I wish I could say that it's grimly amusing that the media is finally using [highlight=Yellow]this phrase[/highlight] rather than exclusively saying "spill", but the situation is too horrible to have any amusement value.
ROBERT, La. – With BP declaring failure in its latest attempt to plug the [highlight=Yellow]uncontrolled gusher[/highlight] feeding the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the company is turning to yet another mix of risky undersea robot maneuvers and longshot odds to keep crude from flowing into the Gulf. full story, from @3 hours ago, here, along with devastating photos and video.
As I said earlier, I imagine everyone here has full access to all kinds of news reporting. However, if no one minds, I'll continue to post some of these articles I find helpful because of the way they explain things for lay people.
Scientists warn of unseen deepwater oil disaster Matthew Brown, Associated Press Writer 1 hr 12 mins ago
NEW ORLEANS – Independent scientists and government officials say there's a disaster we can't see in the Gulf of Mexico's mysterious depths, the ruin of a world inhabited by enormous sperm whales and tiny, invisible plankton.
Researchers have said they have found at least two massive underwater plumes of what appears to be oil, each hundreds of feet deep and stretching for miles. Yet the chief executive of BP PLC — which has for weeks downplayed everything from the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf to the environmental impact — said there is "no evidence" that huge amounts of oil are suspended undersea.
BP CEO Tony Hayward said the oil naturally gravitates to the surface — and any oil below was just making its way up. However, researchers say the disaster in waters where light doesn't shine through could ripple across the food chain.
"Every fish and invertebrate contacting the oil is probably dying. I have no doubt about that," said Prosanta Chakrabarty, a Louisiana State University fish biologist.
On the surface, a 24-hour camera fixed on the spewing, blown-out well and the images of dead, oil-soaked birds have been evidence of the calamity. At least 20 million gallons of oil and possibly 43 million gallons have spilled since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank in April.
That has far eclipsed the 11 million gallons released during the Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska's coast in 1989. But there is no camera to capture what happens in the rest of the vast Gulf, which sprawls across 600,000 square miles and reaches more than 14,000 feet at its deepest point.
Every night, the denizens of the deep make forays to shallower depths to eat — and be eaten by — other fish, according to marine scientists who describe it as the largest migration on earth.
In turn, several species closest to the surface — including red snapper, shrimp and menhaden — help drive the Gulf Coast fishing industry. Others such as marlin, cobia and yellowfin tuna sit atop the food chain and are chased by the Gulf's charter fishing fleet.
Many of those species are now in their annual spawning seasons. Eggs exposed to oil would quickly perish. Those that survived to hatch could starve if the plankton at the base of the food chain suffer. Larger fish are more resilient, but not immune to the toxic effects of oil.
The Gulf's largest spill was in 1979, when the Ixtoc I platform off Mexico's Yucatan peninsula blew up and released 140 million gallons of oil. But that was in relatively shallow waters — about 160 feet deep — and much of the oil stayed on the surface where it broke down and became less toxic by the time it reached the Texas coast.
But last week, a team from the University of South Florida reported a plume was headed toward the continental shelf off the Alabama coastline, waters thick with fish and other marine life.
The researchers said oil in the plumes had dissolved into the water, possibly a result of chemical dispersants used to break up the spill. That makes it more dangerous to fish larvae and creatures that are filter feeders.
Responding to Hayward's assertion, one researcher noted that scientists from several different universities have come to similar conclusions about the plumes after doing separate testing.
No major fish kills have been reported, but federal officials said the impacts could take years to unfold.
"This is just a giant experiment going on and we're trying to understand scientifically what this means," said Roger Helm, a senior official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In 2009, LSU's Chakrabarty discovered two new species of bottom-dwelling pancake batfish about 30 miles off the Louisiana coastline — right in line with the pathway of the spill caused when the Deepwater Horizon burned and sank April 24.
By the time an article in the Journal of Fish Biology detailing the discovery appears in the August edition, Chakrabarty said, the two species — which pull themselves along the seafloor with feet-like fins — could be gone or in serious decline.
"There are species out there that haven't been described, and they're going to disappear," he said.
Recent discoveries of endangered sea turtles soaked in oil and 22 dolphins found dead in the spill zone only hint at the scope of a potential calamity that could last years and unravel the Gulf's food web.
Concerns about damage to the fishery already is turning away potential customers for charter boat captains such as Troy Wetzel of Venice. To get to waters unaffected by the spill, Wetzel said he would have to take his boat 100 miles or more into the Gulf — jacking up his fuel costs to where only the wealthiest clients could afford to go fishing.
Significant amounts of crude oil seep naturally from thousands of small rifts in the Gulf's floor — as much as two Exxon Valdez spills every year, according to a 2000 report from government and academic researchers. Microbes that live in the water break down the oil.
The number of microbes that grow in response to the more concentrated BP spill could tip that system out of balance, LSU oceanographer Mark Benfield said.
Too many microbes in the sea could suck oxygen from the water, creating an uninhabitable hypoxic area, or "dead zone."
Preliminary evidence of increased hypoxia in the Gulf was seen during an early May cruise aboard the R/V Pelican, carrying researchers from the University of Georgia, the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi.
An estimated 910,000 gallons of dispersants — enough to fill more than 100 tanker trucks — are contributing a new toxin to the mix. Containing petroleum distillates and propylene glycol, the dispersants' effects on marine life are still unknown.
What is known is that by breaking down oil into smaller droplets, dispersants reduce the oil's buoyancy, slowing or stalling the crude's rise to the surface and making it harder to track the spill.
Dispersing the oil lower into the water column protects beaches, but also keeps it in cooler waters where oil does not break down as fast. That could prolong the oil's potential to poison fish, said Larry McKinney, director of the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
"There's a school of thought that says we've made it worse because of the dispersants," he said. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Associated Press writer Jason Dearen contributed to this report from San Francisco.
So, I hear on NPR this morning that with the start of hurricane season starting today,of which one storm could bring on waves and waves of oil further inland...I also heard that BP does not have any kind of evacuation plan in place for the thousands of people,equipment,boats etc. that are sitting down there. Just brilliant...
Here is an interesting new tidbit on efforts to control the well. What's most striking about all of this is that it's the kind of thing that should have been exhaustively studied and tested before this disaster took place.
'Titanic' director Cameron joins effort to plug Gulf spill 1 hr 21 mins ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Filmmaker James Cameron and another Canadian who built submersibles for the director's 1989 thriller "The Abyss" joined talks on Tuesday in Washington on innovative ways of capping the Gulf oil spill.
Cameron and Phil Nuytten, head of North Vancouver-based Nuytco Research, were to join several deepwater and oil sector experts meeting with Environmental Protection Agency officials, a spokeswoman for Nuytco told AFP.
No details of their talks were immediately available.
After failing to plug the leak with mud, BP has moved on to a plan to cut the leaking pipe and seal it with a tight cap. The company said this latest effort could stem the gushing oil within 24 hours.
The company is also drilling two relief wells, but these are not expected to be ready until August.
Nuytten is a diving pioneer who conceived of a rotary joint technology used in his company's renowned Newtsuit and other diving suits used in underwater exploration and rescues.
I was reading in the Biloxi Sun Herald that the oil has now hit the Mississippi coastal islands, while Governor Haley Barbour continues to live in his Big Oil supporting dream world.
Gov. Haley Barbour said the “caramel-colored” strand of oil that hit Petit Bois was about a yard wide and two miles long and had escaped detection because it was floating a couple of feet below the surface.
Barbour said about 90 workers were sent to Petit Bois, but storms Tuesday delayed the start of cleanup. He said they should be able to clean all the oil off the island today.
Barbour said the oil appears to be “emulsified, weathered and beat up” and “we are told it’s not toxic” and workers should be able to scoop it up with shovels.
The governor continued with what has become his mantra about the spill: No one in Mississippi should panic; tourists should continue to come and the national media should stop making it sound as if “we are ankle-deep in oil ... like this is Armageddon.” This message, which Barbour and the leaders of state agencies repeat, has astounded some local elected leaders and environmentalists.
But Barbour said cancellations at hotels, restaurants, fishing charters and other attractions “are at a record pace, and the reason is they think we are inundated with oil or that it’s imminent, and that’s just not the case.” He said this is “unfair to the people of the Coast.”
“This could turn out to be something catastrophic and terrible, but that has just not been the case so far,” he said. “We are prepared to fight off a big oil spill, but so far we haven’t had to.”
This guy needs to be tarred in oil and feathered and made to sit out in the hot Mississsippi sun on the f'n beach and watch....just f'n leave him there to be "cleaned up" when all is said and done. (I need to stop coming in this thread,I really get so fired up!)
Well hell. Clicked on the news just to check before I go to bed. This story is five minutes old. The whole Gulf coastline is going to be well and truly ruined.
Anger grows as disaster reaches Panhandle beaches Associated Press Writers Melissa Nelson And Holbrook Mohr, 5 mins ago
PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. – The smell of oil hangs heavy in the sea air. Children with plastic shovels scoop up clumps of goo in the waves. Beachcombers collect tarballs as if they were seashells.
The BP catastrophe arrived with the tide on the Florida Panhandle's white sands Friday as the company worked to adjust a cap over the gusher in a desperate and untested bid to arrest what is already the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. The widening scope of the slow-motion disaster deepened the anger and despair just as President Barack Obama arrived for his third visit to the stricken Gulf Coast.
The oil has now reached the shores of four Gulf states — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida — turning its marshlands into death zones for wildlife and staining its beaches rust and crimson in an affliction that some said brought to mind the plagues and punishments of the Bible.
"In Revelations it says the water will turn to blood," said P.J. Hahn, director of coastal zone management for Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish. "That's what it looks like out here — like the Gulf is bleeding. This is going to choke the life out of everything."
He added: "It makes me want to cry."
Six weeks after the April 20 oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers, the well has leaked somewhere between 22 million and 47 million gallons of oil, according to government estimates.
A device resembling an upside-down funnel was lowered over the blown-out well a mile beneath the sea late Thursday to try to capture most of the oil and direct it to a ship on the surface. But crude continued to escape into the Gulf through vents designed to prevent ice crystals from clogging the cap. Engineers hoped to close several vents throughout the day.
"Progress is being made, but we need to caution against overoptimism," said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man for the crisis. Early in the day, he guessed that the cap was collecting 42,000 gallons a day — less than one-tenth of the amount leaking from the well. Since it was installed, it had collected about 76,000 gallons, BP said in a tweet Friday night.
Similarly, later in the day, in a visit to Louisiana, Obama said it was "way too early to be optimistic" about the latest attempt to stanch the spill.
One unanswered question was whether the cap fit snugly. BP sheared off the well pipe before installing the cap but was unable to make a smooth cut.
As the operation went on at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, the effect of the BP spill was increasingly evident.
Swimmers at Pensacola Beach rushed out of the water after wading into the mess, while other beachgoers inspected the clumps with fascination, some taking pictures. Children were seen playing with the globs as if they were Play-Doh.
David Lucas of Jonesville, La., and a group of friends abruptly cut their visit short after wading into oily water. "It was sticky brown globs out there," Lucas said after he and the others cleaned their feet and left.
Health officials said that people should stay away from the mess but that swallowing a little oil-tainted water or getting slimed by a tarball is no reason for alarm.
Steven Majerus and his 11-year-old nephew walked along Pensacola Beach and checked out the oil clumps as family members splashed in the surf. Majerus filled a plastic bag with tar and photographed it with his phone. "It's really hot. See how hot it gets in this bag with the sun beating down on it?" he said.
Randy Ivie, a charter boat captain, broke down in tears as he tried to explain how sad he was to think that his grandchildren might not see the same white beach and turquoise waters he enjoyed.
"It kills me," he said. "I grew up here."
At Grand Isle, La., whose population usually swells to welcome 20,000 beachgoers during the summer months, pelicans coated in chocolate syrup-like oil flailed in the surf.
At Gulf Shores, Ala., Wendi Butler spotted clumps of tar in the surf and was repelled by the heavy odor of oil.
"It smells like a flight line. I know, my ex-husband was in the Air Force. He would come home from work every day smelling like this," said Butler, of Perdido Bay, Fla. "You don't smell the beach breeze at all."
On Grand Isle, where homes bear quirky names like "Shore Thing" and "The Sand Bar," residents hung new signs before Obama's visit. "Tony Bologna," read one, a dig at BP CEO Tony Hayward. On another home, named "Mama-Pappy Dream," a new sign was added: "Dream is Gone." Still another said: "End this nightmare."
"He ain't much of a leader," Eugene Ryman Jr. said of Obama. "The beach you can clean up. The marsh you can't. Where's the leadership? I want to hear what's being done. We're going to lose everything."
When he arrived in Louisiana, Obama indicated he felt the frustration locally and from the rest of the country.
"This has been a disaster for this region, and people are understandably frightened and concerned about what the next few months and the next few years may hold," Obama said after a briefing with the Coast Guard's Allen and the governors of Louisiana, Florida and Alabama.
On his trip to the Grand Isle on the coast, his motorcade passed a building that had been adorned with his portrait reminiscent of posters of him during his presidential campaign. Instead of "hope" or "change," the words "what now?" were on his forehead.
Once there, Obama rolled up his sleeves and sat down at a table with the fishing industry workers, and they all ate shrimp and corn on the cob. One by one, they told Obama their horror stories, which he then related to reporters.
"Terry's been shrimping out here for 45 years. Right now things are completely shut out," the president said. "Floyd has oil seeping into these oyster beds."
The mayor of Grand Isle, David Camardelle, choked up as he told of staying up nights worrying, "looking at the ceiling fan."
"We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow," Camardelle said. "I'm trying to keep Grand Isle alive."
Meanwhile, BP's Hayward assured investors that the company "considerable firepower" to cope with the severe costs. Hayward and other senior BP executives struck a penitent note in their first comprehensive update to shareholders since the oil rig explosion.
"We will meet our obligations both as a responsible company and also as a necessary step to rebuilding trust in BP as a long-term member of the business communities in the U.S. and around the world," said BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg. "This is in the interest of all our stakeholders."
Associated Press writers Holbrook Mohr in East Grande Terre, La.; Greg Bluestein in Grand Isle, La.; Eileen Sullivan in Washington; Paul J. Weber in Houston; Jay Reeves in Gulf Shores, Ala.; and Melissa Nelson in Pensacola, Fla., contributed to this report.
Man, I am getting to the point I can't read these news stories. This one, a follow-up to the above, has got me crying. It's just so totally fucked.
It doesn't matter if BP makes every fisherman, every seafood vendor or restaurateur, every wildlife guide a millionaire. I'm willing to bet that everyone compensated would far rather have back the life and terrain they loved. This is murder, not only of wildlife, but of property values, job opportunities, a way of life people planned to pass on to their children. Give that back.
Gosh, this morning I was feeling outrage reading about the media and the public being kept away from the clean-up area. But that dive was such a pointless stunt, it almost makes one understand why people would be kept away.
And speaking of outrage --- are they out of their tiny minds??!!!!
Don't you just love this line from the article: Testing on the oil-burning system should begin over the weekend ... ? Oh great, something else they don't know whether it will work or not, but with which they'll fiddle-fart while making more mass contamination. And get this -- this is the reason for the idiocy: BP opted to burn the oil because storing it would require bringing in even more vessels to the already crowded seas above the leaking well. Oh, excuse me for thinking that's code for "don't want to spend more money".
Just for laughs, go change the oil in your car and set it on fire in your back yard. While you're waiting for the fire truck and the police, amuse yourself trying to make a list of how many violations you're going to be slapped with.
But hey, if you're a giant oil company that's made a big ole mess, just light the fucker and let it pollute the entire world!
BP opted to burn the oil because storing it would require bringing in even more vessels to the already crowded seas above the leaking well. Oh, excuse me for thinking that's code for "don't want to spend more money".
Not to take BPs side or anything, but how many oil-filled tankers do we want in the Gulf when the first major hurricane arrives? (Talk about "shit hits the fan" - that will be a larger-than-life example of the quaint expression.)
BP has lost half of its value on the stock market. I would celebrate, but at the rate that company is leaking money (as well as oil) it's only a matter of time before they announce bankruptcy. THEN who pays for the "cleanup" and the lost wages...
Commercial traffic does not set out there waiting for bad weather to hit. It takes evasive action.
Over-all, the possibility of more pollution from a tanker disaster is much, much less than the absolutely sure horror that turning plumes of gushing undersea oil into plumes of toxic smoke will be.
Further, consider this from the article above:
Oil and gas siphoned from the well will flow up the rig, where it will be sent down a boom, turned into a mist and ignited using a burner designed by Schlumberger Ltd. ...
Crews working at the site toiled under oppressive conditions as the heat index soared to 110 degrees and toxic vapors emanated from the depths. Fireboats were on hand to pour water on the surface to ease the fumes.
They couldn't have designed a better recipe for disaster!
About 35,000 bags — or 250 tons — of oily trash have been carted away from this beach, said Lt. Patrick Hanley of the Coast Guard, who is stationed at Port Fourchon. And as of Monday, more than 175,000 gallons of liquid waste — a combination of oil and water — had been sent to landfills, as had 11,276 cubic yards of solid waste, said Petty Officer Gail Dale, also of the Coast Guard, who works with at the command center in Houma.
Michael Condon, BP’s environmental unit leader, said that tests have shown that the material is not hazardous, and can safely be stored in landfills around the region that accept oil industry debris. The checklist and procedures involved, Mr. Condon said, are part of a process “we do very well and have done for a long time.”
But some local officials, environmental lawyers and residents who live near landfill sites are not convinced.
“There’s no way that isn’t toxic,” said Gladstone Jones III, a New Orleans lawyer who has spent much of his career trying to get compensation for plaintiffs he says have been harmed by exposure to toxic waste.
In fact, waste from oil exploration and production falls into a regulatory no man’s land, neither exactly benign nor toxic on its face. The compounds in oil most dangerous to human health — like benzene, a carcinogen — are volatile and tend to dissipate when crude oil reaches the ocean surface, or soon thereafter. But some toxicologists say it is impossible to know whether the toxic chemicals are entirely gone.
I couldn't believe my ears yesterday when NPR reported that Obama actually told some Alabama residents that "the Gulf was going to come back, better than before". (His actual words,am not paraphrasing!!) Tonight he will tell the world how this is going to happen.I can't wait. Stay tuned folks.
Well, like every single other crisis in the US, he is expected to wave a magic wand and fix it instantly. I understand people are angry and frustrated, but I can understand how at this point the president would simply say something soothing and optimistic, even though it seems pretty unrealistic.
And really, the horror and breadth of this monumental screw-up might finally get long overdue safeguards into place and insure that proper procedures are actually followed.
This seems like such a terrible idea. Over and over we're shown that BP never had the checks and safety precautions that should have been standard, and damned sure never had a plan in case things went wrong.
BP starts burning oil from leaking ruptured well
By Ray Henry, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 22 mins ago
NEW ORLEANS – BP began burning oil siphoned from a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico early Wednesday as part of its plans to more than triple the amount of crude it can stop from reaching the sea, the company said.
BP PLC said oil and gas siphoned from the well first reached a semi-submersible drilling rig on the ocean surface around 1 a.m.
Once that gas reaches the rig, it will be mixed with compressed air, shot down a specialized boom made by Schlumberger Ltd. and ignited at sea. It's the first time this particular burner has been deployed in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP officials previously said they believed the burner system could incinerate anywhere from 210,000 gallons of oil to 420,000 gallons of oil daily once it's fully operational. The company did not say how much oil the new system has burned. It said work to optimize the new system was still ongoing.
Under pressure from the Coast Guard, the energy firm is attempting to expand its ability to trap leaking oil before it reaches the water. Already, oil and gas are being siphoned from a containment cap sitting over the well head and flowing to a drill ship sitting above it in the Gulf of Mexico.
Adding the burner is part of BP's plan to expand its containment system so it can capture as much as 2.2 million gallons of oil a day by late June, or nearly 90 percent of what a team of government scientists have estimated is the maximum flow out the well
Sea creatures flee oil spill, gather near shore By JAY REEVES, JOHN FLESHER and TAMARA LUSH - Associated Press Writers
GULF SHORES, Ala. -- Dolphins and sharks are showing up in surprisingly shallow water off Florida beaches, like forest animals fleeing a fire. Mullets, crabs, rays and small fish congregate by the thousands off an Alabama pier. Birds covered in oil are crawling deep into marshes, never to be seen again.
Marine scientists studying the effects of the BP disaster are seeing some strange phenomena.
Fish and other wildlife seem to be fleeing the oil out in the Gulf and clustering in cleaner waters along the coast in a trend that some researchers see as a potentially troubling sign.
The animals' presence close to shore means their usual habitat is badly polluted, and the crowding could result in mass die-offs as fish run out of oxygen. Also, the animals could easily be devoured by predators.
"A parallel would be: Why are the wildlife running to the edge of a forest on fire? There will be a lot of fish, sharks, turtles trying to get out of this water they detect is not suitable," said Larry Crowder, a Duke University marine biologist.
The nearly two-month-old spill has created an environmental catastrophe unparalleled in U.S. history as tens of millions of gallons of oil have spewed into the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Scientists are seeing some unusual things as they try to understand the effects on thousands of species of marine life.
Day by day, scientists in boats tally up dead birds, sea turtles and other animals, but the toll is surprisingly small given the size of the disaster. The latest figures show that 783 birds, 353 turtles and 41 mammals have died - numbers that pale in comparison to what happened after the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989, when 250,000 birds and 2,800 otters are believed to have died.
Researchers say there are several reasons for the relatively small death toll: The vast nature of the spill means scientists are able to locate only a small fraction of the dead animals. Many will never be found after sinking to the bottom of the sea or being scavenged by other marine life. And large numbers of birds are meeting their deaths deep in the Louisiana marshes where they seek refuge from the onslaught of oil.
"That is their understanding of how to protect themselves," said Doug Zimmer, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
For nearly four hours Monday, a three-person crew with Greenpeace cruised past delicate islands and mangrove-dotted inlets in Barataria Bay off southern Louisiana. They saw dolphins by the dozen frolicking in the oily sheen and oil-tinged pelicans feeding their young. But they spotted no dead animals.
I saw that news story yesterday, and like so many about the escaping oil's effects, it makes you shudder over the as-yet-unknown implications.
You have to wonder how many sea birds floundering in the oil far from shore are being snapped up by sharks and dolphins, who might then die from ingesting the oil on the birds. As the article states, many creatures will sink out of sight. In the shallower waters of the Gulf, massive die-outs will create yet another kind of pollution.
Saw the "spill" from the airplane leaving NOLA for Miami late yesterday afternoon. Was horrible. I f'n bellowed. The pilot announced it was outside, I almost wish I hadn't looked. Far cry from the Statue of Liberty...
Saw the "spill "again from the air on return trip back to NOLA from FLA. Not only is it worse,or, I got a better angle to view from and the light was different, although, it was almost exactly the same time of day...but,you could see the actual rig itself and the fire burning from it which I somehow thought they had extinguished... I had planned on not looking but, my seat was within viewing range and because of the pilot's announcement,one couldn't help but not look...