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This blog is quick to condemn technological solutions on little data.  Diaries on the inadequacy of science and engineering abound (ironic, since we all are using computers to reach the internet).  Folks are quick to jump to conspiracy theories.  The problems of the oil spill are bad, but to read Daily Kos, the horrors are incredible, often in contradiction to all logic.  Chiming in to doubt some of these claims has resulted in

What the hell, dude? You sounded earlier as if you were defending BP, and there's shitloads of anecdotal AND empirical evidence that they're in no way worthy of it. There's a point where you just have to stop playing "devils advocate" or "supporting the underdog". Or whatever that earlier bit was. Truthfully, it didn't make a whole lot of sense in context with the rest of the discussion, but seemed more designed to introduce the idea that "the fumes just aren't that bad, so people really didn't need masks anyway....

I am not defending BP.  They did bad science and bad engineering and frankly bad management.  No defense of BP here.  I wrote the first diary on the sinking of this rig and breaking of this well link  There I commented that this was likely to be the worst environmental disaster in 30 years.  

We need to use some data and not jump to some conspiracy fueled theory that gets transmorgified to data because someone here wrote a recommended diary.  Scientific data exists to support some of the decisions being made on the Gulf, and not every decision being made is bad.

Myth 1: Dispersants are dangerous and are making the problem worse.  We could clean up the oil spill better without them.  BP is just using them because they want to hide the problem.

Data: NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) called together a panel of 50 experts to review the use of dispersants and the federal guidelines for BP to continue using them.  Conclusion of the panel is that the dispersants, although containing toxic chemicals for ocean microorganisms, are needed to reduce harm to the fragile marshland ecosystems which are harder to restore.  

Panel member Ron Tjeerdema said Friday they decided the animals harmed by the chemicals underwater had a better chance of rebounding quickly than birds and mammals on the shoreline. Tjeerdema chairs the Department of Environmental Toxicology at the University of California, Davis.


To me this just makes sense- smaller globules will chemically and microbiologically break down faster than acres of thick goo.  Big thick globs will coat the marshes and be much harder to clean up.  BP is paying a lot of money for the dispersants and making their use public.  And the problem isn't all that easy to hide.  

Reality Check: the panel could be wrong.  But crises call for decisions and failure to decide is also a decision to do nothing.

Myth 2.  Dispersants and/or oil fumes are making people working on the gulf very sick.  Seven workers were sickened and this is another neglected crisis like 9/11.  BP is refusing to let people show up with respirators and BP suggested the workers might have food poisoning.  There is also a controversy over respirator use.
Reality:  The actual story was much more nuanced when you read the full reporting.  AP stories are often cut off in the shortened form.    

On Friday May 27, seven workers were hospitalized with symptoms that could be linked to exposure to solvents such as Corexit and the oil (dizziness, headaches, nausea).  They were also reported to have rashes, weakness and coughs.  These workers were operating an oil skimmer from Breton Sound with another group of 125 boats.

On Monday, shrimper Clint Guidry said fisherman workers had told him that they were not being given respirators — not even those working in the most dangerous area closest to the well spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  BP spokesman Darren Beaudo denied the allegation. He said respirators were issued to crews of all boats working "source control" close to the well, and crews were trained to use them if necessary.  However, he said constant air quality monitoring by boats in that area and on wearable "badges" worn by supervisors on boats in areas judged the most dangerous generally found safe levels of benzene and other volatile organic compounds.  Repeated tests showed respirators weren't needed for crews working to clean oil or lay boom closer to shore, Beaudo said.

"Folks working those crews are not expected or trained to work in circumstances that would require respirators. If they were in that sort of situation they would be removed immediately," Beaudo said.  Guidry also alleged that "when some individuals brought their own respirators, they were told by BP representatives on site that if they wore the respirators they would be released from the job."  Beaudo responded: "I'm not aware that that has happened. It would be contradictory to our approach to safety."  He said anyone would be free to use a mask meeting OSHA specifications.
Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, said there was not enough air quality monitoring being done by state and federal agencies. She said her group planned to start collecting air samples of its own in the spill zone beginning Thursday.
"We're putting these people out there as canaries in the coal mine," she said.

Reality: Washington Post also wrote about health related issues, with HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius writing to BP to take responsibility for the workplace safety and health of cleanup workers.   "The Environmental Protection Agency had tested more than 15,000 air samples from Venice, La., to Pensacola, Fla., and had not yet detected dangerous substances at hazardous levels, she said. More than 500 water and soil samples have also been tested, she said."  

Apparently, BP is monitoring the air quality and so are other agencies and groups from the federal government and now environmental groups.   Obviously we should not have BP monitoring alone- but this sort of monitoring is expensive.  Who should pay?  How does this sort of air quality monitoring work?  

The EPA is testing the air tested for volatiles like Total VOCs, hydrogen sulfide, benzene and naphthalene which evaporate and escape from oil.  EPA is measuring these from a variety of locations in Louisiana on the shore, but not out in the middle of the ocean, where these folks are exposed.   Of the pollutants EPA is testing for, the Total VOCs, hydrogen sulfide, benzene and naphthalene are the most worrisome for the health of communities living and working in the areas near the monitors.  EPA is providing daily summaries of their monitoring data at various locations for PM, Total VOCs and hydrogen sulfide. They are also providing some limited data on specific VOCs (such as benzene) and some semi-volatile chemicals such as naphthalene.  

There is a nice summary in Huffington Post on May 24 discussing these chemicals and safe exposure levels written by Natural Resources Defense Council scientist, Gina Solomon.  She notes that the recommended exposure levels seem too high for conservative safety.  These are maximum safe limits developed by NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health).  NIOSH actually recommends lower levels for better safety- about half the level of Benzene for example, in line with Solomon’s recommendations, and NIOSH are the ones who established the standards.  BP is also monitoring chemicals evaporating from the oil closer to the spill.    

NIOSH was started in 1970 as the research arm of regulatory agencies like OSHA and EPA.  The goal of NIOSH is to reduce workplace risk by establishing health standards and making recommendations for tolerable levels.  NIOSH is part of the CDC, which focuses on epidemiology of all sorts.   Many believe NIOSH should really be part of NIH rather than CDC and Homeland Security.  One example of NIOSH at work was the follow up studies on the World Trade Center Cleanup and the Exxon Valdez oil spill.  NIOSH sends their data to other agencies so they can set good surer exposure standards for other agencies.  NIOSH also works on educational programs and certifies safety equipment like respirators.
EPA measures the volatile chemicals (VOCs) using an instrument called a TO-15.  A TO-15 is a machine that measures the air quality by sucking a sample of the air into a canister and then taken to a lab for analysis. The TO-15 doesn’t require calibration isn't required and has an internal quality control system.    

One company that does this kind of testing is Columbia Analytical Services  Here is their discussion about a TO-15 (caution- pdf)  Here is a compendium of EPA methods for conducting these tests.  EPA certifies the method and outside independent labs are to follow the tests (standard methods) so data can be reliably compared between labs.   Why mention this?  Because it is clear this is time-consuming and not responsive to immediate problems.  Someone could get an exposure and you wouldn’t hear for some few days about the problem, when canisters need to be sent to outside labs.   Accurate but slow may be sufficient for monitoring chronic exposure, but won’t be very effective for acute exposure.  Acute exposure would come from someone getting a big dose of the benzene, rather than a little every day.  Acute doses kill you quickly and chronic doses may kill some of you in 20 years, so it is hard to collect this data effectively.  However, we have people working in refineries, chemical plants and oil rigs for many years, so there is some collective information on this for chronic exposure.  

So should people be wearing respirators?  

What about the dispersants?  Reducing exposure is recommended, and this is difficult, since they are spraying this stuff on the surface.   NIOSH has made some specific recommendations for this work as well.  BP is using the dispersants under the ocean, which is very controversial.  That said,
To prevent harmful respiratory and dermal health effects NIOSH recommends reducing worker exposures to 2-butoxyethanol, petroleum distillates and similar cleaning agents in dispersants. Workers can be protected by taking the following steps:
• Mix and load dispersants in well ventilated areas.
• Use automated spraying systems to apply dispersants when available.
• Remain upwind of the mists that are generated if spray systems are manned.
• Wear nitrile gloves during mixing, loading, or spraying of dispersants to prevent skin irritation.
• Wear protective eyewear when mixing, loading, or spraying dispersants.
• Wash hands and any other body parts exposed to dispersants thoroughly with soap and water.
• If personal air monitoring indicates the above steps are not effective at reducing exposures below applicable OELs, then respiratory protection would be needed. Respirators should be used as part of a comprehensive respiratory protection program that includes proper selection, training, and maintenance.  The NIOSH respirator topic page at provides information for safety and health officers who are designated to establish and conduct such programs.

So what are these personal air monitors and how good are they?  Should everyone be issued one?  I found one supplier; 3M sells something for measuring "organic vapors" by absorbing them onto a single charcoal sorbent wafer for collecting organic vapors.
They have accuracy of +/-25% at a 95% confidence level for many workplace contaminants. For all these samples they are sent back to someone for analysis- and it isn’t clear to me if you get a mixed organic reading or if they tell you about specific solvents you are exposed to.  So you can use these monitors but again, you are not getting an immediate safety response.  Chronic levels of volatiles are very small, and it takes very sensitive, expensive equipment to measure this accurately.  Cheaper widespread measurements are not very accurate but would give you a baseline of low-level chronic exposure.    
I used to wear a radiation badge at work and they would collect them every months and then one day they would call and let you know you exposed yourself 3 months earlier.  Hard to connect actions with results for safety- but these were low levels of exposure if you were carefully trained and worked safely.  Once in a while someone would lose their badge and it would get exposure when you weren’t there.  This was poor effort, but people screwed up.  They made us go to radiation safety training for 2 weeks one summer and I really learned a lot.  I think safety training is essential for these projects, as well as more accurate, fast turnaround on the monitoring.  More measurements out on the actual gulf would also be critical to improve the situation.  But it doesn’t sound like BP is signing contracts with the boats to go out and collect oil and respond to the crisis.  It doesn’t sound like people are being issued safety equipment as contractors- but the government is putting recommendations out there for people to use.      

So the response here is, how much VOC do you need before you issue respirators to people?  This should seem easy to the really cautious.  Just give everyone a respirator and everyone will be safer, right?  Better safe than sorry, you might say."

Actually, not.  Respirators are not comfortable and need to be fitted carefully to provide protection.   Respirators are the last choice for protection of employees from solvents, only after other possible methods are found not feasible.   It is essential to use the correct respirator type- Paper masks do not protect against solvents – the vapors go right through them.   The type of respirator needed depends on the toxicity and amount of solvent vapor in the air- so these measurements of levels of toxins are as important as figuring out how much oil is actually erupting out in order to figure out how to clean it up.   I have to agree with the BP folks- if there are acute exposure levels, you shouldn’t be out there on a boat with a respirator to clean things up.   If the oil is volatilizing toxins to an acute level, in the outdoors, then something is happening that is very unusual.  I am not cutting them any slack by saying this- I actually think it is very unlikely people will experience acute exposure.  But respirators can reduce some chronic exposure.  
  They can leak, wear out, or be the wrong kind.
  They can be hot, uncomfortable and make it hard to see or communicate.  If you are wearing one, how can people hear you easily?  
  They can be hard to breathe through.
  People may remove them in contaminated air.
  False sense of security.

So you decide you still need a respirator- what works for solvents?  There are 4 general types:
  Air-purifying half-face respirator.  Solvent is captured on an activated charcoal cartridge.
  Air purifying full face respirator- similar to half-face except it covers your eyes to protect them from irritation.
  Powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) Air is pulled through the cartridges by a battery operated fan, which reduces effort to pull a breath through the filter.
  Air-line Respirator.  Fresh air is supplied by a hose from a compressor- this is usually used for confined space work and high levels of toxins.  This is what you wear when you go in a small space to clean the chemicals out- think scuba gear.  This would NOT be practical on a boat.  

Respirators need to be fitted- beards can be a problem.   The act of breathing in through the filter creates a negative pressure inside the mask, and then you breath the used air out the front of the mask- which gives you a bug appearance.   If the mask does not fit properly along the edges, contaminated air can enter.  There are tests with special scented materials that show if the respirator is properly fitted.  Only "Organic vapor" cartridges capture solvent vapors.  The cartridges don’t work for all solvents (including methanol and methylene chloride).  The cartridges should be changed according to manufacturer’s instructions, since they only absorb only so much solvent until breakthrough occurs.  If you use a respirator improperly, you can feel safe and still be at risk.

There are genuine problems with collecting the data to to assess the acute and chronic risks to workers of the VOCs on a day to day basis.   More data is required from out on the boats, and better turnaround is required to get data back to people affected AND decision makers.  
Right now, if you add a precaution like a respirator when all available data says it isn’t necessary, you will get noncompliance with other, more necessary safety rules.  It is far more important to keep the oil off of people’s skin- that is why folks are wearing light-weight suits out of a material like Tyvek and use nitrile not laytex gloves and clean up with soap after work.   These ARE appropriate personal protective equipment for the more serious exposure problem.

So how big a canary are the sick cleanup workers?  Well, according to NPR, surprisingly healthy, considering there are 20,000 workers and 11 have been reported sick. It is 95 degrees and humid.  They are stressed and working hard, and all this could contribute to ill health.  One report I encountered suggested that the 7 workers were burning oil and this may have contributed to their symptoms.  And folks from the Exxon Valdez did not have many lasting health problems from the cleanup
It is very important to based epidemiology on statistically valid large data sets, and the quality data is collected carefully and right away.

Myth 3 Oil Plumes are mysteriously appearing deep under the sea.  BP claims these are a myth.

Data.  Oops.  This one is building up data very rapidly.  University of South Florida, which had chemical oceanographers who early on ideantified the plumes, have confirmed the presence of oil plumes.  Today they reported laboratory tests confirming oil has accumulated in at least two extensive plumes deep underwater.  These tests confirmed their initial findings, which were based on field instruments.  They will follow up with more information on Monday.

Observations from three different teams of researchers over the last few weeks identifying several large oil plumes in the Gulf, each miles wide and hundreds or thousands of feet deep. The plumes contain tiny droplets of oil — from the size of a thumbnail to the size of a golf ball, the Washington Post reported — that has dissolved into the water, perhaps due to the effect of chemical dispersants.

The government posted a map this week showing the location of one of the underwater plumes, according to the New York Times Wednesday "This would seem to be the most detailed confirmation yet by a federal agency that the undersea plumes are real," reported the Times.

USF and NOAA planned to issue a more full report on their findings about the oil plumes Monday.

"We're certain it's oil,'' said Ernst B. Peebles, a USF biological oceanographer and chief scientist aboard the college's Weatherbird II research vessel, the ship that did the sampling. "We've done the analysis.''

Peebles said laboratory tests were performed on water drawn from two layers of oil, a 98-foot thick layer found about 1,300 feet down and a second, even thicker layer found at a depth of about 3,200 feet.

The tests were performed on water brought up by collection bottles and passed through filter pads, a web of glass fibers that trap tiny particles in water.

Plumes can explain where the larger amounts of oil are showing up.

What will be the effects of the plumes?  This isn't yet known, but speculation is not good for aquatic organisms like fish, shrimp, plankton.  They are not getting lots of indications that this has happened yet, but herring still hasn't recovered from exposure to oil from the Exxon Valdez.  

One myth- Jane Lubchenco of NOAA was conspiring with BP to cast doubt on the existance of plumes.  This was suggested here, and this is NOT confirmed by the presence of NOAA scientists with the USF scientists are these press conferences.  Below is the controversial report:

There isn’t enough confirmed and validated data to say whether there is oil flowing undetected underwater from the Deepwater Horizon leak, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Jane Lubchenco told a group of scientists Thursday in Baton Rouge.

That’s something NOAA scientists and others are still analyzing and investigating, she said.

"If oil is below the surface, where it is and in what amounts," Lubchenco said. "The water samples are currently being analyzed."

Lubchenco said she wanted to emphasize that the reality of what’s going on with the oil leak is grim enough without jumping to conclusions before verifying data is collected in the scientific response to the leak.

Myth 4 Booming is ineffective to protect the shore from oil.

Data:  Alas, this is not a myth.  F***ing booming needs to be tended and is not doing much good.  Fishgrease was right.  Boom is good but it can be defeated by waves, bad placement and oil/water emulsions.


I am not some sort of BP Pollyanna or Obamabot with blinders on.  I am a commonsense, critical thinking scientist reading all sides of the data and trying to get to the truth.  The angry overblown response, often directed at the fairly competant Obama bureaucrats, is not particularly helpful for me.  Neither is the slamming and name calling from folks here when someone questions a theory presented as conclusion.  I think a little critical thinking and diversity of opinion doesn't constitute here.  

This is a disaster for the environment.  We still need to document what is going on and to look critically at the data and the reports.  National Science foundation is doing a good job by changing their research awarding system to allow rapid response grants to explore problems like the Iceland volcano and this oil disaster.   It is important to see what happens to these microorganisms and zooplankton and to explore new solutions like oil eating microbes.

Watching Rachel Maddow this evening, I listened to a woman, Riki Ott, telling all people to wear respirators on the Gulf Coast.  Riki Ott came to different conclusions about human health problems after Exxon Valdez than did NIOSH.  Was NIOSH wrong or was Ott?  I don't know.  But I think if the air is so bad you need a respirator, you shouldn't be breathing it at all, not worrying about a respirator.  

I believe data should be collected objectively for human health exposure, so that we aren't asking these questions in 20 years.  This is a bad situation and it won't be made better by bad science (little data, lots of speculation).  Good science collects data and works to remain objective.  All the sceptical opinions I expressed here will be altered when someone brings some data to the table.  And be a little more respectful of motivations when people like me question the data- we aren't all BP flacks.  

Originally posted to murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 07:20 PM PDT.


Mythbusters is.....

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for following the story..... (30+ / 0-)

    and asking the tough questions.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 07:20:10 PM PDT

  •  Is this latest LMRP effort sucking up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murrayewv, o the umanity

    any oil?

    •  some, not much..... (4+ / 0-)

      seems like 5% range.  The myth I didn't have the heart to explore is how much oil is spewing forth.  Sadly, I don't think anyone is sure, but the numbers keep going up up up.  They are planning to slowly close the vents in the LMRP and pull up more oil.  Seems like the only thing to really be sure to work is the bottom kill well and concrete, and that is currently running ahead of schedule.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 07:46:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In the Early 70's I Worked Fiberglass Layup (16+ / 0-)

    and since I ran a shop, at one point I called in an OSHA inspector about the fumes levels when we did layup. They put sniffers on all our collars as we spent half an hour doing a layer of shell. The shop was ventillated with a big fumes rated exhaust fan on the ground in a corner, because polyester resin fumes are heavier than air, and fresh air entered over the boat through some ducts we'd run. Nonetheless we always finished a layup a little dizzy, and newbies would be a little intoxicated. That's why I wanted the analysis.

    The OSHA analysis was that we were well under the tolerable limits. I quit that week.

    Today my wife and I have organic vapor masks to use during gluing and varnishing in our home craft shop. We use them briefly almost every day.

    I'm going to side with tonight's guest on Rachael who says like many sane voices the booming and cleanup workers should be wearing organic vapor masks, and that there should be a lot of medical personnel available who have more expertise with chemical exposure than common general practitioners.

    There's a great deal of statistical variation in these kinds of things so it's actually a simple question not complex. Issue the damned things so that the sensitive people, and those who by random vagaries of wind and concentration of pollutants are going to be affected.

    No they don't need to be fit like space masks because we're not sending any of these people into enclosed spaces where they could get immediately injurious or fatal exposures in one or two breaths.

    God this used to be the reality party and the party of worker and workplace safety. Not the party of measure 350 times and act to protect once.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 07:32:56 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for all the work (15+ / 0-)

    Not sure I buy all your mythbusting arguments, but thanks for putting the diary together.  Made me think about a few things and that always makes me appreciate the diary.

    By the way, TO-15 is not a machine.  TO-15 is an analytical method or standard operating procedure to measure specific VOC species in ambient air.  The sample is collected in a metal sphere, transported to a laboratory where the air sample in the sphere is injected into a device called a gas chromatograph that is configured to analyze for about 100 different hydrocarbons or VOC's. I have worked in the air pollution monitoring field for 30 years and worked closely with the EPA researchers that developed the method TO-15.

    You are correct that the air monitoring being performed is really not adequate to provide data to protect workers or the public.  It is unfortunate that most air monitoring techniques for VOC's take time to get results and are very expensive so the measurements are not taken over enough of a broad area to help in the protection of public health in situations like this. I know the EPA and some outside consulting labs are taking measurements, but too few in too few a locations.

    I think the reason that you believe many here are putting out info without data to back it up is the sad reality that BP is doing a really good job at limiting the data to the American public.

    •  We shouldn't accept the limited data..... (6+ / 0-)

      and we certainly should have government looking over the BP folks.

      As I said, I am more than open to considering the data.  I would love to see more health monitoring of the folks doing cleanup.  But all the monitoring in the world won't make people wear respirators that are uncomfortable.  In WV, black lung is actually on the rise, in part because folks aren't wearing respirators when they work, even though it is mandated.  They are hard to do physical labor in.  I think a big problem is the hours folks are working and the stress they are under- which will also compromise their health.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 07:54:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Was trying to be nice (12+ / 0-)

        But got to speak up now.

        I completely disagree with your position on the respirators.  You are correct that they are difficult to wear, can't have a beard, get hot and all that.  But from someone with 30 years in this field, you are way off-base.  It is standard operating procedure to outfit all workers (not just oil clean up workers) with protective devices and clothing to protect against worst case exposure.  This procedure is done every day by many professions that deal with toxic chemicals.  The difficulty and inefficiency that results from wearing the protective devices is part of the trade-off to protect worker safety.  Worker safety is priority one, end of story.  If it is not, you may not have any workers.  I have had to work in hot weather in full protective garb and is was no fun, but I would not put myself in harms way without protection for a second, and my boss and our insurance company would have fired me if I was stupid enough to refuse.

        The concept is you don't wait till you have concrete data showing that there is a risk to use protection.  You use protection proactively if there is a possibility that you need the protection.  In this case, there is unquestionably the possibility of needing a respirator, so one should be used at all times.

        •  Miners are supposed to wear respirators..... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and they do until they don't.  Then they wind up with more problems, partly based on their own choices (well and smoking doesn't help).

          I am not being cynical, but trying to be practical.  Obviously cleaning up this shit is costly for human health, but the skin absorption is doubtless a bigger risk.

          How often should these cartidges be changed?  Who is paying for them?  For that matter, who is paying the workers?  Some are working without contracts and are hoping to be paid later.  Who is training and monitoring the workers?  People are working BP obviously should be, but they get around this by saying these are independent contractors.  As far as I can tell, BP isn't really paying people all that regularly.

          Is there no way to measure the accumulation of toxins in the respirators?  Is there no way to take a blood sample and look for a response to the organics from liver enzymes?  

          I am not challenging your expertise, ashowboat.  As I said, I am willing to be persuaded there need to be improvement, and we need to learn on the job here.  But my experience working with risk management and safety is that all the personal protection devices in the world won't work if people won't use them.  BP certainly shouldn't be forbidding them.  But mandating isn't good either.

          I think training, equiment and counting on people to take care of their own health with enough education is the best way.  But this whole show seems very uncoordinated.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:19:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your argument BS (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badger, blueoasis, o the umanity, wabird

            BP has no problem forcing the clean up workers to sign an agreement that prevents them talking to the media.  It is working very well with great compliance.  If you doubt this watch DemocracyNow from yesterday.  If BP can prevent them from talking to the media, they can easily force them to use protective devices they are issued.  This is what all the other employers in the country do to ensure compliance by their workers that need to wear protective devices.  It is quite simple, wear the device or you are fired.

            All your questions about how things work how often the cartridges need to be changed is a smoke screen.  There are established procedures for the use of respirators in these types of environments.  Contrary to your statement, we do not need to "learn on the job here"  This is settled science that is well understood.  The bottom line is that BP does not want to issue respirators because of the cost and the admission of increased liability.  As always with a big corporation, it is all about the money.

            •  Then where is NIOSH and OSHA on this? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              If it is simple regulation folks are required to wear these respirators in outdoor environment, then why isn't this being enforced?

              You would really help your cause by citing the appropriate CFRs here- and I am not being sarcastic.  If you know they exist but can't find them, give me a hint and I will look so we can share this information.

              I believe BP would be hard pressed to establish a contract which required people to not use safety gear BP considered unnecessary.  As for BP refusing to have contractors wear safety respirators, especially when people want to wear them, I think that would be indefensible PR.  I challenge you to identify someone who really did this.

              Requiring your workers not photograph and publicize your oil spill, my guess is BP leagally can require that, but it is subject to criticism from folks like us.  Forbiding your worker to spread bad PR is not the same as making them risk their lives to work.

              You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

              by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 09:01:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  NIOSH, OSHA and EPA are likely being told to back (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                blueoasis, wabird

                off.  Otherwise we would have real-time VOC (volatile organic compounds) monitoring available online for every major community along the Gulf Coast.  Such as this.

                •  bog standard anti-government comment..... (0+ / 0-)

                  Did you read your link?

                  Today the Louisiana Environmental Action Network released its analysis of air monitoring test results by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA's air testing data comes from Venice, a coastal community 75 miles south of New Orleans in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish.


                  Someone is calling off the scientists from three separate, independent agencies.  Why?  Are you accusing Obama and his administration of being in the pay of whom?  And still the EPA is releasing the data to the environmental groups and anyone who goes to the internet to read it.

                  Government scientists aren't quite so easily bought off or threatened- and to do it to three separate agencies in a crisis takes time and effort from someone.  And there will be some sort of outcry if this is true.

                  Here once again is the link to the EPA VOC monitoring network along the coast and publicly posted data?  

                  You owe the EPA an apology.

                  You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                  by murrayewv on Sat Jun 05, 2010 at 05:52:46 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Have they expanded VOC monitoring into every (0+ / 0-)

                    community over 1,000 folks along the Gulf Coast?  Has the state air quality regulatory body to which EPA delegates enforcement of the Clean Air Act)responded to every request for such monitoring?  Are they monitoring sites where the cleanup crews and boom crews on the water are working?  I don't owe anyone an apology, as I know something about air quality monitoring, and I guarantee everything that can be done is not being done.  Monitoring data is a requirement for litigation and fines to be imposed by EPA.  The data from Venice is ALL I've seen through this whole affair, and I suspect the information is suppressed or not available at all.  If you can find me some additional real time VOC monitoring data from at or near the spill site, I'd appreciate the information.

              •  Where is the EPA? (0+ / 0-)

                Where is the USCG? Where is our government?

                They're all in the backseat. Meaning that for whatever reason they are all answering to BP.

                •  Where are they? (0+ / 0-)

                  Doing their job.  

                  Today the Louisiana Environmental Action Network released its analysis of air monitoring test results by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA's air testing data comes from Venice, a coastal community 75 miles south of New Orleans in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish.


                  You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                  by murrayewv on Sat Jun 05, 2010 at 05:53:53 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I looked at this recent data..... (0+ / 0-)

                    in light of the questions about respirator use and folks like Rachel Maddow and her very sincere guest about the stench of the oil.  If you smell it, it must be toxic, correct?

                    EPA has established data on many toxins, including the Hydrogen Sulfide reported to be at the highest levels.  Unfortunately they are presenting this analysis in an inflammatory way that is inaccurate.  All Benzene may be a VOC, but not all VOC is benzene.  

                    Reading the diary will indicate that it takes a long time to take the collection device and get it read, so the system isn't responsive.

                    The levels collected are in the device at 3 ppm at the worst, and currently are at .4  to 1 ppm for VOCs and as high a 1 ppm for hydrogen sulfide, also bad for you.

                    But how bad?  Respirator bad?

                    Wikipedia provides some interesting summary files on Hydrogen sulfide, which is one of the main compounds people are smelling when they are out working on the oil covered waters.

                    0.00047 ppm is the recognition threshold, the concentration at which 50% of humans can detect the characteristic odor of hydrogen sulfide,[12] normally described as resembling "a rotten egg".
                    Less than 10 ppm has an exposure limit of 8 hours per day.
                    10–20 ppm is the borderline concentration for eye irritation.
                    50–100 ppm leads to eye damage.
                    At 100–150 ppm the olfactory nerve is paralyzed after a few inhalations, and the sense of smell disappears, often together with awareness of danger.[13][14]
                    320–530 ppm leads to pulmonary edema with the possibility of death.
                    530–1000 ppm causes strong stimulation of the central nervous system and rapid breathing, leading to loss of breathing.
                    800 ppm is the lethal concentration for 50% of humans for 5 minutes exposure (LC50).
                    Concentrations over 1000 ppm cause immediate collapse with loss of breathing, even after inhalation of a single breath.


                    Long-term, low-level exposure may result in fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, irritability, poor memory, and dizziness.

                    Here is the link to the Acute Exposure Guidelines from the EPA for Hydrogen Sulfide:

                    Hydrogen sulfide     7783-06-4      
                                  ppm     9/10/02
                           10 min    30 min    60 min     4 hr     8 hr
                    AEGL 1   0.75      0.60     0.51        0.36     0.33  
                    AEGL 2   41       32       27          20     17  
                    AEGL 3   76       59       50          37     31  

                    So what are the three different levels?

                    AEGL-1 is the airborne concentration (expressed as parts per million or milligrams per cubic meter [ppm or mg/m3]) of a substance above which it is predicted that the general population, including susceptible individuals, could experience notable discomfort, irritation, or certain asymptomatic, non-sensory effects. However, the effects are not disabling and are transient and reversible upon cessation of exposure.
                    AEGL-2 is the airborne concentration (expressed as ppm or mg/m3) of a substance above which it is predicted that the general population, including susceptible individuals, could experience irreversible or other serious, long-lasting adverse health effects or an impaired ability to escape.

                    AEGL-3 is the airborne concentration (expressed as ppm or mg/m3) of a substance above which it is predicted that the general population, including susceptible individuals, could experience life-threatening health effects or death.


                    So very small amounts can be smelled, and levels of 1-2 ppm are undoubtedly not good for making you feel good.  They are well above the AEGL-1 level.  

                    They are well below the AEGL-2 level.

                    The problem is, where do you wear a respirator?  At what level?

                    NIOSH are the respirator folks and they recommend these respirators for Hydrogen Sulfide:

                    What are their exposure limits?

                    Exposure Limits
                    NIOSH REL: C 10 ppm (15 mg/m3) [10-minute]
                    OSHA PEL†: C 20 ppm 50 ppm [10-minute maximum peak]

                    So they are worried at 10 ppm, but these levels are 1 ppm.  Not respirator worthy, would be my guess, but who will come out and definitively say that?  More from OSHA on this:


                    So OSHA says you can be exposed to 10 ppm for a day long shift of 8 hours with no danger, long term.  This argues that 1 ppm, while horrible and stinky and having some effects, is probably not respirator worth.

                    If this were your neighbor's sewage treatment plant or pig farm, you might disagree though.  Here is some data on the air quality in factory farms.  

                    I know, but there are lots of factory farm workers and lots of chances to follow their long term exposure to the H2S on the job.  We know a fair bit about manure.  This reference says Toxicity of Hydrogen Sulfide and they site this authority link.

                    2 ppm: headaches
                    2–10 ppm: respiratory, cardiovascular,
                    and metabolic problems
                    50–100 ppm: vomiting and diarrhea
                    200 ppm: immunological problems
                    500 ppm: loss of consciousness
                    600 ppm: often fatal

                    So a 1 ppm, people who are sensitive are undoubtedly feeling poorly, but according to EPA, these effects are not AEGL-2 until 17.  

                    I know this may seem long-winded, but this is the point- authorities don't agree, but authorities are trying to find out.  And authorities, in all cases, are the government (EPA, NIOSH, OSHA), trying to keep you as healthy as they can.

                    They must go home at night sometimes sad that they are working hard to keep things safe, and the progressive side of conspiracy theorists insist in believing they are sell-outs and bought off.

                    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                    by murrayewv on Sat Jun 05, 2010 at 06:39:18 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  truth is..... (0+ / 0-)

                      if you can no longer smell it, it is more dangerous.  Higher levels kill your sense of smell and you can no longer smell much of anything, much less serious high levels.

                      I think the biggest risk is oil absorbed through your skin, not evaporated chemicals diluted by air and then absorbed through your lungs.

                      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                      by murrayewv on Sat Jun 05, 2010 at 06:51:50 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You know that this has nothing to do with (0+ / 0-)

                        any of the garbage that you just posted. Carbon monoxide has no odor. Propane has no odor. It doesn't matter if you smell it or not. The probability that these molecules and many other more dangerous ones exist at or above the surface of the oil is 100%. There is no debate about this.

                        Hydrogen sulfide is one, ONE, of hundreds or thousands of molecules floating about above any given patch of crude oil. You are playing a very dangerous game, trying to swing opinion and get people to trust you. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one here who smells bullshit.

                        How many people will die because of people like you and your beliefs?

                        Your diary is not science. Most of your data comes from biased sources. You include just enough facts to make the rest of the crap that you're peddling seem plausible to those that don't know any better here. You are attempting to distract with these soft facts and fuzzy pseudo-scientific 'facts' from 'scientists' at BP.

                        What are you doing, and what do you stand to gain from doing this? Whatever, I recommend that you knock it off.

                        •  I admit you are right..... (0+ / 0-)

                          I am biased.  I do not think EPA, OSHA or NIOSH are incorrect and I will continue to cite their data.

                          I am not saying oil is good.  I am saying the volatiles are not as big a problem as you seem to fear, based on data from government sources.  Since you don't believe in the government data quality, I must agree to disagree with you.

                          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                          by murrayewv on Sat Jun 05, 2010 at 01:40:11 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

        •  work shorter shifts (4+ / 0-)

          in hot weather with respirators and offgassing messes, 12 hour shifts are too long.

          "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." [Ray Bradbury]

          by RosyFinch on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:22:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It is ridiculous. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger, blueoasis, o the umanity

          Crude oil is a mix of all sorts of polycarbons: Everything's in there from c1(methane) to cX. There are straight chains and rings. It's a big salad.

          People claiming that respirators are unnecessary or too cumbersome do not know what they're talking about.

          You see, a lot of the molecules in the crude oil salad are in fact gaseous at surface temperature and pressure. They manage to free themselves from this salad and disperse into the air. Close to the surface they are more concentrated. This is where people are working and breathing.

          Pro-tip: If you are working near the crude oil, you need to be wearing a respirator.

          •  exactly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            there's no defense for a company saying that they're not necessary. They ARE. We need look no further back than 9/11 to glean this as a common sense fact.

            Can we force people to wear them? No, of course not--that's another disingenuous argument. The original argument was that BP was alleged to have forbidden their use.

            Which, btw, near as I can tell, is not actually debunked here:

            "Folks working those crews are not expected or trained to work in circumstances that would require respirators. If they were in that sort of situation they would be removed immediately," Beaudo said.  Guidry also alleged that "when some individuals brought their own respirators, they were told by BP representatives on site that if they wore the respirators they would be released from the job."  Beaudo responded: "I'm not aware that that has happened. It would be contradictory to our approach to safety." He said anyone would be free to use a mask meeting OSHA specifications.

            So as long as it's a certain kind of mask, it's ok. That's not debunking anything.

            Well, at least the author was smart enough not to make this a call-out diary. This diary was, clearly, the result of that discussion. Unfortunately, while the author presents some good information here beyond that argument, the actual argument itself--that respirators are not necessary--has still fallen flat.

            The American Television and Newspaper Mainstream Media = Private, For Profit Corporate Information Service Monopoly

            by o the umanity on Sat Jun 05, 2010 at 06:56:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  oh yeah, and... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              pretending that "calling out this company for stating that people DO NOT need respirators" and asking why, and not getting direct solid answers, making one wonder what they're up to by taking such a position, does not make anyone a "conspiracy theorist".

              In that regard, this diary is a serious FAIL.

              The American Television and Newspaper Mainstream Media = Private, For Profit Corporate Information Service Monopoly

              by o the umanity on Sat Jun 05, 2010 at 08:07:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It really is. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                o the umanity

                This guy has mastered the art of providing just enough 'truth' to make his bullshit appear legit to the uninformed. It's really dangerous.

                Claiming that any data coming from BP is good data is flat out wrong. Science doesn't work without third party verification and peer review. There is only one reason why BP is not allowing this: They are lying, about pretty much everything. This is definitely not CT.

                •  dudes..... (0+ / 0-)

                  get a grip.  

                  Tell me, what respirator should people please wear?

                  Give me a name/number.  Otherwise everything we are talking about is just namecalling.

                  You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                  by murrayewv on Sat Jun 05, 2010 at 01:43:52 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  one (0+ / 0-)

                    bullshit disingenuous demand for "proof" after another isn't very convincing, either.

                    BTW: I'm not a 'dude'. And.... you're welcome.

                    The American Television and Newspaper Mainstream Media = Private, For Profit Corporate Information Service Monopoly

                    by o the umanity on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 07:39:05 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  the fact that (0+ / 0-)

                  it didn't get close to the Rec List was heartening, for just that reason...

                  The American Television and Newspaper Mainstream Media = Private, For Profit Corporate Information Service Monopoly

                  by o the umanity on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 07:40:57 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this informative post (6+ / 0-)

    There is a tremendous amount of information here to sort through.  

    It is very difficult for me emotionally to handle the oil spill at all.  I can't imagine what it is like for people who live there or are working to resolve the problem or clean it up and actually see it.

    I understand the feelings of helplessness and anger that people feel -- they just want the problem to go away.

    I want it to go away, too, and I think solutions will happen by working the problem, getting the facts, seeing what works and keeping an open mind.

    I do believe we will find solutions, but they will come through committed effort -- not through hysteria.

    I've read your diary and I'm now going to look at your source material.  Good job.

    "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." ~Albert Einstein

    by ParkRanger on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 07:51:36 PM PDT

    •  I am very pissed at the oil spill..... (4+ / 0-)

      and I want effective solutions.  I also want worker safety promoted and lots of data collected.

      The whole thing is a crime and we need to stop using so much oil.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:01:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, yes. Pissed here too, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        murrayewv, Larsstephens

        I'm glad to know you and people like you are watching over those who are living in the area and involved in the cleanup.

        "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." ~Albert Einstein

        by ParkRanger on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:12:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wish I could do more..... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          most of my toxicology is focussing on fresh water and metals here in coal country.  Good men and women getting sick on the job is a problem here too (NIOSH offices are up in Morgantown).  I should say, I have met some NIOSH folks and I find it hard to believe they are in a BP conspiracy of any kind.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:21:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe less a conspiracy than the need (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            murrayewv, Larsstephens

            government bureaucracies have to be "scientific" and have proof before they take action (accountability). I have less faith in corporations though -- especially one that has shown it only has a bottom line at heart like BP has.

            You've brought up some very valid points about the problems of wearing respirators, too.

            The way I can relate to your perspective is medically because I've had a lot of health issues for several years.  What I do now is do research on any medication suggested and see if I can find a healthy alternative.  So far it's working very, very well for me.  

            Doctors do the best they can, but this is my body and I look out for my own best interest.  That's how I would think of the respirator issue - I would want to find the best solution for me.  If BP isn't allowing people to wear their own respirators or blocking tracking problems with them, then that is a whole other issue.

            "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." ~Albert Einstein

            by ParkRanger on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 09:17:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I want to speak to your... (4+ / 0-)

    ...first myth.

    While you might argue that dispersants are important to protect fragile marshlands from "acres of goo", one question I would ask is have they been effective?  Are there still not "acres of goo" washing up into marshlands even though MASSIVE quantities of Corexit have been used.  

    So you have this toxic dispersant that hasn't solved the problem it was being used for.  What good is it?

    •  ask the 50 experts..... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DawnG, bear83, ParkRanger

      The good news is that the "best minds" are being brought together, folks who are doing experiments with this material are making recommendations.  It needs to be followed up on.  I know a million gallons sounds like a lot, but it isn't that much in an ocean.  That statement rightly was rejected by the BP CEO, but it had an element of truth.  The dispersent gets more easily diluted than the oil- the oil is held together by chemical forces.  I think some dispersing is better than drowning birds in thick heavy oil.  I really question the burning safety for people, but environmentally that seems to attract the least criticism.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:07:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and yet... (4+ / 0-)

        ...birds are still drowining in thick heavy oil.

        My point is if it's not stopping the problem that people keep arguing its use is needed for, and adds to the toxicity of the spill, what is the benefit of using it?  And what is the added danger?  Will the dispersed oil go on to kill fish and undersea wildlife instead of birds?  And how is that preferable?

        •  I think the only preference.... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DawnG, kpardue, Larsstephens, pstoller78

          for killing microorganisms rather than birds is the fragility of birds.  A happy microorganism evolves quickly and reproduces rapidly.  The fish are a real concern- certain fish like some kinds of tuna are only reproducing in the Gulf, and some may be really decimated.  But fish will have thousands of offspring as well.  Birds have one or two offspring.

          There are only bad choices and worse choices here.  We need more skimming and physial cleanup, but then we get so many people out there in the fumy air.

          Obama has OKed digging the berms around some rookeries and islands, but the BP folks are now saying, if you do that, it is your experiment, not ours.

          The biggest conclusion I am reaching is that the bureaucrats are genuinely trying and even the woman who stepped down from MMS was not the villianess fall guy.  We need a whole lot less niavity and frankly a lot of money to fix this problem.  I share your frustration with the bad results to date.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:30:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  DawnG.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            We need to keep asking these questions.  That is the right open-minded response.  I am not trying to depate as much as seek answers and try for the best solution we can get to with data we can assemble.  

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:44:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  The issue with the Corexit: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DawnG, blueoasis

      It is toxic. It bioaccumulates. Like DDT. Not good. This is why it is banned in other countries.

      Those other countries have experts that have deemed this stuff too toxic. Our own EPA questions its safety.

      The problem is not that it is spreading the oil about, though it is a shady thing for BP to be doing. That is another subject entirely. The issue is its toxicity.

  •  Good Diary - we need to at least seek reality (8+ / 0-)

    Without passing judgment on your specific points, I applaud your effort to nudge us toward scientifically-grounded balance.

    This catastrophe will be greatly compounded if we fail to deeply understand lessons, data and risks as they really are. We will have a toxic spill of some description again somewhere,. sometime. We need to be able to judge those risks accurately so we can direct limited resources against the most important targets.

    If dispersants are dangerous, we need to know not to use them. If they are relatively benign, we need to know that so we can worry about other threats. If they are ok in certain situations and dangerous in others, we must know how to use them correctly.

    When people are in a justifiable white hot rage, it's easy to dismiss these details or nuance. Maybe it's asking too much to ask people to worry about those things now.

    But we better worry about it and get it right in case we ever have to face this type of situation again.

    -2.38 -4.87: Damn, I love the smell of competence in the morning!

    by grapes on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:01:44 PM PDT

  •  May 24 Gina Solomon HuffPo link (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You have a lot of links and I may have missed it, but I didn't see one to the Gina Solomon HuffPo article. I think this is it. She has several good ones.

    Gulf Oil Spill Air Quality Updates: Louisiana

    "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." ~Albert Einstein

    by ParkRanger on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:05:12 PM PDT

  •  Dispersants might be the right choice (7+ / 0-)

    to keep oil off the coast but who has any data about the consequences of their use on this scale.

    •  Exactly (4+ / 0-)

      And BP wont even divulge exactly what they are composed of.....  While BP has sucked at stopping the leak and other clean up efforts, their ability to control the media message and limit the data to the public is superb!

      •  I think the media.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buddabelly, ashowboat, Larsstephens

        and this blog is spending too much time on Obama and his response and not enough on BP and their problems of sloppy engineering and bad management decisions.  Giving a $10 billion dividend kind of sucked- way to pump up your bonus, Tony.

        We need to keep talking about what they did and why regulation is needed- we need to charge the true cost of oil AND coal- these are dirty fuels and risky jobs.

        Lost in all the news is Obama bumping up the limits for sulfur dioxide for air pollution for the first time in 40 years- with thousands of lives and lots of $$$ in hospital costs reduced.

        We need changes that should have been made 10 years ago- and at least Obama's administration is doing some of them.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:42:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  They used dispersants in the Ixtoc I Gulf spill (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv, Larsstephens

      in 1979. It was in much more shallow water, but until Deepwater Horizon, it was the biggest spill in the Gulf.

      Gulf oil spill has 'perfect precedence' in 1979 disaster

      The exploratory oil well two miles below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico exploded in a ball of fire, spurting millions of gallons of crude into the sea. As weeks turned to months, oil executives grappled with capping the well. The growing slick turned into an immediate ecological nightmare.

      The year was 1979. The blowout of the Ixtoc I, drilled by the Mexican-run Pemex, retains the dubious record of causing the world's largest accidental oil spill, dumping an estimated 138 million gallons over nine months. Eventually, Pemex cut off Ixtoc I with two relief wells and a cement seal.
      Tom Linten, now a senior lecturer at Texas A&M University -- Galveston, was hired to spread oil dispersant over the Gulf in 1979. He commissioned a Canadian plane used to put out forest fires to spread the chemical over the open sea.

      Mexico's Ixtoc 1 oil spill a distant mirror to BP disaster

      In terms of blowouts, Ixtoc 1 was a monster ­ until the BP leak, the largest accidental spill in history. Some 3.3 million barrels of oil gushed over nearly 10 months, spreading an oil slick as far north as Texas, where gooey tar balls washed up on beaches.

      Surprisingly, Mexican scientists say Campeche Sound itself recovered rather quickly, and a sizable shrimp industry returned to normal within two years.

      "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." ~Albert Einstein

      by ParkRanger on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:26:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wish we would culture some oil eating bacteria. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ashowboat, Larsstephens

        that occur in the oil seeps and use them to help cleanup as well.  Good diary on this last night.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 08:35:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was thinking that too. I sent that as a (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          murrayewv, Larsstephens

          suggestion early on -- I'm sure they thought of it, but I felt better suggesting it.

          We may not have the equipment to fix the leak, but we're damned good at culturing things.  I wonder if they would work in the fragile marshlands and shallow water.  

          I didn't see that diary, so I'll check it out.  Thanks.

          "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." ~Albert Einstein

          by ParkRanger on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 09:04:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  other good news..... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Larsstephens, ParkRanger

            not all the zooplankton near the rig are dead!  

            A crew of scientists who just returned from an eight-day mission researching the underwater oil impact of the spill has found life forms near the breached well head, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday.

            The researchers aboard the 224-foot Gordon Gunter found "ample evidence of a lot of zooplankton," said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. "It's not a dead zone. There's still a lot of life there."

            Zooplankton are organisms that drift through bodies of water, and many of them are not visible to the naked eye.

            The question, she said, is how much of an impact the oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster will ultimately have. The researchers took underwater samples from within 3 nautical miles (3.45 miles) of the well head.


            Greatful for small things (in this case, really small things.)

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 09:11:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Go zooplankton! (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              murrayewv, Larsstephens

              I wonder if the sea life in the Gulf has some resistance to oil because it seeps through the seabed.  Whatever survives this is going to be extremely comfortable with oil, that's for sure.

              ...Tunnell noted natural oil that seeps from the seabed releases the equivalent of one to two supertankers of crude in the Gulf of Mexico each year.

              "It's what I call a chronic spill," Tunnell said. "The good side of having all that seepage out there is that we've got a huge population of microbes, bacteria that feed on petroleum products in the water and on shore. So that helps the recovery time."

              Mexico's Ixtoc 1 oil spill a distant mirror to BP disaster

              "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." ~Albert Einstein

              by ParkRanger on Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 09:22:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Plumes. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    They are not a mysterious entity and I'm not sure why they're being treated like one here, other than that is the line of BS that BP is feeding everyone.

    Here's some science behind their formation: The dispersants are designed to break the oil into smaller globs and combine them with water, reducing their buoyancy. The dispersed oil forms an underwater cloud. This cloud is being called a plume. To use dispersants is to guarantee the formation of plumes.

    Mystery solved.

    Some percentage of the total volume of oil that has leaked from this well is floating about nebulously in the ocean. How much? Well, golly, we can't answer that because we don't know how much oil is leaking nor do we know how much Corexit is being used nor do we know many many things.

    •  we can estimate much Corexit is being used..... (0+ / 0-)

      Well not me, but someone does.  It is paid for and inventoried somewhere.  We know how much was bought and that was shipped out and sprayed.  The question is, whose job is it to demand this information from BP?  And will they do so?

      I agree that seems to be what people THINK the plume is, and I await the more complete analysis to be issued Monday.  Folks sampled the plume and tested it.  Surely they can test for the Corexit levels in the plume as well and levels in the ocean.

      I tried the other day to figure out the volume of Corexit  in the ocean- 1 gallon is 3.78 liters.  Round this to 4 liters to be generous and do either math.  For water this is volume of 4 cubes with a dimension of 1000 x 1000 x 1 cm.  Or more easily, a liter is a volume of 10 cubic centimeters (cc) x 10 cc x 10 cc.  A cubic meter will then have 1000 liters.  A cubic kilometer would have 1 x 10E12 or a trillion liters.  divide by 4 (or 3.78) to get the number of gallons.  260 billion liters is a kilometer square.  

      The Gulf of Mexico basin resembles a large pit with a broad shallow rim. Approximately 38% of the Gulf is comprised by shallow and intertidal areas (<20 m deep). The area of the continental shelf (< 180 m) and continental slope (180 - 3,000 m) represent 22% and 20% respectively, and abyssal areas deeper than 3,000 m comprise the final 20% (Gore, 1992). The Sigsbee Deep, located in the southwestern quadrant, is the deepest region of the Gulf of Mexico. Its exact maximum depth is controversial, and reports by different authors state maximum depths ranging from 3,750 m to 4,384 m. Mean (average) water depth of the Gulf is ~1,615 m (Turner, 1999) and the basin contains a volume of 2,434,000 cubic kilometers of water (6.43 * 10E17 or 643 quadrillion gallons). </p>


      So you can see, even with the top estimate that 2 million gallons (of 7.58 million liters) that is only 7.58E6/1E12 or 0.00078% of a cubic kilometer.  

      The oil is a huge problem precisely because it floats and accumulates in pools and sticks together as a liquid, hydrophobically repelled by water.  

      I am not trying to minimize the effects of the concentrated Corexit.  I am just pointing out the potential for dilution is great, and why I think breaking up the oil before shore is the better idea.  Big thick sheets of oil are very very bad.  Little globules of oil that don't rejoin into big sheets is much less bad, although still bad.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Sat Jun 05, 2010 at 04:49:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We don't know anything. (0+ / 0-)

        BP does. We don't.

        Third party verification is a part of science. Peer review. 'Scientific' data coming from BP is anything but scientific. You can diary about it all you want, but it will never be good science.

  •  Reality Based Community (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I live in fear of the day when the left starts to mirror the right in terms of it's delusional beliefs. We must insist on staying well grounded in reality, even when that reality may weaken our narrative.

    Thanks for your efforts to step back and mythbust. Rational discussion and evidence is always welcome here, and should be considered mandatory.

    •  Thanks for reading.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I have met some good EPA and NIOSH folks.  I think we can't just throw their efforts to keep us safe out.  They work very hard to stay free from corporate influence- the MMS was an exception under Bush 2 administration, but Obama is cleaning it out.  And the MMS head who resigned, Liz Birnbaum, was far from a bad person.  Folks who knew her well here at Dialy Kos really defended her on the blog as a committed environmentalist and hard worker.  The story put out was that she was ousted, but really she left during the reorg and declined to be reassigned.  We need to be open to data and not just buy the latest opinion as fact.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Sat Jun 05, 2010 at 06:47:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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