A research team examining water within a five-mile radius of the leaking BP wellhead has found very high levels of methane.
When oil is extracted from the ground, it contains a large amount of methane. Excess methane is usually removed by engineers before the crude oil is refined.
The methane that is gushing from the broken well is dissolving into the seawater. Although methane occurs naturally in sea water, excessive amounts can encourage the growth of microbes. Microbes can deplete water of oxygen needed to support marine life.
“At some locations, we saw depletions of up to 30 percent of oxygen based on its natural concentration in the waters. At other places, we saw no depletion of oxygen in the waters. We need to determine why that is,” said Texas A&M University oceanography professor John Kessler, who is part of the research team.
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Continue reading Reuters: Very high methane levels in the Gulf of Mexico
Soil tests on a handful of Sierra Nevada trails located near abandoned mines have revealed extremely high levels of lead, arsenic and asbestos, said researchers at the Sierra Fund, an environmental advocacy group.
Lead levels near the Marall Chrome Mine pit were nearly 18 times the state and federal standards, and 40 percent of the soil samples showed asbestos contamination, science director Carrie Monohan said.
Asbestos, when inhaled, can embed in throat and lung tissue, causing cancer and other respiratory ailments.
Because of the diffuse nature of the hazardous minerals in surface soils, they are almost impossible to clean up, according to David Christy, spokesman with the Bureau of Land Management’s Central California division.
California has received roughly $20 million in federal stimulus money to clean and maintain abandoned mines.
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Continue reading SFGate: Several popular California trails found to be toxic
Louisiana-based judge Martin Feldman, who yesterday overturned President Obama’s six-month drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico because it assumed that all deepwater drilling was as dangerous as BP’s, was revealed today to have had shares in Transocean and other firms in the industry.
Feldman’s most recent financial disclosure forms show that he was paid dividends from his shares in Transocean. The forms, which relate to the calendar year 2008, also show that he sold shares in Halliburton, which was also involved in the disaster.
Feldman has yet to respond to the disclosures. He is one of many federal judges across the Gulf Coast region with money in oil and gas. Several have disqualified themselves from hearing spill-related claims, while others have sold their holdings so they can preside over many cases being filed.
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Continue reading Guardian: Judge who overturned drilling bans had shares in the oil industry
Photo: Kevin Lamarque-Reuters
General Stanley A. McChrystal finished a closed-door meeting with President Obama and has left the White House.
Continue reading MSNBC: McChrystal leaves White House after meeting