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.

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.

Hands Across the Sands: The story in photos

In a symbolic but moving gesture, the Hands Across the Sands oil drilling protest on Saturday brought out people from Miami to Melbourne to stand in solidarity for clean beaches, and against more offshore oil drilling.

There were events around the world, but the turnout was especially heavy in the U.S., spanning the nation from High Line Park in New York City and Nags Head in North Carolina in the East, to Puget Sound and Los Angeles and several beaches in between on the West Coast. People lined up in Anchorage and Maui.

Oil spills, and the economics and environmental impact of resource depletion

Following the failure of the latest efforts to plug the gushing leak from BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, and amid warnings that oil could continue to flow for another two months or more, perhaps it’s a good time to step back a moment mentally and look at the bigger picture—the context of our human history of resource extraction—to see how current events reveal deeper trends that will have even greater and longer-lasting significance.

Much of what follows may seem obvious to some readers, pedantic to others. But very few people seem to have much of a grasp of the basic technological, economic, and environmental issues that arise as resource extraction proceeds, and as a society adapts to depletion of its resource base. So, at the risk of boring the daylights out of those already familiar with the history of extractive industries, here follows a spotlighting of relevant issues, with the events in the Gulf of Mexico ever-present in the wings and poised to take center stage as the subject of some later comments.

Donate hair to help mitigate the oil spill

Here’s a great way to use your head, without much brain strain. Donate your hair to help protect the gulf coast beaches being soiled by the BP oil spill.

By now you may have heard that one unique way to help reduce damage from oil spills is to send in your freed locks to help make oil booms.

Or even better, get your hair salon to donate all the hair that they spill every day.

The hair is used to fill the oil booms or to make hair mats that capture and contain oil as it washes ashore. (See the video posted below for how that works)

Chemical dispersants used in oil spill have harmful and unknown effects

(The following blog by Natural Resources Defense Council oceans expert Regan Nelson was first posted on the NRDC site under the headline Chemical Dispersants: The Lesser of Two Evils?)

By Regan Nelson
Senior Oceans Advocate, NRDC, Washington, DC

Chemical Dispersants:  The Lesser of Two Evils?

Nelson is a senior oceans advocate with the NRDC

I landed in New Orleans at noon yesterday, and by 2 p.m. was on my way to Venice, Louisiana, nicknamed “the end of the world” for being the last community accessible by automobile down the Mississippi River. Venice is now famous for another reason, of course. This tiny community, which has only recently rebuilt from Hurricane Katrina, has become one of the staging areas for the cleanup effort in the Gulf. Usually a quiet industrial town, Venice is teeming with people, cameras, National Guard trucks, official vehicles, and, yesterday, for a brief moment, President Obama.