Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday Gulf Oil Leak Update

Mobile Register

"A massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is even worse than officials believed and the federal government is offering to help industry giant BP contain the slick that is threatening parts of the U.S. shoreline, the Coast Guard said.

"A new leak discovered in a blown-out well a mile underwater means five times as much oil is spewing into the water — an estimate BP disputes. The time may have come for the defense department and other public agencies to offer up 'technologies that may surpass abilities of the private sector' to get the mess under control, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said at a news conference late Wednesday."-- AP, via Atlanta Constitution, Apr. 29l

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"A third leak had also been discovered at the site, Adm Landry said. * * * One fire-fighting expert told the BBC the disaster might become the "biggest oil spill in the world."

If US Coast Guard estimates are correct, the slick could match the 11m gallons spilt from the Exxon Valdez within less than two months." -- BBC News, Apr. 29

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"The oil well spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn't have a remote-control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations as last-resort protection against underwater spills.
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"The U.S. considered requiring a remote-controlled shut-off mechanism several years ago, but drilling companies questioned its cost and effectiveness, according to the agency overseeing offshore drilling. The agency, the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, says it decided the remote device wasn't needed because rigs had other back-up plans to cut off a well.
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"Industry critics cite the lack of the remote control as a sign U.S. drilling policy has been too lax. 'What we see, going back two decades, is an oil industry that has had way too much sway with federal regulations,' said Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson. 'We are seeing our worst nightmare coming true.'

"U.S. regulators have considered mandating the use of remote-control acoustic switches or other back-up equipment at least since 2000. After a drilling ship accidentally released oil, the Minerals Management Service issued a safety notice that said a back-up system is 'an essential component of a deepwater drilling system.'" --Wall Street Journal, Apr. 29

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"Emergency workers in the United States have set fire to a small portion of an oil spill that has been leaking crude into the Gulf of Mexico since Friday. Crews are struggling to contain the spill before it reaches coastline as early as Friday.

"Boat crews used the burn technique on a small patch of oil in the center of the slick, which officials say is continuing to grow and encroach on U.S. coastline. An airplane survey conducted late Wednesday showed the western edge of the slick is now some 25 kilometers from the Louisiana coastline." -- Voice of America News, Apr. 29

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"As a massive oil slick approached the fragile Louisiana coast, officials prepared Thursday for an environmental disaster which threatens a slow and painful death for waterfowl, wildlife and their wetland habitat.
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Any oil spill is devastating. But experts say the US Gulf Coast -- which houses 40 percent of the nation's wetlands and a multi-billion-dollar fishing industry -- is particularly vulnerable. And the concern is multiplied by the fact nobody knows when oil will stop spewing from an offshore well destroyed last week following an explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

"'It's not like a bunch of volunteers can go (drive) down and mop up the beach,'" said LuAnn White, director of Tulane University's Center for Applied Environmental Public Health. 'There are just miles and miles of coastal wetlands there that can only be reached by boat. And they're very delicate.'" -- AFP International News, Apr. 29

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"Escambia County commissioners held a special session Wednesday afternoon to discuss local preparations. * * * They were told that local emergency crews should await further instruction from the federal agencies, which have jurisdiction over offshore areas.

"'Basically, we're in a monitoring stage right now,' said John Dosh, head of the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center.

"Commissioners Gene Valentino and Grover Robinson IV, whose districts include Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach, expressed frustration that local officials are forced to take the back seat to federal response crews."-- Pensacola News Journal, Apr. 29

* * * * *
"In the northern Gulf... wind tends to drive the currents. This time of year, prevailing winds in the Gulf tend to be from the east, which would keep the slick away from Florida.

"But it's not unusual to get southwest winds; if we get several days of these winds, the slick could come here. The winds have been from the north recently, keeping the slick out to sea.

"The major worry right now is for the marshes, reefs and other habitats in Louisiana. But if the slick heads to Florida, it likely would hit Northwest Florida beaches first." -- Pensacola News Journal, Apr. 29

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