The Coast Guard is thinking about setting fire to a large oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. They want to do this to try and keep the oil away from shore as efforts to cap a spewing well fail. There is still oil spilling in to the Gulf from the April 20th explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. They Coast Guard says that the controlled burns would be done during the day far from shore and that marine life and people would be protected. They also say that they are unsure if the burns would work. Ed Overton, a professor at Louisiana State University says "It can be effective in calm water, not much wind, in a protected area," but "When you're out in the middle of the ocean, with wave actions and currents pushing you around, it's not easy." This has been tried before in Newfoundland in 1993 and the burn eliminated 50 to 99 percent the oil. However, burning the oil also creates air pollution, and the effect on marine life is unclear.
I am not sure what the best way to clean the oil spill would be but I do not think setting it on fire is the best way. I think the fire would be too unpredictable and hard to control. There is also the issue of the pollutants the fire would put in the air. Then we would be dealing with two problems instead of on. Officials also say they are not ever sure if burning the oil would work or not. I think that this should be the last thing they try so more damage will not be done to the environment.