You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Deepwater Horizon’ tag.

“I am the Manager of the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.  The reserve comprises some 18,000 acres of estuary and other coastal habitat, right on the Gulf, obviously under great risk should the oil make it to our shoreline.  Massive effort has developed plans to help deter the oil from reaching shore, using burning, dragging, and extensive booming.  The entire perimeter of the Grand Bay NERR is boomed, as are several interior inlets.  Though, I hope we do not have to count on the fifteen miles of booms.

Over the past several weeks my staff has been busy documenting the current conditions of the reserve, sampling fishes, seagrasses, emergent marshes, water quality, sediments, fish tissue, birds, invertebrates, diamondback terrapins and extensively photographing the shoreline and marshes.  I work for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and have spent several days working at the Mobile, AL Unified Command Center helping make plans  for protection of the shoreline and for cleanup as needed.  So far most of mainland Mississippi has been spared, though debris and many tar-balls are washing ashore on our barrier islands which are part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Like with many issues, the media is playing a major role in driving our thinking on this.  They want numbers and dramatic pictures.  After this weekend’s [top kill] failure, the mood of the coast is gloomy.  Residents, businesses and local governments are downright angry and mostly helpless.  So much of the economy of the entire Gulf region depends upon the water and between oil and dispersant, how long will it be fouled?  There are just so few answers to this whole mess.

The biggest shame is that this drilling technology that allows us to drill at these depths apparently has outpaced our abilities to address catastrophic failures in the system at these depths.  The people involved in planning have been hopeful that something would work to stop the gusher, but now if we can only count of the relief wells in August to maybe stop this, how can we stop it from fouling the entire Gulf.  And what will tropical weather add to the formula?

The beaches can be cleaned with relative ease, though oil could continue washing ashore for months.  However, the marshes are a different matter:   cleanup of vegetated, muddy areas will be next to impossible to clean.  The toxicity of the oil should be somewhat less as it weathers for weeks before getting here, but we really do not know what that means for the plants and animals.  We are about 130 miles due north of the Deepwater Horizon well site.  (As of June 1) no oil has been within 30 miles of the MS coast.

[This is a family affair:  My wife] works in Pascagoula, MS at the National Seafood Inspection Laboratory for NOAA, determining what seafood is safe for consumption and what federal areas of the Gulf should be open or closed to harvest.”

Dave Ruple, the writer of the piece above, is a high school friend who moved to coastal Missisippi after college.  Bienville Animal Medical Center is located in Ocean Springs, MS.

The sign below hangs near the St. Claude Avenue Bridge at the mouth of the Industrial Canal in New Orleans and has nothing to do with the oil spill.

The Bridge has an integrated lock structure.  My niece living in New Orleans (100 + miles from the Gulf)  has sent me these two pics.  Thanks, Carly.

Here is a set oil-spill related links:

General EPA facts about the Gulf of Mexico (GOM)

See a GOM leakometer.

Thoughts from Scientific American on duration/effects of the oil spill.

Oil Spill Crisis Map

NYTimes slideshow of president of Plaquemines Parish

Official site of Deepwater Horizon Response

What has been the evolution of BP the company?

What if this spill had happened in Nigeria?

How many sperm whales live in the GOM?

A self-described “non-green” person’s reaction to the ongoing gusher.

Safe to say . . . this is one lardaceous mess that’s only growing.

The tragedy evolving in the Gulf of Mexico has skulked around my consciousness (yours too, of course) for half a month already, and who knows where this evolution will go.  To compare this spill with others, I added links at the end of this post.  The logo on D. T. Mariano of Dolphin Tankers, transferring fluids in Bayonne Thursday, prompted me to offer my $0,000,000.02 although I’d much rather do something to solve the problem, the issue . . . literally.  Like most people I enjoy both a pristine-enough environment and the products of minerals that get pumped or dug out of the earth.   Given the painstaking calculations and effort, most of the time, miraculous feats of extraction and conversion just work.

If you were born midcenturyish 20th, you might remember Harry Truman . . . Harry Randall Truman, that is, the 52-year resident of Mt. St. Helen’s who refused to leave his mountain as Vulcan started to threaten before the massive May 18, 1980 eruption that killed him, quickly no doubt at the end.

I believe we are all like that Harry R. Truman in that we’re living on a tremendous string of miracles, wonderful things I enjoy . . . like bread and roses for all . . . but miracles nonetheless like our food distribution system:  my little supermarket has fresh mangoes from Central America sometimes, from the Caribbean other times, and South America other times.  Orange juice comes here in tankers from Brazil.  When a volcano erupts in Iceland, merchants in the Netherlands cannot receive their fresh cut flowers growing in their Kenyan “fields!

Coexistence is one thing, but global inter-dependence to the degree we live it today is nothing short of a costly miracle.  Example:  when I needed my urine tested for a “z-card,” urine collected in a Queens doctor’s office got fedexed to a federally-sanctioned lab in Ohio;  imagine that . . . my urine got a truckride to the airport and then a airplane ride to Ohio to be tested, as if NYC lacks such labs.

Columns of water spurting from Meagan Ann . . . just an illusion.   Routine miracles are NO illusion:  cellphones, Skype, computers in general,  and this support technology that allows me to blog.  Medical miracles of all sorts.   These routine miracles are real:  spectacular miracles like 131 total Space Shuttle flights with only two failures, and really routine miracles like thousands of night- and adverse-weather passenger flights carrying millions of passengers with .00001 failure.  Or thousands of vessels pushing hundreds of thousands of miles through night and adverse weather with millions of $$ in cargo with miniscule failure.

You get my point:  when I start thinking these miraculous feats of technology are routine, cease to appreciate the risk, and take for granted the fruits of these miracles . . . I’m setting myself up for disillusionment.  It’s heart-breaking to see the brick-red crude fouling the Gulf of Mexico, but even when due diligence is applied to a task, stuff happens.   Here’s to an expeditious clean-up.  Is there a role for the non-technological petroleum consumer?  Is there a realistic way to step away from  Harry R. Truman’s footsteps?

Fotos by Will Van Dorp, as are the thoughts. I’d love to hear yours.  I’m easily wow!ed by technological feats:  if you are too and haven’t read  Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, try it.  It’s American history, 19th century technology, and fairly contemporary technological miracles of engineering at 1.5 miles deep.

Major oil spills and disasters since 1967,  with some redundancy . . . a list of oil spills going back to the big one in Newtown Creek (NYC) from more than half century ago, and a century-plus’ worth of gushers.

Basic Q & A on “liability, cleanup, and consequences” related to this specific event.

Finally, check out this site for what appears to be balanced discussion of the energy business:  The Oil Drum.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,567 other subscribers
If looking for specific "word" in archives, search here.
Questions, comments, photos? Email Tugster

Documentary "Graves of Arthur Kill" is AVAILABLE again here.Click here to buy now!

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.


March 2023