Tag Archives | Oil Spill
Scientists studying the after-effects of 2010′s Deepwater Horizon oil spill report that naturally-occurring bacteria have devoured 200,000 tons of the oil and natural gas that settled into the ocean floor in the days after the disaster. Before you get too excited, though, remember that this is less than ten percent of the total amount that was spilled into the gulf. Still, every little bit helps, even if it seems the oil-loving microbes seem to have lost their appetite:
Researcher John Kessler, of the University of Rochester, said the hydrocarbon-eating bacteria removed the majority of the oil and gas trapped in underwater layers more than a half-mile below the surface. But the bacteria’s appetite seemed to die down five months after the April 2010 explosion that set off the environmental disaster, Kessler and his team found.
Not to say they’re natural ingredients. Via ScienceDaily:
With concerns about the possible health and environmental effects of oil dispersants in the Deepwater Horizon disaster still fresh in mind, scientists now described a new dispersant made from edible ingredients that both breaks up oil slicks and keeps oil from sticking to the feathers of birds.
“Each of the ingredients in our dispersant is used in common food products like peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream,” said Lisa K. Kemp, Ph.D. She reported on the dispersant at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, being held in Philadelphia the week of August 19.
“Other scientists are working on new oil dispersants and absorbents, but nothing that’s quite like ours. It not only breaks up oil but prevents the deposition of oil on birds and other objects, like the ingredients in laundry detergent keep grease from redepositing on clothing in the rinse cycle.
Emily Gertz reports for Talking Points Memo:
A Shell deepwater drilling site off the Nigerian coast that the company reported leaking on Wednesday may have spilled up to 2.4 million gallons, according to nonprofit environmental satellite monitoring group SkyTruth.
If so, that’s far worse than indicated in statements made so far by Royal Dutch Shell, which has put the amount of oil leaked at the Bonga offshore site at “less than 40,000 barrels,” (1.7 million gallons).
“That could mean anything from 1 gallon to 1.7 million gallons,” John Amos, founder and president of satellite-imaging nonprofit SkyTruth told TPM.
Oil must be at least 1 micron (1/1000th of a millimeter) thick to be seen from a satellite, according to Amos. The visible rainbow sheen, he says, means that the oil could be anywhere from .3 to 10 microns thick, depending on two different sets of guidelines.
We know the approximate price of gas for consumers, but what is the price for society? The external costs borne may be as high as $1.7 trillion per year for the United States alone — that’s from health problems caused by pollution and toxic fumes, damage to crops and plant life, et cetera. The Center for Investigative Reporting calculates $15 per gallon as a reasonable pump price reflecting the true cost of gasoline.
My only complaint: it should be significantly higher still, as they forgot to factor in the huge sums of tax dollars spent on foreign aid and military operations for the benefit of the oil industry:
Put your plastic spade and bucket away if you’re heading to the beach in Florida. No digging means no sandcastle building. The Raw Story reports:
Ever go to the beach and not think of slapping together a sand castle? And who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of wet, warm sand between her toes?
According to federal authorities who recently intercepted an oil-hunting reporter on a Florida beach, those activities have been deemed “illegal.”
The officers’ legal revelation (which is not actually true) came as something of a surprise to Dan Thomas, reporter for WEAR ABC 3 in Pensacola, Florida, who was visiting the Gulf Islands National Seashore for a special report.
Continues at The Raw Story …
Not only are human workers trying to clean up BP’s oil spill, but bacteria workers are looking at the task as a feast. Alcanivorax bacterium can be found munching on bits of oil, a convenient taste palette to increase the clean up efforts. However, how will the increase of bacteria effect the remaining wildlife? NY Times has the report:
Among the hidden stars of the gulf cleanup is an oil-hungry bacterium that Dr. Seuss could have named — Alcanivorax. It and fellow microbes are breaking down a significant amount of the oil that gushed into the environment from BP’s runaway well, scientists say. The microbial feasting is known as biodegradation.
On Wednesday, a report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said early observations showed that the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill “is biodegrading quickly,” adding that scientists were working to measure how quickly and how much of the escaped oil the microbial hordes could consume.
Really?! What about learning from our mistakes? What about waiting to see if the plug actually holds? How about cleaning up the mess before making a new one? RawStory reports:
BP PLC said Friday it might someday drill again into the same lucrative undersea pocket of oil that spilled millions of gallons of crude, wrecked livelihoods and fouled beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.
“There’s lots of oil and gas here,” Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said at a news briefing. “We’re going to have to think about what to do with that at some point.”
The vast oil reservoir beneath the blown well is still believed to hold nearly $4 billion worth of crude. With the company and its partners facing tens of billions of dollars in liabilities, the incentive to exploit the wells and the reservoir could grow.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man on the spill, said he had no information on BP’s future plans.
Want to teach your kids about the fun of deep-sea drilling? Pick up a copy of the unfortunate 1970 board game Offshore Oil Strike, produced by BP. “The 1st player to make $120,000,000 cash is regarded as the winner.” Via BLDGBLOG:
With this “exciting board game for all the family,” released in 1970, BP delivered all “the thrills of drilling, the hazards and rewards as you bring in your offshore petro-dollars.”
It’s “a race to find and develop the riches ‘neath the seabed,” where no deepwater is beyond the horizon of possible drilling.
Accumulating this fortune, however, is not without its difficulties. Each player has “Hazard” cards to deal with; here are some of the risks BP thought to include:
—”Fire breaks out. Pay $2,500,000 for repairs.”
—”Hit High-Pressure Gas—Rig Damaged. Specialists called in.”
—”Blow-Out! Rig Damaged. Repairs cost $2,000,000″
—”Drill pipe breaks. Pay $500,000 for replacement.”
—”Strike High Pressure Gas.
Don’t get too excited now, this is only a test. The well has been temporarily sealed, successfully stopping the flow of oil. This provisional solution will allow tests to be conducted to determine the details of BP’s next plan to redirect and capture the oil. BBC covers:
It is the first time the flow has stopped since an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig on 20 April.
The well has been sealed with a cap as part of a test of its integrity that could last up to 48 hours.
BP executive Kent Wells said the oil had been stopped at 14:25 local time (1925 GMT) and he was “excited” by the progress.
“It is very good to see no oil go into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Mr Wells.
But BP is stressing that even if no oil escapes for 48 hours, that will not mean the flow of oil and gas has been stopped permanently.