Archive for April, 2010



04.30.2010

Another teleconference was held, in which I participated in, with Governor Jindel of Louisiana, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), British Petroleum (BP) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

BP has stated that their recovery options are not as productive as initially hoped and have asked the Federal Government for assistance. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) has been implemented to provide form and structure to Federal aid given to manage the spreading oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.

President Obama has stated that he would employ “every resource available to help contain the spill.” In addition to the Coast Guard, the Navy and the Department of Defense- the Federal Government is deploying 6000 National Guards for at least 90 days of military duty to assist with clean up efforts in the forms of security, engineering and communications support.o

A recent flyover showed areas where oily water was lapping over the boom set out to contain the spill.  In addition, the rough weather in the Gulf broke a portion of the boom and washed onto an area beach while other booms have appeared to have sunk. Surface skimming and controlled burnings were being conducted; however, these methods are put on hold until the turbulent weather in the Gulf of Mexico subsides. Even then, efforts could take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months.  As of June 1st, hurricane season starts and could complicate efforts even further.

As of date, 139,459 gallons of dispersant have been put forth in an effort to break up the oil before it rises to the surface and additional 51,000 gallons are available.  2  C130s have been released this afternoon in an attempt to spray the dispersant from the air but with the whipping winds, it it uncertain how much of it will make contact with the Gulf.

To date, the oil spill response team has recovered 20,313 barrels (853,146 gallons) of an oil-water mix. Vessels are in place and continuing recovery operations.

Additionally, 220,000 booms have been set forth to protect the coastlines in addition to 853,000 barrel of oils have been collected thus far. However it has been said that some of the oil is washing over the boons due to the incremental worsening weather in the Gulf.  The heavy winds are causing the oil to whip into a “chocolate frost” which hampers clean up efforts.

Five staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines. These areas include: Pensacola, Florida., Theodore, Alabama., Biloxi, Mississippi., Pascagoula, Mississippi., Venice, Louisiana. A sixth staging area is being set up in Port Sulphur, Louisiana.

SouthEast Louisiana (including New Orleans) has reported an odor from the contained burnings and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)  has collected air samples from the past couple days as well as started collecting water samples today.

Many fish spawn in the Gulf including Atlantic blue fin tuna could be affected. The Atlantic blue fin tuna larvae are very sensitive and the spill could affect their populations. Also snapper and grouper, commercially important, could be affected.

In addition, there are also 4 species of sea turtles in the Gulf  which are endangered or threatened. They can be exposed to oil when they come up to breath by swallowing oil or getting coated oil.  This can interfere with their digestion, respiration, and a variety of other functions.  Bird life on the Gulf are especially vulnerable as the oil coating can cause hypothermia.

Today, Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal sent the following letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke requesting the declaration of a commercial fisheries failure as well as support from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration for commercial and recreational fishing businesses. This declaration will provide financial assistance to individual fishermen, assistance for the restoration of fisheries and assistance for commercial and recreational fishing businesses.

The Governor also sent a letter to U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Karen Mills requesting the activation of all appropriate federal disaster declaration clauses that would enable the SBA to assist the small businesses in the state that will be impacted by the oil spill.

Specifically, the Governor requested that the SBA consider temporarily suspending loan repayments for coastal businesses that are impacted by the oil spill and also those who have 2005 and 2008 SBA disaster and economic injury loans as a result of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav.

Several aspects of Louisiana will be closed down to brace for impact. The lower side of  Breton Sound, LA was closed early this morning with the upper side of Breton Sound, LA is expected to close at 6pm CDT. In East Mississippi, the oysters bed will close at sundown tonight.

The current cause of concern are the six coastal marshes: Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson, St. Mary, St. Bernard and Plaquemines. St. Charles Parish and St. Bernard Parish are the top two areas of  primary concern for an adverse impact of this spill would pollute the marsh wetlands where forceful clean actions could produce fatal results to the fragile ecosystem.

Several tribal council members are expected to meet with Lisa Jackson of the EPA Saturday morning at 8 a.m. in the New Orleans area to discuss the disaster and its possible ramifications.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries declared an early start to shrimping season Thursday to help shrimpers get as many hauls as possible before the oil leakage wrecked havoc on the fishing industry.

The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), the agency charged with managing energy and minerals resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), is hosting two public scoping meetings in Norfolk, VA to solicit comments on the scope of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Future Geological and Geophysical Exploration (G&G) on the Mid and South Atlantic OCS.

Both meetings will take place Thursday, April 29, 2010, the first beginning at 1 p.m. and the second beginning at 7 p.m. The meetings will be held at the Hilton Norfolk Airport, 1500 North Military Highway, Norfolk, VA 23502-1813.

The public meetings are part of a scoping process through which other Federal, State, and local governments as well as any interested parties have the opportunity to assist MMS in determining the significant issues and alternatives for analysis and rescue implementation. Other meeting locations include Newark, NJ, Wilmington, NC, Charleston, SC, Jacksonville,  FL, Savannah, GA, and Houston, TX.  The Minerals Management Service is also conducting a separate investigation as to the cause of the leak and the accountability of the vested corporations.

It is suggested that the initial cause of the blowout valve is not known however, it may have been related to the cementing or that the casing collapsed during a negative pressure test. In addition to TransOcean and BP,  Haliburton is responsible for the set up of the sunken oil rig and is being investigated as well on behalf of negligence.

Ian MacDonald, professor of oceanography at Florida State University who specializes in tracking ocean oil seeps from satellite imagery, said there may already be more than 9 million gallons of oil floating in the Gulf now, and he estimates  a 25,000 barrel-a-day leak rate as opposed to the 5000 barrel a day estimate that was given yesterday.

Interior Department officials said it may take 90 days to cap the leaking well. If the 25,000 barrels a day is accurate and it leaks for 90 days, that’s 2.25 million barrels or 94.5 million gallons being leaked into the Gulf.

When BP President, Doug Suttles was presented with this scenario and asked if he stood firm on his 5ooo barrels per day (bpd) estimate, a silence filled the room as Suttles stuttered  that the current estimate of 5.000 barrels per day is “highly imprecise”.

Basing their calculations on government data and standard industry measurement tools, the experts said the Gulf spill may already rival the historic 1969 Santa Barbara, Calif., and 1989 Exxon Valdez disasters.

In addition, America’s First Offshore Wind Project on the OCS was put into motion. Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes and Mineral Management Service Director Liz Birnbaum announced the Cape Wind energy project.

The Cape Wind project would be the first wind farm on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, generating enough power to meet 75 percent of the electricity demand for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island combined.

Additionally, clean energy options create “3 times more jobs than traditional fossil fuels and offer us an opportunity to build a new manufacturing base, and be exporters rather than energy importers. It’s clean, helps solve climate change, and most of all, can not spill.”  (Oceana).

Governor Charlie Crist of Florida has struck a preemptive stance earlier today and declared a State of Emergency in anticipation of the 600 mile oil slick which could possibly affect Florida’s panhandle and advised all coastal communities to remain on high alert.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.

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If you live East of Mobile, AL and are looking to volunteer or seeking additional information please email Denise @ Anahataetal@hotmail.com for a coordinated response effort.

If you live west of Mobile, AL and are looking to volunteer, please 1-866-448-5816 for local clean up information.

To report oiled wildlife, please call 1-866-557-1401.  Messages will be checked hourly.

To discuss spill related damage, please call 1-800-440-0858.

Sources:

http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/whatsnew/newsreal/2010/100422.pdf

http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2010/04/gulf_of_mexico_oil_slick_washi.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2010/04/30/DI2010043001390.html


April 29, 2010

If you are interested in volunteering to help revive our beautiful Gulf of Mexico and live East of Mobile, AL. Please either **contact me or call 1-251-431-6409   directly to be connected to the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program. If you live West of Mobile, AL and want to help, please call 1-866-448-5816  for local clean up chapters. One person can make a difference!!!

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I was included in a teleconference call in which Doug Suttles, Chief Operating Officer for BP Exploration and Production, Scientist Charlie Henry, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and Admiral Mary Landry of the US Coast Guard (Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District and Commander of Task Force 189.8) were in attendance and discussing the matter of the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana.The State of Louisiana has officially declared a “State of Emergency” while three other states, Florida, Alabama and Texas plays the defensive on an oil spill that is spreading 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana and spreading.

BP has claimed the majority of the responsibility for the oil spill and is spending roughly $6 million per day in the effort. However, BP has asked for assistance from the Federal Government to use their resources which Obama has stated that he would help in “every means possible”.

The ravishing weather that the SouthEast US region experienced a few days back has churned the oil and is making it more difficult to clean up as well as has pushed the oil spread further than originally anticipated. This clean up effort was graced with a few days of good weather; however, the storm that rocked NW Fla a few days back complicated efforts and currently, the winds are forecast to become strong (20+ kts) and blow from the southeast starting tomorrow and continuing through the weekend, which will continue to push surface oil towards shore.

In addition, a third oil leak in the rise near the top of the blowout preventer on the deep underwater. US Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry, the federal on-scene coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon Response unified command, said that the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) now estimates that as much as 5,000 bpd could be flowing from the riser. Initial estimates had put the leak from the well drilled by the sunken Deepwater Horizon at 1,000 bpd.

However, several projects are underway in an attempt to eradicate the oil.

Controlled burns, water skimming, subsurface wellhead intervention operations, dispersant application and extensive booming efforts are underway with the designing of pipework chambers, relief well (although this will not be finished for another 48 hours) and three containment chambers where one has already been created and two are in the process of being completed.

The fumes from the controlled burned are not noxious to the point where they will affect the shorelines. Further, the barrel rate of burning was 100 barrels at a time has now been increased to burning anywhere between 500-1000 barrels at a time so that adds optimism to the clean up effort.

NOAA says the first rig to be used for drilling a relief or cut-off well is on site and should begin drilling approximately a half mile from the well head on Friday 04/30/10. The relief well will not be complete for several months so this is a long term safety measure more as it is being used for immediate relief.

Responders are focusing on new ways to use Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to try to trigger the blowout preventer (BOP), a series of valves that sits at the well head. These efforts will continue concurrent with the collection dome and relief well(s).

NOAA reported that workers finished one of the three containment chamber that will be deployed to the sea floor to collect oil as it escapes from the well. Work will now begin on the piping system that brings the oil to the surface for collection; this method has never been tried at this depth before.

Additionally an enclosure dome solution is on the table. The exact dimensions and design of the dome were still being worked out, but officials said it would be similar to welded steel containment structures called cofferdams that are already used in oil rig construction. Where basically a dome is placed on top of the leak to contain it and then the oil is pumped from that enclosed location.

Meanwhile, more than 174,060 feet of boom (barrier) has been assigned to contain the spill. An additional 243,260 feet is available and 265,460 feet has been ordered for surrounding areas.

The most recent effort to contain the spill will be applied tonight , focusing the dispersant at the point of the riser in an attempt to break up the oil before it floats to the surface.

If the dispersant is not as affective as expected, Louisiana should brace for an oily sheen to coat coastal swamps as early as Friday night with the rest of the Gulf States (More NW Fla than any other part of Florida at this time) on alert for potential impacts of the oil spill.

To report oiled wildlife, please call 1-866-557-1401. Messages will be checked hourly.

To discuss spill related damage, please call 1-800-440-0858.

To report oiled shoreline or request volunteer information, please call 1-866-448-5816.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


April 23, 2010

Living off the coastline of Florida my entire life, the Gulf of Mexico is dear to my Heart. I remember lofty days of building sandcastles in the warm sun and playing paddle ball with my family while the waves lapped upon the sandy shore. A place where relaxation and Peace were exemplified and the Ocean current instilled a Love and a protective mechanism in my Heart which made me stand tall in defense of Mother Nature (and especially the Gulf of Mexico) at an early age. My Heart resides along the Gulf of Mexico and, still, until this day~ I live within five minutes of the gorgeous Gulf.  The Gulf of Mexico, that is. Not the Gulf of Oil.

Oil is what makes the world go ’round or at least that we are made to believe. In fact, the 2010 Annual Energy Outlook Early Release Overview states that “our primary energy production is 74.23 quadrillion Btu and will sharply increase to 90.83 quadrillion Btu by 2035.”  (AEO). Many so-called solutions have been given to fit this need of energy, some would even argue that we have gone to war over it. Either way, we depend on oil and natural gases for day to day functions- that is something that can be agreed upon by all parties.

On March 31, 2010- President Obama called for lifting a 20 year ban on offshore drilling which includes the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware to central Florida, plus Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico (the later allowing drilling only 125 miles from Florida beaches).  Many people applauded this effort including RNC Chairman, Michael Steel, Florida Governor, Charlie Crist and Former Incomplete Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin who supports offshore drilling as long as it is done in “a safe and responsible manner.”

However, it is important to recognize that there is no way to “error proof” offshore drilling. Of course, the safety precautions can be put into place but,  as the Mineral Management Service found there is currently  “a lack of communication between the operator and contractors, a lack of written procedures, a failure to enforce existing procedures and other problems.” (Associated Press). As careful as people try to be, mistakes will happen.

Look at the oil rig that exploded off the Louisiana coast on 04.20.2010, ironically a couple days before Earth Day.

The spill started when the rig, the Deepwater Horizon owned by Switzerland-based Transocean Inc. and contracted by BP, was putting the final touches on a well in 5,000 feet of water that had successfully encountered a deep reservoir containing tens of millions of barrels of oil. On Tuesday evening, an explosion erupted which resulted in 11 people missing. Days later the rig sank and a pipeline burst from the pressure and started gushing oil.  A horrible “slippery” slope effect of environmental poisoning, if you will.

As of today, there is an oily sheen covering 600 square miles and the slick  is about 70 miles south of the Mississippi. The oil slick is spreading northeast and could possibly affect the Alabama  and North-West Florida coastline. To make matters worse, this area received torrential downpour of rain and heavy winds on Saturday 04.24.2010 which is now resulting in a “chocolate frosty” whip where the ocean once laid.

What’s even worse than this situation is our Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs response:

“I doubt this is the first accident that has happened, and I doubt it will be the last.”

Thank you Press Secretary Gibbs for stating the reason why we SHOULD NOT drill in the Gulf of Mexico in such a clear and concise manner.

The current oil spill of 04.20.2010 has already shown us an initial impact on the surrounding waters, animals and plants.  When our sea animals (particularly fish) are impacted, that means that our fishing industry will hurt.  When our oil rigs are impacted, our gas prices go up (think of the price of gas a gallon during hurricane season each year). When oil spills out unto our land, our tourist industry is negatively affected.

Of course, it would be unrealistic to suggest that the established oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico be shut down. However, the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) must do a better job in enforcing these regulations.

“On June 19, 2009, EPA published in the Federal Register a SPCC compliance date extension for all facilities until November 10, 2010. Facilities must amend or prepare, and implement SPCC Plans by the compliance date in accordance with revisions to the SPCC rule promulgated since 2002.” (EPA)

This compliance date was amended 5 times. 01.09.2003, (68 FR 1348), again on 05.17.2003 (68 FR 18890), a third time on 08.11, 2004 (69 FR 48794), a fourth time on 02.17.2006 (71 FR 8462 ), and a fifth time on 05.16.2007 (72 FR 27443).  “These extensions provided additional time for the regulated community to understand the 2002 SPCC compliance regulations.” (EHSO).

There is no way that it takes 10 years to simply understand a compliance regulation.  It would have been one thing if they were trying to incorporate the standards but that was not the case.  Not only is Transocean Inc. and BP accountable but the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Committee needs to be held accountable for neglect.  The Environmental Protection Agency needs to stay on top of the SPCC or disband the committee altogether and find another means of accountability.

Perhaps it would even be as safe as to say that the Government needs to find another means of energy as a whole.

Yes, oil is a necessity in which is need to live.  Yes, we should remove all foreign dependency as much as humanely possible. However, more drilling is NOT the answer.

Instead of “drill, baby, drill”, how about we “innovate, baby, innovate”?  Instead of spending more money on finding untapped areas of oil or building additional rigs, let’s put that money towards other forms of renewable energy such as solar power, wind power, hydropower, biomass, and biofuel and geothermal power. Alternatives that we are familiar with yet refuse to tap into. If anything, the govt would rather tap the sea floor than tap people for innovative ideas and that is selfish, reckless and irresponsible.  Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is the lazy’s man way to living. Let’s roll up our sleeves and put in the hard work so that the oil spill of 04.20.2010 does not happen again.

*** What type of renewable resource would you like to see used other than coal, oil and/or natural gas and how best could we implement this new line of thinking while keeping taxes low? Which alternate energy solutions do you think would create the most jobs? Where within the US could we implement these new strategies? ***

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.

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Sources:
(AEO) — http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/overview.html

(McGill et al) http://green.yahoo.com/news/ap/20100423/ap_on_bi_ge/us_louisiana_oil_rig_explosion.html

(MMS) http://www.mms.gov/

(EPA) http://www.ehso.com/ehso3.php?URL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.epa.gov/oilspill/opaover.htm

http://www.epa.gov/OEM/content/spcc/

http://www.ehso.com/ehso3.php?URL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.epa.gov/oilspill/opaover.htm

http://www.ehso.com/SPCC.htm

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92471630″ NPR


ClearWater Perspective is independently owned and operated by a born and raised Floridian investigative journalist who currently resides in NW Florida.  All inquiries can be directed to anahataetal@hotmail.com.