Volcano and oil rig sinking have impact that can be severe and widespread
Find follow-up coverage of either or both ongoing stories from Iceland and the Gulf of Mexico.
The volcano and oil rig sinking affect people and businesses far from the scene. Look for comments by people in your area or state. (Remember to check letters to the editor and online forums.)
Stunning photos show each of the events. Look for online galleries or any images from last week.
Two dramatic examples of our exposure to environmental hazards made front-page news as we marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day -- timing that seems like something from a movie. There's nothing scripted, though, about repeated volcano eruptions in Iceland last week and then a fiery U.S. oil platform sinking off Louisiana. Each event shows the serious potential of runaway forces -- whether natural or industrial.
Volcanic explosions that began April 14 had the widest impact by halting flights to and from Western Europe for six days as dense, dangerous ash clouded airspace over the North Atlantic and some countries. Because similar situations caused engine problems for 10 planes between 1980 and 2001, cautious officials closed airports -- stranding tens of thousands of travelers and costing airlines an estimated $200 million daily.
Closer to home, fears exist that millions of gallons of crude oil could pollute the Gulf of Mexico after a deep-water drilling rig burned and slipped underwater -- killing 11 workers. Oil is leaking at a rate of 1,000 barrels a day, the Coast guard said this weekend, raising the prospect of an environmental mess. The BP oil company leasing the platform sent more than 30 cleanup vessels to the scene.
Volcano's name: Hard to spell and say. It's called Eyjafjallajokull in the Icelandic language and pronunced "AY-yah-fyah-lah-YOH-kuul."
Scientist says: "Another volcano will erupt in Iceland in my lifetime. But we cannot predict which one, when it will erupt and how powerful it will be." -- Kathryn Goodenough of the British Geological Survey
Oil fire reaction: "Big Oil has perpetuated a dangerous myth that coastline oil drilling is a completely safe endeavor, but accidents like this are a sober reminder just how far that is from the truth." -- U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg, and Robert Menendez, both New Jersey Democrats, in a statement
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