Category Archives: Gulf Oil Catastrophe

BP spill hits a somber record as Gulf’s biggest

Oil moving into a marsh. Photo source: NOAA


BP’s massive oil spill became the largest ever in the Gulf of Mexico on July 1st based on the highest of the federal government’s estimates, an ominous record that underscores the oil giant’s dire need to halt the gusher.

The oil that’s spewed for two and a half months from a blown-out well a mile under the sea hit the 140.6 million gallon mark, eclipsing the record-setting, 140-million-gallon Ixtoc I spill off Mexico’s coast from 1979 to 1980. Even by the lower end of the government’s estimates, at least 71.7 million gallons are in the Gulf…

Read Full Article; By Tom Breen and Seth Borenstein, Associated Press

70,000 turtle eggs to be whisked far from oil

sea turtle egg
Photo source: ©©Emmanuel Frezzotti


An effort to scoop thousands of turtle eggs from their nests to save them from death in the oily Gulf of Mexico will begin in the coming weeks in a desperate attempt to keep an entire generation of threatened species from vanishing.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will coordinate the plan, which calls for collecting about 70,000 turtle eggs in up to 800 nests buried in the sand across Florida Panhandle and Alabama beaches.

It’s never been done on such a massive scale. But doing nothing, experts say, could lead to unprecedented deaths. There are fears the turtles would be coated in oil and poisoned by crude-soaked food as they hatch and swim out to sea…

Read Full Article; By Brian Skoloff, AP.

criminal penalties when entering oil cleanup ‘safety zone’

Following manual cleanup at Fourchon Beach, La., on May 27, 2010, booms made out of plastic pom-poms are set to protect the sandy beach area. Captions and Photo source: NOAA


The Coast Guard has put new restrictions in place across the Gulf Coast that prevent the public, including news photographers and reporters covering the BP oil spill, from coming within 65 feet of any response vessels or booms on the water or on beaches.

According to a news release from the Unified Command, violation of the “safety zone” rules can result in a civil penalty of up to $40,000, and could be classified as a Class D felony. Because booms are often placed more than 40 feet on the outside of islands or marsh grasses, the 65-foot rule could make it difficult to photograph and document the impacts of oil on land and wildlife, media representatives said…

Read Full Article; By Kris Kirkham, Picayune Times.

UK backing loans for ‘risky’ offshore oil drilling in Brazil

Photo source: ©© William Kitzinger


The British government is subsidising one of the world’s largest and riskiest oil-drilling projects in the Atlantic Ocean and would be liable for tens of millions of pounds if a major accident took place.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that UK trade ministers underwrote loans taken out by the Brazilian state-run energy company Petrobras in 2005 in order that Rolls Royce and other companies could contribute to the building of the giant P-52 platform.

The platform is now operating 125km off the coast of Brazil in 1,798 metres (5,900 feet) of water, deeper than BP’s Deepwater rig…

Read Full Article; Guardian UK

US accepts Gulf oil spill aid from 12 countries

Photo source: NOAA / US Coast Guards


The United States will accept offers from 12 foreign countries to help clean up and contain the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, officials said on Tuesday.

Offers of boom to contain oil and collect it off the surface of the water have been accepted from Canada, Mexico, Norway and Japan, said a spokeswoman from the Unified Area Command, an entity headed by the US Coast Guard that is coordinating with BP on the oil spill response.

A total of 27 countries have offered assistance to the US government following the explosion in April of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig…

Read Full Article; AFP

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and International Law

Photo source: ©© TedX


The environmental catastrophe following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico continues to unfold. Yet, our growing consumption of oil and gas means that the incident is unlikely to stop the quest for drilling oil at such depths, despite the risks. Questions can be asked about whether or not international law can assist in helping to prevent further accidents of a similar nature arising again…

There are no binding international rules or standards for oil platforms although the International Maritime Organization recently updated its Code for the Construction and Equipment of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units in November 2009. This Code could arguably qualify as recommended practices and procedures which coastal states must incorporate into their national legislation under Article 208 of the LOSC…

Given the potential for serious transboundary harm if a similar spill did occur in the future, coastal states may want to takes measures to ensure that minimum standards are applied wherever a drilling operation takes place. In addition, Benitah argues that a treaty would help governments resist pressure from the oil industry and related lobby groups to minimise regulatory supervision…

Read Full Article, International Law Observer.

PSDS scientists monitor oil spill progress

By Robert Young, Coastal Geologist, Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines.

On June 21 I flew the Gulf Coast from Perdido Pass in Alabama to Panama City, FL. Oil was clearly visible in large amounts just offshore of the Pass and of Orange Beach, AL. Tar Balls have been washing up on beaches along the Florida coast east to Bay County. Over the past two days, the oil that was offshore of Alabama has begun to wash ashore on Pensacola Beach, Fl. It is like watching a slow car wreck. As I flew the coast, I saw many varieties of preparations for the incoming oil. Booms deployed along, beaches, wetlands and inlets. Booms lying curled up on beaches waiting. Clean-up crews working the beach. Clean-up crews sitting under canopies watching for trouble. Some localities have pushed up sand ridged on the lower part of the beach, hoping to keep the oil away from the upper beach and make it easier to clean. Many counties have bull dozed sand berms across small tidal passes that connect the Gulf to the back-barrier lakes of the Florida Panhandle. I’m not sure what is worse, the waiting for the oil or dealing with its impact.

Yet, our desire to spend some of our summer at the beach is strong. I saw far more people in the water than I saw oil. The hotel I stayed in that night, in Destin, FL, was sold out. I think that the oil will literally have to chase people out of the water. Meanwhile, in Louisiana oil is definitely covering beaches and wetlands. In order to attempt to halt some of the disastrous impact of the spill, Jefferson Parish Louisiana has submitted a permit application to the US Army Corps of Engineers to close several inlets (passes) with rock dikes. Once again, we have a proposal to deal with the oil that involves large-scale coastal engineering with little thought to the potential impacts of this drastic project. Many groups in Louisiana are opposed, and many local scientists are throwing up their arms in exasperation.

Stay tuned.

Hands Across The Sand

Photo source: ©© Syedasif


All across America, from St. Petersburg, Florida to Cannon Beach, Oregon, from Santa Cruz, California to Coney Island, New York, tens of thousands of people yesterday came together at ocean beaches and inland waterways to form a human barrier against offshore oil drilling in a nationwide protest called Hands Across the Sand.

But what started as a U.S. protest quickly went global. Hands Across the Sand drew people to 820 sites in 34 countries, including North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa…

Read Full Article: :World Joins “Hands Across the Sand” to Protest Offshore Oil Drilling; ThoughtCo.

A Line in the Sand Over Offshore Drilling, New York Times

Hands Across The Sand

Beneath the Surface: if only it were just a nightmare

Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care


After Oceanographers, Scientists and Official recognition of underwater plumes, Undersea robot aimed for 3-D image of BP oil plume.

By Xavier Briand, Reuters.

Scientists geared up on June 16th, for a 12-day trip in the Gulf of Mexico with an undersea robot they hope will capture 3-D images of oil plumes from the BP spill.

Oceanographers and others have been monitoring the plumes of oil, gas and dispersant chemicals coming from the broken BP wellhead since soon after the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform.

An underwater video camera shows the oil gushing from the wellhead on the sea floor, and aerial and ship observations have charted where the spill has drifted on the water’s surface…

Read Full Article, Reuters

National Science Foundation Article

Beneath The Surface, oil plume explained; By Donald Reinhardt, Professor of Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Oil and water don’t mix” but “oil and water and dispersants do mix” and then large underwater oil plumes will exist and wreak havoc wherever they go.
The BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill of April 20, 2010 at the Deepwater Horizon Rig in Mississippi Canyon 252 is a historic, economic, environmental, engineering and scientific event of major significance. The spill is already one of the greatest man-made and natural disasters in American history with hundreds of thousands gallons of Louisiana crude streaming daily into the Gulf waters from one mile below…

More On What is an oil plume?

How does the oil plume looks like? in Washington Post

Recent Tests confirm spreading of plume, in NY Times