NYT: Top kill’ strategy appears to have stemmed oil flow

The Top kill strategy, which involves alternately plugging the well with heavy “drilling mud” and “junk shot” such as shredded tires and golf balls, appears to have stemmed the flow of oil into the gulf. Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard, the leader of the government effort, said on Friday morning that the next 12 to 18 hours will be critical. Because this is an untested procedure, Allen gives this effort a 60 to 70 percent chance of success.

Using the most conservative estimate, a minimum of 18 million gallons has leaked into the Gulf over the past five weeks, far surpassing the 11 million gallons believed to have spilled from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

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NY Times: Scientists Fault U.S. Response in Assessing Gulf Oil Spill

Prominent oceanographers have accused the government of allowing BP to mask the true scope of the oil spill and of failing to perform a sufficient scientific analysis of the spill’s impact.

The scientists are most concerned about getting a clear understanding of the large oil plumes that are spreading beneath the ocean’s surface. They have also criticized the government for failing to make public a single test result on the water in the deep ocean. Scientists also say that the government has not been willing to demand an accurate calculation of how many gallons of crude the leak is expelling.

Rick Steiner, a marine biologist and veteran of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, attacked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in an interview, saying that the large plumes of oil droplets beneath the surface should have been expected from the start.

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CNN: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: BP Pursuing Multiple Uncertain Fixes

BP’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Suttles, said that BP is pursuing multiple options simultaneously in an attempt  to fix the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. After their failed attempt to contain the leak using a large dome, they are moving ahead with other possible solutions.

BP realized Saturday that the large dome failed to cap the leak when methane hydrate crystals clogged the opening of the dome, making it buoyant. The buoyancy risked shifting the dome out of place.

One of the possible solutions in place of the large dome includes putting a smaller dome over the leak and shooting debris into the hole to try to plug it, called a “junk shot”. BP is also contemplating putting a blowout preventer, a piece of equipment that fastens shut over a leak, on top of one that is currently broken.

BP is also working on rerouting the flow to another pipe by drilling a relief well. Work on the relief well began a week ago. BP will have to drill 4,000 feet into the sea floor to the well. Although it could take 75-80 day to complete, Mr. Suttles said that they are making very good progress.

BP is pursuing so many potential fixes because they don’t know if any of them will come through. Mr. Suttles told CNN, “What we’ve been doing is pushing parallel paths because we don’t know which one’s going to work.”

With an estimated 3.9 million gallons spilled since the explosion and 210,000 gallons spilling every day, the pressure to contain the spill only grows.

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DCBureau.org Exposes Cruise Ship Industry Pollution in DIRTY WATER

January 19, 2010 10:18 AM Eastern Daylight Time

DCBureau.org Exposes Cruise Ship Industry Pollution in DIRTY WATER

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–DCBureau.org’s investigation into the hugely profitable cruise line industry reveals how lobbyists and Washington politicians help the industry avoid regulation that would stop its ships from polluting some of the most pristine and environmentally-sensitive places on earth.

DIRTY WATER exposes how even the newest cruise ships lack state-of-the-art environmental mitigation systems. The two-part series exposes a cruise industry dependent on lax federal oversight and more interested in putting profits into PR and lobbying and campaign contributions instead of installing new technologies that could mitigate some of its negative environmental impact.

DCBureau reporter David Rosenfeld reveals that the cruise industry touts untouched ocean scenery while beneath the surface cruise ships leave a wake of toxic sewage and other harmful pollutants that threaten marine life and human health. The cost-effective and preferred method of discharging sewage into the ocean requires a high-grade retrofit that costs $10 million. Yet the largest cruise companies choose not to spend the money to equip dozens of ships with the latest technology even as they make huge profits. Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, in the down 2009 economy made $1.3 billion in one quarter alone.

Today’s cruise ships carry on average between 3,000 and 7,000 people including the crew. A moderately sized ship on a week’s voyage can generate more than 200,000 gallons of human sewage – enough to fill 10 backyard swimming pools – a million gallons of gray water, 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water, more than 100 gallons of hazardous waste, and eight tons of solid waste, including ground up leftover food waste. And almost all of it gets discharged into the environment either straight into the ocean or incinerated onboard and the ashes thrown overboard with only a small amount hauled on shore. Carnival Cruise Lines – the company’s flagship subsidiary – rolled out eight ships in the past three years without the latest in advanced wastewater treatment technology.

Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency confirm that federal and international laws for treating sewage onboard vessels are outdated and still threaten marine life and coral reefs even when ships abide by legally permissible methods. But the federal government has loosened its grip on the cruise line industry since big settlements in the 1990s.

DCBureau.org is a non-profit project staffed by award-winning reporters whose mission is to investigate news stories about significant issues and bring them to the attention of national and international audiences All articles published by DCBureau.org can be reprinted for free with attribution by any outlet.

Contacts

DCBureau.org
Joseph Trento, 202-466-4310 or (mobile) 202-255-2441

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