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Frighteningly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, responsible for lots of environmentally-critical functions of government, was apparently in bed with BP in trying to conceal the terrible damage done, not by their disastrous oil leak, but by the dispersants used to hide the oil!

We now know the outlines of the incredible problem that has been caused by 'sinking' the oil to the depths, where it can never be recovered. Now it will linger in the oceans, drift with the currents, and contaminate the food chains for months before it breaks down, releasing newer forms of toxixs which will accumulate in the tissues of ocean animals, and concentrate up the food chain.
We can thank the reporting excellence of the St. Petersburg Times for this story:

TAMPA | A month after the Deepwater Horizon disaster began, scientists from the University of South Florida made a startling announcement. They had found signs that the oil spewing from the well had formed a 6-mile-wide plume snaking along in the deepest recesses of the gulf.
The reaction that USF announcement received from the Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agencies that sponsored their research:

Shut up.

"I got lambasted by the Coast Guard and NOAA when we said there was undersea oil," USF marine sciences dean William Hogarth said. Some officials even told him to retract USF's public announcement, he said, comparing it to being "beat up" by federal officials.

The USF scientists weren't alone. Vernon Asper, an oceanographer at the University of Southern Mississippi, was part of a similar effort that met with a similar reaction.

"We expected that NOAA would be pleased because we found something very, very interesting," Asper said. "NOAA instead responded by trying to discredit us. It was just a shock to us."

The destruction of the Gulf ecosystem is just one more brick on the wrong end of the scale of environmental protection. Can we stop ourselves before we destroy the planetary habitat?
You can read the entire story by visiting the St. Pete Times website.

Originally posted to RobertConnors on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 12:12 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Its all a big conspiracy! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kmiddle, lompe

    A conspiracy I tells ya!

    "Who is John Galt?" A two dimensional character in a third rate novel written by Alan Greenspan's dominatrix.

    by Inventor on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 12:20:15 PM PDT

  •  Huh? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oblomov, ferallike, Gorette, lompe

    No offense, but while NOAA's immediate response to  the USF discovery was stupid beyond belief. They very quickly came around and started tracking and testing the plumes.

    And I am not sure how your headline fits in with your diary.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 12:24:07 PM PDT

  •  I heard Obama say that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    now we can start eating the fish again.  Right.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 12:28:37 PM PDT

  •  Cripes not again (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kmiddle, lompe

    Vernon Asper is a self-serving publicity hound, not a scientist. He and his cohort Arne Deircks are always sparring with government agencies who won't hire him so he makes "press releases" that are no more than self-aggrandizing advertisements.

    The Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process is a thorough and painstaking effort to quantify the damage to our natural resources, whether that be the human or non-human residents of the affected areas or the habitats in which they try to survive.

    That legal process includes the responsible party (in this case BP or, more accurately, its representative Entrix) in the research and negotiations.

    That will end up one of two ways - with an agreed-upon Consent Decree or a court judgement.

    The intent of having the responsible party involved is to streamline the process and reduce the time and expense for all concerned parties. Since its inception shortly after the Exxon Valdez incident, the Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program (DARRP) and the NRDA have worked well to help mitigate and recover from man-made disasters.

    Should the responsible party be involved in the early stages of research and damage assessment? Not in my opinion but I can't argue that it hasn't helped speed the recovery of damaged areas because we haven't experimented with alternatives. Supporters claim that the process has prevented what would otherwise have been decades-long court wrangling over recovery plans.

    NOAA is NOT hiding data from the public. The early findings of the NRDA research groups are supplied to the Trustees and to the responsible party. The potential for damage to the claims and standing of either side would be jeopardized by disclosing those findings prematurely. It isn't perfect but it isn't some Machiavellian machination, either.

    Ignore Asper, it won't be the last time you hear from him. Next time he'll be singing the same tune - that he's a victim of big bad government - but he's always off-key.

    This comment displayed using 100% recycled electrons.

    by Darryl House on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 12:55:31 PM PDT

    •  Those are some serious charges ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Darryl House

      Vernon Asper is a self-serving publicity hound, not a scientist.

      He certainly appears to have the education and employment of a scientist.  Do you have some specific reasoning as to why he is "not a scientist" in spite of that?

      Now of course, he could be "a self-serving publicity hound" even as a scientist, yet ...

      He and his cohort Arne Deircks are always sparring with government agencies who won't hire him so he makes "press releases" that are no more than self-aggrandizing advertisements.

      Care to document this claim?  Or are we to take your word for it?

      Even if your charges against Vernon Asper can be documented, this still doesn't address the statements from the USF group.  Are they also self-serving publicity hounds?  Can you document that?

      I'm perfectly willing to give NOAA the benefit of the doubt, but stuff like the report that came out this week, with its obfuscation of the magnitude of the remaining oil contamination problem by dividing it up into multiple small pie slices ("chemically dispersed" naturally dispersed" "dissolved" etc.) doesn't inspire huge confidence.

      "With all this manure around, there has to be a pony somewhere!" - Count Piotr Vorkosigan

      by jrooth on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 01:21:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've been following his antics for a long time (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kmiddle, lompe

        Have a look at the "reports" generated daily from his sampling mission on the research vessel Pelican.

        Asper has canceled his daily updates in May, and even those were just anectodal observation notes and conclusions. The tables referenced in the PDF links in his updates were locations and times of collection points, trivial information.

        That wasn't science, it was a pleasure cruise.

        When he published unfounded conclusions and refused to share the raw data and methodology, he was criticized by scientists and was forced to clarify his position.

        These are just the most recent moves he's made, a review of his own web pages should give you a better idea of how the guy conducts his professional endeavors.

        So I'll repeat the charge, he's not a scientist. He's an ambitious academic who has let his ambition color his professional demeanor.

        This comment displayed using 100% recycled electrons.

        by Darryl House on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 01:41:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hmmm ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Darryl House

          Even Director Lubchenco is quoted in that article as saying "They have taken good samples." So your claim that "That wasn't science, it was a pleasure cruise." is directly contradicted by her.

          Nor is there anything there about him refusing to share raw data and methodology.

          And lest we forget, the existence of large underwater oil plumes has now been abundantly confirmed.

          "With all this manure around, there has to be a pony somewhere!" - Count Piotr Vorkosigan

          by jrooth on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 01:59:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You missed the point entirely (0+ / 0-)

            We know there are plumes - and I agree that NOAA appears to be slow on the uptake but I argue that they're being methodical.

            Do a bit of your own research, if you want to know the truth behind Asper's motivation. Defend him all you will, it doesn't change the simple fact that his "conclusions" are dismissed by the scientific community regularly as premature or inaccurate, or both.

            This comment displayed using 100% recycled electrons.

            by Darryl House on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 02:13:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  The story is more nuanced (5+ / 0-)

    The initial reaction by NOAA after scientists were interviewed describing the underwater plumes was discouraging. The article goes on to say:

    The discovery of multiple undersea plumes of oil droplets was eventually verified by one of NOAA's own research vessels. And last month USF scientists announced they at last could match the oil droplets in the undersea plumes to the millions of barrels of oil that gushed from the collapsed well until it was capped July 15.

    "What we have learned completely changes the idea of what an oil spill is," USF scientist David Hollander said then. "It has gone from a two-dimensional disaster to a three-dimensional catastrophe."

    Now Lubchenco is not only convinced the undersea plumes exist, but she is predicting that some of the spill's most significant impacts will be caused by their effect on juvenile sea creatures such as bluefin tuna. Lubchenco and her staff say they are now working smoothly with USF and other academic institutions in investigating the consequences of the largest marine oil spill in history.

    Lubchenco has certainly made contradictory statements, including telling scientists not to make their preliminary findings available to the media. More recently, her statements are more supportive of the work by marine biologists in the area. What strikes me is that Lubchenco has been ham-handed in dealing with marine scientists, particularly since NOAA was not the only agency funding studies. Her attempt to control the flow of information to the public and to a lesser extent the conduct of scientific studies could reflect the actions of an inept administrator in a complex and highly charged environment. It could also reflect an attempt by the Obama administration to control the flow of information and suppress bad news. There has clearly been a failure of transparency by the administration.

    Tea Party = Racist, Rapacious Republicans

    by DWG on Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 12:59:39 PM PDT

  •  I hate conspiracy thories with NO proof n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oblomov, kmiddle

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