Monday, February 21, 2011

BP oil spill revisited

Dead crab at ocean bottom Hat tip to University of Georgia

I see the Gulf of Mexico is now well polluted. As I said at the time of the posts of the oil spill that's what would happen. A couple of things happened with the oil. As I mentioned when oil is released in water it floats on the surface for a while. Then after a time it emulsifies and remains suspended between the surface and the bottom in a slimy column. Eventually it sinks to the bottom. The problem with the Gulf is that there was no way to collect that much oil in short order. The only option was to treat it with dispersant to prevent it from coming to shore and as we saw even that didn't work very well either. By my guesstimations there really isn't a way to prevent such an event from happening again. That is unless they start following extreme safety measures to prevent a spill in the first place. No more "good enough" write offs of procedures. And no more ignoring or turning off alarms. We've witnessed too many accidents of this type over the last five or ten years. All it takes is old equipment or improperly trained people to result in deaths. Process safety I believe will be the next big item that is if politics and greed don't get in the way.
In looking at the investigations of the CSB over the last five or ten years all events that resulted in death were the result of failures in process safety.

As for the critters in the Gulf, a lot of them at the bottom will die as a result of this spill. There are areas in the Gulf that have massive amounts of hydrates (hydrocarbon gasses locked in ice) that were the result of natural and oil leaks. They pose no great threat to wildlife at the bottom but what BP unleashed is another story. There isn't enough microbes there to do the job of breaking down the oil and even if there were it would make the oxygen levels unfit for aquatic life. At present we have no technology to deal with such a situation. There are no giant vacuums to do the clean up job and by the looks of it mother nature can't do it either.

So there's a problem that may take a generation to solve, separating the hydrogen from the carbon, sequestering the carbon in order to have usable hydrogen as a fuel source. Then there's the problem of just collecting the material a few miles deep in the ocean.


Tom Harper said...

This story hasn't gotten much coverage (I posted on it but I haven't seen it anywhere else except for a brief blip at, but BP is now complaining that their oil spill victims are getting paid too much in compensation.

Sure, those whiny fishermen lost their livelihoods, but BP executives have yacht payments and vacation home mortgages to worry about.

MRMacrum said...

Hey Dude, surf's up again and people are catching tans again. What more do you want.

If this ends up being a double post, I blame The Internet. Got a service unavailable on my original try.

an average patriot said...

It's a hell of a lot more fff'd up than they admit. I just did an update myself but for later. Now scientists say it will take 10 years to figure out all the damage. 50 would be an underestimate.

Cletis L. Stump said...

Saw where BP is one of the biggies in Libya. Wonder what they've screwed up over there that has gone unreported?

The Ex-Wiz said...

BP rules.

I did an essay on them and their connections to both Bushes and Obama (and Tony Blair) right after the "spill." Ha! Spill.

No one will pay attention because it's unpleasant and the MSM says its just fine and BP shouldn't be punished so much because "no one could have known). And other such BS.

And besides, when is DWTS and American Idiot coming on next?

Thanks for continuing to keep us aware of the current events.


Randal Graves said...

Ever think the crab's taking a break from a long day of crabbing around?

S.W. Anderson said...

Today's newspaper included a story on a die-off of baby dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico. Gee, I wonder why such a thing would happen.

I think your prediction of it taking two generations for the Gulf to come back might be on the low side. For one thing, there's the tremendous annual churning Gulf waters get during hurricane season.

I also wonder if other leaks have occurred and not been reported over the years. Not such big ones or so long lasting, but enough cumulatively to result in a lot of environmental degradation.

People should be sobered and more realistic about the costs of our modern conveniences. If we had to pay for all the costs, including enough to absolutely require fail-safe oil drilling, transport and refining, or alternatively, the costs of immediate, highly effective cleanups, most of us couldn't afford to keep one vehicle in fuel, much less two or three.