05.04.2010

Another teleconference was held, in which I participated in, with the Department of  the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),  U.S. Coastguard, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), British Petroleum (BP) and TransOcean.

Satellite imagery shows that the former 3,400 sq. miles oil slick has been reduced to  2000 sq mile. While at first this may seem reassuring, it is important to realize that the oil is pooling; that is, the oil remains under the water.

It has been claimed that the blowout rig did not have any fire boom on hand  which would have enabled a controlled burn of the oil slick. To compensate for the lack of supplies, the government fire boom from an Illinois-based manufacturer.

Ever since the 1989 Exxon Valdez  oil spill, the “In-Situ Burn” plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms. Those fire booms were not available.

A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour.  That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.  Further, the lack of a response for 8 days allowed the oil to spread further. Even more so, when the storm front rolled through a few days ago and all controlled burning was halted.

However, these response efforts have not stopped the oil slick from presenting  a threat to our coastline.

12 shrimp and 10 response boats have been following the oil sheen as it nears the coastline of Chandler, Louisiana. As of this point, no oil has made contact with the shoreline and it is said that the weather will keep the oil at bay for 3 days.

The stalled recovery efforts resumed activity this afternoon. Oil skimming, overhead dispersant, subsurface dispersant (one of the same with the only difference being the altitude/depth in which it is applied) and controlled surface burning have received the all-clear to assume the offensive position to battle the spreading of the oil slick. Further, 100 barrels of oil were burned in the initial response effort.  Due to the calm weather, officials are confident that oil can be ignited at a rate of 500-1000 barrels a day.

Additionally, the second blowout valve will be operational by the end of the day. However, this will not stop the oil flow altogether- instead, it will only stop one of the leaks, leaving the other 2 leaks exposed until further recovery efforts.

The next line of response to stop the flow of oil, a first time recovery tactic, a 70 ton concentrate and metal structure coffer-like dome which will extend t0 5,000 under water. This response has been effective in shallow waters; however, the response is unknown when submerged in greater depths.

The first containment chamber has been fabricated and is set to leave the dock by 12p CDT.  The containment chamber is expected to be operational within 6 days. No mention was made to the fabrication of the second containment chamber.

Alabama is capitalizing on the extra days of calm weather to install Hesco containers around West End Public Beach, the far west side of Dauphin Island.

The containers, metal cages lined a green absorbent, will be filled with C.I. Agent, a biochemical substance designed to solidify any oil that comes into contact with it. The solidified oil is then easier to remove and the green absorbent can be replaced to capture additional oil.

Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said the material is actually a wall that will protect the north shoreline.

“It presents a physical barrier as you can see. There’s some elevation to it so it can withstand a little bit of wave action. But essentially it will absorb an oil sheer that comes in there,” Collier said.

Additionally, private contractors in Alabama have been building a massive sand berm along the Gulf-facing shore on the western half of the island.   The berm will stretch for miles along the narrow island to prevent oil from flowing over the top of the island.

Meanwhile,  Gulf Cost residents are lining up in droves to volunteer and to help pre clean our beaches.  There was a massive clean up effort of approximately 1,000 volunteers rushing to clean up the shorelines. Similar efforts remain in effect; however, it was stressed to avoid picking up above the high tide line.

The Audubon Society warned that there many eggs right above the high tide line that blend in with the sand and could be accidentally crushed.  Additionally, it was asked to not remove any natural debris as that could provide a housing shelter for animals.

The oil sheen is not expected to make landfall for another 3 days. Use this time wisely to prepare a defense and a proactive stance against the looming oil slick.

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