The Deepwater Horizon explosion, which killed 11 men and sent approximately 170 million gallons of oil into one of America’s most productive fishing grounds, was a national tragedy. To determine what went so terribly wrong, and to find out how to make sure such a disaster never happens again, President Obama appointed a bipartisan commission to investigate the root causes of the explosion and to make recommendations to correct them.
The commission’s recently released report is clear: the disaster was not a one-time fluke, but rather the result of systematic failures in government oversight and industry management. The commission concluded that another disaster will likely happen again unless Congress, the Obama administration and the oil industry undertake fundamental reforms that hold the industry to higher safety standards and strengthen the government’s authority to enforce more rigorous protections.
If we are serious about preventing the next disaster, Congress has to act.
What to do:
Send a message urging your senators and representatives to support and implement the recommendations made by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling to reform offshore oil and gas drilling, and to protect and restore our nation’s oceans.
During the disaster, the US government compiled figures of injured and dead wildlife based on reports from US Fish and Wildlife Service and other authorized sources. Those numbers include approximately 115 whale and dolphin carcasses.
But after analysing data on abundance, mortality rates and strandings for whale and dolphin species in the Gulf, Rob WIlliams and his colleagues have concluded that that only two percent of the whales and dolphins that die in these waters are ever recovered. Read the full article
Source nature.com Blog
Scientists describe two distinct plumes of oily aerosols that traveled from sea surface to atmosphere
MIAMI — March 10, 2011 — Scientists from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science were part of a national research team to find two plumes of oil-based pollutants downwind of the BP Deep Water Horizon oil spill. In a study published in this week’s issue of the journal Science, the research team offers new insight into the mechanism by which the crude oil traveled from the sea surface to the atmosphere.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-led research team collected data of atmosphere gas and aerosol concentrations during two flights, on June 8 and June 10, aboard a specially equipped NOAA WP-3 Orion aircraft. Read the full story from www.rsmas.miami.edu.
Southern California researchers say about 35% of fish they collected in the northern Pacific Ocean in 2008 had plastic in their stomachs. The study shows the troubling effect floating litter is having on marine life, the researchers say. Read the article
March 11, 2011|By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
March 6, 2011: Detroit Free Press
Baby dolphins, some barely 3 feet in length, are washing up along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines at 10 times the normal rate of stillborn and infant deaths, researchers say.
Seventeen young dolphins, either aborted or dead soon after birth, have been collected along the shorelines in recent weeks, the Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss., reports. Typically, one or two are found during breeding months of January and February.
Feb. 20, 2011 By Jason Palmer Science and technology reporter, BBC News, Washington DC
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill “devastated” life on and near the seafloor, a marine scientist has said.
Studies using a submersible found a layer, as much as 10cm thick in places, of dead animals and oil, said Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia.
Knocking these animals out of the food chain will, in time, affect species relevant to fisheries.
She disputed an assessment by BP’s compensation fund that the Gulf of Mexico will recover by the end of 2012.
WASHINGTON – Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a top scientist’s video and slides that she says demonstrate the oil isn’t degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor.
That report is at odds with a recent report by the BP spill compensation czar that said nearly all will be well by 2012.
WASHINGTON (Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Tuesday renewed his efforts to enact legislation to enhance penalties for corporations and individuals responsible for environmental crimes. Leahy first introduced the Environmental Crimes Enforcement Act in June 2010, following the April explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Leahy authored bill will strengthen penalties for companies who violate the Clean Water Act and provide victims of environmental crime with access to compensation for their loss. An important goal of the Environmental Crimes Enforcement Act is to ensure that there are meaningful penalties for corporate misconduct including prison time, not fines alone, which can be a mere cost of doing business. The Judiciary Committee approved the legislation last year, but it was not acted on by the full Senate.
“This bill takes two common sense steps – well-reasoned increases in sentences and mandatory restitution for environmental crime,” said Leahy. “These measures are tough but fair. They are important steps toward deterring criminal conduct that can cause environmental and economic disaster and toward helping those who have suffered so much from the wrongdoing of big oil and other large corporations.”
The Environmental Crimes Enforcement Act directs the Sentencing Commission to review and amend sentencing guidelines to reflect the seriousness of environmental crime. It also makes restitution mandatory for Clean Water Act violations. Under current law, restitution is discretionary, and only available under limited circumstances. The Environmental Crimes Enforcement Act will help victims like those affected by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, including the families of those killed by the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, seek compensation for their losses caused by criminal activity.
The Environmental Crimes Enforcement Act is cosponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).
Leahy chaired a Judiciary Committee hearing last summer in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster to examine victim compensation and the existing liability caps for corporations responsible for the cleanup of such disasters.
Athens, Ga. – A new University of Georgia study that is the first to examine comprehensively the magnitude of hydrocarbon gases released during the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil discharge has found that up to 500,000 tons of gaseous hydrocarbons were emitted into the deep ocean. The authors conclude that such a large gas discharge—which generated concentrations 75,000 times the norm—could result in small-scale zones of “extensive and persistent depletion of oxygen” as microbial processes degrade the gaseous hydrocarbons. Read more
MARY FOSTER Associated Press
February 5, 2011, 8:54 a.m
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Sales of Gulf of Mexico seafood are getting a boost from the military after being hammered by last year’s BP oil spill, which left consumers fearing the water’s bounty had been tainted.
Ten products including fish, shrimp, oysters, crab cakes, and packaged Cajun dishes such as jambalaya and shrimp etouffee are being promoted at 72 base commissaries along the East Coast, said Milt Ackerman, president of Military Solutions Inc., which is supplying seafood to the businesses. Read the full story