Wind Holds Oil Offshore, Oil Slick Shrinking
The latest satellite image of the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico indicates it has shrunk since last week.
The latest image shows oil covering about 2,000 square miles. The slick was roughly 3,400 square miles last Thursday. _KMTR
...weather forecasts called for winds from the north today, which could give the government, energy company BP and hundreds of area fishermen some extra time to lay inflatable booms and take other preventive measures.
...Tony Hayward, BP's CEO, said that chemicals seem to be having a significant impact in keeping oil from floating to the surface.
Efforts to stop the leak have failed. BP is preparing a tall concrete box topped by a dome that could be placed over the well within a week to siphon the flow of oil, BP spokeswoman Ayana McIntosh-Lee said. If that fails, it may take 90 days to drill a separate well to stop the flow of oil.
...activity hummed at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, where Coast Guard ships were preparing to help recover oil from the spill today.
"This is the first time our ship will have worked to recover oil," said Michael Glander, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Oak. _USAToday
As noted earlier, underwater operations ongoing include 1. continuing attempts to get the existing blowout preventer to slow oil and gas flow 2. the injection of dispersants at the sea floor directly into the flow of hydrocarbons 3. attempts to add a new blowout preventer to the original BOP 4. attempt to install an alternative type of valve into the pipe 5. Lower a containment vessel or coffer dam onto the main leak and a secondary leak And longer term: 6. continue to drill the first relief well, and maneuver another rig into position to begin drilling the second relief well.
Also as noted earlier, engineers on site continue to devise new approaches to the problem.
...Some experts have been quick to predict apocalypse, painting grim pictures of 1,000 miles of irreplaceable wetlands and beaches at risk, fisheries damaged for seasons, fragile species wiped out and a region and an industry economically crippled for years.
President Obama has called the spill “a potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.” And some scientists have suggested that the oil might hitch a ride on the loop current in the gulf, bringing havoc to the Atlantic Coast.
Yet the Deepwater Horizon blowout is not unprecedented, nor is it yet among the worst oil accidents in history. And its ultimate impact will depend on a long list of interlinked variables, including the weather, ocean currents, the properties of the oil involved and the success or failure of the frantic efforts to stanch the flow and remediate its effects.
... The winds are dying down and the seas are calming, allowing for renewed skimming operations and possible new controlled burns of oil on the surface. BP technicians are trying to inject dispersants deep below the surface, which could reduce the impact on aquatic life. Winds and currents could move the globs of emulsified oil away from coastal shellfish breeding grounds.
The gulf is not a pristine environment and has survived both chronic and acute pollution problems before. Thousands of gallons of oil flow into the gulf from natural undersea wells seeps every day, engineers say, and the scores of refineries and chemical plants that line the shore from Mexico to Mississippi pour untold volumes of pollutants into the water.
After the Ixtoc spill 31 years ago, the second-largest oil release in history, the gulf rebounded. Within three years, there was little visible trace of the spill off the Mexican coast, which was compounded by a tanker accident in the gulf a few months later that released 2.6 million additional gallons, experts said.
“The gulf is tremendously resilient,” said Dr. Dokken, the marine biologist. _NYT
Labels: Oil Spills