Science and Politics — sand berms off LA coast

Progress on Louisiana Sand Berm

Image by lagohsep via Flickr

Once again in LA we see an example of the conflict between objective science and state level politics. Louisiana Builds Barriers Even as Oil Disperses, NYTimes, Oct. 22.

In late May, at the height of the spill, Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard did authorize the berms as an oil-spill countermeasure and directed BP to pay for them. But since then, the Coast Guard and the unified command, charged with responding to the oil spill under federal law, have had virtually no oversight or involvement in the project.

Rather, the state is proceeding with the permission of the Army Corps of Engineers, which regulates offshore engineering projects yet has little oil-spill expertise.

But as the dredging and construction press on, opposition from federal agencies and environmental groups is growing.

Some conservation groups and scientists assert that the project has not only been ineffective but could also threaten wildlife. They warn that the intensive dredging associated with the berms has already killed at least a half-dozen endangered sea turtles and could kill many more.

They have also repeatedly raised concern that further dredging may squander limited sand resources needed for future coastal restoration projects.

Thanks to Bill Cumming for pointing this out.

Post-Mortem for the Gulf Oil (Macondo) Well

Fishery Closure Boundary as of 6pm Eastern Tim...

Image via Wikipedia

With Gulf well almost dead, what lies ahead? Cnn, Sept. 19.

The imminent death of BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico is a milestone that likely will draw only momentary celebration. As scientists debate how much oil remains below the surface, years of economic and environmental recovery in the region lie ahead. The federal government will press for answers on what went wrong April 20 and lawsuits — including those brought by the families of the 11 workers who died in the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion — will eventually make their way through the courts.

Some additional information from the Huffington Post.The well is dead, but Gulf challenges live on. And one more take on the demise of the “rogue well” and the ramifications comes from the Wall St. Journal.

Mixed Views from Scientists re Environmental Effects of BP Oil Spill


Image by The Latest Slub: via Flickr

Some good news is always welcome. Gulf Spill May Defy Darkest Predictions, NY Times, Sept. 13.

Nevertheless, not everyone is optimistic.  Some additional scientific work indicates significant amounts of oil have settled to the floor of the seabed. Scientists Find Thick Layer Of Oil On Seafloor.

A core sample from the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico shows a 2-inch layer of oily material. Researchers are finding oil on the seafloor miles away from the blown-out BP well.  Though researchers have yet to chemically link the oil deposits to the BP well, “the sheer coverage here is leading us all to come to the conclusion that it has to be sedimented oil from the oil spill because it’s all over the place,” says one scientist.

BP’s Oil Spill Disaster Study is Criticized

It is not surprising that BP’s credibility regarding its own analysis of the causes of the disastrous oil spill has been criticized.  Soon the independent panel, created by President Obama, should be issuing their report, which hopefully will be more highly regarded. Credibility of BP Oil Spill Study is Challenged, Wash. Post, Sept. 12.

The BP report spreads much of the responsibility  for the catastrophic blowout to other companies involved in the well operation, and it concludes that some of BP’s most widely criticized decisions in the construction of the well probably did not contribute to the disaster.

Other companies involved in the operation have challenged the report’s credibility, saying it is flawed and self-serving.