Three years after BP oil spill, USF research finds massive die-off


Note: This photo is a man with a goggles over his eyes, absolutely sickening…

 

 

BP Oil

© Tampa Bay Times

The oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon disaster three years ago killed off millions of amoeba-like creatures that form the basis of the gulf’s aquatic food chain, according to scientists at the University of South Florida.

The die-off of tiny foraminifera stretched through the mile-deep DeSoto Canyon and beyond, following the path of an underwater plume of oil that snaked out from the wellhead, said David Hollander, a chemical oceanographer with USF.

“Everywhere the plume went, the die-off went,” Hollander said.

The discovery by USF scientists marks yet another sign that damage from the disaster is still being revealed as its third anniversary looms. Although initially some pundits said the spill wasn’t as bad as everyone feared, further scientific research has found that corals in the gulf died. Anglers hauled in fish with tattered fins and strange lesions. And dolphins continue dying.

The full implications of the die-off are yet to be seen. The foraminifera are consumed by clams and other creatures, who then provide food for the next step in the food chain, including the types of fish found with lesions. Because of the size of the spill, the way it was handled and the lack of baseline science in the gulf, there’s little previous research to predict long-term effects.

The disaster began with a fiery explosion aboard an offshore drilling rig on April 20, 2010. It held the nation spellbound for months as BP struggled to stop the oil, but the spill has largely faded from national headlines. The oil is still there, though.

Weathered particles of oil from Deepwater Horizon are buried in the sediment in the gulf bottom and could be there for as much as a century.

“These are not going away any time soon,” Hollander said.

USF researchers dug up core samples from the gulf bottom in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and they plan to return this year and next to compare what they found. Their examination uncovered the massive die-off, according to researcher Patrick Schwing. They also noted an absence of microscopic worms that are normally seen in those areas. The researchers could not estimate how many square miles the die-off covered.

In the core samples, they could see that most of the grayish sediment on the bottom built up gradually over centuries, said Isabel Romero, a researcher working with Hollander. But on top they found a large, dark clump of sediment from the time of the 2010 disaster. The amount registered as 300 times the normal amount of oil-based particles found on the bottom.

The oil in the sediment samples definitely came from the 2010 disaster, Hollander said. The substance bears the same chemical signature as Deepwater Horizon oil.

Effects on fish

That’s also the chemical signature of the substance that has clogged the livers of red snapper and other fish found with lesions. The fish livers were trying to screen out the impurities but could not cope with the quantities, he said.

“We’re seeing lots of connections with fish diseases,” Hollander said. “We’re seeing compromised immune systems.”

The diseased fish began turning up a few months after BP was able to shut off the flow of oil in July 2010. The discovery of fish with lesions faded out the following year, said Steve Murawski, a USF fisheries biologist who has overseen a project that examined 7,000 fish caught in the gulf.

Scientists are now looking for more subtle effects in red snapper, such as reductions in the number of large fish and a decline in the total population, Murawski said. They are looking for any genetic mutations, too, he said.

“If they get sick, that’s one thing,” Murawski said. “But if it changed their genes so that they’re less resistant to disease or have lower weights, that’s a big deal. That would be a real game-changer if true.”

BP spokesman Craig Savage said, “No company has done more, faster to respond to an industrial accident than BP did in response to the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010. As a result of our $14 billion cleanup effort, BP-funded early restoration projects as well as natural recovery processes, the gulf is returning to its baseline condition – the condition it would be in if the accident had not occurred.”

But USF oceanographers and biologists are finding lingering effects of Deepwater Horizon. That’s no surprise to the biologists, who recall that eight years passed after the Exxon Valdez oil spill before the herring population crashed from immune system problems.

“I spent a lot of time in the marshes in Louisiana,” Murawski said. “You can still find a lot of oil in there.”

Why soiled sediment?

One intriguing question is why some oil settled into the sediment on the bottom of the gulf a mile deep and stayed there. Hollander says that may be the work of two factors. One is the dispersant called Corexit that BP used to try to spread the oil out so it wouldn’t wash ashore. The other is the Mississippi River.

BP sprayed Corexit directly at the wellhead spewing oil from the bottom of the gulf, even though no one had ever tried spraying it below the water’s surface before. BP also used more of the dispersant than had been used in any previous oil spill, 1.8 million gallons, to try to break up the oil.

Meanwhile, the spill coincided with the typical spring flood of the mighty Mississippi, which sent millions of gallons of freshwater cascading in to push the oil away from the coast.

The Corexit broke the oil droplets down into smaller drops, creating the plume, Hollander said. Then the smaller oil droplets bonded with clay and other materials carried into the gulf by the Mississippi, sinking into the sediment where they killed the foraminifera.

In some areas where the die-off occurred, he said, the tiny creatures came back, but in others the bottom remains bare. Meanwhile, some of the burrowing kind are digging down into the contaminated sediment – and stirring it up all over again.

http://www.sott.net/article/260526-Three-years-after-BP-oil-spill-USF-research-finds-massive-die-off

 

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The Real Consequences of An Ocean Floor Collapse


Nick Doms
Huliq
Tue, 22 Jun 2010
A collapse of the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico is in our near future but all depends on how such will occur. Two possible scenarios have been analyzed and described by several oceanographic institutions including the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) known for its in depth maritime expertise.

The two possible scenarios are either a complete collapse of the ocean floor right above the Deepwater Horizon well and surroundings or a partial collapse in the form of a mud slide on one side of the well.

The first scenario is unlikely at this time but remains a possibility given the number of crevices that have been created naturally due to the high pressure inside the well. This pressure is created by the large amount of methane gasses that is building up inside the well.

Should this scenario occur, then the prediction is that a vast amount of oil and methane will be released immediately into the water and towards the surface. The aftermath would be a tidal wave, caused by the fast displacement of a large amount of water that will reach the shores of all the Gulf States.

The immediate danger will be to cope with the height of the wave along the shoreline and not necessarily the mixture of oil and Corexit. Both products will obviously affect the local population in the aftermath of the tidal wave and during clean up.

The second scenario, a partial collapse of one side of the well in the form of a large mud slide, will cause a similar effect but to a far lesser extent given that the collapse will happen in a more or less slow motion fashion where water will replace oil and methane over a brief period of time.

A wave is expected to form off the Gulf Coast but will cause less damage and will be far less destructive.

Nevertheless, the impact on the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida will be enormous. The tourism industry represents a combined annual income of 150 billion dollars for Alabama and Florida. This industry has been hit hard and may not be able to recover within the next few years after a collapse.

The fishing and shrimping industry that represents the livelihood of small business owners will be affected for at least 10 years and maybe longer.

The ports of New Orleans, Pascagoula and Mobile are and will be inaccessible until the cleanup has been completed. The three ports rely on European and Asian trade for 50% of their annual revenue.

The environmental impact is hard to measure but one thing is certain; 80% of the world’s dolphin population lives in the affected area of the Gulf of Mexico and the whale population migrates to the region to have their babies there.

The BP solution to place relief wells to pump out the oil and methane gas may seem like a good solution but it also represents serious dangers to the integrity of the well’s surface and may cause further cracks and crevices to open.

For the time being this may be the only solution available and let’s hope that the first scenario never occurs.

 

Why Did The Fed Write Criminals A $42 Million Check?


Readers Note: I attempted to follow-up on the three links to the articles at the bottom of the page BP – none of the links worked. Looks to like censorship…

posted by: Beth Buczynski 19 hours ago
Why Did The Fed Write Criminals A $42 Million Check?

Wednesday marked the one year anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Called the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, the spill caused the death of 11 rig workers, hundreds of endangered marine animals, and spoiled countless miles of beach and marshes.

Although BP is currently the focus of a federal criminal investigation for its part in the disaster, the Department of Defense saw fit to award Air BP, a division of BP Products North America, a $42 million contract to supply fuel to Dover Air Force Base for the next month and a half.

An investigative report from Truthout.org identified this particular deal as “an unusual and compelling urgency” contract, which means the government would be “seriously injured“and national security could be at risk unless the Defense Logistics Agency was permitted to “limit the number of sources from which it solicits bids or proposals.”

Truthout’s Jason Leopold writes that “according to government contracting regulations, ‘an unusual and compelling urgency precludes full and open competition’ and ‘delay in award of a contract would result in serious injury, financial or other, to the Government.'”

In laymens terms, this means the government just handed BP a $42 million check with almost no competing bids from other companies.

Leopold’s investigation also discovered that EPA talks about possibly debarring or limiting BP from receiving additional government contracts after the deadly Deepwater horizon explosion “went nowhere” largely because the federal government relies too heavily on BP to meet its needs.

“…ultimately what it came down to was a lack of interest in holding this company accountable,” one EPA official said.

According to USAspending.gov, which tracks government contracts, BP was awarded 52 government contracts worth $56.5 million for fiscal year 2011 to supply fuel, gas, and other petroleum products to agencies such as the Defense Department and Department of Health and Human Services. From fiscal year 2006 through 2010, BP received 707 government contracts worth nearly $7 billion.

It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around the hypocrisy and utter betrayal of the governments decision to coddle an environmental terrorist like BP. A terrorist that cost American taxpayers over $10 billion dollars while reporting millions of dollars in profit for 2010.

The government seems to think the American people are too lazy or too stupid to realize that this is a gross injustice to the people and animals whose lives were destroyed because of BP’s “lack of a safety culture.”

Once again, it’s imperitive that people rise up and demand that companies like BP, Transocean, Cameron International and Halliburton are held accountable for their actions like any other criminal.

Push aside your discouragement, and reaffirm your resolve. Sign a petition, write a letter to your congressperson, call the White House. Most importantly vote with your dollar and REFUSE to finance the greedy practices of BP or any of its other brand names.

Take Action: Sign the Care2 petition to make  the Earth healthy for all by reducing toxic emissions.

Related Reading:

Gulf Oil Spill: 10 Horrifying Facts You Never Wanted To Know

Environment Beyond BP: Politics, Policy and Power

Scientists Link Mass Dolphin Deaths To BP Oil Spill

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