Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water BP strikes again

Nothing like a one two punch again for New Orleans. As hurricane Isaac slowly heads north and the folks down there try once again to pick up the pieces, the legacy of the Deep Water Horizon spill rears it's ugly head once more. All seemed to be going swimingly well. Tourists were starting to come back and fishing was looking like it would recover too. Exactly how the southern part of the city was overlooked yet again is beyond anyones' imagination. An eight foot levy meant to hold back a tidal surge greater than it's height just makes no sense. Like trying to fend off eagles with a cheap fly swatter. No, somehow the lower parishes were overlooked. Something about not being part of the Federal plan. Huh? At this point it's all academic because that damage has been done.

Now it's on to part two of the rope a dope. While everyone (except the people who live there I'm sure) kind of forgot about that nasty BP oil spill of two years ago mother nature didn't. Out of sight out of mind may work for the masses but nature had other ideas. Now if you recall those fine folks at BP bestowed the gift of around 200 million barrels of oil into the gulf. In addition they tried to "fix" the problem by dumping 800,000 gallons of Corexit on it to try and disperse the oil. The problem comes from the fact that any chemical used was really meant to make the oil sink to the bottom. Which it did. There are now mats of oil on the sea floor. And with the stirring action of the hurricane it is expected that much of the oil will now wash ashore causing more damage to the ecosystem.

Corexit for those who may have forgotten is a proprietary formula know to be toxic to marine life. Even the UK in it's studies of the stuff found it to be unacceptable for oil spills off their coast. What's in it that makes it so bad? Simply put think of Dawn dishwashing detergent only 10 times more powerful. It has a few types of alcohol and other petroleum distillates that break up the oil. A type of organic lye that acts as a surfactant to break the surface tension of water and propylene glycol to bond to the oil and make it sink. That's about the extent of my limited knowledge of the chemistry. The companies own safety data sheet recommends workers using it wear protective clothing and respiratory protection. Not good news for the aquatic life there.

When scientists tested the tar mats, they were found to contain about 17 percent oil by mass. That suggested that "every kilogram of oil that reached the Alabama shoreline had the potential to create 5 kilograms of submerged tar mat," the research concluded.

That 17% figure may sound low until you look at the toxic level of oil. Only a few drops can contaminate gallons of water. I'm waiting for the Chemical Safety Boards' complete report which may take another year. In the mean time skip the scampi and have the chicken instead.

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Randal Graves said...

Jeez, didn't you ever see The Princess Bride? Just build up a tolerance and even the deadliest poisons can't kill you.

BBC said...

Fuck those idiots, I don't eat food from that area and I don't care what they eat as long as it gets rid of them.