BP oil spill clean up by the numbers — post gusher

With the elections nearing, fall weather setting in and the holidays soon to follow, that BP oil spill horror is receding in the public’s rear view mirror.

But the U.S. government remains doggedly committed to the clean-up, according to Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft, who updated a handful of reporters today.

Here’s the scoop, by the numbers.

  • 11,200 people remain engaged in the oil spill response across the Gulf of Mexico. That’s down a lot compared to the 48,000 who responded at the peak of the disaster, but remains more than those who worked recovery at the peak of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

EPA finds that BP dispersants are no worse than others

The EPA released the results of its second phase of texts on oil dispersants today, which show that the dispersant BP has used in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has about the same toxicity as seven other dispersants tested.
The lab results show that BP’s chosen dispersant, Corexit 9500A, when mixed with Louisiana Sweet Crude Oil is “generally no more or less toxic” than mixtures of the oil and other dispersants, according to the EPA.

New oil incursion at Raccoon Island blackens the future for pelican chicks

Brown Pelicans at Raccoon Island show contact with oil. (Photo: Marc Dantzker, Cornell Lab of Ornithology).

Gulf-area biologists and researchers from Cornell University have discovered that birds on previously unaffected Raccoon Island have been newly oiled, apparently because of waves of crude driven in by winds from Hurricane Alex.

Tired of crying over spilt oil?

While I’m gathering thoughts about a truly strange, allergic run in with yellow food dye, which the European Union, but not the U.S., is banning in foods this month — I’ve got to first share a spoof by Greenpeace on the BP oil spill.
When it’s so bad you can only cry, it can be therapeutic to laugh.
So get a chuckle over this — if you can.

How to — and how not to — help dolphins during the oil spill

You’ve probably encountered those “Don’t Feed the Bears” signs in national parks. Well, it’s true of dolphins also.

NOAA has put out notice that the public should not feed, corral, swim or approach dolphins in the gulf, even if they appear distressed from possible exposure to the oil spill.

But residents concerned about suffering or stranded dolphins should call in about them on the federal government’s wildlife hotline at 866-557-1401.

While they wait for a response team, they can and should:

  • Stay with the animal until rescuers arrive, but use caution. Keep a safe distance from the head and tail.

Tar balls turning up in Lake Ponchartrain and Galveston

Tarballs and an oil sheen were spotted on Lake Pontchartrain and in the Rigolets on Monday, prompting crews to put 600 feet of hard and soft boom at a “choke point”, to stop more oil from getting into the lake, according to government reports. More than 20 vessels responded to the site, collecting more than 1,000 pounds of tar balls and waste, which will be tested to see if it comes from the leaking Deepwater Horizon/BP well. The clean up operation continues today.

Hands Across the Sands plans a public demo against oil drilling

The message of Hands Across the Sands, its founder likes to say, is simple: Say ‘No’ to oil drilling and ‘Yes’ to clean energy.
To make that point crystal clear, thousands of Americans are expected to line up on beaches tomorrow (June 26) at 11 a.m. to join hands and show their solidarity on that point. The gatherings will last 15 minutes. Organizers will take a photo of the group, and then members will disband, leaving only their footprints behind.

Congress confronts oil executives over lack of oil spill plans

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) pounced on oil executives today with charges that all the big oil firms have nearly identical outdated emergency spill plans that reference “identical ineffective equipment.”

The plans, like the one used by BP for gulf drilling that references how to save walruses and lists a long-dead expert to call upon, reflect the industry’s inattention to the possibility of a major oil spill in the gulf or anyway.

Track the oil spill damage and response on a new federal map


As part of it’s continuing effort to be transparent about what’s happening in the gulf, the federal government today announced a new website where anyone can see a map of the gulf overlaid with the current location, size and shape of the oil spill. NOAA shepherded the website in an effort to provide a variety of information in “near real-time.”

The map, as depicted here, shows the area closed to fishing because of the oil slick demarcated by a red line. The bright yellow spot marks the Deepwater Horizon wellhead. Coastal regions are color-coded to show the level of oil exposure. Zoom in to see where the worst hit and so-far unhit beaches are. Different colors label these areas as having heavy, moderate, light or no oil contamination.

Robert Redford says the BP oil disaster shows need for clean energy

The Natural Resources Defense Council, and many other environmental groups, are campaigning with renewed vigor for a clean energy bill, in the wake of the ongoing BP oil disaster.

In this NRDC video, longtime conservationist Robert Redford reflects on the oil catastrophe, saying its time to recognize that self-interested oil companies will never want to give up risky oil drilling, if there’s profit to be made.

Oceana’s ‘Ocean Heroes’ include shark group and head of oiled bird rescue

Dr. Jay Holcomb, IBRRC directorOn the just the second annual World Oceans Day, the world seems to be making a bigger mess than ever of its marine resources as the BP spill spews gooey crude across the Gulf of Mexico.

But against that backdrop, the work of Oceana’s honorees for the day, stands out as critically important. The two top winners of Oceana’s Ocean Heroes

Apprehension, not celebration, greets this World Environment Day

Aurora, Colo., tornado (Photo: Brittany McKown)It’s World Environment Day, and all I can think about is how the Gulf oil disaster has been book-ended by two environmental commemorations. The BP oil well blew out two days before Earth Day in April, though it was barely covered in the news until a few days later when people realized that oil was leaking into the ocean unabated. (In the back of our minds, we tend to assume that someone has a plan for these contingencies. Surprise! No plan.)

Pelicans and other birds drenched with oil in offshore nesting areas

Oiled pelicans rescued June 3 (Photo: International Bird Rescue Research Center)

The heartbreaking photos and video, many released yesterday when it was discovered that a famous rookery on Grand Isle had been inundated with oil, leave no doubt that this latest human accident will suffocate life wherever it lands and beyond. It will asphyxiate birds with a coating of oil, and orphan offspring left behind in the nests.

NOAA prediction of active hurricane season portends inland oil damage

Hurricane Ike, 2008 (Photo: NOAA)Talk about insult after injury. This year, the U.S. can expect a more active hurricane season, in which drifting oil and highs winds could conspire to slap the Gulf of Mexico coast with black storm waves, smearing the spilled BP oil far inland and complicating hurricane clean ups.

It could “blanket all of south Louisiana, not only killing the marsh, but contaminating where we sit right now, the football field, the high school, so it wouldn’t just be a cleanup from water. … I don’t know if we’d ever clean it up,” Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser told CNN.

BP disaster: We all own it

BP President and Chairman Lamar McKay (Photo: CSPAN)BP officials are at their least appealing when pushing off responsibility for the oil spill onto the oil-consuming public. We caught a whiff of this attitude during their May testimony to Congress.

“Tragic and unforeseen as this event was, we must not lose sight of the reason that BP and other oil energy companies are operating offshore, including in the Gulf of Mexico. The gulf provides one in four barrels of oil produced in the U.S. – a resource our economy requires,’’ said BP President and Chairman Lamar McKay, testifying to to the Senate.

How the top kill operation works (if it works)

We’ve had to learn a lot while watching the excruciating efforts to cap the gushing BP oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico.

The latest lesson on the chalk board is about deep sea pressures. The water pressure is so great at a mile below the surface that pumping material back into the ruptured oil pipe is an incredibly difficult feat. It calls for a special potion of drilling “mud” that can “lock up” against the force of the oil gushing out, and yet not freeze before doing its job or collapse at deep sea pressures and temperatures.

Experts say spill’s affect on wildlife still a guessing game

A bottle nose dolphin (Photo: NASA) The BP oil spill will affect ecosystems in the gulf for a long time and is certain to affect the entire “food web,” wildlife experts said Friday. But the government’s team leaders for the rescue and assessment of wildlife could not give projections for, nor would they hazard guesses about, how bad those effects might be.

The mysterious case of the errant tarballs

Government experts reported today that those tarballs found on beaches in the Florida Keys earlier this week are NOT from the BP Oil Spill. Coast Guard experts tested samples of the 20-odd tar balls found at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West and “determined that none of the collected samples are from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill,” according to a news release from the oil spill response team.

Oil spill clean up, a ‘shovel ready’ green job opportunity

Ironically, our latest fossil fuel disaster is providing some needed green jobs.

I just wish I could say it’s great to see America back at work.

So far, about 13,800 people “have responded” to the call to help minimize the effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, prepare for the giant oil slick’s landfall and clean up the shoreline afterward, according to BP.

A welder works on a pollution containment chamber at Port Fourchon (Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard)

A welder works on a pollution containment chamber at Port Fourchon (Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard)

Oil spill update: The sky might not be falling, but birds are

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

As we await the landfall of the giant growing BP oil blob, the news compass has been whirling, pointing at at a raft of problems related to offshore oil drilling, and a few not related to offshore drilling.

Problem Number One: Money buys good PR

Yesterday we heard about how The New York Times quoted a fellow with a Texas-based conservation group as saying the oil spill wasn’t so terrible.

“The sky is not falling,” said Quenton R. Dokken , a marine biologist and the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a conservation group in Corpus Christi, Texas. “We’ve certainly stepped in a hole and we’re going to have to work ourselves out of it, but it isn’t the end of the Gulf of Mexico.”

Florida Keys Tourism Council posts updates on oil spill

From Green Right Now Reports

Mindful of the tourists that visit the sunny, sandy Florida Keys year round, the Florida Keys & Key West Tourism Council has added an oil spill info section to its website to keep travelers posted on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

As the growing oil mess continues to float just off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, weather reporters have been speculating that it could, if it shifted southward, take flight on the gulf currents that carry water out of the area. That could carry oil around Florida and even up the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. to the Carolinas.