I Wish I Were Far From the Madding Crowd

July 21, 2010

Three months of oil in the Gulf (and counting)

The latest news is, of course, that they’ve capped the blowout.

And that other leak a few miles away?  Don’t worry.  It’s from a different well. (!!!) (And how many other wells are there? Click there or see below.)

Oilpacolypse (from the Toxic Soup Movie Blog)

Gulf of Mexico Oil Rigs: 1942-2005 from tsinn on Vimeo.

Shows spread of Gulf oil rigs from 1942 to 2005 (at ever increasing depths!).

Toxic Soup Movie Blog – http://toxicsoupmovie.com/blog/

Oil is not just an American problem

Official: ‘Severe threat’ as China oil spill grows

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/as_china_pipeline_explosion

The Society of Environmental Journalists’ Daily Glob blog

CNN oil spill coverage

http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2010/gulf.coast.oil.spill/?hpt=T2

News Orleans Gulf Oil Disaster Blog

http://blogofneworleans.com/blog/category/news-politics/gulf-oil-disaster/

The Unseen Spill: The Human and Reproductive Health Catastrophe of Toxic “Hot Spots” in the Gulf Region (Truthout)

Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill Blog (Stone Hearth Newsletter)

Marine Expert: Clean-Up Efforts, Public Missing Full Impact of Gulf Oil Spill

Katy’s Exposure Blog

Where I found a link to the Skytruth Oil Spill Tracker (and lots of other good stuff).

July 9, 2010

Anticipating health effects from the BP oil spill

Assessing the Human Health Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: An Institute of Medicine Workshop

The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine held a workshop to examine a broad range of health issues resulting from the Gulf oil spill.

Home Activity page at http://www.iom.edu/Activities/PublicHealth/OilSpillHealth.aspx.

The workshop, “Assessing the Human Health Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill,” was held June 22 and 23 in New Orleans. During the first day’s sessions, speakers and panelists discussed the potential adverse health effects for humans stemming from the oil spill for various populations. The second day’s sessions explored current monitoring activities, the types of research methods and data sources currently available, and questions to consider when developing short- and long-term surveillance and monitoring systems.

Presentations covered the groups at risk of exposure and possible acute, chronic, and delayed health effects.

Official U.S. Government Web Site on the Spill Response

http://www.restorethegulf.gov/

This site is apparently replacing the Deepwater Horizon website.  It contains news and links to resources from many Federal agencies.  For example, the Small Business Administration has a Disaster Assistance site for providing loans to affected small businesses.

Today’s news (from the old website) includes news that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will devote $10 million to research the potential human health effects of the oil spill. The NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) will recruit clean-up workers and Gulf residents to collect biological samples, health histories, and information about the clean-up work they performed and the nature of their oil exposure.

White House site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/deepwater-bp-oil-spill

The White House blog provides a timeline of the government’s response to the spill at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/issues/Deepwater-BP-Oil-Spill.

EPA testing of dispersant toxicity

On June 30 EPA posted information about the first round of toxicity testing at http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/dispersants-testing.html.  The testing was done using eight dispersants.  EPA also plans to test the toxicity of the dispersants mixed with crude oil.

Links to worker health and safety resources from OSHA and the CDC can be found on the EPA site.

Maps and data

The latest information about the oil spill’s trajectory, the position of NOAA’s research ships, spilled oil’s coastal location and the areas closed to shipping can be found at geoplatform.gov/gulfresponse/.

To access the data materials generated for and by the Deepwater Response Incident, you can go to data.gov/restorethegulf/.

Oil containment effort

McClatchy is reporting that the effort is facing two key moments, connecting a third ship to the oil containment system and replacement of the “top hat” – http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20100707/sc_mcclatchy/3559853

Oil drilling moratorium

Obama loses moratorium bid on offshore oil drilling

Court refuses stay in deepwater drilling case
Court rejects bid to restore drilling moratorium

Apparently the courts don’t believe that there’s justification for a moratorium.  This despite the fact that an Associated Press investigation found that federal regulators do not typically inspect plugging of these offshore wells or monitor for leaks afterward.  (See “Enviro groups stunned that govt ignoring 27K wells”)

Of 50,000 wells drilled over the past six decades in the Gulf, 23,500 have been permanently abandoned. Another 3,500 are classified by federal regulators as “temporarily abandoned,” but some have been left that way since the 1950s, without the full safeguards of permanent abandonment.

Abandoned offshore oil wells

The story reports that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned in 1994 that leaks from abandoned offshore wells could cause “an environmental disaster.”  GAO recommended that the Minerals Management Service (MMS) set up an inspection system.  (Which MMS didn’t do. ) Although MMS did commission a 2001 study on such wells.  According to that study MMS officials were

“concerned that some abandoned oil wells in the Gulf may be leaking crude oil.” But nothing came of that warning.

The GAO report is “Offshore Oil and Gas Resources: Interior Can Improve Its Management of Lease Abandonment.”

RCED-94-82, May 11, 1994
Summary (HTML)   Full Report (PDF, 50 pages)     Recommendations (HTML)

From the summary at http://gao.gov/products/RCED-94-82

Among GAO’s findings:

  • MMS does not have an inspection strategy targeting its limited resources to ensure that wells are properly plugged and lease sites cleared
  • in March 1993, the active OCS leases in the Gulf of Mexico had estimated lease abandonment costs of about $4.4 billion, but were covered by bonds that totalled only $68 million

GAO’s recommendation (below) was closed, but not implemented.

Recommendation: In order to better protect the environment from the effects of OCS oil and gas lease abandonment and the federal government from incurring the costs of such abandonment, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director, MMS, to require MMS to develop an inspection strategy for targeting its limited resources to ensure the proper plugging and abandonment of OCS wells and the clearance of lease sites.

Comments: After reviewing the results of the March 1996 study of techniques for removing offshore structures, MMS has decided that its inspection program is adequate. MMS does not intend to develop a different inspection strategy.

So not only is it an environmental disaster waiting to happen, MMS wasn’t even getting money from the oil companies that it was supposed to.

I’ve posted a list of other GAO reports on oil and gas management at https://amidthemaddingcrowd.wordpress.com/gao-reports-on-oil-and-gas-management/.

June 27, 2010

More on the oil spill and the dispersants

Richard Denison of the Environmental Defense Fund has been blogging about the oil spill dispersants being used on the BP oil spill.

Most concerning is the fact that EPA data show dispersants plus oil are more toxic than either alone.

Meanwhile, the Society of Environmental Journalists Daily Glob blog reported on June 25 that “Spill-Related Measures Advance in Congress”.

NOAA

NOAA Response – Provides a wide variety of information about the Deepwater Horizon Incident, including trajectory maps and links to such sources as IncidentNews (http://www.incidentnews.gov/), which provides information from NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) about the BP oil spill and other incidents.

GeoPlatform.gov/gulfresponse (http://www.geoplatform.gov/gulfresponse/) is a new online tool that provides you with near-real time information about the response effort.  Developed by NOAA with the EPA, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Department of Interior, the site offers you a “one-stop shop” for spill response information.

The site integrates the latest data the federal responders have about the oil spill’s trajectory with fishery area closures, wildlife data and place-based Gulf Coast resources — such as pinpointed locations of oiled shoreline and current positions of deployed research ships — into one customizable interactive map.

Other mapping sites the Daily Glob links to include:

June 20, 2010

BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Haven’t posted in a while.  Guess I’ve been a little depressed about the BP oil spill in the Gulf.  Here are some links to information about it and health effects from the oil.

Unified Command for the BP Oil Spill

http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/site/2931/

The Daily Glob (Society of Environmental Journalists blog tracking Gulf Oil Spill News) – http://dailyglob.sej.org/

Includes a collection of news media sources, government sources, Congressional hearings, commercial sources, research and experts, mapping and infographics, and other sites (such as the Earth Portal Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill page).

Gulf Oil Spill Health Hazards

http://www.sciencecorps.org/crudeoilhazards.htm

National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

NRDC Senior Scientist Gina Solomon, MD, MPH has been blogging http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/gsolomon/ and testifying http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20100225/Solomon.Testimony.pdf about the health hazards in the Gulf. She has also made the two videos listed below. Dr.Solomon is also Director of the UCSF Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residency Program, Associate Clinical Professor at UCSF, and Associate Director of the USCF Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit.

Proper safety gear for working with dispersants and the oil spill

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GMT5QRyjgM

In Venice, Louisiana, NRDC Senior Scientist Dr. Gina Solomon discusses health concerns associated with oil and dispersants and demonstrates safety gear.

Air Quality Monitoring Near the Gulf Spill

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uDbkf_d-RU

NRDC Scientist Gina Solomon discusses air quality issues related to the Gulf Spill.

Other occupational and environmental videos of possible interest at NRDCFlix – http://www.youtube.com/user/NRDCflix

NIOSH Oil Spill Response

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/oilspillresponse/

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