Cool, being a life-long Science fan, I have always liked Experiments ...
But I generally prefer those of the 'Controlled Experiment' variety. Those fly-by-night Variety, like combining a jet of Hair Spray with a tiny Lighter flame, always left me a little frightened.
Funny, I'm starting to feel that way again ...
As the oil gushes from the broken well head at the sea floor, Rader says it has the potential to contaminate each layer of the water column that, "directly exposes those animals to toxicity, at the surface including the very sensitive surface zones where not only sea turtles and marine mammals and sea birds can be oiled, but also where the highways for fish larvae exist. And then as it rains back into the abyss over a much wider area carrying toxicants back into the deep sea where ancient corals and other sensitive ecosystems exist."
One response strategy has been to use dispersants or anti-freeze-like chemicals to break the oil up into smaller globules.
It is a choice, he says, between two bad options. While the chemicals may protect birds and other wildlife by dissipating the slick before it reaches shore, their toxicity in the Gulf could harm fish and other marine life.
[Intro Source: ]
Gushing Oil Threatens Wildlife, Gulf Ecosystem
Aquatic life, birds vulnerable to toxic effects of oil
Rosanne Skirble, Washington, DC -- 13 May 2010
What could be worse than Toxic Oil, thoroughly mixing into "every layer of the water column" poisoning most species that somehow manage to eek out a living, in each underwater ecosystem? How about adding a half-million gallons of special 'anti-freeze', to help that 'glass of inky water' -- to instantly turn a murky white? Abra-ca-dabra!
It's Almost Magic -- Where did all that Ink go!
Criticism of Secret Oil Dispersant in Gulf Grows Louder in U.S.
Concern that contaminants will be insidious and persistent in ecosystems
by Stacy Feldman, Stacy Feldman's blog - May 13th, 2010
"Unfortunate recent events in the Gulf Coast have once again brought to the forefront issues pertaining to the impacts of dispersants and dispersed oil," Carys Mitchelmore, a researcher at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, told the Senate Subcommittees on Oversight and Water and Wildlife.
"There's a potential for a toxic soup of unknown effects, which cannot be predicted even if the individual constituents are known."
Response teams have dumped about 436,000 gallons of a chemical dispersant, called Corexit, into the Gulf to battle the leak from BP's sunken Deepwater Horizon ruptured rig -- more than has ever been used in the United States.
Some of that is being pumped 5,000 feet underwater at the site of the spill, a deepsea technique that has never been tried. .
"Putting this right on the seabed, it's unknown what the consequences will be," said Mitchelmore.
The dispersant, a detergent-like brew of solvents, surfactants and other compounds, breaks down oil into tiny particles that scatter into the sea to prevent crude from washing ashore and wiping out wildlife.
Some analysts describe the chemical stew as a a slow and silent killer, however, quietly altering the balance of food webs, contaminating species and damaging the overall health of the oceans.
John Everett, president of Ocean Associates Inc., a Virginia-based oceans and fisheries consulting firm, said [...]
"The oil damage will eventually heal. Better procedures will be employed and this oil will be recycled and assimilated," Everett told Congress.
"The flow of chemical materials into our waters is another matter. There are too many insidious contaminants entering our estuaries, causing genetic harm and poisoning our Earth, turtles and seafood."
The harmful chemicals, he said, creep into the food supply and "directly impact us as well."
But, but, what about, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" -- If we can't see all that Oil, it doesn't really exist, right? When it gets broken up in to tiny droplets, they just fall, harmlessly, to ... wherever ...
Long as the Beaches stay sugary white -- and our tanks, stay affordably Topped off -- all is right with the World!
Besides those guys in the White Lab Coats, say Corexit 9500, is not that bad, if used in moderation ... afterall consuming too much of anything, is not a smart idea -- whether it's anti-freeze, or just Tequila shooters!
Aquatic toxicity of two Corexit® dispersants
A. George-Ares and J. R. Clark
Exxon Biomedical Sciences, Inc., 1545 Route 22 East, Annandale, NJ 08801-0971, USA
Received 13 October 1998; accepted 26 August 1999. ; Available online 2 February 2000.
The oil spill dispersants, Corexit® 9500 and Corexit® 9527 have low to moderate toxicity to most aquatic species in laboratory tests.
Toxicity estimates are significantly affected by test variables such as species, lifestage, exposure duration, and temperature.
Aquatic toxicity data generated from spiked, declining exposures (107 min half-life) are more reflective of actual dispersant use conditions.
Decisions to use oil spill response chemicals should not be based solely on aquatic toxicity. Factors to consider include product effectiveness, toxicity of dispersed oil, species/habitats requiring priority protection, and recovery potential of sensitive habitats and populations.
An environmental risk assessment approach is recommended where dispersant toxicity data generated under environmentally relevant exposures are compared to estimated environmental concentrations of dispersants.
OK then, in limited controlled use, with the right "environmental risk assessment" this top-secret dispersant, might not totally disseminate a productive and robust ecosystem. Whew!
BP got one of those environmental assessments study things, Right? -- Back when they assured the regulators, that their deep drilling operation would not damage the Environment, Right?
Think again. (Remember ... this was NOT one of them "Controlled Experiements", that real scientists like to run. It was more like one you'd see at a "1999" Frat Party.)
Chemicals used to fight oil a trade-off
By Jason Dearen and Ray Henry, msnbc.msn.com -- May 5, 2010
[...] the effect of this largely untested treatment is still being studied by numerous federal agencies, and needs approval from a number of them before it can be rolled out in a larger way.
"Those analyses are going on, but right now there's no consensus," said Charlie Henry, the scientific support coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "And we're just really getting started. You can imagine it's something we've never thought about."
Corexit 9500 used
One of the chief agents being used, called Corexit 9500, is identified as a "moderate" human health hazard that can cause eye, skin or respiratory irritation with prolonged exposure, according to safety data documents.
According to the company, Corexit contains no known carcinogens or substances on the federal government's list of toxic chemicals.
Even some of the most ardent environmentalists, while concerned about the potential effects, aren't suggesting that the chemical concoction shouldn't be used in this case.
"It's basically a giant experiment," said Richard Charter, a senior policy adviser with Defenders of Wildlife. "I'm not saying we shouldn't do it; we have no good options."
Nice. "It's basically a giant experiment."
I wonder if BP, and their Federal Regulators, asked the Gulf Coast residents, how they felt about, being unwitting 'guinea pigs' -- in this grand exercise in Extreme Resource Extraction?
Well, if it's all in the Name of Progress, why should anyone care?
Afterall, it's only Progress & Technology that can take a half-million gallons of Corexit 9500, add it to that extra large 'glass of inky water' -- and Abra-ca-dabra!
It ALL turns a murky white, instantly! --
problems solved, now you see it -- now you don't!
No worries ... We got this!
(just don't peer too deep, under the surface ... cuz it just might turn your stomach.)