Updated: Friday, January 07, 2011, 11:44 PM
By Paul Rioux, The Times-Picayune
Standing on a makeshift plywood boardwalk placed atop an oil-choked mat of dead marsh grass in Bay Jimmy, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser blasted the pace of cleanup efforts, saying the wetlands look worse than when BP’s gushing well was capped nearly six months ago.
The land is washing away as we speak,” Nungesser said Friday, his white shrimp boots smeared with oil. “With so little being done to clean this up, we’re never going to win this battle.”
Coast Guard Commander Dan Lauer said tests are under way to determine the best cleanup method as the focus shifts from emergency response to long-term recovery from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Read the full story
By MIKE SORAGHAN of Greenwire Published: February 3, 2011
WASHINGTON (February 1, 2011) – With BP’s announcement today that they intend to restart dividend payments to shareholders, despite losing money in 2010 and tens of billions still outstanding from their company’s spill, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) called on the company to cease their challenge of the size of the spill or cease handing out dividends. BP has challenged the flow rate and total spill numbers reached by the U.S. government’s scientific team, which will be critical in determining the amount BP will have to pay in fines. Read the full story
By DAVID GOODHUE
Posted – Saturday, January 22, 2011 11:01 AM EST
By midsummer, a Spanish oil company, on a huge Italian-owned semi-submersible rig made in China, will be drilling for oil about 40 to 60 miles from Key West in the Straits of Florida.
And because of the 50-year-old trade embargo against Cuba by the United States government, none of the approximately 220 crew members working aboard the vessel will be Americans. Also, if disaster strikes and there is an oil spill that threatens the Florida coast and reef, U.S. companies would be barred for the most part from helping stop the leak. Read the full article
To combat last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, nearly 800,000 gallons of chemical dispersant were injected directly into the oil and gas flow coming out of the wellhead nearly one mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, as scientists begin to assess how well the strategy worked at breaking up oil droplets, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) chemist Elizabeth B. Kujawinski and her colleagues report that a major component of the dispersant itself was contained within an oil-gas-laden plume in the deep ocean and had still not degraded some three months after it was applied.
While the results suggest the dispersant did mingle with the oil and gas flowing from the mile-deep wellhead, they also raise questions about what impact the deep-water residue of oil and dispersant—which some say has its own toxic effects—might have had on environment and marine life in the Gulf.
“This study gives our colleagues the first environmental data on the fate of dispersants in the spill,” said Kujawinski, who led a team that also included scientists from UC Santa Barbara. “These data will form the basis of toxicity studies and modeling studies that can assess the efficacy and impact of the dispersants.
“We don’t know if the dispersant broke up the oil,” she added. “We found that it didn’t go away, and that was somewhat surprising.”
The study, which appears online Jan. 26 in the American Chemical Society (ACS) journal Environmental Science &Technology, is the first peer-reviewed research to be published on the dispersant applied to the Gulf spill and the first data in general on deep application of a dispersant, according to ACS and Kujawinski. Some previous studies had indicated that dispersants applied to surface oil spills can help prevent surface slicks from endangering marshes and coastlines.
Kujawinski and her colleagues found one of the dispersant’s key components, called DOSS (dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate), was present in May and June—in parts-per-million concentrations–in the plume from the spill more than 3,000 feet deep. The plume carried its mixture of oil, natural gas and dispersant in a southwest direction, and DOSS was detected there at lower (parts-per-billion) concentrations in September.
Using a new, highly sensitive chromatographic technique that she and WHOI colleague Melissa C. Kido Soule developed, Kujawinski reports those concentrations of DOSS indicate that little or no biodegradation of the dispersant substance had occurred. The deep-water levels suggested any decrease in the compound could be attributed to normal, predictable dilution. They found further evidence that the substance did not mix with the 1.4 million gallons of dispersant applied at the ocean surface and appeared to have become trapped in deepwater plumes of oil and natural gas reported previously by other WHOI scientists and members of this research team. The team also found a striking relationship between DOSS levels and levels of methane, which further supports their assertion that DOSS became trapped in the subsurface.
Though the study was not aimed at assessing the possible toxicity of the lingering mixture—Kujawinski said she would “be hard pressed to say it was toxic”—it nevertheless warrants toxicity studies into possible effects on corals and deep-water fish such as tuna, she said. The EPA and others have already begun or are planning such research, she added.
David Valentine of UC Santa Barbara and a co-investigator in the study, said, “This work provides a first glimpse at the fate and reactivity of chemical dispersants applied in the deep ocean. By knowing how the dispersant was distributed in the deep ocean, we can begin to assess the subsurface biological exposure, and ultimately what effects the dispersant might have had.”
“The results indicate that an important component of the chemical dispersant injected into the oil in the deep ocean remained there, and resisted rapid biodegradation,” said Valentine, whose team collected the samples for Kujawinski’s laboratory analysis. “This knowledge will ultimately help us to understand the efficacy of the dispersant application, as well as the biological effects.”
Kujawinski and Valentine were joined in the study by Soule and Krista Longnecker of WHOI, Angela K. Boysen a summer student at WHOI, and Molly C. Redmond of UC Santa Barbara. The work was funded by WHOI and the National Science Foundation. The instrumentation was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
In Kujawinski’s technique, the target molecule was extracted from Gulf water samples with a cartridge that isolates the DOSS molecule. She and her colleagues then observed the molecule through a mass spectrometer, ultimately calculating its concentration levels in the oil and gas plume. This method is 1,000 times more sensitive than that used by the EPA and could be used to monitor this molecule for longer time periods over longer distances from the wellhead, she said.
“With this method, we were able to tell how much [dispersant] was there and where it went,” Kujawinski said. She and her colleagues detected DOSS up to around 200 miles from the wellhead two to three months after the deep-water injection took place, indicating the mixture was not biodegrading rapidly.
“Over 290,000 kg, or 640,000 pounds, of DOSS was injected into the deep ocean from April to July,” she said. “That’s a staggering amount, especially when you consider that this compound comprises only 10% of the total dispersant that was added.”
Kujawinski cautioned that “we can’t be alarmist” about the possible implications of the lingering dispersant. Concentrations considered “toxic” are at least 1,000 times greater than those observed by Kujawinski and her colleagues, she said. But because relatively little is known about the potential effects of this type of dispersant/hydrocarbon combination in the deep ocean, she added, “We need toxicity studies.”
“The decision to use chemical dispersants at the sea floor was a classic choice between bad and worse,” Valentine said. “And while we have provided needed insight into the fate and transport of the dispersant we still don’t know just how serious the threat is; the deep ocean is a sensitive ecosystem unaccustomed to chemical irruptions like this, and there is a lot we don’t understand about this cold, dark world.”
“The good news is that the dispersant stayed in the deep ocean after it was first applied,” Kujawinski says. “The bad news is that it stayed in the deep ocean and did not degrade.”
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, independent organization in Falmouth, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment.
SEA TURTLE HOMECOMING, CLASS OF 2010: A Proactive Coastal Conservation Agenda for Florida
For the people who live near the Gulf of Mexico —– and, indeed, for
Americans everywhere —– the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill during the summer of 2010 will be an event forever etched in our memories. It was a time of great uncertainty and fear about the plight of the region’s coastal wetlands, beaches, and ocean waters and the many benefits that they provide for us all. But it also was a time in which our conservation ethic truly bloomed. One of the most compelling symbols of our love and concern for the species that share our coastal and marine systems was the unprecedented effort to relocate the nests of threatened and endangered sea turtles along the Gulf Coast to oil-free habitats on Florida’s Atlantic Coast.
Read the report : Sea Turtle Homecoming
Friday, January 14, 2011; 9:18 PM The Jan. 6 news story “As Arctic melts, U.S. ill-positioned to tap resources” highlighted the potential for U.S. exploitation of mineral resources at the top of the world. What it failed to point out is that sites proposed for drilling in Alaska’s Arctic Ocean are some of the most remote and extreme areas on Earth. At the same time, the fragile ecosystem is already feeling the impact of warming, which is happening there at twice the rate as on of the rest of the planet.
Rushing to drill for oil and gas without proper measures to safeguard an environment as challenging and vulnerable as the Arctic would tell the world that the United States had failed to heed the lessons of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Joshua Reichert, Washington
The writer is managing director of the Pew Environment Group.
(PRINT AND MAIL TO THE ADDRESS INCLUDED)
FLORIDA’S STATE WATERS EXTEND APPROXIMATELY THREE MILES INTO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN AND 10 MILES INTO THE GULF OF MEXICO.
IF THE PETITION EFFORT SUCCEEDS, FLORIDIANS WILL BE ALLOWED THE CHANCE TO BAN OIL DRILLING IN STATE WATERS IN NOVEMBER 2012
1) FLORIDA’S NUMBER ONE ECONOMIC DRIVER IS TOURISM. MILLIONS OF TOURISTS PUMP APPROXIMATELY $50 BILLION PER YEAR INTO OUR STATE. SOILED BEACHES MEANS FEWER VISITORS AND FEWER JOBS FOR FLORIDIANS.
2) WHILE OIL DRILLING IS PRESENTLY PROHIBITED BY STATE LAW, THAT LAW CAN BE CHANGED AT ANY TIME BY POLITICIANS IN THE LEGISLATURE. INDEED, IN 2009, LEGISLATORS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES APPROVED LIFTING THE BAN. WE CAN ONLY SECURE THE NEAR-SHORE WATERS BY ALLOWING THE PEOPLE OF FLORIDA TO VOTE. ONCE IN THE CONSTITUTION, ONLY THE PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO CHANGE IT, NOT THE POLITICIANS.
3) THIS BAN WILL NOT IMPACT, IN ANY WAY, THE PRESENT OIL DRILLING OPERATIONS IN FEDERAL WATERS; IT WILL SIMPLY PROTECT THE MARINE WATERS NEXT TO OUR COASTLINES.
4) THIS ISSUE IS POLITICALLY NON-PARTISAN. FLORIDIANS LOVE OUR BEACHES NO MATTER PARTY AFFILIATION.
5) THE BP DEEPWATER HORIZON DISASTER CLEARLY SHOWED US THAT OIL DRILLING IS NOT SAFE. IF THAT CATASTROPHE HAD HAPPENED ON THE COAST, IN FLORIDA WATERS, OUR ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT WOULD HAVE SUFFERED A DEVASTATING BLOW. A DRILLING BAN WILL STOP THAT POSSIBILITY.
6) DOES AN OIL BAN BELONG IN THE CONSTITUTION? YES. ONLY ISSUES OF GREAT SIGNIFICANCE SHOULD BE IN THE STATE CONSTITUTION, AND OIL DRILLING IS ONE OF THOSE. THE PEOPLE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO VOTE ON WHETHER WE WILL CONTINUE AS A MAJOR TOURIST DESTINATION KNOWN FOR OUR NATURAL BEAUTY. AS OUR WORLD-RENOWNED BEACHES ARE THE VERY ESSENCE OF FLORIDA, PROTECTION OF THE BEACHES BELONGS IN THE CONSTITUTION.
THANK YOU FOR SIGNING THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PETITION TO ALLOW CITIZENS TO VOTE TO BAN OIL DRILLING IN OUR STATE WATERS. LET US PROTECT FLORIDA’S COASTS FOR OURSELVES, OUR CHILDREN AND OUR GRANDCHILDREN!
For more info visit: http://www.sosfla.org/2010/08/petition-for-florida-constitutional.html
PLEASE MAIL THE COMPLETED FORM TO:
SAVE OUR SEAS
PO BOX 6686
TALLAHASSEE, FL 32314
Pd. pol. adv. Save our Seas, Beaches and Shores, Inc.., PO Box 6686, Tallahassee, FL 32314
On April 20, 2010 an explosion tore through the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig operating in the Gulf of Mexico. The disaster happened as workers were finalizing the drilling of the exploratory Macondo well, forty miles off the coast of Louisiana. It was, by any standard, a catastrophe.
A request by BP to set an “unusually deep cement plug” on the Gulf oil well that subsequently exploded killing 11 people was approved by the then-Minerals Management Service in just 90 minutes, according to a presidential commission report on the disaster.