Evans Liberal Politics, May 31, 2010, compilation and commentary by Paul Evans
Ever since evidence of a huge oil plume deep in the Gulf waters came to light, entities with "reasons" for those plumes not to exist have either stayed silent on the subject or claimed there was no direct evidence of any oil plume. On May 17th, NOAA distanced itself from claims by scientists regarding the reality of the oil plume, saying essentially that it is too early to tell and no conclusive proof exists. Strong evidence of these plumes has existed since the middle of May. See Giant Plumes of Oil Forming Under the Gulf, The New York Times, May 15, 2010, by Justin Gillis:
From the New York Times:
Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.
"There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water," said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. "There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column."
The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes.
Dr. Joye said the oxygen had already dropped 30 percent near some of the plumes in the month that the broken oil well had been flowing. "If you keep those kinds of rates up, you could draw the oxygen down to very low levels that are dangerous to animals in a couple of months," she said Saturday. "That is alarming."
The plumes were discovered by scientists from several universities working aboard the research vessel Pelican, which sailed from Cocodrie, La., on May 3 and has gathered extensive samples and information about the disaster in the gulf.
As per firedoglake, on May 17th, NOAA issued a lengthy statement trying to call into question the existing strong evidence for these plumes:
Today, however, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a disclaimer, stating they had no confirmation and claiming "media reports" were "misleading." From the NOAA press release:
"Media reports related to the research work conducted aboard the R/V Pelican included information that was misleading, premature and, in some cases, inaccurate. Yesterday the independent scientists clarified three important points:
- No definitive conclusions have been reached by this research team about the composition of the undersea layers they discovered. Characterization of these layers will require analysis of samples and calibration of key instruments. The hypothesis that the layers consist of oil remains to be verified.
- While oxygen levels detected in the layers were somewhat below normal, they are not low enough to be a source of concern at this time.
- Although their initial interest in searching for subsurface oil was motivated by consideration of subsurface use of dispersants, there is no information to connect use of dispersants to the subsurface layers they discovered.
NOAA thanks the Pelican scientists and crew for repurposing their previously scheduled mission to gather information about possible impacts of the BP oil spill. We eagerly await results from their analyses and share with them the goal of disseminating accurate information.
NOAA continues to work closely with EPA and the federal response team to monitor the presence of oil and the use of surface and sub-surface dispersants. As we have emphasized, dispersants are not a silver bullet. They are used to move us towards the lesser of two environmental outcomes. Until the flow of oil is stemmed, we must take every responsible action to reduce the impact of the oil."
What a mealy mouthed piece of garbage press release THAT is. One commenter on Twitter (denhamatl) was implying the real impetus behind the statement is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. To quote: "NOAA=U.S. Chamber". Obviously at least denhamat1 smelled a rat, so I did a little search of NOAA's Coastal Services Center for the words "Chamber of Commerce". While not conclusive, the search turned up 28 results referring to the Chamber, most of which advise the reader to "consult your local Chamber of Commerce". This is a little smelly for me, but conclude what you will.
Whoever wrote that press release for NOAA did so disingenuously. By May 17th, there was no doubt but that these oil plumes are very real, and that unless somehow they are sucked up at depth, they will cause great harm. (BP's supertankers are kept over in the middle east even though if sent here, they would have arrived in about 2 days, and DID clean up a similar mess for Saudi Arabia. Apparently the Gulf Coast just doesn't rate high enough for BP to send over it's goliath supertankers. After all it's just a bunch of marshes, right?)
To a certain extent, as related by the commenter Nickrud, NOAA has corrected their position and is surveying the extent of the plumes with their ship, Gordon Gunter, but BP is still playing the denial game.
Not convinced that our friendly scientists over at NOAA, or rather the political appointee, probably a holdover from the Bush administration, who makes these decisions for NOAA, and not the scientists themselves... not convinced yet that NOAA is deliberately pooh poohing the whole issue of oil plumes in the Gulf? Well to a certain extent, NOAA has bowed to reality, but certainly not BP, who continues to concentrate its response on preventing the highly visible damage caused by oil encroachment on the marshes. Meanwhile the oil plumes march on.
Today the good old U.G.A. Department of Marine Science removed all doubt with their finding, Trust Your Senses, May 31, 2010 by Samantha Joye. This article has concrete, scientifically measured proof of an oil plume, existing between 1,100 and 1,300 meters down:
May 30th, 18:00. One of the strangest things about these deepwater plumes we’ve been tracking is that we see a strong CDOM signal but there’s been no visible oil in the deepwater. That changed today: we saw oil in the deepwater. We sampled a station about a mile south of our previous stations (you can get our position and our ship track on www.marinetraffic.com, just look for the R/V Walton Smith in the Gulf of Mexico sector) and we saw the most intense CDOM signals that we’ve seen so far. The Pelican cruise sampled near here three weeks ago but the CDOM signals we are seeing now are much stronger.
See Evans Liberal Politics for the graph showing scientific proof of these very real oil plumes.
In the CTD figure shown on Evans Liberal Politics, green is the dissolved oxygen signal, red is the signal for colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM), and blue is the transmissometer signal. The main plume extends from about 1100m to 1300m in the water column. Though the signals for CDOM and beam attenuation (transmissometer) are very high, there is only moderate oxygen depletion. We hypothesize that this is because this is a relatively young region of the plume—in other words, the microorganisms have not had time to break down the organic matter yet. We’re going to track the plume to the west to see how far it goes and to see whether oxygen is depleted more as we get further away from the source (that is, into an "older" part of the plume).
Seeing these CTD data got everyone pretty excited. Little did we know that when we collected the water samples samples from the bottles, we were in for an even bigger surprise.
We triggered sample collection bottles 300m below the plume, from two depths within the plume, and from 300m above the plume. When the water collected from within the plume was transferred into collection bottles, we noticed an oil sheen. You could see it. Everybody saw it. Everybody got excited. Seeing is believing. Even more, the bottles from the plume layers smelled strongly of petroleum. The bottles from above and below the plume did not.
Read the full article from U.G.A., here.
As they say in the world of science and mathematics, "Q.E.D.". Can the corporate lackeys over at NOAA and other government shills please get with the reality of this or shut the hell up?
Oil plumes in the Gulf are very real and occupy layers which have been measured and described as being some 300 feet thick (N.Y. Times) to the current U.G.A. discovery, which is some 200 meters thick, as the graph shows. Moreover, the plumes are migrating and pose a danger throughout the Gulf and even up the east coast. What is incredible to me is that there seems to be no clamor for BP to get its supertankers over and take care of this, post haste. I've read a few articles which pointed out their utility in these situations and their proven record as efficient in sucking up the goo, as they did once in Saudi Arabia, but I have yet to see a widespread groundswell demanding that these ships be directed to the Gulf. Maybe it's time some people in authority wised up, wouldn't you say?
But far from any transparency as to the terrible impact the spill is starting to have, the government is actually restricting the air space in the region in an attempt to keep reporters away. And BP's CEO as of yesterday is still disputing that the plumes even exist, claiming that there is "no evidence" that there are oil plumes at depth. Give Tony Hayward a nice oil bath for me, won't you guys?
Now who do you trust, the bought NOAA bureaucrat and Tony Hayward or a Ph.D. scientist from a boat on the spot? Your choice. ~ Evans Liberal Politics owner Paul Evans.