouraged to exercise caution, especially now that BP has employed the help of the world's largest skimming vessel, "A Whale," which is a transformed Taiwanese cargo ship that is 250 times more efficient than the several 550 fishing boats and vessels being used now to clean up the oil. A Whale will speed up the cleaning process; a process that will take a total of $3 billion to complete.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard's announcement, in order to get any closer than 65 feet, authorization is needed from the Coast Guard captain of the Port of New Orleans. Anyone in violation of this rule could face $40,000 in fines and Class D felony charges.

While the effects of BP's oil spill is anything but laughable, it's kind of funny to think that BP could have predicted their demise back in the 1970's with a board game called "Offshore Oil Strike." The game was created by BP itself and consists of players managing an offshore drilling operation where rig explosions and clean-up costs can cause a player to lose. 

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