US Oil Spill: Scientists and Fishermen Alarmed Over Chemical Dispersants

Alarm over the use of dispersants to combat the huge US oil leak is being raised by Gulf fisherman and scientists alike, warning that even if the spill is held at bay, the chemicals used to do so may do untold damage.

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Oil spill: fishermen employed by BP place boom on Lake Machias as the US oil crisis continues (AFP/)

Approximately 325,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed so far in BP’s effort to break up the spreading oil slick before it hits the fragile Gulf coast, and over 500,000 gallons more are available.

But the effects it will have on marine life, the shoreline and people spraying the chemicals are largely a mystery – an issue raising concerns in itself.

“It’s an unknown quantity,” marine biologist Clarence Laquet said on Sunday as he surveyed the deployment of booms on Lake Machias, one of dozens of marshy inlets along Louisiana’s porous coast threatened by the gushing Gulf wellhead that is spewing some 5,000 barrels of oil, or 210,000 gallons, a day.

Organic Solution to Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

The dispersant effort is meant to break down the oil so that over time, the slick is reduced to smaller particles that biodegrade instead of being left as chunky, thick globs that can choke both wildlife and vegetation.

Read moreUS Oil Spill: Scientists and Fishermen Alarmed Over Chemical Dispersants

Rig firm makes $270m profit from Gulf of Mexico oil spill

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THE owner of the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people and causing a giant slick, has made a $270m (£182m) profit from insurance payouts for the disaster.

The revelation by Transocean, the world’s biggest offshore driller, will add to the political storm over the disaster. The company was hired by BP to drill the well.

The “accounting gain” arose because the $560m insurance policy Transocean took out on its Deepwater Horizon rig was greater than the value of the rig itself. Transocean has already received a cash payment of $401m with the rest due in the next few weeks.

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The windfall, revealed in a conference call with analysts, will more than cover the $200m that Transocean expects to pay to survivors and their families and for higher insurance costs.

Congressional hearings begin this week. Lamar McKay, chairman of BP’s American arm, Steve Newman, Transocean’s chief executive, and managers of several other companies involved in the drilling will testify.

Read moreRig firm makes $270m profit from Gulf of Mexico oil spill

Gulf of Mexico oil spill: BP tower fails to contain oil

• First oil washes ashore in Alabama
• BP engineers admit rethink is needed
• Failed 100-tonne tower lifted off the seabed

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Oil is seen on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico as BP tries to stop oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico. (Reuters)

Hopes of a quick fix to stop oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig gushing into the Gulf of Mexico were dashed on Saturday, when a build-up of crystallised gas blocked the pipes in the huge metal containment tower, which then had to be lifted from the seabed.

While BP engineers wrestled with the problem, reports came in of the first tar balls and tar beads washing up on the white sand beaches of Dauphin Island, off Alabama.

The metal tower, specially designed and constructed to cap the leak, is the height of a four-storey building and weighs 100 tonnes. The hope was it would hold the oil still gushing out of the well, which could then be siphoned out of the top, but the blocked pipes made that impossible.

The chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, said: “I wouldn’t say it’s failed yet. What I would say is what we attempted to do last night didn’t work because these hydrates plugged up the top of the dome.”

He predicted that it could take another 48 hours to find a resolution.

The problem is blamed on methane gas, partly frozen into slush by the cold temperatures on the seabed at 1,500 metres (5,000ft). Engineers anticipated the problem, but not the volume of the gas build-up in the pipes. Suttles said that solutions could include heating the area, or adding methanol to break up the hydrates.

Read moreGulf of Mexico oil spill: BP tower fails to contain oil

US: Tainted Water From Oldest Nuclear Power Plant Reaches Major New Jersey Aquifer

LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Radioactive water that leaked from the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant has now reached a major underground aquifer that supplies drinking water to much of southern New Jersey, the state’s environmental chief said Friday.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station to halt the spread of contaminated water underground, even as it said there was no imminent threat to drinking water supplies.

The department launched a new investigation Friday into the April 2009 spill and said the actions of plant owner Exelon Corp. have not been sufficient to contain water contaminated with tritium.

Tritium is found naturally in tiny amounts and is a product of nuclear fission. It has been linked to cancer if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin in large amounts.

“There is a problem here,” said environmental Commissioner Bob Martin. “I am worried about the continuing spread of the tritium into the groundwater and its gradual moving toward wells in the area. This is not something that can wait. That would be unacceptable.”

The tritium leaked from underground pipes at the plant on April 9, 2009, and has been slowly spreading underground at 1 to 3 feet a day. At the current rate, it would be 14 or 15 years before the tainted water reaches the nearest private or commercial drinking water wells about two miles away.

But the mere fact that the radioactive water — at concentrations 50 times higher than those allowed by law — has reached southern New Jersey’s main source of drinking water calls for urgent action, Martin said.

Read moreUS: Tainted Water From Oldest Nuclear Power Plant Reaches Major New Jersey Aquifer

US not accepting foreign help on oil spill

State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley said there was no Iranian offer of assistance.

Oh, really? Here is Press TV (Iran’s television network):

Iran offers to help contain US oil spill (Press TV) (Mon, 03 May 2010 13:29:49 GMT):

The National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC) has offered to assist the US in efforts to prevent an ecological disaster caused by the spreading oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
.

NIDC managing director Heidar Bahmani announced the firm’s readiness to use its decades-long expertise to fight the oil slick, the company’s public relations office told Press TV.

“Our oil industry experts in the field of drilling can contain the rig leakage in the Gulf of Mexico and prevent an ecological disaster in that part of the world,” Bahmani said.


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When State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley refused to tell reporters which countries have offered assistance to help respond to the BP oil spill, the State Department press corps was flabbergasted.

“As a policy matter, we’re not going to identify those offers of assistance until we are able to see, you know, what we need, assess the ongoing situation. And as we accept those offers of assistance, we will inform you,” Crowley said.

Reporters pointed out that the Bush administration identified assistance offers after the Katrina disaster, so what is this, a new policy? They pressed Crowley, but he refused to budge.

Then they mentioned Iran’s offer of assistance, through its National Iranian Drilling Company. Crowley said there was no Iranian offer of assistance, at least in any official capacity. The reporters kept on it, asking why it was taking so long to figure out what was needed in the first place? That’s the Coast Guard’s decision, Crowley explained.

Late Wednesday evening, the State Department emailed reporters identifying the 13 entities that had offered the U.S. oil spill assistance. They were the governments of Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations.

“These offers include experts in various aspects of oil spill impacts, research and technical expertise, booms, chemical oil dispersants, oil pumps, skimmers, and wildlife treatment,” the email read.

“While there is no need right now that the U.S. cannot meet, the U.S. Coast Guard is assessing these offers of assistance to see if there will be something which we will need in the near future.”

Read moreUS not accepting foreign help on oil spill

BP: Trail of Accidents, Scandals Stretches to Alaska

See this:

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: New NOAA Projection Map; BP’s High-Stakes Mission; And More News

Criminals with one goal profit!


BP, the most important oil company in Alaska and the corporation at the heart of the Gulf of Mexico oil-drilling disaster, has struggled with perhaps the oil industry’s worst environmental and safety record of the last decade.

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BP’s Alaska unit over two massive oil spills in Prudhoe Bay

The British oil company BP produced the largest oil spill ever on Alaska’s North Slope, faced criminal charges for intentionally dumping hazardous waste near Prudhoe Bay and was excoriated by Congress for a string of oil-pipeline leaks on the tundra.

Members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats alike — have accused the company of everything from profiteering at the expense of employee safety to pressuring government contractors to whitewash draft reports that criticized its upkeep of worn-out Alaskan oil pipelines.

“BP’s policies are as rusty as its pipelines,” Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, told BP executives during a heated September 2006 hearing. “I’m even more concerned about BP’s corporate culture of seeming indifference to safety and environmental issues. And this comes from a company that prides itself in their ads on protecting the environment. Shame. Shame. Shame.”

Read moreBP: Trail of Accidents, Scandals Stretches to Alaska

EU Rules: Silent Electric Cars Must Make Noise!

EU rules may mean silent electric cars must make Star Wars noises

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Battery cars such as the G-Wiz may be too quiet for cyclists and the blind to hear

The vision of tranquil modern cities, with inhabitants gliding by silently in electric cars, may be shattered by European plans to introduce artificial warning sounds to the new generation of zero-emission vehicles.

Each manufacturer may be permitted to provide its own “signature tune”, with the regulation simply setting a minimum volume to prevent pedestrians, cyclists and especially blind people from stepping into the path of battery-powered cars.

Some manufacturers are likely to opt for an engine noise while others are considering adopting the noises of spacecraft from science fiction films, such as the podracers from Star Wars.

Read moreEU Rules: Silent Electric Cars Must Make Noise!

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: New NOAA Projection Map; BP’s High-Stakes Mission; And More News

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A sea turtle in the gulf surfaced Wednesday to feed, swimming through patches of oxidizing oil mingling with chemical dispersants used by BP to break up oil.

Poisonous chemicals used to fight Gulf oil slick (MSNBC):

As they struggle to plug a leak from a ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, BP and federal officials are also engaging in one of the largest and most aggressive experiments with chemical dispersants in the history of the country, and perhaps the world.

With oil continuing to gush from the deep well, they have sprayed 160,000 gallons of chemical dispersant on the water’s surface and pumped an additional 6,000 gallons directly onto the leak, a mile beneath the surface.

New NOAA Projections Show Slick Curling Ominously Around The Louisiana Coast (Business Insider):

(Click on image to enlarge.)
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Gulf of Mexico oil spill: giant dome sent to capture leaking crude (Telegraph):

BP has dispatched a giant concrete “dome” on a high-stakes mission to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, knowingt that failure would leave crude spewing into the sea for months and magnify the risk of an environmental catastrophe.

Gulf of Mexico oil spill: Transocean-BP rig had safety valve problem in UK (Telegraph):

UK regulators issued a safety warning over a North Sea oil rig operated by Transocean and leased by BP five years ago.

Congressmen raised concerns about BP safety before Gulf oil spill (Guardian):

Letter pointed out that three BP pipelines on Alaska’s North Slope had ruptured or clogged, leading to a risk of explosions

In the months before BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig sank in a ball of fire in the Gulf of Mexico, the company had four close calls on pipelines and facilities it operates in Alaska, according to a letter from two congressmen obtained by ProPublica.

Gulf of Mexico oil slick hits wildlife reserve beaches (Telegraph):

The first tentacles of the giant Gulf of Mexico oil slick have washed up on beaches that are part of a wildlife refuge off the Louisiana coast.

Rusty streaks of crude could be seen closing in on the Chandeleur Islands and small, dark patches of oily sheen lapped ashore in some places close to flocks of birds.

The uninhabited island chain, 60-miles from New Orleans, is home to endangered brown pelicans, least tern and piping plover shore birds.

It is the easternmost point of Louisiana and forms part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, which is the second oldest wildlife refuge in the United States.


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