Oil Spill Disaster – Day 100 – issues re science research

The issue of the sharing of scientific findings is discussed in the July 27 in a Washington Post opinion piece titled Research on gulf oil spill shouldn’t take a backseat to litigation. Plus the article raises a new topic, that of the need for a comprehensive and strategic look at the research needed for such a major disaster event; I would argue both hard science and social science research should be included in such a comprehensive plan.

Our nation needs a comprehensive science plan to learn from and respond better to this tragedy. Those working in academia, federal and state government, nongovernmental organizations, and industry need to be consulted and included. The federal government must also make funding available, apart from the NRDA process, to enable independent, peer-reviewed science to be undertaken.

Also related to the topic is a recent statement by the American Assoc. of University Professors regard BP’s impact on academic freedom following the Gulf oil spill. See attached file titled  ACADEMIC FREEDOM.  One quote from that statement follows:

Perhaps this is the time to reexamine the increasing role corporations are playing in funding and controlling university research. Universities should work with faculty to set ethical standards for industry collaboration that champion the public interest and discourage faculty members from selling their freedom of speech and research to the highest bidder.

Thanks to Bill Cumming for bringing this statement to my attention. It is a timely addition to the topic discussed in today’s post.

CNN has posted an interesting summary of the effects, on the 100 day anniversary of the spill. See this article. And CNN also has posted some dramatic graphics of the spill since day 1.


Oil Spill Disaster – July 6 – conflicts re regulation

To say “It’s complicated” is an understatement when it comes to how to regulate offshore oil drilling.  Obama Decried, Then Used, Some Bush Drilling Policies, WSJ July 5.

The Obama administration’s actions in the court case exemplify the dilemma the White House faced in developing its energy policy. In his presidential campaign, President Obama criticized the Bush administration for being too soft on the oil industry and vowed to support greener energy forms.  But, once in office, President Obama ended up backing offshore drilling, bowing to political and fiscal realities, even as his administration’s own scientists and Democratic lawmakers warned about its risks.

The dimensions of the problem seem almost endless.  See this less-than-cheerful bit of information about the size of the oil reservoir. Relief well is last best hope to contain gusher. AP, July 5.

Chief Executive Tony Hayward said in June that the reservoir of oil is believed to hold about 2.1 billion gallons  of oil. If the problem was never fixed, it could mean another two years of oil spilling based on the current flow rate until the reservoir is drained.

Oil Spill Disaster – July 1- now a record event

BP spill nears a somber record as Gulf’s biggest, AP, July 1.

The oil that’s spewed for two and a half months from a blown-out well a mile under the sea is expected to surpass the 140 million gallon mark, eclipsing the record-setting Ixtoc I spill off Mexico’s coast from 1979 to 1980. Even by the lower end of the government’s estimates, at least 71.2 million gallons are in the Gulf.

“It’s an important number to know because it has an impact on restoration and recovery,” ….

On a positive note, the US has finally figured out how to accept international assistance re the oil spill cleanup. AP, June 30th story: US accepts international assistance for Gulf spill Arrangements for accepting help from a dozen countries are close to settled.

But one more negative note:  The AP wire story on  June 30 provides one more reason the BP Oil Spill response plans were inadequate. BP Oil Spill Cleanup Did Not Consider Hurricanes

Rep. Edward Markey says BP’s disaster response plan for an oil spill doesn’t mention hurricanes or tropical storms. Markey says the omission is yet another example of what the oil giant was not prepared to handle.

It is truly disgraceful that the oil spill emergency plan mentioned walruses in the Gulf but neglected to mention hurricanes was approved by the Minerals Management Service of the Dept. of Interior.  Reform in the successor agency cannot come soon enough!

BP Oil Spill- June 30- Marine Spill Response Corp.

Yesterday I mentioned an organization that most of us had never heard of before — the Marine Spill Response Corp. Details about that organization and how overwhelmed and inadequately prepared  it is for  the BP oil spill were published in the Washington Post today, 6/29. See Oil industry cleanup organization swamped by BP spill.

“There is no asset MSRC has that is designed to collect oil 5,000 feet under the seas,” said Brett G. Drewry, chief executive of the industry-backed organization that funds MSRC.

That fact did not stop BP and other companies from citing MSRC, alone or alongside for-profit cleanup companies, as their first responder for massive spills. Oil companies, Congress and regulators point to MSRC as evidence of lessons learned from Valdez. *** safeguarding the coasts should not be left to private industry.

“It seems to me there is a real significant conflict of interest here,” he said. “When you are dealing with an issue that has such enormous stakes for public health and safety, it should be in the government’s hands.”