Posted on May 11, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Freshwater ‘bulge’ from the Mississippi River may have kept some oil away from the Gulf Coast
A NASA satellite image shows the Deepwater Horizon oil slick spreading across a huge section of the northern Gulf of Mexico.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster that fouled huge stretches of the northern Gulf Coast could have hit the coast even harder but for the mighty Mississippi, according to geoscientists with the University of Pennsylvania, who said in a new study that pulses of freshwater from the river helped keep some of the oil offshore.
According to Douglas Jerolmack, the force of the Mississippi River emptying into the Gulf of Mexico created mounds of freshwater which pushed some of the oil slick off shore. The results of the study could help responders during future oil disasters decide where to focus preventive and cleanup efforts during the immediate response.
Jerolmack said he decided to do the study after noticing a disconnect between daily forecasts of where the oil movement and the locations where it actually ended up. The problem, he said, was that the models were based on looking the movement of the oil based primarily on known ocean currents, while not considering all the other factors that could affect the incoming pollution.
Other follow-up studies show that the oil continues to have profound effects on Gulf ecoysystems, including elevated levels of metals in oysters, and toxic effects on marine mammals and fish. (more…)
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi Delta, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 3, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
‘The oil is not gone yet. This disaster is not over. There are embryos right now that are still getting exposed to that oil.’
Zebrafish. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
The Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform after the April 2010 explosion. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster causes very specific and potentially lethal defects in fish, including heart problems and loss of facial cartilage.
The oil also prevents fish from swimming away from danger, probably because of damage to sensory neurons, according to a study published this week in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Biology.
In a controlled lab setting, Dr. Michael Barresi and his students at Smith University in Massachusetts exposed zebrafish (a common freshwater fish often found in aquariums) to concentrations of oil that probably still exist at similar levels in the gulf today, two years after the Macondo Well spewed millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, Marine biology, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, developmental defects, Environment, fish, Gulf of Mexico, Macondo oil, marine biology, Oil spill | 5 Comments »
Posted on April 30, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Research show that carcinogenic oil-related PAH compounds are easily absorbed through skin
A beach along Cape San Blas, Florida, where researchers sampled the swash zone for contaminated weathered tar product mixed with dispersant. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
New research in Florida shows contaminated oil product accumulating in the swash zone of Gulf beaches. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, beaches along the northern Gulf of Mexico coastline are far from being clean, says University of South Florida researcher James “Rip” Kirby, who recently documented accumulations of remnant oil with “scary high” concentrations of carcinogenic oil-related compounds. Download the full report or a summary at the Surfrider website.
In fact, the weathered tar product from crude oil dispersed with Corexit were found to have PAH concentrations consistently in excess of limits set to identify danger to life and health — IDHL limits, as defined by NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration.
In all, 32 sites were sampled; only three were free of PAH contamination. Samples at 26 of the sites exceeded the IDHL limits. Testing was done at beaches between Waveland, Miss. and Cape San Blas, Fla. (more…)
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, Marine biology, water | Tagged: Corexit, Deepwater horizon oil spill, oil pollution Gulf beaches, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Surfrider Foundation, University of South Florida | 4 Comments »
Posted on April 20, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Caption: Oyster shells like this one, collected from the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, have been shown to contain higher concentrations of three heavy metals common in crude oil -- vanadium, cobalt, and chromium -- than specimens collected before the spill.
Credit: California Academy of Sciences
Researchers denied access to pure samples of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — BP’s oil continues to have toxic after-effects two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster spewed millions of gallons in the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists tracking the long-term impacts have found devastated corals on the sea floor, sick dolphins in coastal areas and most recently, heavy metal contamination in Gulf oysters linked to the oil.
“While there is still much to be done as we work to evaluate the impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill on the Gulf’s marine food web, our preliminary results suggest that heavy metals from the spill have impacted one of the region’s most iconic primary consumers and may affect the food chain as a whole,” said Dr. Peter Roopnarine, of the California Academy of Sciences.
Roopnarine has detected evidence that pollutants from the oil have entered the ecosystem’s food chain. For the past two years, the team has been studying oysters (Crassostrea virginica) collected both before and after the Deepwater Horizon oil reached the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, BP Gulf oil spill, Environment | Tagged: BP, California Academy of Sciences, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, oysters, polluton | 4 Comments »
Posted on March 28, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Critical hormones affected in almost half the marine mammals studied
A bottlenose dolphin in the Gulf of Mexico. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY —The scope of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster was so unprecedented that biologists weren’t sure what they would find when they started investigating dolphin health in Barataria Bay, off the coast of Louisiana.
What they did find was disturbing. Many dolphins are underweight and anemic, have low blood sugar and suffers symptoms of liver and lung disease, NOAA researchers said last week. Nearly half of the 32 dolphins studied also have abnormally low levels of hormones that help with stress response, metabolism and immune function.
“This was truly an unprecedented event – there was little existing data that would indicate what effects might be seen specifically in dolphins (or other cetaceans) exposed to oil for a prolonged period of time,” Dr. Lori Schwacke said via email. “However, there have been experimental studies of health effects in another mammal (mink) exposed to oil over several months, and the health issues that we see in these dolphins are consistent with the adverse effects seen in the mink studies,” she said. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, Marine biology | Tagged: Barataria Bay, Deepwater horizon oil spill, dolphins, Gulf of Mexico, marine mammals, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 27, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Deep sea research mission documents extensive impacts
One of the impacted corals with attached brittle starfish. Although the orange tips on some branches of the coral is the color of living tissue, it is unlikely that any living tissue remains on this animal. PHOTO COURTESY Lophelia II 2010, NOAA OER and BOEMR.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Deep-sea research in the Gulf of Mexico has confirmed that oil from BP’s failed Macondo Well and Deepwater Horizon drilling rig had a serious impact on coral ecosystems miles away from the source of the oil.
“These biological communities in the deep Gulf of Mexico are separated from human activity at the surface by 4,000 feet of water,” said Penn State University Professor of Biology Charles Fisher. “We would not expect deep-water corals to be impacted by a typical oil spill, but the sheer magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its release at depth make it very different from a tanker running aground and spilling its contents. Because of the unprecedented nature of the spill, we have learned that its impacts are more far reaching than those arising from smaller spills that occur on the surface.”
The failed well leaked an estimated 160 million gallons of oil into the sea in the spring and summer of 2010. An early survey of nine sites more than 12 miles from the Macondo Well found deep-water coral communities unharmed. But a followup dive by a remotely operated submarine about six miles southwest of the spill discovered numerous coral communities covered in a brown flocculent material and showing signs of tissue damage. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, BP Gulf oil spill, coral reefs, Environment | Tagged: coral reefs, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Gulf of Mexico, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 26, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Research team documents severe ill-effects in Barataria Bay
A bottlenose dolphin in the Gulf of Mexico. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN
Barataria Bay (GOOGLE MAPS).
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Many dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay — one of the areas hit hardest by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe — are underweight and anemic, have low blood sugar and suffers symptoms of liver and lung disease, NOAA researchers said this week.
Nearly half of the 32 dolphins studied also have abnormally low levels of hormones that help with stress response, metabolism and immune function, biologists said, releasing preliminary results of a natural resource damage assessment to help responders deal with a steady stream of dolphin strandings along the tainted coastline. A NOAA dolphin FAQ is online here.
Barataria Bay, located in the northern Gulf of Mexico, received heavy and prolonged exposure to oil during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A NOAA dolphin assessment work slideshow is online here. (more…)
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, Marine biology, oil drilling | Tagged: Barataria Bay, Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Louisiana, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sick dolphins | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 21, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Oil entered foodweb from bottom up long after well was capped
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Oil from BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drilling contaminated the Gulf of Mexico‘s marine food chain from the bottom up, according to a new study showing that the oil was absorbed by tiny zooplankton.
Zooplankton are useful to track oil-derived pollution. They serve as food for baby fish and shrimp and act as conduits for the movement of oil contamination and pollutants into the food chain. The study confirms that, not only did oil affect the ecosystem in the Gulf during the blowout, but was still entering the food web long after the well was capped.
“Our research helped to determine a ‘fingerprint’ of the Deepwater Horizon spill—something that other researchers interested the spill may be able to use,” said Dr. Siddhartha Mitra of Eastern Carolina University. “Furthermore, our work demonstrated that zooplankton in the Northern Gulf of Mexico accumulated toxic compounds derived from the Macondo well.” he said. (more…)
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, Marine biology, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, zooplankton | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 6, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Feb. 2 report compiles independent monitoring data
Oil washes near the shore of Chandeleur Island. PHOTO COURTESY JEFFREY WARREN/GRASS ROOTS MAPPING PROJECT.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY— Citing the public’s right to know why an oil rig 11 miles off the coast of Louisiana has been leaking oil for seven years, a coalition of watchdog and environmental groups has filed a lawsuit against Taylor Energy Company LLC.
The lawsuit, filed last week in federal court by the Waterkeeper Alliance and several Gulf Coast Waterkeeper organizations, aims to halt the spill and to make public the facts of the company’s seven-year response and recovery operation. The lawsuit claims that the damaged operation has been leaking several hundred gallons per day into the Gulf of Mexico. (more…)
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, energy, Environment, oil drilling, Summit County news, water | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Gulf Coast oil pollution, Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, Oil spill, SkyTruth, Taylor Energy LLC, Waterkeepers Alliance | 2 Comments »
Posted on February 4, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Most experts agree that, given existing resouces, it would all but impossible to stop an Arctic oil spill on the scale of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. U.S. COAST GUARD PHOTO.
Conservation group advocates for an international Arctic response plan
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With oil drilling activities in the American Arctic on the horizon, concerns are mounting about the lack emergency response capabilities, as well as information about environmental conditions in the area.
A new report by the Center for American Progress highlights some of those concerns, pointing out that several federal agencies have called for more studies of baseline environmental conditions. Oil spill cleanup experts also say more resources are needed for the U.S. Coast Guard to fulfill its mission in the region. (more…)
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, energy, Environment, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Arctic oil drilling, Deepwater horizon oil spill, energy, Environment, oil drilling | 1 Comment »