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The presidential commission investigating the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe held hearings yesterday that have been archived on CSPAN.
Morning Session, National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling
Afternoon Session, National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling
Evening Session, National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling

Response plan to large oil spills needs serious overhauling according to testimony before the president's National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

Retired Adm. Thad Allen of the U.S. Coast Guard was the government's point man on the spill, but he acknowledged that sometimes it wasn't clear who was actually in charge — the feds or well operator BP.
BP insists that the government was always in charge, and Allen didn't dispute that. But he told the commission that what the public saw was that BP was an equal partner in the recovery effort.

Allen said for a future spill, it might be better to have an independent executive, rather than someone from the polluter's camp, running the industry's effort.
"Very challenging" is putting it mildly, according to William Nungesser, the president of Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish, which was hit hard by the spill. He told the commission that it was a battle just getting booms to stop the oil from coming ashore and fouling coastal marshes.

"We couldn't get an answer," he said, saying he still doesn't know who's in charge. "BP would say it's the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard would say it's BP, and it became a joke the command was the Wizard of Oz — some guy behind a curtain — because we never got a name, we never got a person in charge to say, 'Hey, are we going to get [booms] or not?' "

That's not what Capt. Edwin Stanton of the Coast Guard remembers. He said he talked with Nungesser about booms and boats to stop the oil but he said it was sometimes difficult to obtain enough equipment to protect the huge areas that were threatened.
The commission also called on a panel of Gulf scientists to report what kind of damage has been done biologically. The scientists said it's hard to tell in part because there hasn't been much money or leadership to organize research. They said any new oil spill plan should provide for a scientific SWAT team ready to deploy on short notice.

In the meantime, the scientists agreed it could take 10 years to find out the damage to the Gulf of Mexico.

Oceanographer Ian MacDonald rips apart Lubchenco's rosy Oil Budget.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A top scientist Monday contradicted US government claims that most of the oil that flooded into the Gulf of Mexico from BP's busted well has degraded, insisting that more than half remains.

Much of the spilled oil was dispersed, evaporated or removed by burning and skimming, but the "remaining fraction -- over 50 percent of the total discharge -- is a highly durable material that resists further dissipation," Oceanographer Ian MacDonald told a presidential panel looking into the spill. "Much of it is now buried in marine and coastal sediments," MacDonald told the bipartisan panel, but added that there is "scant evidence for bacterial degradation of this material prior to burial."

The analysis from MacDonald, a leading scientist on the Gulf marine environment at Florida State University, stands in contrast to statistics released by US officials in early August, which said about 75 percent of the oil spilled from the ruptured BP well had disappeared.

Ian R. MacDonald, Professor of Oceanography, Florida State University (115kb PDF) had more to offer the presidential commission on claims that microbes have devoured all the oil.

With the dissipation of the surface oil, a fraction of the product remaining after the rate of evaporative loss diminished could take on enough water and suspended solids to sink. Recent samples raise concerns about wide‐spread oil possibly sunk from the surface and now on the bottom. Animals that feed or burrow into deep‐sea sediments are not adapted to oil. Burrowing organisms that are common in non‐seep areas are completely absent in natural seeps, where oil saturates the sediments and oxygen is depleted immediately below the sediment water interface.

In summary, the BP oil discharge was at least 10,000 times more concentrated in space and time and about twelve times greater in magnitude than the total annual release from natural seeps of the Gulf of Mexico. In my scientific opinion, the bulk of this material was dispersed in surface layers, from which about one third evaporated and ten percent was removed by burning or skimming. An additional ten percent was chemically dispersed. The remaining fraction‐‐over fifty percent of the total discharge‐‐is a highly durable material that resists further dissipation. Much of it is now buried in marine and coastal sediments. There is scant evidence for bacterial degradation of this material prior to burial.

The BP oil discharge has been described as a unplanned and unwanted experiment. When we teach freshmen college students the scientific method, we explain that the rigorous approach to experimental results is to disprove the hypothesis of no effect: i.e., the experimental drug does not cure disease better than the placebo, or the toxin does not kill a significant proportion of the test organisms. If this null hypothesis is disproved, one can consider the alternatives‐‐the drug is effective or the toxin is deadly. In the BP oil discharge experiment, the hypothesis we need to disprove is that the Gulf of Mexico coastal and marine ecosystem can absorb about 750,000 tons of hydrocarbons released from a single point in less than three months with no lasting, harmful impact.

Suttles offers no straight answers to co-chair, Senator Bob Graham, of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. Why these idiots should be allowed to even operate a Playskool drill is beyond comprehension.

Earlier, Graham pressed Suttles about why the company overestimated its ability to handle a massive spill when it applied for a permit in 2009 to drill the ill-fated Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico. Suttles said he was not involved in the creation of the company's Oil Spill Response Plan.

"So you're the chief operating officer for exploration and production but you're not involved in the response plan that was submitted as part of your permit application?" Graham asked.

"My duties actually are global," Suttles said, adding that the plan came out of the company's Gulf of Mexico business.

Graham pressed on: Why was there a gap between what BP said it would do and what it could actually deliver in a spill?

Suttles: "It's hard for me to go back in time and understand what people were thinking at the time." He said no one anticipated a well that would flow for weeks on end at "significant rates." Now, however, the company has systems that have been developed since the April 20 blowout that could be applied to other deep-water wells.

Graham: "Do you think that now your company can live up to the permit representations that it made as to its ability to respond?"

Suttles: "I think what's been clear is that we have demonstrated that we can contain uncontrolled flow in this particular well. . . . What we need to do is see about how adaptable is that current capability to all the situations across the Gulf of Mexico."

National Geographic will be doing an overview of the BP catastrophe.

National Geographic is spending the next few weeks taking a closer look at the BP oil spill and the effect its had on fisherman, wildlife and the ocean itself. If you’re looking for a comprehensive overview of the spill pick up the October issue of National Geographic magazine which will include a reflection from renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle, as well as an interactive feature of the Gulf ecosystem.

Starting this Tuesday, National Geographic Channel will be running a series of specials that we think are worth watching.

Tuesday, September 28, 9 PM ET/PT

Tuesday, September 28, 10 PM ET/PT

University of Florida team found genetic mutations in plankton. One of their researchers, John Paul, will be included in the National Geographic special mentioned above, Explorer: Can the Gulf Survive?

"We just don't know the final results will be," says Paul, a marine microbiologist who along with13 other researchers went on a 10-day research mission Aug. 6 in the Gulf of Mexico in August.

It was funded by USF's Research Foundation and led by chemical oceanographer David Hollander, Paul, biological oceanographer Kendra Daly and geological oceanographer David Naar.

They discovered plumes of dispersed oil at the bottom of an undersea canyon about 40 miles off the Florida Panhandle.

It was found to be toxic to microscopic sea organisms, causing mutations to their DNA.

If this plankton at the base of the marine food chain is contaminated, it could affect the whole ecosystem of the Gulf.

Gulf residents are still suffering mental anguish even though much of the country has moved on.

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (AP) -- Her income down to virtually nothing because of the BP oil spill, Margaret Carruth put her face in her hands and wept recently at a town hall meeting before walking outside to what passes for home these days, her blue pickup truck.

Xanax helps her rest. Still, it's hard to relax when you've lost your house and are sleeping at friends' places or, sometimes, in the front seat.

The oil gusher is dead, but the mental trauma it caused along the Gulf of Mexico coast is still very much alive.

"I'm a strong person and always have been, but I'm almost to the breaking point," says Carruth, whose hairstyling business dried up after tourists stopped coming to the beach and locals cut back on nonessentials like haircuts. All but broke, Carruth packed her belongings into her truck and a storage shed and now depends on friends for shelter.
Surveys show that in some areas badly affected by the oil, more than 40 percent of those seeking mental-health help say they are having problems because of the spill.
Twenty-three percent of households in the area reported having at least one person who blamed sleep troubles on the spill, and 11 percent had at least one person with appetite loss. Perhaps most tellingly, 32 percent reported a decrease in income linked to the oil spill, which could lead to additional strain, said Dr. Charles Woernle, the state epidemiologist with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Officials along the Gulf coast worry that many of the hardest-hit groups - shrimpers, Asian seafood workers and low-wage tourism employees - won't seek help for mental problems because of cultural taboos.

Al Gore's lawyer applies to lead BP oil spill cases.

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) - A high-profile attorney who represented former Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election recount has made a surprise bid to lead the mammoth U.S. legal cases tied to the Gulf oil spill.

David Boies, a New York litigator, is entering a crowded field of plaintiffs' lawyers also angling for a prime role in the lawsuits against BP Plc and other corporate defendants.

He has submitted an application for a seat on a committee that will oversee the cases, according to court documents.
A seat comes with the power to generate fee work for years and gives the attorneys the ability to shape the direction of the case.
Boies's arrival on the scene was not well-received by all attorneys.

"I'm completely surprised," said Daniel Becnel, a Reserve, Louisiana, attorney who is well-known in Southern legal circles for his career fighting maritime lawsuits over spills and rig explosions.

"I don't think lawyers in the South need someone to tell us what to do in an admiralty case since most of us have dealt with it for 40 years," said Becnel.

DOJ is not happy with Ken Feinberg.

Kenneth Feinberg is getting used to catching flak from fishermen, hoteliers and others hurt by the Gulf oil spill. Now, the head of the $20 billion oil spill compensation fund is getting fire from a new direction — the Justice Department.

Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli wrote in a recent letter that Feinberg’s pace of work was "unacceptable," ordering him to devote "whatever additional resources" or administrative changes to speed up claims processing.

"The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill has disrupted the lives of thousands upon
thousands of individuals, often cutting off the income on which they depend," Perrelli wrote. "Many of these individuals and businesses simply do not have the resources to get by while they await processing by the (fund)."

Still, he [Feinberg] noted that in less than five weeks, he’s paid out more than $400 million to more than 30,000 claimants. Before he stepped in, BP paid out less than that over a four-month period, he said.

==== ROV Feeds =====
20876/21507  - Development Driller II's ROV 1
32900/49178  - Development Driller II's ROV 2

41434/41436 - Olympic Challenger's ROV 1
40788/40789 - Olympic Challenger's ROV 2

39168/39169 - Chouest Holiday's ROV 1
40492/40493 - Chouest Holiday's ROV 2

47146/47147 - Development Driller III's ROV 1
43698/43699 - Development Driller III's ROV 2

==Multiple stream feeds (hard on browser/bandwidth)==

BP videos All the available directly feeds from BP.

Bobo's lightweight ROV Multi-feed: is the only additional up to date multiple feed site.

See this thread for more info on using video feeds and on linking to video feeds.

Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #395 - Condition: transition - BP's Gulf Castastrophe - David PA
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #394 - Transitions - BP's Gulf Castastrophe - Lorinda Pike
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #393 - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - Lorinda Pike
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #392 - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - When Can we Share a Soda? - khowell
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #391 - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - Talking about Change - khowell
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #390 - Drips Redux - Lorinda Pike
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #389 - Night of the Living Drips - Lorinda Pike
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #388 - Sittin' Up With the Dead - khowell
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #387 - Time for a Wake? - khowell
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #386 - The Coroner Won't Pronounce - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - Yasuragi
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #385 - Is it Dead? - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - Lorinda Pike
The last Mothership has links to reference material.
Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.

Again, to keep bandwidth down, please do not post images or videos.

Originally posted to Gulf Watchers on Tue Sep 28, 2010 at 03:00 AM PDT.

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