Category Archives: Pollution

Oil spill off Mumbai coast: tangible damage to mangroves

21479754536_251496a270_b
Photo source: ©© Adam Cohn

Excerpts;

To assess the damage caused by the oil spill across Mumbai coast, two teams of scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) will start a two-year long systematic scientific assessment on August 17th.

Following the August 7th spill, oil was found accumulating in mangroves at Navi Mumbai, Uran and Alibaug. Tar balls were also found on-shore in Sasvane, Kihim, Revas and Mandava along the Raigad coastline, Uran, Vashi and in pockets of Colaba…

Read Full Article, Hindustan Times

Mumbai Spill Hits More than Mangroves, The Wall Street Journal

All the Way to the Ocean

By Nancy Weiner, Editor Southern Sierran

Designed as a children book, Joel Harper’s “All the Way to the Ocean,” illustrated by Marq Spusta, and foreword by Laird Hamilton, delivers a strong message to adults as well about protecting the ocean, keeping our sewers free from garbage, and also about friendship and teamwork. And it is through teamwork that Mr. Harper created this wonderful little book with Mr. Spusta’s colorful, expressive illustrations.

What strikes this reader first upon opening “All the Way to the Ocean,” is that it is ostensibly a labor of love.

9 Surprising Diseases You Can Catch at the Beach

warning-no-swim
Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Whether we like it or not, our nation’s beaches are not as clean as we would prefer them to be. Ocean water contaminated with sewage, storm run-off and oil carries bacteria, parasites, and viruses, which can cause a variety of diseases. From Staph infections to earaches, hepatitis to skin rashes and respiratory issues, Americas waters are an environmental hot bed for infection. For the last five years, there have been 18,000 beaches closing across the United States. 2009 brought 18,682 days of closures and notices as a result of water contamination and pollution at beaches throughout the United States.

Following, nine surprising infections that are found in the nation’s oceans…

Read Full Article, Huffington Post

More about MRSA

NRDC’s Testing the Waters database
Check the status of your favorite beaches at the NRDC’s Testing the Waters database.

Center for Disease Control’s Healthy Swimming site

Where Has All the Plastic Gone?


This Rainbow Runner had consumed 17 plastic fragments. Photo source: EHP -©5 Gyres

Excerpts;

Hundreds of kilometers off the coast of southern California lies the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vast soup of degraded plastic fragments. On the other side of the country, tiny flecks of floating plastic swim in a swath of seemingly pristine Atlantic Ocean at least two-thirds the size of the United States.

Oceanographers have quantified trends in the Atlantic “plastic soup” for the first time, and they’ve come to a surprising conclusion: The amount of plastic in the Atlantic has remained steady for 2 decades despite a steep rise in industrial plastic production. That suggests that either people are keeping their trash on land or plastic is going to some unknown destination in the sea.

Since 1986, students on research sailing trips led by Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, have been documenting plastic snagged in their plankton nets in the western North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The students and scientists tow a net behind their ship for about 2 kilometers, then use tweezers to pick out and hand-count trapped plastic pieces, most no larger than your pinky fingernail.

In their first publication of these data since the late 1980s, the SEA team reports that it found plastic in more than 60% of 6136 tows over 22 years. The levels are low close to shore but rise hundreds of kilometers off the coast between 22 and 38 degrees latitude (roughly from the Bahamas to Baltimore).

Researchers can’t tell the ages of individual plastic bits, since there are no chemical techniques for dating petroleum-based products. That makes it nearly impossible to tell if the seemingly stable amount of trash is actually due to turnover.

But despite huge annual fluctuations in plastic levels (probably a result of smaller-scale eddies and winds, Law says), the overall amount of plastic in the North Atlantic Ocean has been steady across the two-plus decades. This is surprising because the amount of plastic produced globally and thrown away in the United States has grown several times over the same period, and presumably some of it winds up in the ocean.

Meanwhile, even though the SEA expedition traveled a thousand miles (1,609 kilometers) east of Bermuda, “we still can’t find the eastern edge” of the patch, Law said…

Read Full Article, Science AAAS (08-20-2010)

Plastic Accumulation in the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre; Science Magazine
Plastic marine pollution is a significant environmental concern, yet a quantitative description of the scope of this problem in the open ocean is lacking. Here, we present a time series of plastic content at the surface of the western North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea from 1986 to 2008. More than 60% of 6136 surface plankton net tows collected buoyant plastic pieces typically millimeters in size. The highest concentration of plastic debris was observed in subtropical latitudes and associated with the observed large-scale convergence in surface currents predicted by Ekman dynamics. Despite a rapid increase in plastic production and disposal during this time period, no trend in plastic concentration was observed in the region of highest accumulation…

Atlantic Ocean’s Garbage Patch Not Growing, National Geographic (08-2010)

New plastic garbage patch discovered in Indian Ocean

oc-la-reunion
Indian Ocean. Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Scientists recently announced the existence of a garbage patch in the Indian Ocean, the third major collection of plastic garbage discovered in the world’s oceans. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located in the North Pacific Ocean gyre, is well known. And more recently scientists confirmed the existence of a second garbage patch in the North Atlantic gyre.

Anna Cummins and her husband,Marcus Eriksen, cofounder of 5 Gyres Institute, report that all of the 12 water samples collected in the 3,000 miles between Perth, Australia, and Port Louis, Mauritius (an island due East of Madagascar), contain plastic.

Their findings support earlier research about trash washed onto beaches in and around the Indian Ocean, and it’s already been well established that there’s an enormous amount of plastic trash swirling in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Ocean Gyres…

This Indian Ocean garbage patch discovery means there are now three confirmed ocean zones of plastic pollution, and Eriksen and Cummins expect to find others in the South Pacific and South Atlantic gyres also. The 5 Gyres Institute, a team of scientists and educators, will lead eight expeditions to explore the South Atlantic (starting later this summer) and South Pacific (scheduled for next spring)…

Read Full Article; AP (08-10-2010)

Plastic Pollution: The Great Plastic Tide, Coastal Care
The world population is living, working, vacationing, increasingly conglomerating along the coasts, and standing on the front row of the greatest, most unprecedented, plastic waste tide ever faced. Washed out on our coasts in obvious and clearly visible form, the plastic pollution spectacle blatantly unveiling on our beaches is only the prelude of the greater story that unfolded further away in the world’s oceans, yet mostly originating from where we stand: the land…

BP Oil spill: officially the worst disaster off a U.S. coast


Oil platform. Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care

Excerpts;

BP ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico released more than 200 million gallons of oil before it was capped, government officials said Monday, as the company was poised to stuff the well with dense mud in preparation for a final seal later this month.

The new figures, described as the most accurate to date, place the size of the BP spill in the upper range of earlier estimates, affirming the disaster’s ranking as by far the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history…

Read Full Article, The LA Times

E.P.A : It Was Wise to Use Oil Dispersant

Oil Dispersant
An aircraft releases chemical dispersant over an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Captions and Photo source: NOAA /US Coast Guards

Excerpts;

Spraying dispersants on oily water in the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t make the mixture any more toxic than the water was with Louisiana sweet crude alone, the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday.

Paul Anastas, the agency’s assistant administrator for research and development, said that the toxicity of the mix of oil and dispersant sprayed to combat the gulf oil spill was generally in the range of moderate, comparable to the effects of the oil.

So while the use of toxic chemicals in the gulf has always been recognized as a trade-off of risks, he said, the agency’s latest research shows that using dispersants to limit the effects of the BP spill was wise…

“The idea of fighting one toxic chemical, oil, with another, dispersant, does not sit well with all parties.” And Mr. Anastas said that further studies were needed. “The type of acute toxicity we’re discussing today is only one part of the hazard,’’ he said. Another is the health effects of the breakdown products of the dispersant, which the agency has yet to investigate…

Read Full Article, The New York Times

Oil Spill Dispersants Shifting Ecosystem Impacts in Gulf, Scientists Warn, The New York Times
A seemingly feel-good story showed up this week on the nation’s front pages and newscasts: The oil that befouled the Gulf of Mexico for 86 days is vanishing from the surface, leaving workers with little to clean. But scientists warn the oil’s ecological impacts are shifting, not ebbing, thanks to massive volumes of dispersants that have kept the crude beneath the waves…

Louisiana blue crabs are tough, but oil spill and dispersant might be tougher

Scientists and Academics Call For Immediate Halt of Chemical Dispersants in Gulf, The Ocean Foundation
Over 100 scientists and academic institution, research laboratory, conservation organization leaders plus human rights defenders from as far away as Norway and Greece have issued, July 18th, a joint Scientists Consensus Statement on the Use of Chemical Dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico calling for the US Administration to immediately halt chemical aerial spraying in the Gulf region.
BP has used nearly two million gallons of Corexit chemical dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico as part of the cleanup effort with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The massive volume of dispersants and the way they have been applied, both on the surface and one mile below the surface, is unprecedented. Once oil is dispersed in deep water, it cannot be recovered.
The rationale behind the use of the dispersant is to keep oil from the sensitive wetlands and coastlines. However, by dispersing the oil throughout the water column, this practice is making it impossible to recover the dispersed oil at the surface while plumes of the dispersed oil remain at depth, entering the food chain at many levels where it will bioaccumulate as it moves up the food chain.
Corexit is one of the most toxic dispersants and one of the least effective on Louisiana crude oil. However, it is the mixture of Corexit and oil that represents an even greater threat as the toxic effects are magnified. Corexit, designed to break down lipid layers, facilitates the movement of toxic materials across the membranes of wildlife and human beings. The dispersant-oil mixture is killing marine wildlife, including dolphins, whales and fish, while also causing a range of serious human health effects to those who have been exposed.
The scientists believe the worst impacts of the disaster are yet to come, and without deliberate, independent scientific tracking and assessment, they could remain hidden…

EPA Response On Oil Dispersants

Midway Atoll, Northwestern End Of The Hawaiian Archipelago; By Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan Photography

Midway: Message from the Gyre (2009)

By © Chris Jordan, Photographic Arts

As my team and I prepare to travel back to Midway Atoll, I cannot help but note the macabre juxtaposition of the environmental disaster that is happening in the Pacific Ocean, with the one that is happening in the Gulf of Mexico. The two phenomena are oddly parallel, involving (among other grotesque features) the deaths of untold numbers of sea birds, caused by millions of tons of our petroleum products that have poured into the ocean via our collective negligence. And in each case the birds can be viewed as messengers, serving as one small warming signal of a much larger calamity, with global consequences, in which our individual consumer lifestyles are unavoidably complicit.

My friend the artist Richard Lang says the opposite of beauty is not ugliness, but indifference.

China alleges: ocean cleared of oil 10 days after spill

bohai oil spill greenpeace
Photo source: © Greenpeace

Excerpts;

Chinese officials said July 26th, that an oil slick in coastal waters has been cleaned up 10 days after a massive explosion sent an estimated 1,500 tons of crude into the Yellow Sea along the northeastern port city of Dalian.

But beaches along Dalian’s long shoreline remain closed indefinitely, with oil covering rocks and pebbles on the sand, and fishing has been banned until the end of the summer. Environmentalists say nearby bays are also polluted…

Read Full Article, The Los Angeles Times

Cleaning Dalian Harbor, Boston Big Picture