Corals in the Gulf still showing impact of spill after two years. Dolphins continue to sicken and die in the Gulf. Oil spill cleanup workers sought for long-term health study. New Gulf oil spill claims administrator sends first payments. Louisiana lawmakers continue to press for passage of Restore Act. New pipeline plan to rival Keystone XL. Minor leak reported at BP’s Texas City plant. Petrobras America sues over broken chain on Gulf oil system. U.S. oil production gains are like water pumps on the Titanic.
You are in the current Gulf Watchers BP Catastrophe - AUV #584. AUV #583 is here.
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Yep, it looks like the smoking gun - or rather, the raging oil plumes...
The chemical fingerprints are there. The fluffy brown "sea snot" covering - and subsequently killing - deepwater corals in the Gulf is most likely from the Deepwater Horizon gusher.
In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and released Monday, research performed on dead and dying corals in an area southwest of the Macondo well shows that the chemical signature of the substance covering the coral connects it with the oil flowing from the blown-out well in the summer of 2010.
Deepwater corals are relatively rare in the Gulf, as most of the seafloor consists of silty mud. Corals must have a solid surface on which to attach, and these areas serve as small oases, populated by the corals and other filter feeders, sea stars and small crustaceans. Pelagics (the swimmers - from small fish to large fish, such as surface- dwelling tarpon and menhaden) are closely linked to these areas near the base of the food chain, so the death of these patches of life impacts the entire ecosystem.
The patch of coral studied is about the size of half a football field, in water a mile deep some seven miles southwest of Macondo.
"They figured (the coral damage) was the result of the spill, now we can say definitely it was connected to the spill," said Helen White, a chemical oceanographer with Haverford College and the lead researcher.The material covering the corals and other sessile organisms consisted of mucus secreted by the corals (an indicator of stress) as well as fragments of dead coral polyps, fatty acids commonly found in biological tissues such as cell membranes, and petroleum residues, which were identified with the petroleum compounds specific to the Deepwater Horizon spill.
In almost half of the 43 corals studied at the site, the majority of animals had died or were showing signs of stress, the researchers say. And in more than one-quarter of the corals, more than 90% of the animals showed such damage. Also, more than half of the brittle stars, a relative of starfish, found clinging to the sea fans were partially or completely bleached white, another certain sign of stress, says Fisher.Researchers have returned to the site after the initial observations in 2010, but have not released the later findings.
Charles Fisher, a biologist with Penn State University who's led the coral expeditions, said recovery at any of the damaged sites would be slow.
"Things happen very slowly in the deep sea; the temperatures are low, currents are low, those animals live hundreds of years and they die slowly," he said. "It will take a while to know the final outcome of this exposure."As you might imagine, BP has had no comment regarding the study.
May they rot in a cold, dark, desolate, oily hell.
And it's not just the little hidden creatures...dolphins are continuing to show unusually high rates of disease and death in the Gulf.
A spike in dolphin deaths that occurred after the Macondo blowout - the 'unusual mortality event' - has not abated. Research on dolphins in Louisiana's Barataria Bay in August showed animals suffering from several health problems.
"The dolphins we sampled from Barataria Bay are not in good health. Some are very sick," said Lori Schwacke, who led the dolphin study for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We are concerned that many of the Barataria Bay dolphins are in such poor health they may not survive."
The NOAA tests involved 32 dolphins out of a total population of about 1,000 living in Barataria Bay, which was selected for the tests after being one of the most heavily oiled areas in the Gulf after the gusher. About 180 dead dolphins have washed ashore, or been found floating - which amounts to about 18% of the normal population in the Bay of around 1000.
Teri Rowles, the NOAA veterinarian in charge of investigating dolphin strandings, said researchers in Alabama and Mississippi have not studied live animals, which would add more information on the health of animals in other areas of the Gulf.
"Most of the animals that come in dead are more decomposed. Only 73 of the 693 have been live or freshly dead where we could get a good body condition," Rowles said.So what else could it be that is killing the dolphins? Biotoxins / algal blooms are also related to release of agricultural fertilizer run-offs into the marine environment. But if that does not seem to be the case, then what's left?
Could it be...Satan? Well, then how about BP? Pretty much the same thing. Right?
See earlier comment re: "...cold, dark, desolate, oily hell."
A piece from earlier this month (from the Gulf Restoration Network) but worth a look...
As we continue our climb up the food chain...
State and federal health-care officials in Alabama are asking for anyone who took part in cleanup efforts after the BP gusher to join in a study researching long-term health effects of working closely with the contamination from the spill.
Dale Sandler, chief of the Epidemiology Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health, says more than 16,000 people have signed up for the study.
“We’ve done more than 2,700 of our telephone interviews in Alabama already,” she said. “We hope at the end of the day that we’ll have 8,000 people at least from Alabama, which would reflect back at about 21 percent of the people who are on our list as having done something related to the oil spill cleanup did come from Alabama.”
Is is fair, or is it "keep you mouth shut" money? And are there cases of desperation, where even a little is better than nothing?
Either way, the settlement money is beginning to flow. Whether it's right or not remains to be seen...
The new Gulf oil spill claims administrator has released his first public report of payments made as the process shifts from Kenneth Feinberg's operation to one that will pay claimants under the terms of a proposed legal settlement. New court-supervised claims administrator Patrick Juneau of Lafayette said Friday that from March 8 to March 21, the transition claims processing team has paid 1,096 claimants a total of nearly $27 million.
Louisiana lawmakers are continuing efforts to pass the Restore Act, which would funnel 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 BP oil spill to the five Gulf States. Last week, the House, on a mostly party-line vote, rejected a Democratic move to pass a two-year $109 billion Senate transportation bill, which includes the Restore Act.Take action here...
And...is it an end-run while we're not looking?
Amid political turmoil surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline, two companies announced plans to create a rival system to bring crude oil from Canada and the northern United States to the Gulf Coast.
And if you can't take care of the little nit-picking stuff, no wonder the big shit blows up...
A Texas City BP plant is reporting a minor chemical leak today in of its processing units that makes gasoline.Petrobras America sues over broken chain on Gulf oil system.
Petrobras America Inc. sued marine chain-maker Vicinay Cadenas SA for at least $180 million over losses allegedly caused by a broken chain that let parts of a floating oil production system sink and drift away in the Gulf of Mexico last year.
And although we try to avoid the overtly political here at Gulf Watchers, and that the "drill here, drill now" ain't gonna do a damn thing for the price of gas (because petroleum product prices are determined by international markets, and what is "ours" just isn't...) we close with a piece from Loren Steffy...
I filled up yesterday for $3.88 a gallon, which was 4 cents more than what I paid four days earlier. Consumers are painfully aware that gasoline prices have been on the rise for the past few months, and while such increases had been predicted since last fall, no one’s happy that the predictions proved correct.Please take a minute to read the rest here...and know that *we absolutely have to increase the speed at which we unhook ourselves from fossil fuels - from any source, domestic or international. Our children's and grandchildren's lives depend on it, as does the entire planet...
This is not good...
Update: North Sea blowout (h/t marsanges)
A cloud of explosive natural gas boiling up from the North Sea out of a leak at Total's evacuated Elgin platform forced another shutdown off the Scottish coast on Tuesday as the French firm warned it could take six months to halt the flow.Damn. And it was apparently human error...
PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
|3-20-12 05:00 PM||Gulf Watchers Tuesday - Whistleblower asks court to shut down Atlantis rig- BP Catastrophe AUV #583||peraspera|
|3-09-12 06:31 PM||Gulf Watchers Block Party - Sniglets Edition...||Lorinda Pike|
Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.
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