Posted on July 12, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Wider ecosystem services must be considered in damage assessments
BP oil from the Deepwater Horizon drill rig spreads across the northern Gulf of Mexico.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The total impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico can’t be quantified without accounting for how the spill affected ecosystem services provided by the Gulf. That includes trying to quantify the cost of increased storm damage due to wetlands losses, according to a new report from the National Research Council.
But a lack of baseline data about ecological conditions, as well as an incomplete understanding of complex ecosystem interactions make establishing the full scope of damage difficult.
Capturing the entire range of impacts will also require more data on human and economic factors. The report emphasizes that many services may have enormous value despite being difficult to measure, and that such services should be given adequate consideration in evaluating restoration options. Continue reading
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, gas drilling, Marine biology, ocean conservation, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, ecosystem services, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, offshore oil drilling | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Detailed study shows that fish exposed to oil-dispersant mix are less able to respond to subsequent environmental challenges
Followup studies after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill call into question the extensive use of chemical dispersants. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A new European study once again shows that using dispersants to treat oil spills can be bad news for many marine organisms, even as it prevents massive slicks from reaching the shoreline.
The results of the study will be presented formally at the July 6 meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology meeting in Valencia. The increased contamination under the water reduces the ability for fish and other organisms to cope with subsequent environmental challenges, the research team found.
Led by professor Guy Claireaux, of the University of Brest, the biologists for the first time looked at the effects of chemically dispersed oil on the performance of European seabass to subsequent environmental challenges. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, dispersants, oceans, Oil spill, Society for Experimental Biology | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 13, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Atmospheric CO2 now at 400 parts per million – how high will it go?
Oil spill, climate and weather stories top the list
FRISCO — Out story on lingering Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacts to Gulf of Mexico aquatic ecosystems got a lot of social media love to become the most-viewed story of the week, while local weather, marked by a series of wet spring storms, also garnered reader attention. Also of note, two Summit Voice photo essays, as well as a guest post by Stan Wagon, also cracked the top 10 list:
A few more stories worth reading from the past week:
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, Snow and weather | Tagged: Colorado, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Greenland ice sheet, online news, Summit County Colorado | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 5, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
UC Davis scientist Andrew Whitehead collects fish at a field site in May 2010, weeks after the April Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A 2013 study he co-authored shows killifish at oil-impacted sites continue to develop health defects, three years after the spill. Photo courtesy Pat Sullivan.
Fish embryos exposed to oil show developmental abnormalities
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO —Small fish living in coastal Louisiana waters were sickened by crude oil toxicity for more than a year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to researchers from Lousiana, California and South Carolina.
Oil collected from the spill in 2011 continues to show toxic effects in the lab, suggesting there’s a risk of multi-generational exposure, according to Andrew Whitehead, a University of California, Davis, scientist who co-authored the study of killifish, considered an indicator species for coastal ecosystems.
Killifish embryos exposed to sediments from oiled locations in 2010 and 2011 show developmental abnormalities, including heart defects, delayed hatching and reduced hatching success. Continue reading
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, killifish, oil pollution | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A NASA satellite image shows the widespread sheen of oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico after the April 2010 failure of the Deepwater Horizon drilling operation.
Researchers try to trace fate of BP oil in the Gulf of Mexico
By Summit Voice
FRISCO—It’s been nearly three years since BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drilling operation spewed millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but scientists are still looking for signs of long-term impacts and trying to understand how the oil affected Gulf ecosystems.
One of the biggest questions remaining is exactly what happened to all the oil — about 5 million barrels. Along with a tiny percentage that was physically cleaned up, most studies suggest that much of the oil was processed by bacteria, or simply broken down into constituent molecules, but none of the studies have been able to account for the entire amount. Continue reading
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, energy, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Florida State University, Gulf of Mexico | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 28, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Northern Gulf of Mexico beaches will get some TLC this coming summer as part of the ongoing restoration work in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
Sea turtle and bird habitat improvements planned in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — More restoration projects — valued at about $9 million — to repair damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster are set to begin in the next months along the beaches of the Florida panhandle, Mississippi and Alabama, including habitat improvements for nesting sea turtles and seabirds.
The work is part of the second phase of early restoration projects being organized by the Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees. Altogether, BP will fund $1 billion in early restoration projects.
“These additional projects are important steps in recovering from the oil spill, but they, along with the other Phase I projects, are just first steps,” said Trudy D. Fisher, Chair of the NRDA Trustee Council and Mississippi’s trustee. “Use of the early restoration funding has not moved quickly enough to suit any of us. I want to stress that the NRDA trustees are working hard to see that restoration funding is used in a way that is in the best interest of our natural resources.” Continue reading
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, Natural Resource Damage Assessment, restoration | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 10, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
An explosion and subsequent fire on BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico led to the biggest oil spill on recornd in U.S. coastal waters. Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard.
Study shows that sunlight intensifies the impacts of PAHs
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — In yet another sign that BP’s spilled Deepwater Horizon may have long-lasting impacts on Gulf ecosystems, a team of researchers said last week that even low-level, short-term exposure to traces of oil remnants causes deformities and impairs the swimming ability of fish.
The research was led by scientists with the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. The school is a leader in the field of marine toxicology and used a state of the art hatchery to study the effect of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on various species of fish, including cobia and mahi mahi.
PAH’s are toxic components of oil that are released from oil into the water column. The team also studied the effects of photo-enhanced toxicity, or the impact of sunlight on the potency of the toxic compounds found in the oil from the DWH spill.
A previous study by Smith University scientists showed similar impacts to fish during embryonic stages of development.
“We found that in more sensitive species the photo-enhanced toxicity could account for up to a 20-fold higher sensitivity,” said Dr. Martin Grosell, professor and associate dean of graduate studies for the Rosenstiel School. “This is an important part of the equation because it means that traditional toxicity testing performed under laboratory conditions will tend to underestimate the toxicity that might have occurred in the natural environment under the influence of sunlight,” he added. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, Uncategorized | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, Mahi-mahi, oceans, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 16, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Company accepts criminal responsibility for 2010 disaster
A NASA satellite captures an image of a swirling oil slick from BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — After spending more than $14 billion on the response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP will pay another $4.5 billion in penalties under a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the biggest fine ever levied by the department.
Federal officials said they will also pursue gross negligence charges under the Clean Water Act, which could result in up to $20 billion in additional fines, ranging up to $4,300 per barrel of spilled oil.
The explosion killed 11 workers on the drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico and sent millions of gallons of crude oil spewing into the water, damaging fisheries, smearing beaches and wetlands and squelching tourism in the region for months. Followup studies have shown that oil remnants may affect Gulf ecosystems for years to come. Continue reading
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: BP, Clean Water Act, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, United States Department of Justice | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 24, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Conservation coalition says feds are ignoring painful lessons of Deepwater Horizon oil disaster
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — New deep water drilling plans in the Gulf of Mexico won’t go forward without a legal test, as a coalition of environmental groups last week challenged the Department of Interior’s decision to proceed with new permits without fully addressing the risks to wildlife and the environment.
While drilling regulators believe they have developed a robust new set of safety and environmental regulations, the conservation community thinks otherwise, claiming in the lawsuit that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management dismissed the lessons learned during the Deepwater Horizon disaster and failed to obtain essential information about the status of species and resources still suffering from the 2010 oil spill. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Center for Biological Diversity, deep water oil drilling, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, Natural Resources Defense Council, oil spills | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 11, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Oil from BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drill rig and the Macondo well spread across the ocean in May 2010. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
Followup research will determine how long the impacts last
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Biologists said they were shocked by the dramatic changes they observed in microbial communities along Gulf of Mexico beaches after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
The study led by by scientists from University of New Hampshire’s Hubbard Center for Genome Studies, sampled sites around Dauphin Island, Ala., and Grand Isle, La., just after the Deepwater Horizon spill began but before oil reached the shore, then again several months later, in September 2010. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, BP Gulf oil spill, Environment | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, National Science Foundation, oil spill beach impacts, University of New Hampshire | Leave a comment »