Sunday, May 30, 2010

Congressman Markey Condemns BP

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House energy committee investigating the BP oil disaster, told CBS he now has no faith left in BP to make the catastrophic undersea gusher stop:

"I have no confidence whatsoever in BP. I think that they do not know what they are doing. They started off talking about golf balls going in as a junk shot. People thought they would be dependent on MIT or Cal Tech instead of the PGA and golf balls. That was in the first couple of weeks. So I don't think that people should really believe what BP is saying in terms of the likelihood of anything that they're doing is going to turn out as they're predicting," he said.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

BP's "Top Kill" Fails

From Climate Progress:

Three attempts to pump mud and 16 tries to stuff solid material into a breached Gulf of Mexico oil well failed to stop the flow, top BP executives said Saturday, and engineers and executives with the oil giant have decided to “move on to the next option.”

That option is a vaguely-defined cap called the "Lower Marine Riser Package". How is it different from the previous dome they tried to cap the leak with? They didn't say.

As the mood gets progressively grimmer in the Gulf, some voices have begun to express fear that the relief well - something BP says is the only permanent solution - may not even be able to make it stop. We won't know until August, when BP plans to put such a well in place.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

PBS: Live Video Feed From BP

Leak Supposedly Stopped, Now Raging Again

At 10:29am EDT today, Yahoo News reported that BP had successfully stopped the oil leak, but cautioned it was still too early to declare victory. Apparently that caveat was indeed a prudent one, because as of this writing - 1:57pm EDT - the gusher is still going on strong as ever, as seen on the live cam. It does, however, look somewhat muddier than before. BP chief executive Tony Hayward said that it would be at least 24 hours before officials know whether the attempt has been successful.

The company intends to eventually inject cement into the well to permanently seal it. Just how they intend to accomplish this is not certain, since cement's failure to hold back the powerful pressure of the gusher is precisely what caused this disaster in the first place.

The mud-pumping technique being used is explained here on Reuters.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cousteau Takes Hazmat Dive Into Oil, Reports Corexit Isn't Working

Click here to see a disturbing video of Phillipe Cousteau Jr. and Sam Champion donning Hazmat diving suits and surveying the scene underwater at the BP oil disaster.

The Corexit chemical dispersant being used heavily by BP (against the EPA's orders to scale it down) is not dispersing the oil, the divers found. The Corexit is only combining the oil into small globules, making the situation even worse.

"A lot of people are saying when you apply the chemical dispersant, it disappears, the oil goes away," Champion said. "This is evidence that doesn't happen."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Is BP Trying to Cover Up New Activity at Disaster Site?

At about 7:00pm EST, the BP live cam showed a sudden explosive occurrence - possibly two - taking place at the leak site, with the amount of oil increasing rapidly and the color of the outflow changing to a lighter hue.

The camera was quickly cut to a different shot, one that showed a higher-up view of the plume but actually only further illustrated the extremely volatile change that had just occurred. Then it settled on an angle with the view obstructed by another piece of robotic equipment.

By 7:30 the live cam relay had switched to a menu showing multiple monitor feeds, and shortly thereafter CNN pulled the feed entirely and switched to coverage of the Senate floor.

As of this writing - 7:44pm EST - the link to the live cam has vanished from CNN's front page. However, by following the old bookmarked link, the live cam is back online as of at least 7:49pm. The current shot is taken from a greater distance, and if you compare the relative size of the pipe and the plume to screenshots from days past, it's evident the plume is much larger now and seemingly flowing harder.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gulf Residents Reporting Smell of Oil

From USA Today:

Some Gulf residents say they smell the deep sea oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill.

"It's chemical, and I'm trying not to think about it," Raymond Dillon, a New Orleans resident told the New York Times.

People in Bay St. Louis, Waveland and Gulfport, Miss., have also reported a petroleum stench, according to McLatchy Newspapers. The smell can pop up anywhere along the Coast, depending on the wind, the story says.

The air quality remains safe, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. More than 800 air samples are being tested daily.

Tar balls were found on the beach at Port Fourchon, Louisiana wildlife officials said Friday.

Monday, May 10, 2010

U.S. Government Tries to Avoid Public Panic Over BP's Disaster

Wayne Madsen has a sobering and shocking article about BP and the Obama administration's attempts to prevent mass panic by downplaying the true nature of the ongoing Deepwater Horizon disaster. An excerpt follows:

Plans by BP to sink a 4-story containment dome over the oil gushing from a gaping chasm one kilometer below the surface of the Gulf, where the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and killed 11 workers on April 20, and reports that one of the leaks has been contained is pure public relations disinformation designed to avoid panic and demands for greater action by the Obama administration, according to FEMA and Corps of Engineers sources. Sources within these agencies say the White House has been resisting releasing any "damaging information" about the oil disaster. They add that if the ocean oil geyser is not stopped within 90 days, there will be irreversible damage to the marine eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico, north Atlantic Ocean, and beyond. At best, some Corps of Engineers experts say it could take two years to cement the chasm on the floor of the Gulf.

The Obama administration also conspired with BP to fudge the extent of the oil leak, according to our federal and state sources. After the oil rig exploded and sank, the government stated that 42,000 gallons per day was gushing from the seabed chasm. Five days later, the federal government upped the leakage to 210,000 gallons a day.

However, WMR has been informed that submersibles that are monitoring the escaping oil from the Gulf seabed are viewing television pictures of what is a "volcanic-like" eruption of oil. Moreover, when the Army Corps of Engineers first attempted to obtain NASA imagery of the Gulf oil slick -- which is larger than that being reported by the media -- it was turned down. However, National Geographic managed to obtain the satellite imagery shots of the extent of the disaster and posted them on their web site.

There is other satellite imagery being withheld by the Obama administration that shows what lies under the gaping chasm spewing oil at an ever-alarming rate is a cavern estimated to be around the size of Mount Everest. This information has been given an almost national security-level classification to keep it from the public, according to our sources.

The figure of 200,000 gallons a day is, in itself, also a fabrication. Many reputable news sources - including The Independent in the UK - now place the rate of spewage around 1,000,000 gallons a day, and even that figure is probably underestimating the true amount.

Chevron Begins Deep Drilling in Newfoundland

You'd think the current global disaster incurred by BP drilling too deeply for oil would have taught Chevron something. But they seem unable or unwilling to heed the lesson: they're actually going forward with plans to do deep drilling in Newfoundland, according to CBC.

And since the temperature in Newfoundland is far more freezing cold than that which BP engineers encountered at 5000 ft. in the Gulf of Mexico, a catastrophic oil leak could be even more unfixable. BP's attempt to cover the leak with a hastily-contrived dome failed because of the extreme cold, as well as the extreme pressure.

But scientist Bill Montevecchi says Chevron's plan is unsound.

Chevron plans to drill in 2,600 metres of water, or more than a kilometre deeper than the Deepwater Horizon project off Louisiana, where thousands of barrels of oil have spewed daily since an April 20 rupture and explosion.

Bill Montevecchi, a Memorial University seabird researcher, questions whether the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board — which regulates the oil industry — even knows enough about the offshore to protect the environment.

"We're about to charge ahead and assume we have a safety regime in place that's adequate, when in fact we've never had an independent observer on a platform," Montevecchi said.

Montevecchi said there should be a moratorium on deepsea drilling off Newfoundland until much stronger environmental safety rules are in place.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

BP Oil Disaster Reaches Alabama?

Globs of tar are now washing up on the coast of Alabama, in the Dauphin Island area. The gooey muck has been collected by officials and sent to labs for analysis. It has not yet been conclusively determined whether the tar comes from the Deepwater Horizon incident, but according to Mayor Jeff Collier, "we certainly assume that to be the case."

BP spokesman John Curry had already confirmed that oil has impacted Freemason Island, just south of the Chandeleur Islands. Further reports followed with other sightings of oil washing up on the Chandeleur Islands.

Containment Dome Fails

Predictably enough, the containment dome that BP attempted to put in place over the spewing oil vent on the ocean floor has failed, and failed miserably. And if the situation weren't so grave, BP's response would be hilarious:

"I wouldn't say it's failed yet," BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said. "What I would say is what we attempted to do ... didn't work."

BP officials said it would be at least Monday before they decide on what the next step to take would be. It took two weeks for engineers to hastily build this box and three days to bring it to the site. As predicted by many experts (including us), it didn't work. Frozen methane hydrate formations (referred to ominously in some press reports as "icelike crystals") rapidly built up on the surface and clogged the works.

The Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers, about three weeks ago. Since then, approximately 210,000 gallons of crude a day has been flowing into the Gulf - and some estimates are placing the quantity much higher.

A group of BP corporate executives were on the platform when the incident occurred, and many were injured. Ironically, they were gathered there that day to celebrate the historic technological achievement they were undertaking, as well as pat themselves on the back for their safety record.

The Obama administration has vowed that BP will pay in full for the global mess they have caused, but most citizens are skeptical. After all, Obama also vowed to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Photo: Sindh Today.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Class Action Suit Against BP

There's going to be a lot more like this: A class action has been filed on behalf of all Louisiana commercial fishermen and charter boat operators who have suffered from the recent Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Defendants named in the complaint include BP, PLC, and BP America, Inc. (which owned the oil well), Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc. (which leased the oil rig to BP), Halliburton (which was engaged in cementing operations at the well), and Cameron International Corporation (which supplied the blowout preventer valves for the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that failed to activate.)

Get more details and see the complaint in full at The BP Oil Spill Legal Network.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Throwing Toxins at Toxins

As the New York Times puts it, BP is now "engaging in one of the largest and most aggressive experiments with chemical dispersants in the history of the country, and perhaps the world."

So far they've sprayed over 160,000 gallons of so-called "chemical dispersant" on the surface of the ocean above the Deepwater Horizon underwater oil leak. Furthermore, they've pumped an additional 6,000 gallons directly onto the leak itself. These chemicals - which is in themselves poisonous to marine life - are being judged as the lesser of two evils when compared to the oil.

We disagree.

First of all, the exact chemical makeup of these dispersants is unknown and is legally considered a "trade secret" by the corporations like Nalco that manufacture them. If BP is going to dump these toxic chemical mixtures into the ocean in a misguided effort to clean up the toxic chemicals they've already caused to contaminate the ocean, we believe the public has a right to know what's in them.

Secondly, the function of these dispersants is not to remove the oil, but to bind with it on the molecular level and break it down into super-tiny droplets. These droplets of oil then will be quickly assimilated into the ocean and "disappear" as they spread out. Just because you can no longer see the oil doesn't mean it isn't still there, and doesn't make it any less toxic.

From Bellona:

" of British Petroleum’s most guarded secrets was revealed today: what kind of dispersant they are using in clean-up efforts. It turns out to be toxic Corexit 9500, as clean-up workers here had earlier told Bellona.

That Corexit 9500 was being used by BP to disperse the spill was revealed by the dispersant's manufacturer, Nalco Holding Company of Naperville, Illinois. Nalco's CEO, Erik Frywald, today expressed his company’s commitment to "helping the people and environment of the Gulf Coast recover as rapidly as possible."

Corexit 9500 is associated with headaches, vomiting and reproductive problems as sides effects at high doses to clean-up workers. 2-BE has also been documented to cause the breakdown of red blood cells, leading to blood in urine and feces, and can damage the kidneys, liver, spleen and bone marrow of humans – effects not included on the information sheet for workers."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Can the Ocean Withstand 3 Months of Spewing Oil?

From FOX News:

It will take at least three months to effectively stop the flow of oil rushing through a damaged well that is leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, and now National Incident Commander of the Gulf Coast oil spill said Monday morning.

Three months? But what will happen if this hole in the ocean floor continues to spew oil at its current rate? Opinions on the subject are ranging from alarmist to blasé. It's our reckoning here at Meta-Oceanic that the Deepwater Horizon crew have punched a hole in something that should never have been messed with, and now they have no clue how to stop it.

The oil spill is now the size of Delaware, and is growing at a frightening rate. According to one commenter's calculations on Reddit:

"If you take the surface area of all the unenclosed water on Earth as 139.480x10E6 sq mi, and you take this rate of spread (estimated from the satellite images between 3 days) then the ENTIRE EARTH WILL BE COVERED IN OIL IN 124.3 DAYS"

That's probably an extreme exaggeration, but no one can really say for certain - because nothing like this has ever happened in human history.

According to another scary report floating around the internet, allegedly written by an anonymous engineer, claims:

First, the BP platform was drilling for what they call deep oil. They go out where the ocean is about 5,000 feet deep and drill another 30,000 feet into the crust of the earth. This it right on the edge of what human technology can do. Well, this time they hit a pocket of oil at such high pressure that it burst all of their safety valves all the way up to the drilling rig and then caused the rig to explode and sink. Take a moment to grasp the import of that. The pressure behind this oil is so high that it destroyed the maximum effort of human science to contain it.

First they have to get the oil rig off the hole to get at it in order to try to cap it. Do you know the level of effort it will take to move that wrecked oil rig, sitting under 5,000 feet of water? That operation alone would take years and hundreds of millions to accomplish. Then, how do you cap that hole in the muddy ocean floor? There just is no way. No way.

If we can't cap that hole that oil is going to destroy the oceans of the world. It only takes one quart of motor oil to make 250,000 gallons of ocean water toxic to wildlife. Are you starting to get the magnitude of this?

The New York Times is reporting that lawyers for a worker who was on Deepwater Horizon at the time of the April 20 explosion had charged that the rig was drilling deeper than 22,000 feet, even though the company’s federal permit allowed it to go only to 18,000-20,000 feet deep. BP denies the claim. Halliburton, who are also said to be guilty of Earth-threatening malfeasance in this incident, also deny culpability.