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PLEASE NOTE


Due to the recent upheaval in our political freedoms, I have created a new blog called “The Heart of America” and put all of the oil spill blogs under “Environmental Emergencies”.

http://theheartofamerica.wordpress.com/category/environmental-emergencies/

Please feel free to add your thoughts and concerns!


07.30.2010

After Tropical Storm Bonnie passed, operations to place a plug at the bottom of the relief well to maintain integrity resumed only to find that at the last 40-65 feet, a wall of sediment collapsed into the well.

Ret. Admiral Thaad Allen stated that, “this is not a huge problem”.  Yet, the lack of reassuring talk after this statement on whether or not this collapse had weakened the well’s integrity, left me feeling otherwise.

The next step for the relief well is to lay the final casing line which was to take place this Saturday and Sunday; however, this operation cannot commence until all of the debris is removed. This removal process is expected to take 24-36 hours.

Several weeks before, question after question were dismissed by BP and the federal government about the relief well failing saying that it was highly “unlikely” so the focus was not on a “back up plan for the back up plan”.

“Drilling back-to-back relief wells is a “belt and braces” approach, and “will assure ultimate success,” Former CEO Tony Hayward told reporters back in May.

If this is the forerunner of what we can expect as we near the drilling intersect, we need to start discussing the details of Plan K.

For if the relief well fails, we run the risk of introducing an additional 240,000 barrels per day into the Gulf of Mexico.

Failing to acknowledge the risk will not make it go away.

Hasn’t BP learned that by now?

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


07.20.2010

In a dire attempt for BP to seem as they are exhausting all possibilities, a “new” option to seal the well was announced. Let’s be real though, not only is it not a new concept~ it’s a dangerous one.

The “static kill”, while still in it’s infancy design and implementation stage, is the latest attempt to keep the well closed in until the relief wells are fully operational later this month.

However, if one takes a closer look at this option- they will see that the static kill is really the top kill option with a new name.

Similar to the top kill option that failed a while ago, the aim would be to send down heavy drilling mud through the blowout preventer valve system that sits on top of the well and then inject cement into the wellhead to seal it.

The only difference that has been noted thus far is the rate of pressure.  Since the well is now capped, the pressure can be considerably lower and more controlled.

The past few weeks, there has been numerous talks about the integrity of the wellboard.

The current psi is reading at 6811 psi with a rate of 1 lb/hr and is much lower than what officials anticipated.

Additionally, there was a leak found 2 miles away from the well and methane bubbles and small amounts of oil coming from the top of  the blow out preventer.

All of these signs are pointing to the well being compromised but BP continues to minimalize the severity of the situation.  Just as they have done since the rig’s explosion on April 20th.

When will we learn that we cant take BP at their word and that it is imperative that we draw our own conclusions of the severity of  “minor anomalies”?

If the capping stack is holding the oil in place as we wait for the relief wells intersect, which should be operational by the end of this month, why are we forcing this godsend?

Additionally, there is a tropical wave north of Puerto Rico with a 40% probability that it will develop into at least a tropical storm and a track forecast of this storm turning into the Gulf which would complicate matters.

Until we are certain that there are no additional leaks and that we will not be affected by a slew of crippling weather, implementing this “new” concept would be irresponsible, reckless and dangerous.

The only thing that is certain is that BP is not taking the environment into consideration as they are only looking for the quickest way, not necessarily the best way, to put an end to the constant string of bad publicity.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


07.19.2010

Overnight, there was a teleconference call between the Coast Guard & BP and a heated discussion on whether or not to reopen the choke lines was placed on the table.

A possibility of methane gas residing over the well and a seepage leak found 2 miles away from the wellboard may be the culprit for the low pressure reading of 6792 psi for the Maconda Well.

With these new findings, Ret. Admiral Coast Guard Thaad Allen sent a letter demanding BP to step up their monitoring progress and threatened with reopening the well and redirecting the oil to 4 production platforms on the surface to relieve the pressure that is compounding under the sea floor.

However, in order to reopen the well- it would allow 3 days worth of oil to be released into the Gulf of Mexico. A side factor that has many of the Gulf residents on edge.

Allen is concerned that with the continued boxed pressure, other uncontrollable leaks could spring up on the ocean floor such as the small one found late last night and I get the impression that he will be pushing for the 4 production platform if the testing results do not get significantly better.

BP is pushing to keep the well capped, and I cant say I blame them considering their stock dipped yet another 5% yesterday, and despite the Coast Guard’s concerns, another 24 hour test will be conducted as long as BP vigorously monitors and analyzes the sea floor.

At one point, I was thrilled that the oil was capped. Now with new seepage lake found, I am hesitant to keep the oil well closed in. One big leak; in theory, should be easier to troubleshoot and cap then a bunch of random leaks on the seafloor.

It will be interesting to watch this delicate tight rope that the Coast Guard will be walking. Waiting too long could cause irreversible damage. Taking preemptive measure could release more toxic oil (which will be fought with toxic Corexit dispersant) into the atmosphere.

At this point, all that the Gulf residents can do, is fall down on our knees and ask for forgiveness and pray for mercy.

If you need me, I’ll be at the altar.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


07.16.10~

Top Hat #8

After 7 attempts at an oil cap to contain the crippling gush of oil;  the 8th containment cap may be the prodigal son. Watch a visual confirmation here:     http://www.ustream.tv/pbsnewshour

Currently, the pressure reads at 6745 psi  and has been climbing approx 2 psi/hour.  A disheartening number for the residents of the Gulf Coast who were hoping that the psi’s were in the 9000 range.

Normally, this low pressure would denote that the well board is compromised and oil will need to be released onto the 4 production vessels which was said by Coast Guard Admiral Thaad Allen to “have the capacity to hold 60-80k bpd”.

However, the general consensus seems to be leaning towards the belief the well has low levels of oil because it has been gushing for so long as opposed to stating that there is another, unfounded, leak.

It was felt that the continuation of testing should continue because the majority of the other factors were positive.

During the integrity testing , all the valves are closed which allows the oil to be fully captured.

The Gulf Coast residents can sleep easier tonight knowing that the testing will continue for at least another 24 hours

At this point in the game, any break from the oil is happily received.

Relief Well Progression

After a little over 24 hours of the subsiding of the drilling of the relief wells for the well integrity test, DD3 and DD2 have been put back into production.

As of this morning, the Relief Wells are nearing the end of the precision phase of the relief effort, using magnetic ranging to give direction to assist steering the drill bit towards the blowout well bore and have drilled within 14.8 feet laterally from the well with an angle of 1.9 degrees.

So close, yet so far away for us Gulf Coast residents who are waiting for the intersection with bated breath.

Once the ranging is completed, the next step for the Relief Well will involve the drilling of 24 ft to the casing point which is hoping to be completed, by the middle to end of next week (July 21-July 25, 2010).

The final drilling intercept to kill the well will be the last week of July, a positive jump from the initial completion date of mid-August.

A friendly note to my local friends~ Enjoy your rest tonight. You’ll need your strength for the next coming days.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


07.06.2010

Today, I attended an oiled bird rehabilitation.  Never in my life, did I think I could experience such polar opposite emotions for what I witnessed.  On one hand, I was heartbroken for the oiled wildlife and the troubles that they have endured because of this man-made spill. On the other hand, I was deeply grateful that these birds made it long enough to be rehabilitated.

The Pensacola Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation (POWH), which opened in May 2010, has currently 52 birds in their captivity that consists primarily of northern gannets, high bill greens, seagulls, ferns and a few herons.  While the POWH can easily accommodate a few hundred birds, dependent on size and severity of oil coverings, the maximum that POWH has contained has been 102 birds,  bringing the total to 949 birds rescued within the four Gulf rehabilitation centers.

When a bird first enters the rehabilitation center-the oil is not cleaned right away. Many birds are in shock or frightened and they need to be stabilized and possibly re-hydrated before any further stress is placed upon the bird. It has been found that by giving the birds a couple days to recuperate has increased the survivability tenfold.

Initially, veterinarians take  blood and feather samples to test for anemia and infection and give the oiled birds a temporary tag. Then the bird is taken to an oiled bird trailer where it can rest, if needed, in a temperature controlled trailer and receive IV fluids, food and Pepto Bismo to protect its stomach lining.

Just before they are washed, the birds are sprayed with a warm canola oil to loosen oil residue on their feathers. Then they are taken to a washing tub which requires normally 3-4 people to wash one oiled bird.

Once the head and pouch is cleaned using clothes, toothbrushes and small sponges are used for delicate areas with water flushed on an almost continuous basis to keep the soap from running into the birds eyes. A bath normally lasts up to 45 minutes, and for a large bird, like a brown pelican, as much as 300 gallons of water is used.

After a scrubbing down of the bird, a thorough rinse is necessary considering that soap can interfere in the same manner as oil via hypothermia.

Newly cleaned, the birds are whisked off to a drying room to rest in a padded pen while floor-mounted pet grooming dryers blew warm air. Smaller birds and wading birds are not blow dried but instead sit in pens under warming lights.

Once their total strength is gained, birds are then permanently tagged for tracking purposes and transported to outside containment facilities to get them re-accustomed to outside surroundings before releasing them into the wild.  The birds are allowed to recover for five to seven days, regaining buoyancy and water resistance by preening, putting on weight, and readjusting to outdoor temperatures.

Once returned to good health, they are ready to be released to the wild.  However, the wild may not be ready for them. In an environmental disaster like the Deepwater Horizon spill, wildlife cannot return to their contaminated homes. Instead birds have to be released into an area where they do not run the chance of being re-oiled. The majority of the birds are released off the east coast of Florida.

I asked Heidi Stout from the Tri-State Bird Rescue  & Research Organization, on ways that everyday citizens can get involved with the clean up of oiled wildlife. At this time, the only people who can physically help the oiled wildlife is trained paraprofessionals (licensed veterinarians, license wildlife handlers etc) since dealing with stressed birds could be harmful.

However, she urged for concerned citizens who are willing to volunteer via answering phones and inputting data information to contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife to offer assistance. It was also suggested that the donation of goods used to help clean the animals and monetary donations to further recovery efforts would be greatly appreciated.

Additionally, you can visit http://www.volunteerflorida.org/ to sign up for more volunteer training as well as visit a facebook group called, NWFL Panhandle Volunteer Beach Rescue Group at, http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=113452012028768&ref=ts for panhandle county specific volunteer efforts.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


I went to an oil spill Q &A last night with local officials and I was chosen to ask three questions. My questions are in bold and the answers are below.  Feel free to post a comment!

1. Has there been talks about putting oxygen down into the sea floor to help the animals and/or to break up the oil faster via the algae growth?

Answer: NO. It was apparent to me that they are not concerned with the oxygen level (poor, innocent, animals!) as they are more with the lack of nitrogen and phosphorus.

Another problem with the oxygen, is that they are not sure how they could get oxygen down at that depth and a lot of the oil would already be on the sea floor. To me, it’s an obvious answer~ set up a pipe that is suspended mid sea and anchored into the sea floor with oxygen being released from the top AND at the bottom. When I offered that solution, that is when I was told that they were not so much worried about the oxygen than the lack of nitrogen and phosphorus. :(

2. Does the Corexit dispersant have a smell to it? If not, how are they testing the seafood – since it appears that they are only sniffing the fish and looking for oil? (Dispersant is toxic as well).

Answer: The dispersant normally does not have a scent. There have been no real ways to test for the toxicity of the seafood in relation to the dispersant. (This is VERY concerning to me).

3. With the dispersant being biodegradable, is toxic rain a concern?

Answer. (Long pause). No. (No real further clarification, from my standpoint).

***I have to be honest when I state that I believe that toxic rain IS a very real possibility and will be continuing to look into it further.

If YOU have any questions regarding the oil spill, clean up efforts, wild life rescue, hurricane influenced actions and/or anything else, please send me a comment here and Ill do my best to answer it or find an answer to it.


Oil Plume’s Movement as of 06.29.2010

According to the NOAA oil plume model, winds and currents will prevent further eastward movement of the oil plume along the northwestern Florida coastline. However, areas of Choctawhatchee Bay, FL will continue to receive impact as the oil plume moves slightly northwest and closer the shoreline.

At this point, the wave conditions and current have changed the oil direction and has turned it back towards the areas of the Mississippi Sound and areas around Chandeleur Island, LA and Breton Sound, LA.  The CoastGuard has stated their concern with this change of movement since these areas have been severely impacted and stated that they would send additional reserves to that area.

Tropical Storm Alex and its impact on the Gulf’s oil spill

Another hot topic is that of Tropical Storm Alex. According to NOAA.gov,  Tropical Storm Alex presently has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, but is predicted to strengthen to a hurricane today. The track is on a NW quadrant; however, a gradual turn towards the West-NorthWest is expected.

Tropical Storm Alex is NOT interfering and is NOT expected to interfere with the current capturing/production of the oil spill in the Gulf.  The only impact that the Tropical Storm will have on the operations will be a potential delay of the any preparations  of the Helix Producer which will be the third production vessel in which was planned and coordinated as such to help reach the capacity of 53,000 barrels of oil collected by the end of the month of June.

As of now…

Approximately 188 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline is currently oiled—approximately 34 miles in Louisiana, 45 miles in Mississippi, 48 miles in Alabama, and 61 miles in Florida. These numbers do not include cumulative impacts to date, or shoreline that has already been cleared.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


06.18.2010

Living off the coast of Florida my entire life, I am well aware of the impact of hurricane season which officially started on June 1st. Many fears run rampant along the Gulf Coast of how a hurricane or even a tropical storm could adversely affect our shorelines by bringing more oil than assumed further inland.

The Coast Guard has appeared to taken a proactive stance in the preparation for hurricane season as I prompted them about the severity of this situation backed in late April in a previous teleconference.

Coast Guard Admiral Thaad Allen stated that the current production system can siphon up to 53,000 barrels a day by the end of June, if everything goes according to plan. Once this maximum recovery has been reached, consideration for  installing a floating riser package will be placed on the table.  The floating riser package will consist of a section of riser pipe 4000 ft long which will be anchored with buoys on top that will allow flexibility to disconnect and reconnect if a hurricane is threatening the recovery process.

Additionally, the final determination on July 1st- of replacing the containment cap by unbolting the the final section of riser pipe that was sheer cut and replacing it with a multi sitting device that is permanently bolted and sealed so that the oil can be  siphoned to production tankers above water. If this effort is successful, it is estimated to capture approximately 60,000- 80,000 barrels per day of the leaked oil which is a far jump from the current 25,000 barrels of oil a day being collected.

However, if this process is completed- it will leave the well vulnerable for an indefinite amount of time and, of course, this recovery effort has not been done within a depth of 5,000 ft- so there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration because this process could actually damper our recovery efforts.

However, it is important to note that even if this process is successful- it will not capture all of the oil, leaving a percentage of oil to continue to leak into the Gulf.

The only REAL recovery effort is the drilling of the two relief wells. The current depth of the first well drilling is 10,677 ft below the sea floor and the second well drilling has drilled as far down as 4,662 ft below the sea floor. As the current operation stands, the angled relief wells which will intersect the gushing well to relieve the pressure will not be ready until mid August– which is approximately 2 months away.

Between the current recovery efforts, hurricane season upon us and oil puddles lapping onto the shores as far East as Okaloosa County, FL— the hopes of the Gulf Coast residents are diminishing exponentially to practically nonexistent. The only thing that can save the Gulf residents is strong local leadership, a loud voice and a determined humanitarian spirit.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


As the tar bars wash upon the shores of Santa Rosa County, FL and oil sheen looms in the distance- the realization of the effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are apparently obvious. Florida is now under attack from the greed of big oil.

Deep Water Horizon, an exploratory well, exploded on April 20, 2010 when the drilling rig encountered a methane gas bubble and combined with fresh cementing and a lack of mud as a natural barrier- gas barreled up the pipe and exploded leaving 11 people missing.

Without fire boom on board or any safety measures indiciated at a well depth of 5000 ft; this left little to no options on how to stop the oil flow at its source, allowing anywhere from 12,000-25,000 (with higher numbers almost certain to be announced in the future) barrels of oil per day leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.

After several unsuccessful or weak attempts from BP with the top hat, the riser insertion tool, the top kill- BP has put forth another option: yet another cap in attempt to divert the oil flow onto a ship for collection.

As of date, 462,000 gallons of oil has been collected with the ability for the amount to increase as the additional vents are closed.

In a concerning fashion, BP is warning that the amount of oil could *increase* another 20% until all of the valves are closed. At that point, BP is estimating that this tool could capture up to 80% of the flow rate.

The main concern is keeping the pressure down so that it doesnt blow the imperfect seal and keeping the water out so that the gas hydrates do not form as it did with the large containment chamber.

However, even if the containment chamber is effective- it still will leave approximately 20% of the oil to leak into the Gulf of Mexico until the two relief wells are operational which would take until mid to late August as the current deadline stands.

If this attempt fails, BP says its previously failed techniques might still come in handy. A revamped version of its “top kill” procedure, which previously failed to inject mud into the leaking pipe and stop it up.

BP says within a couple weeks, it hopes it can actually use that failed hardware, which is still attached, to try to suck oil out instead. There are also more giant steel “top-hat” domes standing by.  However, the relief wells are the best bet to divert the flow of oil and those will not be completed until August.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.

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