BP Oil Spill: Yet More Ledes, Excerpts and Links – May 8 through May 22

“Twenty-four miles of Plaquemines parish is destroyed.
Everything in it is dead.”
– Billy Nungesser, head of the parish in southern Louisiana

“This is what everyone wanted to avoid, because the wetlands are
the nursery for everything that swims or crawls in the Gulf of Mexico.”
– John Hocevar, Greenpeace

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is “relatively tiny” compared with the “very big ocean”
– BP CEO Tony Hayward

A follow up to my previous collection of ledes and excerpts – with links – these ones covering the period from May 8 through May 22. (Note: As before, the full post is fairly long, with a number of pictures, so if you have a slow or limited internet connection, be warned.)

Before that, some observations…

Among the most disturbing news to come out in the last few days of coverage of the Deepwater Horizon / BP oil spill:

  • Even BP now acknowledges its estimate of the rate of the spill as 5,000 barrels of oil a day was woefully inadequate. The actual rate of the spill may be as much as 20 times larger than the figure that BP has insisted on for the last month.
  • After a month of stonewalling and downplaying the severity of the disaster, BP has bowed to pressure and is now allowing access to the live video feed of the spill that scientists have been demanding. What other data are they withholding? And what of efforts to prevent reporters from reaching the site of the spill?
  • The chemical dispersant/cleaner used by BP has now be banned – as too toxic and inadequate. All along scientists have warned of the impact of the dispersant, which some have argued may just make matters worse because of its toxic impact. And in fact, a better – more effective and less toxic – dispersant has apparently been available. The chemical used by BP is banned in the UK as too toxic.
  • Oil is washing ashore on beaches, wetlands and marshes in the Gulf region, destroying fragile wetlands that are the incubators for a large percentage of the birds, fish and animals of the Gulf. By destroying these breeding grounds, used by migratory birds and others, the oil spill will impact the environment throughout North and South America, from the Arctic to Antarctica.
  • Oil is being taken up into the Loop Current and is being carried toward Florida and the Atlantic, so it may also end up affecting Western Europe.
  • Police were turning back reporters trying to reach beaches on which oil was washing ashore.

Given BP’s repeated failures to stem the disastrous flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, use of toxic chemicals to try to minimize the apparent extent of the spill, stonewalling on access to data on the rate of the spill while insisting on a figure universally derided as woefully underestimating the actual damage, apparent efforts to block reporters from accessing the site of the spill, and general fuckwittery (eg, the BP CEO calling oil spill ‘relatively tiny’), why is BP still in charge of efforts to contain and clean up the spill?

At what point does the government step in and say “BP, you’ve blown it – we’re taking over, and we’ll send you the bill”?

First another place to go for ideas about how to help:

3 Ways You Can Help — Oil Spill Update: Here are three things you can do today to help the Gulf coast, its wildlife and the people who depend on it… (via The Nature Conservancy.)

Now, the bad news…

8 May

A New Setback in Efforts to Contain the Gulf Oil Spill: The latest effort to contain the oil spill that has poured millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico encountered a setback 5,000 feet underwater, officials said Saturday, meaning oil will continue gushing into the ocean for at least several more days, and possibly months… (via NYTimes.com.)

Problem for Containment Dome in Gulf – Green Blog – NYTimes.com.

Deepwater Horizon blast triggered by methane bubble: The deadly blast on board the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was triggered by a bubble of methane gas, an investigation by BP has revealed… (via guardian.co.uk.)

Do we really trust BP to investigate its own accident? If this were, say, an explosion or fire at a factory outside of your town, would you want the factory owners to tell you the cause, that it wasn’t gross negligence on their part? If this were a plane accident, would we trust assurances from the airline over the cause of the accident, or would we want an independent inquiry?

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill’s Impact Tracked by Crowdsourced Map: Wondering just how much damage April 20’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform explosion has caused? Well, to quote the folks at Apple: There’s an app for that. A health and justice organization in New Orleans called The Louisiana Bucket Brigade has launched a mapping tool that collects data from citizen reporters in order to depict the magnitude of the explosion and subsequent oil spill… (via Mashable.)

Congressional Memo – Republican Calls for Offshore Oil Drilling Grow Quieter:
Two years ago, feisty Republicans commandeered the darkened House chamber during the summer recess to loudly demand that oil companies be allowed to “drill here and drill now.”

Now, with an ominous oil slick threatening the Gulf Coast from a deep-well blowout, Republican cries for more offshore oil production have grown quieter. But they have not ceased… (via NYTimes.com.)

Oil spill threatens world’s largest artificial reef: ‘If this oil shows up here it will definitely shut down a big industry in the panhandle,’ says Captain Douglas Hammock… (via CNN.com.)

Problems with containment box halt US Gulf oil leak fix: The oil company, BP, has encountered problems with the containment device it is trying to put over a blown-out well on the seabed of the Gulf of Mexico… (via BBC News.)

Gulf Oil Spill 2010, “Yo Dawg” edition: Yo dawg I heard u like floating oil, so I made an oil boom out of oil so u can float oil in your floating oil (oil booms are made from oil products). Yo dawg I heard u like toxic chemicals, so I made a toxic chemical to disperse in your toxic chemical so u can suspend your toxins in your toxins (dispersants being used by BP to suspend the oil particles may themselves be toxic)… (via Boing Boing.)

9 May

After Setback, BP Scrambles To Find New Solution: A growing collection of crippled equipment littered the ocean floor Sunday near a ruptured oil well gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico, the remnants of a massive rig that exploded weeks ago and the failed efforts since to cap the leak… (via NPR.)

10 May

BP continues kludgey, toxic attempts to contain Gulf oil spill, limit damage: Hey, it’s Monday, and that means a fresh week of bumbling attempts by everyone’s favorite oil company to limit the ongoing spread of the giant Gulf oil spill.

“BP on Monday resumed injecting dispersants into the gusher a mile below the Gulf of Mexico, as it weighed its next steps. Ideas include “top hats” and “junk shots” to try to contain the spewing crude.

Top hats and junk shots! And if that don’t work, there’s always golf balls and tires! Is anyone uploading this stuff to thereifixedit.com?… (via Boing Boing.)

11 May

The Senate Energy Committee interrogates BP and other oil executives over the Gulf spill.What happened? That was the $14 billion question at the Senate Energy Committee’s hearing on the Gulf oil spill on Tuesday. But in answering that question, executives from the three companies involved in the disaster—BP (which leased the rig), Transocean (which owned the rig), and Halliburton (which cemented the base of the rig)—pre-empted a second one: Who’s to blame?

The answer, in each case: not me. (via Slate Magazine.)

12 May

Oil spill cleanup, containment efforts, hearings in wake of gulf disaster: In the Gulf of Mexico and along the coastline, cleanup and containment efforts continue after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig April 20… (via Washington Post.)

Why BP Won’t Measure the Oil Spill: In the latest sci-fi development from the Gulf oil spill, scientists have found enormous oil “plumes” beneath the ocean’s surface. With this, and last week’s underwater footage of oil and natural gas gushing out of the ruptured well, it’s apparent that BP’s estimate of the amount of oil entering the Gulf each day is at once laughably and horrifyingly low.

Weeks ago, not long after the spill was first verified, BP, the Coast Guard, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that the well was leaking 5,000 barrels of oil a day. They based this estimate on analysis of the oil slick at the water’s surface. Independent scientists analyzing the slick set the estimate at 25,000 barrels a day, and once BP released the underwater video, they calculated flow rates as high as 80,000 barrels a day… (via The Atlantic.)

What an underwater oil leak looks like: footage … taken at the Deepwater Horizon site on May 11. The Joint Investigation Committee says that you’re looking at both oil and gas coming out of the broken pipe. Bit of conjecture on my part: I think what we might be seeing here is a methane gas bubble briefly interrupting the flow of oil, which is pretty eerie to watch… (via Boing Boing.)

13 May

Transocean Seeks To Limit Liability For Oil Rig Blast: The company that owns the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig said Thursday that it planned to petition a federal court in Houston to cap its overall liability from the incident at less than $27 million… (via NPR.)

14 May

BP uses robots to try to plug oil leak: BP is using undersea robots to try to thread a small tube into the jagged pipe that is pouring oil into the Gulf of Mexico in the latest attempt to stem the spill from a blown-out well that has pumped out more than 90,000 barrels of crude… (via guardian.co.uk.)

Fresh BP effort to stop oil leak: BP uses undersea robots in an effort to thread a tube into a leaking oil pipe under the Gulf of Mexico to stop the flow… (via BBC News.)

Super depressing photos of Gulf oil spill disaster: This Boston Globe photo gallery with images of the Gulf oil spill devastation will make you cry. Man, look at #6, with those bottlenose dolphins swimming under water blanketed with droplets of crude. What the hell, world?… (via Boing Boing.)

Obama: No more cosying up to oil: Barack Obama vows to end the ‘cosy relationship’ between oil companies and US regulators after the Gulf of Mexico disaster… (via BBC News.)

Gulf oil leak rate much higher than reported, professor says: “A mechanical engineering professor who studied the video of the leak estimates the flow to be 70,000 barrels a day — 14 times higher than BP’s estimate… (via NewsTrust.)

Guess how much oil is spilling into the Gulf of Mexico: A challenge has been laid to calculate how much oil is gushing from BP’s ruptured well – it could be worse than the Exxon Valdez… (via New Scientist.)

Gulf Oil Spill May Far Exceed Government, BP Estimates: The amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico may be at least 10 times the size of official estimates, according to an exclusive analysis conducted for NPR.

At NPR’s request, experts examined video that BP released Wednesday. Their findings suggest the BP spill is already far larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska, which spilled at least 250,000 barrels of oil.

BP has said repeatedly that there is no reliable way to measure the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by looking at the oil gushing out of the pipe. But scientists say there are actually many proven techniques for doing just that… (via NPR.)

Short Sharp Science: Guess how much oil is spilling into the Gulf of Mexico: There’s a new game in town: guess how many barrels of oil are gushing from BP’s ruptured well into the Gulf of Mexico every day.

Using video showing the movement of oil spewing from the well, mechanical engineer Steven Wereley of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, estimates that the well is losing 70,000 barrels of oil a day. That’s equivalent to an Exxon Valdez disaster every four days, and more than 10 times the 5000 barrels a day estimated by BP.

‘We are not recognising these numbers at all,’ a spokesperson for BP told New Scientist. The oil company maintains there is no reliable way to measure the oil spill by analysing oil moving out of the pipe. Really?… (via New Scientist.)

15 May

Obama Attacks Finger-Pointing by Firms Involved in Oil Spill: President Obama called the finger-pointing among the companies tied to the spill a ‘ridiculous spectacle,’ and vowed to end what he called the ‘cozy relationship’ between regulators and oil companies… (via NYT > Home Page.)

US demands BP spill clarification: The US demands immediate clarification from BP over its commitment to pay costs for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico… (via BBC News.)

Central Command Turns To Twitter To Solve The Gulf Oil Spill. Uh Oh.: By the time the oil stops leaking, it’s expected to be the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Yeah, it’s bad. It’s so bad, that BP and several other organizations working on the spill are apparently running out of ideas. And they’re turning to Twitter… (via TechCrunch.)

A major test for President Obama: Contain the oil spill and the fallout: The spreading environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico threatens to become a crisis of public confidence for President Obama, who stepped forward Friday to declare that ‘the system failed, and it failed badly,’ and included the federal government among those who ‘share that responsibility.’ (via The Washington Post.)

White House races to blunt attacks on offshore drilling policy: The White House is rushing to show that it’s boosting environmental controls over offshore drilling as Capitol Hill probes of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill turn toward allegations of lax Interior Department oversight… (via NewsTrust.)

HOW TO: Monitor the Gulf Oil Spill Using Social Media: As the ongoing oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico continues, several organizations have created dynamic uses of social media to monitor the situation. These efforts range from a deploying combination of balloons, cameras and maps to chronicle the progress of the oil spill to old fashioned information dissemination on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube… (via Mashable!.)

Obama pledges permit review, end to cozy oil links: Declaring himself as angry as the rest of the nation, President Barack Obama assailed oil drillers and his own administration Friday as he ordered extra scrutiny of drilling permits to head off any repeat of the sickening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico… (via digg.com.)

‘Junk Shot’ Is Next Step for Leaking Gulf Well: Companies working to cap the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico will try a method that involves pumping items like plastic cubes and knotted rope into the well’s safety device to clog it… (via NYT > Home Page.)

Latest Effort to Stop Gulf Oil Leak Hits a Snag: BP has run into problems as it tries to guide a mile-long tube into the gusher that is spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico, said Ken Salazar, the Interior secretary… (via NYT > Home Page.)

Obama Sends Nuclear Experts To Tackle BP Oil Spill: The US has sent a team of nuclear physicists to help BP plug the ‘catastrophic’ flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico from its leaking Deepwater Horizon well, as the Obama administration becomes frustrated with the oil giant’s inability to control the situation. The five-man team — which includes a man who helped develop the first hydrogen bomb in the 1950s — is the brainchild of Steven Chu, President Obama’s Energy Secretary… (via Slashdot.)

BP chief backs future of drilling: BP’s boss says the Gulf of Mexico disaster should not end deep-water drilling but admits it is a ‘transforming event’… (via BBC News.)

Gulf Oil Spill Could Be 10 Times Larger Than Estimates, NPR Says: The amount of oil spewing from a ruptured well deep in the Gulf of Mexico could be at least 10 times larger than current estimates and almost certainly has far exceeded the oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989, according to National Public Radio. NPR asked experts to examine video of the gusher of undersea oil, and they concluded that the oil released into the Gulf is much greater than the estimate of 5,000 barrels a day made by the U.S. government. One Purdue University expert, using a technique called particle image velocimetry that tracks particles and estimates their speed, said the broken pipe could be emitting roughly 70,000 barrels of oil per day… (via Yale Environment 360.)

16 May

Huge Underwater Oil Plumes Found in Gulf of Mexico: Oil from a blown-out well is forming huge underwater plumes as much as 10 miles long below a visible slick in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists said as BP wrestled for a third day Sunday with its latest contraption for slowing the nearly month-old gusher.” (via NewsTrust.)

Deepwater Horizon Inspections: MMS Skipped Monthly Inspections On Doomed Rig: The federal agency responsible for ensuring that an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that inspections be done at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows. Since January 2005, the federal Minerals Management Service conducted at least 16 fewer inspections aboard the Deepwater Horizon than it should have… (via NewsTrust.)

Toxic chemical fear over BP clean-up: Scientists have raised urgent new concerns over the latest efforts to mitigate the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the oil rig explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon. Latest efforts to limit the environmental damage involve an untried deep-water technique, using a toxic dispersant that they believe may damage ocean life… (via guardian.co.uk.)

Giant Plumes of Oil Found Under Gulf of Mexico: The discovery of the plumes, one as large as 10 miles long, is evidence that the leak from the well could be substantially worse than estimates that BP and the government have given… (via NYT > Home Page.)

Ten-mile oil plume found in Gulf: Ocean scientists in the Gulf of Mexico have found giant plumes of oil coagulating at up to 1,300 metres below the surface, raising fears that the BP oil spill may be larger than thought – and that it might create huge ‘dead zones’… (via guardian.co.uk.)

Giant Plumes of Oil Forming Below the Gulf’s Surface: “Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given… (via Slashdot.)

17 May

BP says new oil plan working well: Oil giant BP says it has started to siphon oil from its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico to a tanker on the surface… (via BBC News.)

BP claims to be slowing flow of oil: BP has claimed its first success in stemming the flow of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico after almost a month of trying.

The company said that it would now be able to capture 1,000 barrels of oil a day after inserting a small tube into the end of the broken pipeline lying on the seabed.

Official estimates put the spill at 5,000 barrels of oil a day, but some scientists say the spill could be as much as 100,000 barrels daily. BP says there is no way to measure it accurately….

Concern is also growing that vast plumes of oil are forming beneath the surface, creating huge “dead zones” where marine life cannot survive. BP has pumped more than 500,000 gallons of chemical dispersant into the sea, much of it at the source of the leak. Scientists say these unprecedented quantities of dispersant are preventing most of the oil from reaching the surface but could be making the pollution worse… (via guardian.co.uk.)

In First Success, Tube Captures Leaking Gulf Oil: Engineers achieved some success by using a mile-long pipe to capture some of the oil flow and to divert it to a drill ship on the surface, company officials said… (via NYT > Home Page.)

US unmoved by BP curb on oil leak: The US says the success of a move by BP to curb a leak in the Gulf of Mexico is ‘not clear’ and the technique is ‘no solution’…. (via BBC News.)

Oil spills: what to do when all else fails: Think mopping up oil with pet fur is crazy? How about using nuclear bombs? New Scientist lists history’s wackiest responses to environmental disaster… (via New Scientist.)

18 May

Heavy oil reaches Louisiana marshland; tar balls found in Key West: A tide of sludgy oil has begun washing into the fringes of Louisiana’s coastal marshes, officials said Tuesday, as BP continued to siphon some of the oil gushing from a damaged well on the gulf floor but remained days away from trying to cap the leak… (via The Washington Post.)

Salazar calls for tighter regulations covering petroleum industry: The massive spill that has pumped oil into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly a month has laid bare the need for regulations covering the industry to be tightened, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday… (via CNN.com.)

GulfCoastSpill.com Attempts To Aggregate All That #gulfspill Social Data: a group of a dozen or so organizations including BP, the EPA, the U.S. Department of Interior, the Department of Defense, and OSHA have set up Deepwater Horizon Response, a ‘Unified Command’ established to ‘manage response operations.’ This also involves several social media accounts. And now there’s a theory that if enough people tweet information using the hashtag #gulfspill the environmental mess will clear itself up. OK, perhaps not, but the newly launched Gulf Coast Spill Coalition thinks that using social media to record and share information related to the oil spill can make a difference. And that’s exactly what Gulfcoastspill.com has been setup to do… (via TechCrunch.)

Gulf Oil Spill Nearing Loop Current: ‘Per The Weather Channel’s tropical expert Dr. Richard Knabb, ‘based on satellite images, model simulations, and on-site research vessel reports, I think it is reasonable to conclude that the oil slick at the surface is very near or partially in the Loop Current. The Loop Current is responsible in the first place for extending that stream of oil off to the southeast in satellite imagery. With its proximity to the northern edge of the Loop Current it may be only a matter of weeks or even days before the ocean surface oil is transported toward the Florida Keys and southeast Florida.” Other experts are a little more cautious: ‘We know the oil has not entered the Loop Current,’ Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said at a news conference Monday afternoon. ‘A leading edge sheen is getting close to it, but it has not entered the Loop Current. The larger volume of oil is several miles from the Loop Current.’… (via Slashdot.)

How BP’s bumbling CEO Tony Hayward is making the Gulf oil-spill disaster even worse.: This hasn’t been a good few weeks for Tony Hayward, the chief executive officer of BP. In the weeks since the huge oil spill in the Gulf began, he has struck an occasionally Churchillian tone: ‘We are going to defend the beaches,’ he proclaimed. ‘We will fix this.’ But the British leader he most calls to mind is Ethelred the Unready… (via Slate Magazine.)

Shell Offers Reassurances on Drilling: Shell Oil on Monday vowed an ‘unprecedented’ response in the event of an oil spill, including staging a pre-made dome in Alaska for use in trying to contain any leaking well… (via NYT > Home Page.)

Slate wants your ideas for how to stop (or at least contain) the BP oil spill: On Sunday evening, BP announced a minor breakthrough in its efforts to corral the oil spewing from the Deepwater Horizon well. After two failed attempts, a team of underwater robots successfully threaded a mile-long tube into the gusher; as of Monday morning, the company said, the ‘insertion tube’ was sending 1,000 barrels of oil per day up to a containment ship. In a press release, however, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar curbed their enthusiasm, saying that the robot-guided hose was ‘not a solution to the problem and it is not yet clear how successful it may be.’… (via Slate Magazine.)

19 May

As Oil Nears Loop Current, Fears Grow That Slick Could Reach Florida: This satellite image shows a long tail of oil drifting close to the Gulf of Mexico’s so-called loop current, which could then carry the oil south to Florida and even up the East Coast of the U.S… (via Yale Environment 360.)

Current spreading Gulf oil slick: There was mounting evidence last night that the scale of the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has grown beyond all the initial worst-case scenarios, as thousands of gallons of oil continued to gush from the sea floor… (via guardian.co.uk.)

Republican senator blocks higher liability cap on oil spills: President Obama denounced Republicans on Tuesday for ‘playing special-interest politics’ after a GOP senator thwarted a Democratic effort to raise the liability cap for oil spills to $10 billion. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was seeking the unanimous consent of the Senate to move forward on the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act, which would retroactively boost the legal cap of $75 million on how much companies must pay for economic damages… (via NewsTrust.)

Scientists Fault Lack of Studies Over Gulf Oil Spill: Tensions between the Obama administration and the scientific community over the gulf oil spill are escalating, with prominent oceanographers accusing the government of failing to conduct an adequate scientific analysis of the damage and of allowing BP to obscure the spill’s true scope. The scientists assert that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies have been slow to investigate the magnitude of the spill and the damage it is causing in the deep ocean. They are especially concerned about getting a better handle on problems that may be occurring from large plumes of oil droplets that appear to be spreading beneath the ocean surface… (via NewsTrust.)

Why deep-water oil spills do their damage deep down: As little as 2 per cent of the oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico may be accounted for by surface slicks, a study of a controlled spill suggests… (via New Scientist.)

20 May

7 Idiotic Things Rush Limbaugh Is Saying About the Oil Spill: In the days and weeks following the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Rush Limbaugh confirmed that his grasp of offshore energy policy and technology is a bit lacking… (via digg.com.)

Did hydrates cause BP explosion?: The vast deepwater methane hydrate deposits of the Gulf of Mexico are an open secret in big energy circles. They represent the most tantalizing new frontier of unconventional energy — a potential source of hydrocarbon fuel thought to be twice as large as all the petroleum deposits ever known.

For the oil and gas industry, the substances are also known to be the primary hazard when drilling for deepwater oil…(via guardian.co.uk.)

Fmr. EPA Investigator Scott West: US Has Told BP “It Can Do Whatever It Wants and Won’t Be Held Accountable”: One month after the BP oil spill, we speak to Scott West, a former top investigator at the Environmental Protection Agency who led an investigation of BP following a major oil pipeline leak in Alaska’s North Slope that spilled 250,000 gallons of oil on the Alaskan tundra. Before West finished his investigation, the Bush Justice Department reached a settlement with BP, and the oil company agreed to pay $20 million. At the same time, BP managed to avoid prosecution for the Texas City refinery explosion that killed fifteen workers by paying a $50 million settlement…. (via Democracy Now!.)

Gulf Oil Spill Represents a New Threat to a Sea Turtle: The Kemp’s ridley turtle, whose numbers plummeted after an oil rig blowout in 1979, are in danger from the latest giant spill… (via NYT > Home Page.)

Oil Spill Has Florida Worried About Hit to Tourism: Already reeling in the slump, Florida is trying to convince tourists that the spill won’t spoil their vacations…. (via NYT > Home Page.)

Scientist: BP’s Oil Spill Estimates Improbable: An independent scientist says the Gulf of Mexico oil spill appears to be even larger than he previously thought, based on analysis of a video released by the Senate. The video shows a dramatic gusher of oil coming from near the well’s ill-fated blowout preventer… (via NewsTrust.)

Scientists Fault U.S. Response in Assessing Gulf Oil Spill: Prominent oceanographers are accusing the government of failing to conduct an adequate analysis of the damage and of allowing BP to obscure the spill’s true scope… (via NYT > Home Page.)

Why Is BP Still In Charge of the Spill Site?: With the Gulf spill now one month in, some lawmakers and environmentalists are starting to question why BP is still in charge of the containment and clean-up effort. The company’s attempts to cut off the spill have failed. The chemicals BP is spreading in the Gulf might be creating entirely new problems. And independent estimates of the spill indicate that the company is grossly underestimating the size of the disaster.

So why is BP still running the show?

(via Mother Jones.)

21 May

EPA Orders BP to Use Less Toxic Oil Dispersant: The Environmental Protection Agency ordered British Petroleum to start using a less toxic chemical to break up the oil spill resulting from the disaster at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig… (via Wired News.)

Gulf recovered from last big oil spill, but is this one different?: McClatchy – By Tim Johnson – May. 21 (News Report) – The Ixtoc 1 oil spill in Mexico’s shallow Campeche Sound three decades ago serves as a distant mirror to today’s BP deepwater blowout, and marine scientists are still pondering what they learned from its aftereffects… (via NewsTrust.)

Gulf oil spill: Kevin Costner comes to the rescue | Hadley Freeman: Waterworld star says he can turn the Gulf of Mexico oil slick into water… (via Guardian Film.)

Kevin Costner may hold key to oil spill cleanup: Los Angeles Times – By Louis Sahagun – May. 21 (News Report) – The ‘ Kevin Costner solution’ to the worsening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may actually work, and none too soon for the president of Plaquemines Parish…. (via NewsTrust.)

Survivor describes horrors of blast and escape from rig: Stephen Davis recounts how he was flung against a wall by explosion and kept at sea on work boat for 40 hours after rescue… (via guardian.co.uk.)

BP Acknowledges Oil Spill Is Larger Than Previous Estimates: The British oil company BP has been forced to admit the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is far larger than the company initially said. On Thursday, BP said it’s now capturing 5,000 barrels of oil a day from the leaking pipe—the same amount it had previously said was leaking every day. BP has declined to estimate how much oil is still escaping, but scientists say BP is siphoning just a fraction of the total leak. Independent scientists say the leak could be as large as 95,000 barrels of oil per day. We speak to Alaskan marine biologist Rick Steiner, who has been spending time in the Gulf region. (via Democracy Now!.)

22 May

BP oil spill reaches delicate wetlands: Thick sheets of crude oil spread through the delicate wetlands of Louisiana today, as the BP oil spill continued to threaten the American coastline.

Local reports described heavy sheets of oil the consistency of latex paint clogging the marshes in the Mississippi delta that provide a haven for migratory birds, and buffer the shore from Gulf hurricanes.

‘This is what everyone wanted to avoid, because the wetlands are the nursery for everything that swims or crawls in the Gulf of Mexico,’ said John Hocevar, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace. ‘Once the oil gets stuck in there we are pretty much stuck with it.'”…

“Twenty-four miles of Plaquemines parish is destroyed. Everything in it is dead,” Billy Nungesser, head of the parish in southern Louisiana, told MSNBC after a tour of the marshes.

Anger has grown at BP and the government for failing to anticipate and contain the disaster, a month after the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon. Louisiana’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, has warned for days that the thousands of miles of boom deployed by BP were too flimsy to keep back the oil during bad weather, and that the government needed to build sand barriers.

(via guardian.co.uk.)

BP switches on live video of oil leak: One month after the fiery collapse of the Deepwater Horizon, BP bowed to demands from scientists and members of Congress this week and has posted a live video feed of the gusher of oil on the ocean floor.

The decision came only hours after a hearing in Congress in which BP was accused of withholding data from the ocean floor, and blocking efforts by independent scientists to come up with estimates for the amount of crude spewing into the Gulf each day…(via guardian.co.uk.)

Palinisms: Did she really say that?: ‘And while we’re at it, let’s expedite the regulatory and permitting and legal processes for on- and offshore drilling.’ — Speaking at the Tea Party convention on Feb. 26, 2010, about six weeks before the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico… (via Slate Magazine.)

Rand Paul: Obama’s criticism of BP is ‘un-American’: Senate candidate Rand Paul criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of the Gulf oil spill Friday as putting ‘his boot heel on the throat of BP’ and ‘really un-American.’… (via digg.com.)

Oil spill commission takes shape: Two political veterans will head a US commission investigating a huge oil spill, reports say, amid criticism of the response…. (via BBC News.)

Obama Names Graham and Reilly to Oil Spill Commission: President Obama has tapped former Senator Bob Graham of Florida and William K. Reilly, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to lead a new bipartisan commission to figure out how to avoid another oil spill, officials said… (via NYT > Home Page.)

Obama takes tougher line on oil spill: The Environmental Protection Agency said it was ordering BP to stop the use of two forms of Corexit because of the high toxicity and relative ineffectiveness against the type of crude now polluting the gulf. The two versions of the chemical are banned in the UK because they are damaging to sea life… (via digg.com.)

BP’s Final “Top Kill” Procedure For Gulf Oil Spill: So far every attempted fix has resulted in failure to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with the exception of the riser insertion method that appears to be little more than a mile-long tube sucking up oil. After attempting many options to allow the continued collection of crude oil, BP is finally considering a ‘top kill’ option that will kill the well… (via Slashdot.)


2 responses to “BP Oil Spill: Yet More Ledes, Excerpts and Links – May 8 through May 22

  1. Just ME in T

    What happens to the inside of the Earth when oil and natural gas is extracted? Often times this mining occurs deep under the ocean floor, as in the case with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig in the Gulf of Mexico. In September 2009, the rig drilled the deepest oil well in history at a vertical depth of 35,050 feet (10,683.2 m) and measured depth of 35,055 feet (10,685 m).

    ‘Nature abhors a vacuum’. So is there further danger coming our way?



  2. Several different velocimetry techniques are used at Idaho National Laboratory’s MIR Lab, including Laser Doppler velocimetry (LDV), particle image velocimetry (PIV) and stereoscopic PIV. Learn more about the world’s largest flow facility here.



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