Saturday, July 3, 2010

Updated Information on Oil Spill & Rumor Patrol

First of all let me say that I had to take a bit of time off, as the story was really getting to me and I was struggling with the depression that comes hand in hand with spending so much time looking at all the information that is out there about this situation.   When that happens I feel guilty for feeling that way, as for the moment, I am the "outsider looking in" on the story.  While I do live along the gulf coast, I have fortunately have not had to deal with the oil on my own beaches as of yet, so I do not understand personally what it is that those who have dealt with it are going through.

I can imagine what it is like, as I worry about how this is going to change the way of life in the gulf coast.  So many will lose out on a way of life, so many creatures have died, and others will die because of the oil spill.  Sometimes there are just not the words to describe it.   Sometimes you just have to walk away from it all, if even for a short time, to save your sanity.

Okay, so what is going on?

So, based on what Unified Command is stating here is how things look as far as what is going on:

Thursday, July 1 Statistics

Vessels of Opportunity: 3,200
Barges: more than 600
Skimmers: more than 550
Other Vessels: more than 2,600
Total active response vessels: more than 6,950

Aircraft: 115

Boom deployed: more than 2.79 million feet
Boom available: more than 811,000 feet
Total boom: more than 3.6 million feet

Oily water recovered: nearly 28.17 million gallons
Amount estimated burned: nearly 9.99 million gallons

Oil captured (CAP) over last 24hrs: more than 1.05 million gallons

Surface dispersant used: more than 1.05 million gallons
Subsea dispersant used: more than 600,000 gallons
Total dispersant used: more than 1,650,000 gallons

Overall personnel responding: more than 43,000 personnel responding

Here is your Day 73 daily tally on the animals:

dead birds : 881
oiled but alive : 1,248
cleaned and released : 322

dead sea turtles: 441
oiled but alive: 102 
cleaned and released: 3

dead mammals: 52         
oiled but alive: 2
cleaned and released: 1

Rep. Edward Markey says BP's disaster response plan for an oil spill doesn't mention hurricanes or tropical storms.      Markey says the omission is yet another example of what the oil giant was not prepared to handle.

Big Surprise there right?  Obviously BP (nor any of the other oil companies) have shown themselves to be prepared for a spill nor the consequences that follow, so why expect them to have any kind of real time plan on what they should do in the event of a  hurricane.   You do have to wonder if they considered anything at all besides rushing a job done in order to claim as many profits as possible.

Okay Now Onto Rumor Patrol~

I've heard rumors that the Unified Command is threatening arrest of a class D felony and or a $40,000.00 fine of anyone including press who is caught within 20 meters of a "safe zone".
Of course there have been no links or verified proof to those claims so I went looking to see what I could find.

I did find something sorta similar but not really.

Coast Guard establishes 20-meter safety zone around all Deepwater Horizon protective boom; operations

NEW ORLEANS - The Captains of the Port for Morgan City, La., New Orleans, La., and Mobile, Ala. , under the authority of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, has established a 20- meter safety zone surrounding all Deepwater Horizon booming operations and oil response efforts taking place in Southeast Louisiana.

Vessels must not come within 20 meters of booming operations, boom, or oil spill response operations under penalty of law.
The safety zone has been put in place to protect members of the response effort, the installation and maintenance of oil containment boom, the operation of response equipment and protection of the environment by limiting access to and through deployed protective boom.
In areas where vessels operators cannot avoid the 20-meter rule, they are required to be cautious of boom and boom operations by transiting at a safe speed and distance.
Violation of a safety zone can result in up to a $40,000 civil penalty. Willful violations may result in a class D felony.
Permission to enter any safety zone must be granted by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port of New Orleans by calling 504-846-5923.

Unified Command Deepwater Horizon Response

So that sounds a bit different from what I have seen reported on some of the conspiracy websites.

I was also reading Huffington Post and came across this story by Allison Kilkenny who says she spoke to a friend of hers named C.S. Muncy, who is a photojournalist and had taken a very, very brief video that shows some potentially disturbing images.
Video claiming that sand has been dumped over oil in attempt to cover it up:

After watching the video, I cannot confirm or deny the claims made in this video, but I have say I remain skeptical simply because  there was no attempt to remove the sand from the top to show what was underneath, and the description of it as seeming to be like "asphalt" under the sand seems unrealistic.  I cannot imagine that it would become that hard and unyielding.   We've seen the images of the tarballs, and the oil that is washing ashore, and it is gooey and sticky not hard like a rock.
I could be wrong, but I think before I call this one confirmed, I'll wait for more information, and more independent verification.

Now another rumor I've heard is that there is a giant methane gas bubble forming beneath the surface of the sea floor which is going to explode out and possibly cause a giant Tsunami.

Now this is patently ridiculous.  First and foremost, I cannot imagine that if this was indeed happening that BP or the Coast Guard would allow themselves to be sitting atop a potential danger like that that could kill all of them should such a thing happen.   Take into account that methane is coming up with the oil as that is what is being burned off on the rig/ship on the surface.   Methane bubbling up is not unusual and it is being studied, but it has been naturally occurring instances.   Now am I prepared to say that this would never happen? No, because I know better than to say "never", but in all likelihood it is not happening and won't happen.  As with the gushing itself, we would have independent scientists who are knowledgeable on this issue who would be stepping to the forefront to state this was indeed not only possible but probable.  So far, I have not see a rush rush from the scientific community to make any such claims.

The bigger concern is the amount of methane which is escaping (and not building up) which could cause more dead zones as it depletes the oxygen in the ocean.

For anyone who has never heard of it before, a dead zone in the ocean is an area where the oxygen in the water has depleted to the point where it cannot sustain life.  

The Gulf of Mexico is already home to one the the largest dead zones in the world, so this would be just another deadly blow to the gulf.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


'As Gov. Jindal Criticized The Federal Bureaucracy, Louisiana Guard Troops Sat Idle'

Gov. Bobby Jindal's message has been loud and clear, using language such as "We will only be winning this war when we're actually deploying every resource," "They (the federal government) can provide more resources" and "It's clear the resources needed to protect our coast are still not here."

But nearly two months after the governor requested - and the Department of Defense approved the use of 6,000 Louisiana National Guard troops - only a fraction - 1,053 - have actually been deployed by Jindal to fight the spill.

"If you ask any Louisianan, if you said 'If you had those troops, do you think they could be put to good use? Is there anything they can do in your parish?' I think they'd all tell you 'Absolutely,'" Louisiana state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, said.
But CBS News has learned that in addition to Louisiana's 1,053 troops of 6,000, Alabama has deployed 432 troops of 3,000 available. Even fewer have been deployed in Florida - 97 troops out of 2,500 - and Mississippi - 58 troops out of 6,000.

Those figures prompted President Obama to weigh in.

"I urge the governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible," Mr. Obama said.

It's believed officials in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi and are reluctant to use more troops because their presence could hurt tourism. In hardest-hit Louisiana, however, Jindal is pointing fingers.

"Actually we asked the White House to approve the initial 6,000," Jindal said. "What they came back and said is the Coast Guard and BP had to authorize individual tasks."

But Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander in charge of the government's response to the spill, said Jindal is just flat wrong.

"There is nothing standing in the governor's way from utilizing more National Guard troops," Allen said.
Jindal Not Using National Guard That Is Available & Waiting

Now someone needs to explain to the people of Louisiana that the blame for not getting more help doesn't lay at the feet of the Obama administration, but rather at the feet of those who have the authority to access more help but are not doing so.  

Apparently it is more important for Bobby Jindal to stand in front of the cameras and complain about the lack of help from the Obama administration than it is to acknowledge publicly that the Obama administration has authorized the Governor's of the Gulf States to use the National Guard. 

What is the reason for this?  How can this be acceptable?  Politic's instead of the interest in his state seems to be the idea behind Jindal's behavior.  What other explanation is there?  You have the authority to call upon over a thousand more people to help with the crisis, and yet you just don't.  Yet you are on television complaining about the lack of help available.  
This is not the only problem with Bobby Jindal that is coming to light. 

Jindal vetoes bill to open oil spill records

Gov. Bobby Jindal rejected a bill Friday that would have required him to make public and to preserve all his office's documents involving the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In his veto letter, the governor said the legislation would have hurt the state's position in future litigation against BP PLC, the oil giant that leased the rig which exploded April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and causing the disaster.
"This bill would allow BP and other parties with potential liability to the state to obtain information retained by any state agency responding to this tragic event," Jindal wrote, saying such access could jeopardize the state's position in seeking legal remedy for the spill's damage.
The Senate sponsor of the public records provision said Friday night that Jindal's veto was expected. He noted that the governor has repeatedly fought attempts to require preservation and open most of his office's records to public scrutiny.
"This governor has opposed transparency for the three years he's been in office, so that's not a surprise. What is sad about all this is it's just another black eye on Louisiana internationally now," said Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton.
Adley also called it hypocritical for the governor to push BP to open some of its records to the state even as Jindal refuses to release his own.
"How in the world would making our records public let BP off for what they've done? That makes absolutely no sense," Adley said.
Jindal has said he wants BP to open its claims database to the state to help ensure payments are being processed promptly.
Jindal Wants BP to Open Its Records But Refuses To Do The Same For Government

Now what is the reason for his refusal to not only open up the records, but to preserve them in the case of the deepwater spill?  What is he hiding?   Is he worried about his performance?  Is he hiding something that would show just how poor of a job he has been doing with regards to this spill?   Or maybe he is hiding the fact that he is screwing over his state because he is pushing a political agenda.  The fact remains that he wants BP to open its records but is unwilling to do the same.  Now if BP refused to do so, what do you think the reaction would be by Bobby Jindal?  He would be screaming to the rooftops.  

Now another question that should be asked is what did Bobby Jindal know and when did he know it about the tasks that are taking place down on the barrier islands that has caused the Federal Government to stop the dredging and the building of berms after initially giving approval to build them.

We know that Jindal was screaming for approval of the plan to start building the berms and was getting stonewalled by the Army Corps of Engineers, because they felt the plan was not worth pursuing.  The reason given was that the sand being taken to build the berms was from a limited resource that once used could not be recovered, not to mention the fact that the berms, as designed would not be able to withstand the weather in the Gulf during hurricane season.  It has been suggested that even a mild hurricane would wash away the berms leaving the barrier island vulnerable once again, and all the money and resources used to build those berms would be wasted.  Then there was the concerns that the berms could actually cause as much damage as the oil, if not more. 

Among the problems cited by one or more of those agencies: that the emergency berms would take several months to build, by which time a lot of oil would have hit the coast; that dredging up the sand to build the berms could intensify coastal erosion and rip apart undersea oil-and-gas pipelines; and that the berms, by changing the flow of water, could alter the water's salinity, potentially hurting fish.
In response, Louisiana officials changed some of the areas where they proposed to dredge the sand for the emergency berms, nixing areas that federal officials called particularly ecologically sensitive.
Louisiana's congressional delegation was pushing hard for the plan. "We implore you to immediately approve" the plan, the delegation wrote Col. Al Lee, the head of the Corps' New Orleans office, and Adm. Allen, on May 20. They noted that "heavy oil is now coating our marshes."
In written comments May 26 to the Corps of Engineers, the EPA said the berms would be "unlikely to stop the majority of the oil from migrating inland," because they would leave many large water passes open.
Furthermore, the EPA said in its comments, the construction of the oil-blocking berms "could exacerbate the emergency situation in the Gulf," in part because it could move around sand on the sea floor that already had been contaminated with oil, newly endangering aquatic life.
Berms Being Built But Doubts Persist

So, the berms were given the tentative okay, and they were started but then something changed. 

Washington Slows Down Sand Berms in Louisiana

Federal authorities have put a temporary stop to a $360 million project to build massive sand berms—a plan Nungesser championed for weeks—that are meant to block the flow of oil into the marshes and wetlands in southeastern Louisiana. Interior Department officials—who were slow to approve the project and had doubts about it—have ordered Louisiana to stop dredging sand from the sensitive Chandeleur Islands:
[Louisiana Gov. Bobby] Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said federal authorities want the state to move a dredging site farther from the Chandeleur Islands, a sensitive chain of barrier islands.
However, the Interior Department said the order was issued because the state was pumping sand from a sensitive section of the island chain and had failed to meet an extended deadline to install pipe that would tap sand from a less-endangered area.
The worry is that by pumping sand from the Chandeleurs—a chain of barrier islands east of the Mississippi River, and one of the first spots to be hit by oil—the berm project could damage the islands themselves, which form a vital natural defense against storm surges and hurricanes. The Interior Department says that Louisiana had promised to build a pipe that could bring in sand from outside the islands, but had failed to do so by an extended deadline—hence the order to stop.

Washington Puts The Brakes On Sand Berm Project

So, it would seem that in trying to do something, anything, to make themselves look like they are taking action, the long term destruction of the Chandeleurs means less than the somewhat instant and short-lived gratification that these sand berms would provide.  

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tropical Storm Alex~Gulf Hurricane Update/Status

As of right now, the activity in the Gulf of Mexico is not a hurricane and it isn't expected to be a real threat to the oil spill activity going on. It is a Tropical Storm, the first named of the season for the Gulf/Atlantic, and while it is anticipated to increase in intesity, there doesn't seem to be any indications that it will be a problem for the Gulf Coast States, although it could still impact Texas should conditions change.

These are the latest forecasts and models:

The Jeff Masters blog indicates that the current forecast is for it to make landfall north of Tampico Mexico sometime late Wednesday or early Thursday morning as possibly a weak Cat 2 Hurricane.

Now based on what is being reported, as I said there isn't expected to be a real threat to the oil spill, but the storm is expected to generate wave activity that more than likely cause some problems for the skimming operations going on.

It is important to remember that things can change and drastically if weather conditions change so while this is the projected forecast, there is no guarantee that this is how this will play out.

I'll update if anything changes.