Tag Archives | Ecology
It was September of 1966, and gas was gushing uncontrollably from the wells in the Bukhara province of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. But the Reds, at the height of their industrial might, had a novel solution. They drilled nearly four miles into the sand and rock of the Kyzyl Kum Desert, and lowered a 30-kiloton nuclear warhead — more than half-again as large as “Little Boy,” the crude uranium bomb dropped over Hiroshima — to the depths beneath the wellhead. With the pull of a lever, a fistful of plutonium was introduced to itself under enormous pressure, setting off the chain reaction that starts with E = MC2 and ends in Kaboom! The ensuing blast collapsed the drill channel in on itself, sealing off the well.
Great timing, folks. Does Transocean have a PR department? Excellent report from John Byrne on RAW Story:
Five days after appearing before Congress to testify about its responsibility in one of the worst oil spills in US history, the Swiss company that owned and operated the oil rig that sunk into the Gulf of Mexico announced that it would shell out $1 billion in dividends to shareholders.
The revelation that Transocean is distributing a $1 billion profit to shareholders as one of its drill sites leaks millions of gallons of oil into the sea is sure to inflame an already smarting debate over offshore drilling and the company’s role.
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Transocean has passionately argued that they don’t share financial responsibility for the disaster. A clause in a contract they had with BP says that the oil company is obligated to pay for any environmental damage, even though Transocean actually owned the rig.
Kevin Costner is in town hoping star power and his oil spill clean-up machine will help in the gulf. It promises to help clean up the oil spill. And it's got some big backing. "Years before I got involved oil spills would come and, I would wonder why we couldn't clean this up," says Actor Kevin Costner. He's invested in a company that invented a processing machine that turns oil into water. "It's robust. Works at the speed that someone talked about, 200,000 gallons a minute. But it takes 99% of the oil." Using a small prototype of the machine, Costner demonstrated how it works for a group of stressed parish officials today. "We'll take this any day over the black oil that's covering south Plaquemines right now," says Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. The larger centrifuge model can collect up to 3,000 gallons of oil a day and right now, 31 are available. The response: There are no better options. "I think it's a no-brainer to try it," says Jefferson Parish Councilman John Young. Nungesser says, "I think we need to put it to work." And St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro says, "Let's get this out there. See what it can do."
Jon Bowermaster writes on TakePart:
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BARATARIA, Louisiana— It is the perfect blue sky, humidity-free spring day in bayou country that makes you feel like everything should be all right in the world.
The intercoastal waterway leading to the Gulf of Mexico is calm, the canals that host fishing boats behind each neat suburban home reflect the midday sun, and a cool breeze washes away extraneous sounds and smells.
But despite the bucolic day, fisherman Mike Roberts is angry. “Osama bin Laden couldn’t have done a better job of destroying a part of the American economy. This oil spill? It’s like the ultimate act of terrorism. And these guys should be treated like terrorists.”
The guys he’s referring to: BP and Transocean executives, and the Mineral Management Service, the federal agency that was supposed to police the oil companies but appears to have been very cozy with the industry instead.
The firm that owns the leaking oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico has made a $270 million profit from insurance payouts, despite having caused a massive ecological disaster.
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Transocean, the company contracted by BP to drill the well, brought the story to light in a conference call on Monday.
Transocean took out a $560 million insurance policy on its Deepwater Horizon rig, which was greater than the value of the rig itself.
The company has already received a cash payment of $481 million, with the rest due over the next few weeks.
The “accounting gain” arises because the compensation it will be receiving more than covers the $200 million that it has to pay to survivors and their families and for higher insurance costs.
Lamar McKay, the chairman of BP’s US arm, Steve Newman, Transocean’s chief executive, and managers of several other companies involved in the drilling are scheduled to testify in hearings in the US Congress later this week.
Tom Philpott writes for Grist:
We finally know the main two dispersants that BP and the U.S. government are using to treat the ongoing Gulf spill.
Both, by their maker’s own admission, have the “potential to bioconcentrate,” and both have “moderate toxicity to early life stages of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks,” according to a study by Exxon, the company that originally developed them.
Their use may be the least-bad course, given the importance of minimizing oil’s effect on coastal wetlands. But a little digging into the chemical makeup of these two substances, which are being dumped in vast quantities into the Gulf, reveals that they could potentially do far more harm than good, both to the Gulf and to humans who later eat from it.
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As ProPublica reported Monday, information about dispersants is “kept secret under competitive trade laws.” I’ve spent the last several days trying to confirm what many in the ocean-ecology and public health worlds seemed to know, but no one would say officially: that two different dispersants sold under the banner of Corexit were being used in vast quantities.
The World Socialist Web Site writes:
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With each passing day, the scale of the disaster unleashed by the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico increases. Somewhere between 5,000 (the official estimate) and 25,000 (the estimate of some scientists) barrels of oil is surging into the Gulf every day.
Before it is over, millions, if not tens of millions of gallons of oil will be washed up on America’s wetlands and shorelines.Eleven workers are already dead in the latest industrial disaster in the American energy industry. Now, the fishing and seafood industry along the Gulf coast may be shut down for years, perhaps even a generation. The destruction of the fragile ecosystems of the region will likely be irreparable.
The disaster implicates one of the world’s largest corporations, British Petroleum, together with partners and subcontractors like Transocean Ltd., operator of the drill rig, and Halliburton, which carried out major operations on the wellhead only a week before the explosion.
With Earth Day 2010 on this 22nd of April, I wonder how much the Green movement and the greater media at large will debate this opinion from Lisa Hymas on Grist:
In 1969, graduating college senior Stephanie Mills made national headlines with a commencement address exclaiming that, in the face of impending ecological devastation, she was choosing to forgo parenthood. “I am terribly saddened by the fact that the most humane thing for me to do is to have no children at all,” she told her classmates.
I come here before you today to make the same proclamation — with a twist. I am thoroughly delighted by the fact that the most humane thing for me to do is to have no children at all.
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Making the green choice too often feels like a sacrifice or a hassle or an expense. In this case, it feels like a luxurious indulgence that just so happens to cost a lot less for me and weigh a lot less on the carbon-bloated atmosphere.