BP $ Will Lead to Cleaner Gulf

It is unprecedented that a private “responsible party” pays out $50 B for a hazmat incident. Apparently, the money for remedial efforts is likely to benefit the Gulf.  See this NY Times editorial: BP Deal Will Lead to a Cleaner Gulf.

Though no amount of money can ever compensate for the staggering damage caused by the 2010 BP oil spill, last week’s provisional $18.7 billion settlement among five states, the federal government and the company will help make amends for one of the worst environmental disasters in American history. If approved by a federal judge, the deal will end years of legal battles and bring the total amount BP will pay for its role in the calamity to more than $50 billion. It will also provide a significant, continuing source of revenue for the repair and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico’s marshes, barrier islands, fisheries, deep-sea corals and other vulnerable elements of an ecosystem that had been ailing long before the spill.

Update on July 10. Here is another point of view, not so optimistic.

“Science-Based Response Lacking in Chemical Disasters”

See this new report from Purdue University: Studies: Science-based response lacking in chemical disasters. Three new studies suggest that when communities are hit with disasters that contaminate drinking water the official decision-making and response often lack scientific basis. Some details:

The result has been an inability to fully anticipate public health risks and effectively rid plumbing systems of contaminants, sometimes exposing residents to toxic chemicals, said Andrew Whelton, an assistant professor in Purdue University’s Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering and Lyles School of Civil Engineering.

Since 2014 more than 1.5 million people across the nation have received drinking water tainted with crude oil, diesel fuel, algal toxins and coal-washing chemicals.

“Numerous contamination incidents have been caused by chemical spills from storage tank ruptures, pipeline breaks, rail car and truck accidents, as well as algal blooms,” Whelton said.

His team has been examining recent disasters in which tainted drinking water was distributed to homes. The goal is to develop techniques and tools to help communities respond more effectively, said Whelton, who will discuss some of the results of three studies on Wednesday (May 13) during the American Water Works Association Central District spring meeting in Danville, Indiana.

Some of the drinking water catastrophes studied were a January 2014 chemical spill in West Virginia; an August 2014 toxic algal bloom in Western Lake Erie; a December 2014 accident involving a petroleum-based solvent in Washington, D.C.; a January 2015 crude oil pipeline accident in Glendive, Montana; and an April 2015 diesel spill in Nibley City, Utah

“The National Strike Force”

The current issue of the Coast Guard’s Journal of Safety and Security at Sea. Proceedings of the Marine Safety and Security Council features articles on the National Strike Force, but there are a host of other great articles on related topics in the issue.  For a free copy (and a free subscription) of the Proceedings click here.

The Proceedings is a nice, slick-paper magazine issued quarterly. The current issue is 98 pages long. Definitely a “keeper” for your library.

” No Emergency Response Plan for Mysterious Material”

Interesting case of where the law and the plan are written too narrowly to cover a deadly substance killing wildlife. See: No emergency response plan for mysterious material.

SAN FRANCISCO — The deaths of birds from a sticky goo on San Francisco Bay this past week signaled an environmental emergency, but the network of skilled government agencies trained to swiftly respond to bay disasters was nowhere to be found.

That’s because the multiagency response that would have immediately mobilized containment and cleanup to prevent further damage is usually triggered only if the substance on bay waters is petroleum-based and reported by a company or ship.

New Rail Safety Rules in Canada and the U.S.

Recently, both countries have issued new rules. According to this Reuters article, the Canadian measures are more stringent. See: Canada’s rail safety measures: earlier and tougher than U.S.

Canada quietly issued new details on rail safety regulation last week that included specifications for the next generation of tank cars that are tougher than some of the options proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday.

The safety proposals by Transport Canada for hauling dangerous goods, released online on Friday, builds on measures first announced in April that will require older DOT-111 rail cars used for carrying crude oil be phased out by May 2017.

The measures are a response to a massive surge in crude-by-rail shipments in recent years and a string of high-profile disasters involving older tank cars prone to punctures, including one that killed 47 people in Quebec, Canada.

A direct link to the proposed new  U.S. regulations is here.