Category Archives: News

BP: Failed blowout preventer removed from well

Photo source: ©© Christian Scholz


BP PLC said the blowout preventer that failed to stop oil from spewing into the Gulf of Mexico was removed from the company’s well on Friday afternoon.

A BP spokesman said that the 50-foot, 300-ton device was detached from the wellhead at 1:20 p.m CDT.

Read Full Article, AP

Blow out Preventer and Mud: Story of the Consequences of Ignoring peril
There was trouble from the start. First, getting to the oil was taking too long. Speeding up the pace caused the bottom of the well to split open.Four weeks before the explosion, the rig’s most vital piece of safety equipment the Blow-Out Preventer (BOP), was damaged.

PSDS: East Coast and Earl Hurricane Impacts

Pre-storm image. Rodanthe. Picture taken 9/2 at around 2:00 (high tide).

A team from the WCU Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines (PSDS) headed to the East Coast to investigate and document the impacts of Hurricane Earl along North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

For updates and additional images: Shutterfly

Excerpt from PSDS Research Scientists Rob Young and Andy Coburn, in Shutterfly

“Rob and I left Cullowhee, NC at 4:00 am this morning and arrived at the Dare County Emergency Management office in Manteo (Dare County), NC at noon. We chatted with emergency management officials about the pending storm, and Rob stated his belief that Earl could be another Hurricane Emily which flooded Buxton with a 10-12 foot storm surge, not from the ocean, but from Pamlico Sound, in 1993. Dare County officials made it clear that they were comparing Earl to Hurricane Isabel in 2003. We were told that there would be no estrictions on driving, and left with the impression that the County was taking a lackadaisical attitude to what, at the time, was a category 4 hurricane.
PSDS Earl NC 3
Pre-storm image. Rodanthe. Picture taken 9/2 at around 2:00 (high tide).

We observed no overwash along the way, but did witness waves breaking under several houses just south of the Highway 12 S-curves around 2:00 (high tide). Images are posted below. We also noticed that the wind, blowing out of the north in Nags Head, was blowing harder out of the east in Rodanthe. Waves were estimated to be 10-12 feet.

Pre-storm image. Rodanthe. Picture taken 9/2 at around 2:00 (high tide).

We then drove north on Highway 12, and passed a NC Highway Patrol check point at the base of the Bonner Bridge at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center (for vehicles heading south).

Our next stop was E. Seagull Drive in South Nags Head where we witnessed a number of structures in the surf zone (see images below).
PSDS Earl NC 4
Pre-storm image. South Nags Head. Picture taken 9/2 at around around 4:00 (2 hours past high tide)

We then headed north to Surfside Drive, also in S. Nags Head, where we witnessed much of the same.

We received a call from the a Raleigh News & Observer reporter asking if we’d show her where we just were. So, we headed back out to E. Seagull Drive and spent about a half hour discussing the coastal development problems facing Nags Head (and just about every other developed shoreline).
PSDS Earl NC 5
Pre-storm image. South Nags Head. Picture taken 9/2 at around around 4:00 (2 hours past high tide)

Around 9:00 pm, the winds picked up (out of the north) and the first real rain band hit. At 10:00, it was raining hard and windy (still out of the north). Rob and I decided there wasn’t anything more we could do until about 2:00 am when the eye of Earl was forecast to be very close to Nags Head.

So, rendez-vous at 2:00 (high tide is at 3:00 am) to see what’s happening…

PSDS Earl NC 6
Pre-storm image. South Nags Head. Picture taken 9/2 at around around 4:00 (2 hours past high tide).

Island evacuations start as Hurricane Earl nears East Coast

Hurricane Earl. Photo source: NASA


Hurricane Earl steamed toward the Eastern Seaboard early Thursday as communities from North Carolina to New England kept a close eye on the forecast, worried that even a slight shift in the storm’s predicted offshore track could put millions of people in the most densely populated part of the country in harm’s way…

Read Full Article, Yahoo News

Hurricane Earl Clears Beaches of All but Surfers, The New York Times

California Lawmakers Reject Plastic Shopping Bag Ban

plastic bag pollution
Plastic pollution. Photo source: ©©Greg


California lawmakers have rejected a bill seeking to ban plastic shopping bags after a contentious debate over whether the state was going too far in trying to regulate personal choice.

Supporters of the bill said the 19 billion plastic bags state residents use every year harm the environment and cost the state $25 million annually to collect and transport to landfills…

Read Full Article, NPR

Paper or plastic? Neither, The WSJ

In California, a Step Toward B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bag), The New York Times
The goal is to prompt 21st-century shoppers in California to do what 20th-century shoppers in Moscow did routinely — keep an avoska, or reusable sack, at the ready. China and Bangladesh already have plastic bag bans in place, and the United Nations has called for the bans to go global…

Algae Blankets China Beaches

Green beach – Qingdao, China. Photo source: ©© Philip Roeland


Local authorities and residents in the popular tourist destination have been struggling over the summer to remove a large mass of green algae that has washed ashore. As of late June, the algae bloom, or green tide, covered more than 170 square miles (440 square kilometers) of coasts south of Qingdao.

The algae blanketing the city’s beaches belongs to a species of marine plankton known as Enteromorpha prolpifera…

Read Full Article, National Geographic

Rip Currents Continue to Worsen Along US East Coast

Rip Current
Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water. Moving at speeds of up to eight feet per second, rip currents can move faster than an Olympic swimmer. NOAA


Although Hurricane Earl is nowhere near Southeastern North Carolina right now, Hurricane Danielle is making herself felt in the coastal waters, bringing dangerous rip currents to the U.S. East Coast.

Lifeguards say some of our beaches are experiencing some of the roughest rip currents they have seen in a long time…

Read Full Article: “Hurricane Danielle brings dangerous rip currents to the U.S. East Coast”, WECT

Rip currents are the greatest hazards on most beaches, San Diego Surfing Academy, CA
This national award-winning video shows what they are, how to spot them, what to do if you get stuck in one, and the different types of rips.

Learn techniques on how to swim safely in rip tides or currents, San Diego Surfing Academy, CA

How to Identify & Avoid Rip Currents, A youtube video By Tom Harris

How Rip Currents Work, Science
They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards: About 80 percent of all beach rescues are related to rip currents. Despite these startling statistics, many swimmers don’t know anything about rip currents, and they have no idea how to survive when caught in one. In this article, we’ll find out what causes rip currents, how you can recognize them and what you should do if one takes you out to sea.
A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water running perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 m) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 m) wide. Rip currents can move at a pretty good speed, often 5 miles per hour (8 kph) or faster…

More On Rip Currents, Coastal Care

Rip Current
Image source: NOAA.