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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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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, 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.

Originally posted to seawolf1957 on Sun May 30, 2010 at 11:31 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  VERY disappointing that NOAA is screwing the (7+ / 0-)

    pooch on this catastrophic event response.  Even the Coast Guard.  I guess everyone pretty much put their institutional faith in the abilities and "good will" of the oil companies.  The only other explanations are that they don't have the technical competence, or that they are afraid of the power of BP, and by "they" I mean the whole administration.  

    Either way, very fucked.

    People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. -- "V for Vendetta"

    by Vtdblue on Sun May 30, 2010 at 11:46:20 PM PDT

  •  Title too hyperbolic. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lightfoot, SoCalSal
    •  Title meant to grab your attention, OK? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Yes, maybe hyperbolic, but this is journalism. (or the best imitation I can make of it)

      Paul Evans (seawolf1957)

      by seawolf1957 on Mon May 31, 2010 at 12:03:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hyperbole is the antithesis (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lightfoot, dorkenergy, SoCalSal

        of journalism. It's distortion, by definition.

      •  You might also consider that NOAA (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lightfoot, dorkenergy

        has already sent out it's own ships to survey the plume.

        •  Thanks nickrud, I corrected this problem now (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, dorkenergy

          I have included your link and described NOAA's coming to it's senses in the revised article. Nonetheless as of May 30, BP's CEO Tony Hayward was still mouthing off that there is "no evidence" of any oil plumes. But thanks for your assist.

          Paul Evans (seawolf1957)

          by seawolf1957 on Mon May 31, 2010 at 12:25:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Only after they were pressured (3+ / 0-)

          to do it after the unfavorable publicity they garnered in the wake of the New York Times article, which detailed NOAA's dithering over allowing the Pelican's mission to continue. NOAA fully intended to downplay the issue of the plumes prior to the publication of that article.

          •  Try to remember, NOAA is on our side (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            catullus, SoCalSal, 3CPO

            most of the time. The Republicans have actually tried to pass bills in the past to privatize NOAA.

            Then BP would be free to buy those privatized services.

            •  I meet with a lot of NWS folks (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              catullus, lightfoot

              (in an emergency management capacity). If anything, they try their best to stay out of the line of fire. Most science nerds want to be left alone with their data and not politicized. Seems like your rock star meteorologists go to commercial sites like Accuweather. These sites still pull from NWS data, but interpret it their own way and jazz up the visuals a bit to make their product marketable. The Accuweather/Republican idea of deregulating weather forecasting would do a huge disservice to the public, in my opinion.

              I've also noticed that, in the case of oil spills, the damage is ALWAYS under-reported, usually starting right at the beginning by the spiller. That message is carried by initial responders and picked up by the media. Eventually, somebody gets a shot of a mile-long oil sheen, or tarballs start washing up somewhere and everybody has to "re-evaluate."

              My guess is that it's 2/3 "managing the message" and 1/3 wishful thinking.

              I'm not often fond of the media, but I have to say that without them, you would most likely see MORE foot-dragging by the companies responsible for cleanup. I just wish the reporters would educate themselves on the issue at hand before offering some sort of uniformed interpretation. We've got politicians for THAT...

              "Earth First! Make Mars our bitch!"

              by 3CPO on Mon May 31, 2010 at 06:52:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Accuweather...not as accurate at the NWS (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SoCalSal, 3CPO

                or the NHC most of the time. If I recall correctly, they donated a ton of money to former rethug Senator Rick Santorum from PA. In return, he was pushing a bill to privatize the NWS, blatantly quid pro quo.

                Turned out the NWS is pretty popular with most people, and Santorum's bill got slaughtered in the crossfire.

                You are right about the NWS, they like to stick to their science. During the Bush Administration they were not even allowed to do that...I can recall at least one case where an NWS employee was fired for presenting a scientific study of local climate change at a climate and weather-related scientific symposium.

                As far as any possible NOAA under-reporting, I think they were just waiting for some more solid evidence. Also I would not be too surprised if, internally, they were a bit miffed that the Pelican scientists did not get permission from their NOAA PI to go public with their data.  In my former career I brought in plenty of research grants, and I know if I has spoken out of turn without my government granter's permission I would have most likely seen my funding yanked or dried up. Proper review is required to avoid these potential problems.

    •  What a laugh... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, happymisanthropy

      They are lying. Would you rather "obfuscating"?

    •  Putting NOAA and BP in the same title? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This is just ridiculous. Should be HR'ed for Conspiracy Theory, but I think you just do not understand a couple of key points.

      Scientists are conservative by nature. Scientists don't do "breaking news". Science works by peer review. The Pelican is a NOAA ship, funded through NOAA.

      So try to understand NOAA's point of view. These researchers were out there to collect data that would be disseminated throughout the scientific community so that the data could be carefully analyzed, compared to other or combined with corroborating data, and then any results or conclusions subject to peer review. That is why NOAA is upset, because these scientists broke longstanding scientific practice by immediately reporting their findings without even letting NOAA review the results. Of course NOAA was put in a difficult position by their actions in the light of the scientific community.

      But note that NOAA has already sent out The Pelican back out on a trip specifically to study the oil plumes and their effects:
      INTERVIEW - Scientists to study deepwater Gulf "oil plume", Matthew Bigg, Tue May 25, 2010 11:39pm (Reuters)

      So please do not mistake NOAA scientists as being sympathetic to Big Oil, or make the mistake of thinking that NOAA is covering for BP.

      That is Pure Conspiracy Theory.

  •  Um, what's the problem? (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lightfoot, FG, dorkenergy, nickrud, vc2, SoCalSal

    NOAA is staffed with scientists. Scientists don't release results until they've checked their results 6 ways to sunday. You'd think the Climategate shit would have taught people something.

    You want a cudgel to beat BP with and you're pissed that NOAA isn't giving you the cudgel fast enough?

    And "bought NOAA bureaucrat"? Where's your support for that? You provide no basis for that assertion.

    Jesus, this place is teetering on the edge of becoming a conspiracy sewer.

    Leave it to Republicans to set the house on fire and then rant that the fire department is socialist.

    by johnsonwax on Mon May 31, 2010 at 12:18:33 AM PDT

    •  He pointed out that after the discovery of the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      plumes by one of its own research vessels, NOAA lied. They did lie. I heard Lubchenko on the Lehrer report, questioned by Gwen Ifill, say there was no proof yet that the plumes were composed of oil. Right now, BP and the U.S. gov't are one and the same, and that spells disaster for the Gulf and our marshes here in Louisiana.

      How do you explain the EPA's pass for BP to continue using the dispersants?

  •  This has been my fear all along. The dispersents (4+ / 0-)

    are going to cause more trouble than just letting the oil rise to the top. arrrggghhh. Nice Diary. Tip'd and Recc'd.

    "I have ferrets with fins" - African Cichlids. And 3 pooties too! Ren, Stimpy (15 yrs) and Rocky (3 yrs)

    by mrsgoo on Mon May 31, 2010 at 12:23:43 AM PDT

    •  This is true, but has nothing to do with NOAA. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This was OK'ed by the Obama administration's EPA.

      The EPA has big "revolving door" problems with the industries that they regulate. Bush's tenure made the situation much worse, and the compromised people in EPA need to be weeded out.

      NOAA has no such problems. What industry would employ their scientists? The Weather Channel?

  •  NOAA release actually looks like good (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    science. In science, the rule is that unless smth is independently verified, it can't be trusted. Doesn't mean it's wrong, most of the time it isn't.

  •  to be fair the NOAA statement is two weeks old (0+ / 0-)

    I'd like to know what they say now.

    When one reads Bibles, one is less surprised at what the Deity knows than at what He doesn't know. -- Mark Twain

    by voroki on Mon May 31, 2010 at 02:27:52 AM PDT

    •  Please see this blog, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Dr. Samantha Joye, Professor of Marine Sciences, U. Georgia, who is currently being funded by NOAA.

      Latest Entry: Trust your senses
      By Samantha Joye | Published: May 31, 2010 12:38am

      You can bet that she got NOAA's permission before she decided to blog. You do not prematurely release data on externally funded grants without the funding agency's permission.

      •  A quote from above, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "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, 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..."

        More on her blog.

  •  But wait, there's video of the plumes? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I remember watching, just a few days ago, a clip featuring Costeau's son and (sorry, been a long weekend and I'm a little fuzzy) some news guy going into the Gulf wearing hazmat suits. It was pretty obvious that there was tons of oil below the surface.

  •  With the possible exception (0+ / 0-)

    the North Koreans and some of the Chinese, Americans may be the most lied-to people on earth.

    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.

    I don't believe anything anyone in the corporate sector says. Same for the U.S. government, which is just the corporations' strongarm enforcer/PR division.  

    As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he ever were to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it. --Bulwer-Lytton Contest entry

    by Wom Bat on Mon May 31, 2010 at 07:05:14 AM PDT

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