Friday, July 2, 2010

BP oil spill hits somber record as Gulf’s biggest ever

BP oil spill hits somber record as Gulf’s biggest ever

Gusher clears record 140-million-gallon mark

AP Photo
Gov. Bob Riley reaches into the water to pick up a handful of oil as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, in white, watches during a tour of skimming operations near Bayou La Batre on Thursday. Riley took Mabus and other officials on a tour of oil skimming operations near Dauphin Island.
By Tom Breen and Seth Borenstein The Associated Press
Published: Friday, July 2, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 10:50 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS | BP’s massive oil spill became the largest ever in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday based on the highest of the federal government’s estimates, an ominous record that underscores the oil giant’s dire need to halt the gusher.

The oil that’s spewed for two and a half months from a blown-out well a mile under the sea hit the 140.6 million gallon mark, eclipsing the record-
setting, 140-million-gallon Ixtoc I spill off Mexico’s coast from 1979-80. Even by the lower end of the government’s estimates, at least 71.7 million gallons are in the Gulf.
The growing total is crucial to track, in part because London-based BP PLC is likely to be fined per gallon spilled, said Larry McKinney, director of Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi’s Gulf of Mexico research institute.
“It’s an important number to know because it has an impact on restoration and recovery,” McKinney said.
The oil calculation is based on the higher end of the government’s range of barrels leaked per day, minus the amount BP says it has collected from the blown-out well using two containment systems. BP collected a smaller amount of oil than usual on Wednesday, about 969,000 gallons.
Measuring the spill helps scientists figure out where the missing oil is, hidden below the water surface with some even stuck to the seafloor. Oil not at the surface damages different parts of the ecosystem.
“It’s a mind-boggling number any way you cut it,” said Ed Overton, a Louisiana State University environmental studies professor who consults for the federal government on oil spills. “It’ll be well beyond Ixtoc by the time it’s finished.”
And passing Ixtoc just before the July Fourth weekend, a time of normally booming tourism, is bitter timing, he said.

The BP spill, which began after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion killed 11 workers April 20, is also the largest spill ever recorded offshore during peacetime.
But it’s not the biggest in history.
That happened when Iraqi forces opened valves at a terminal and dumped as much as 336 million gallons of oil in 1991 during the Persian Gulf war, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Initial estimates put that spill at about 460 million gallons, but government estimates later found it to be smaller.
As the Gulf gusher continued spewing, the remnants of Hurricane Alex whipped oil-filled waves onto the Gulf Coast’s once-white beaches. The government has pinned its latest cleanup hopes on a huge new piece of equipment: the world’s largest oil-skimming vessel, which arrived Wednesday.
Officials hope the ship can scoop up to 21 million gallons of oil-fouled water a day. Dubbed the “A Whale,” the Taiwanese-flagged former tanker spans the length of 3½ football fields and is 10 stories high.
It just emerged from an extensive retrofitting to prepare it specifically for the Gulf.
“It is absolutely gigantic. It’s unbelievable,” said Overton, who saw the ship last week in Norfolk, Va.
The vessel looks like a typical tanker, but it takes in contaminated water through 12 vents on either side of the bow. The oil is then supposed to be separated from the water and transferred to another vessel. The water is channeled back into the sea.
But the ship’s never been tested, and many questions remain about how it will operate. For instance, the seawater retains trace amounts of oil, even after getting filtered, so the Environmental Protection Agency will have to sign off on allowing the treated water back into the Gulf.

“This is a no-brainer,” Overton said. “You’re bringing in really dirty, oily water and you’re putting back much cleaner water.”
The Coast Guard will have the final say in whether the vessel can operate in the Gulf. The owner, shipping firm TMT Group, will have to come to separate terms with BP, which is paying for the cleanup.
“I don’t know whether it’s going to work or not, but it certainly needs to be given the opportunity,” Overton said.
Meanwhile, along parts of the Gulf, red flags, warning people to stay out of the water, snapped in strong gusts, and long stretches of beach were stained brown from tar balls and crude oil that had been pushed as far as 60 yards from the water.
Hurricane Alex churned up rough seas as it plowed across the Gulf, dealing a tough setback to cleanup operations. It made landfall along a relatively unpopulated stretch of coast in Mexico’s northern Tamaulipas state late Wednesday, spawning tornadoes in nearby Texas and forcing evacuations in both countries. Alex weakened to a tropical storm Thursday morning as it moved across Mexico.
Although skimming operations and the laying of oil-
corralling booms were halted across the Gulf, vessels that collect and burn oil and gas at the site of the explosion were still operating. Efforts to drill relief wells that experts hope will stop the leak also continued unabated.
In Florida, lumps of tar the size of dinner plates filled a large swath of beach east of Pensacola after rough waves tossed the mess onto shore.
Streaks of the rust-red oil could be seen in the waves off Pensacola Beach as cleanup crews worked in the rough weather to prepare the beach for the holiday weekend.
In Grand Isle, La., heavy bands of rain pounded down, keeping cleanup crews off the water and tossing carefully laid boom around. However, oil had stayed out of the passes.

“All this wave action is breaking up the oil very quickly,” Coast Guard Cmdr. Randal S. Ogrydziak said. “Mother Nature is doing what she does best, putting things back in order.”
Natural microbes in the water were also working on the spill. The result was a white substance that looked like mayonnaise, that washed up on some spots along the Grand Isle beach.
“People will be fishing here again,” Ogrydziak said. “It may take a while, but people may be surprised that it’s not taking as long as they thought. Look at the (Ixtoc) oil spill in Mexico. It was massive and now people are back to using those waters.”


  1. So much of toxin into the sea is so cruel to the lives in the water base.The people living there must be so very troubled by the toxicity and the fishing would have to stop fr a long while.

  2. They may be using the waters but they are not getting near the catch they were before the spill. Effects are still evident today.

  3. I am truly shocked by the cavalier attitude displayed by the Coast Guard.
    No one believes the rosy assessment, and it just sounds like they are trying to prop up BP's share price.
    I have always admired the USCG, but their current "leaders" are proving to be a complete disgrace. Very frustrating.

  4. "I am truly shocked by the cavalier attitude displayed by the Coast Guard.
    No one believes the rosy assessment, and it just sounds like they are trying to prop up BP's share price.
    I have always admired the USCG, but their current "leaders" are proving to be a complete disgrace. Very frustrating. "

    Couldn't be said any better!

  5. Lesson from [BP's] Coast Guard: oil spills are only a temporary inconvenience. An oil spill is a healthy setback, like pruning a tree. In fact, maybe all the marine life and estuary vegetation will evolve so that oil becomes a normal part of their dietary intake. They'll have to, at this point...

  6. This idiot liar from the CG should be forced to go swimming in this toxic cesspool that he sees as "cleaning up" fast. Then he should be fed a nice seafood platter of oysters, crabs and dolphin all marinated in his Masters special 10w40 sauce.


    In the hope, that you have a use for that i posted that link in case you don't know about this yet... you're nearer to the source and ruin of that huge ... dont have words for that... than we here in Europe. But we're not less concerned than you all.

    I keep my fingers crossed, for a turn for the better...

  8. Hope you will post this

    BP's Secret 3rd Oil Spill - THe Big Red One

  9. Thanks for such informative blog,it really helpfull in the growth of my Parkland HVAC Business.Thanks Again !!.. Keep Posting.

    Parkland HVAC

  10. It has been a very disastrous explosion. That time i was in the premises of the
    Bal Harbor HVAC

    for the repairs of the AC.


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