Posted on February 17, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Former Breckenridge resident Andy Cook cleans a yellowfin tuna he caught in the rich fishing waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River near Venice, Louisiana. bberwyn photo.
Exposure to PAHs disrupts basic cellular function of heart muscles
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — When BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drill rig spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, scientists immediately began documenting impacts to natural resources, finding dead corals on the seafloor, sick dolphins in Barataria Bay and remnant oil in the splash zone along Florida beaches.
Even low levels of oil pollution can damage the developing hearts of fish embryos and larvae, reducing the likelihood that those fish will survive. Scientists have known of this effect for some time, but the underlying mechanism has remained elusive.
But recent research by scientists with NOAA and Stanford University, shows how oil-derived chemicals disrupt the normal functioning of the heart muscle cells of fish. The findings, published in the Feb. 14 issue of Science, describe how toxic oil-based chemicals disrupt cardiac function in young bluefin and yellowfin tuna by blocking ion channels in their heart muscle cells. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico, oceans, oil spills, tuna | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 20, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
‘”I’ve never seen such a high prevalence of very sick animals …”
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Dolphins exposed to heavy doses of oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster are experiencing lung disease at five times the rate of dolphin populations in other areas, federal researchers reported in a new study published this week. The scientists also found that 25 percent of the Barataria Bay dolphins were significantly underweight and the population overall had very low levels of adrenal hormones, which are critical for responding to stress.
“I’ve never seen such a high prevalence of very sick animals — and with unusual conditions such as the adrenal hormone abnormalities,” said lead author Dr. Lori Schacke, who announced similar findings in March 2012. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Barataria Bay, Deepwater Horizon, dolphins, Environment | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Research suggests role of bacteria has been underestimated
Some of oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster coated and killed deep-sea corals in the Gulf of Mexico, but a large quantity may have been consumed by oil-eating bacteria. Photo courtesy Lophelia II 2010, NOAA OER and BOEMR.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Nearly three years after the Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded and the busted Macondo Well spewed millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, scientists are still trying to figure out to what happened to all the oil.
Only a tiny amount was captured or burned at the surface, and vast quantity — nobody knows exactly how much — was “dispersed” with chemicals injected directly into the stream of oil streaming out of the broken pipes, but a surprisingly large percentage of the oil may have been broken down by microbes. Continue reading
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oil spill, oil-eating bacteria | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Small grazers at the base of the food chain most directly affected
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 — The massive amounts of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded was devastating to marine life, but the dispersant used in the aftermath to try and break down the oil slicks may have been even worse for some species, according to new research done by scientists with the Georgia Institute of Technology and Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Based on laboratory toxicity tests, the study found that the oil-dispersant mix was up to 52 times more toxic to tiny rotifers, microscopic grazers at the base of the Gulf’s food chain.
The researchers tested a mix oil from the spill and Corexit, the dispersant required by the Environmental Protection Agency for clean up, on five strains of rotifers. Rotifers have long been used by ecotoxicologists to assess toxicity in marine waters because of their fast response time, ease of use in tests and sensitivity to toxicants. Continue reading
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation, oil drilling | Tagged: Corexit, Deepwater Horizon, Dispersant, Environment, oil pollution, Oil spill | 3 Comments »
Posted on April 24, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout spreads across the Gulf of Mexico in this NASA satellite image.
Scientists urge hard look at oil spill assumptions
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —Lack of previous experience in deep-water oil spills likely hampered the early response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, according to a panel of scientists who this week urged the federal government to reassess how it would respond to similar oil spills that might occur in the future.
The 22 researchers said the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill was unlike any other oil spill encountered previously. Although the well blowout occurred at unprecedented depths and released enormous quantities of oil (an estimated 4.9 million barrels or 206 million gallons), the response to cleanup and contain the oil was based on assumptions made from experience with surface spills. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater Horizon, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, offshore oil drilling, Oil spill | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 25, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Instead of focusing on the environmental damage done by fossil fuel extractions, Republicans in Congress are nitpicking about procedural reports related to oil and coal development.
Resources committee to consider issuing subpoenas on mining stream buffers, Gulf drilling moratorium
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY —The radical anti-environmental leaders of the House Natural Resources Committee last week announced the latest chapter of their anti-Obama witch hunt, scheduling a March 28 full committee meeting to discuss possible subpoenas related to coal mining stream protections and a moratorium on Gulf of Mexico oil drilling.
At issue are two efforts by the Obama administration to raise environmental standards. To try and protect streams and riparian areas from the ravages of coal mining, the interior department set out to rewrite a stream buffer zone rule. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater Horizon, Doc Hastings, energy, fossil fuels, Gulf of Mexico, House Natural Resources Committee, Obama administration | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 18, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A NASA satellite view of the Alaska coastline and the Chukchi Sea.
Oil company commits to unprecedented safeguards to prevent an oil disaster in the Arctic, but will it be enough?
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Oil drilling in the frigid Arctic waters off Alaska could begin as early as June, after the Obama administration this week approved an emergency response plan proposed by Shell.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the response plan heeds the lessons of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The company was required to prepare a plan for a worst-case discharge nearly five times more than the amount envisioned by the previous plan, including a specific response for adverse weather conditions. The company’s new plan also includes equipment and strategies to respond to a loss of well control and a spill. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Alaska, Arctic oil drilling, Arctic oil drilling response plan approved, Arctic oil spill, Chukchi Sea, Deepwater Horizon, Shell Oil | 3 Comments »
Posted on December 14, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
A U.S. Coast Guard photo shows firefighting ships battling flames on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
Environmental groups say latest leasing plans ignore Deepwater Horizon lessons
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —Conservation groups say federal government didn’t take its NEPA duties seriously when it approved a new lease sale in the western Gulf of Mexico. This week, the filed a lawsuit to try and force federal agencies to do a new environmental study that takes into account the widespread impacts of last year’s BP blowout.
“This is their first attempt to do new leases since the Deepwater Horizon disaster … and we think there are fundamental things missing throughout the Environmental Impact Statement, said Deirdre McDonnell, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program. Continue reading
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, energy, Environment, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, Center for Biological Diversity, Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico, Natural Resources Defense Council, oil spills, Summit County news environment | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 9, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Parts of the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea would be opened for oill drilling under an Obama administration plan announced this week.
Interior Department proposes 3 offshore Alaska lease sales and 12 in the Gulf of Mexico
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Obama administration this week cautiously moved toward increased oil leasing, exploration and drilling in the Arctic Sea off the coast of Alaska, as well as more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
The proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-202 includes 12 potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and three in Alaskan coastal waters. According to the announcement from the U.S. Department of Interior, the program makes available for exploration and development more than 75 percent of the undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore. The draft Environmental Impact Statement is available here as a PDF document.
President Obama has been under enormous political pressure to develop more onshore and offshore domestic energy resources, with Republicans in Congress leading the charge as they advocate for increased drilling as a way to help the economy.
The proposed lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas are scheduled late in the 5-year period to enable more scientific study and data collection, and longer term planning for spill response preparedness and infrastructure. The proposal is subject to a series of public hearings and maps are online here. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Alaska, Alaska oil drilling, Arctic, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Chukchi Sea, Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 20, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
A NASA photo taken May 13, 2010 from 28,000 feet shows the Deepwater Horizon oil slick spreading across the Gulf of Mexico as a light-blue sheen.
Natural and enhanced microbial degradation identified as key to minimizing impacts
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Ubiquitous oil-eating microbes may be the key to cleaning up future oil spills, according to a pair of researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who studied both the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska and last summer’s disastrous Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
Despite big differences in the impacted marine ecosystems and the circumstances of these two worst oil spills in U.S. history, oil-degrading microorganisms played a significant role in reducing the overall environmental impact of both spills, the scientists said.
“Responders to future oil spills would do well to mobilize as rapidly as possible to determine both natural and enhanced microbial degradation and what the best possible approach will be to minimize the risk and impact of the spill on the environment,” said Terry Hazen, a microbial ecologist with the Berkeley Lab. Continue reading
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, energy, Environment, Marine biology, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Deepwater Horizon, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Exxon Valdez, Exxon Valdez oil spill, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, microbial oil spill remediation, oil spills, Summit County News | 1 Comment »