Tag Archives: BP gulf oil spill

BP begins downsizing oil cleanup crews

By Rena Havner Philips, Press Register

Two weeks after BP PLC placed a temporary cap on the well spewing millions of gallons daily into the Gulf of Mexico, the company on Thursday continued to downsize the number of local workers hired to skim oil from the water, scour beaches and perform other cleanup tasks.

While acknowledging that complaints about spill residue persist, BP spokesman Ray Melick said the oil giant would pursue cleanup efforts until “the beaches are exactly the way people expect them to be.”

“There’s no question it’s not perfect,” Melick said. “I’d love to say we’ll have it done in two months or six months, but I don’t know. It won’t be a job that’s done until everybody feels like it’s done.”

Meanwhile, Alabama officials have sent samples of fish, shrimp and oysters from the Mississippi Sound to a Pascagoula laboratory to determine whether waters there can be reopened for fishing, said Maj. Chris Blankenship of Alabama Marine Resources.

If the samples pass sensory tests — which include smell tests — they will be sent to a federal Food and Drug Administration laboratory for either chemical or fluorescent testing.

Results are expected within a week.

State officials are awaiting permission from the FDA to take similar samples from Gulf waters within three miles of the coast and from Mobile Bay waters just north of the Fort Morgan peninsula.

It has been 102 days since the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf, killing 11 and causing the nation’s worst-ever oil spill.

On the Baldwin County coastline, crews continue working with sifters during daylight hours to separate oil from the sand, said Marcus Little of Semmes, who has served in the cleanup for the past three weeks.

At night, machines sweep miles of beaches. Essentially, said Gulf Shores City Administrator Steve Garman, the entire beach in his city gets cleaned every two nights.

As of Wednesday, however, the number of local people working on recovery efforts had declined significantly from its height a couple of weeks ago: 1,099 people were cleaning Alabama beaches and 181 boat operators were working in Alabama waters as part of the Vessels of Opportunity program.

Little said that he has been notified that today would be his last day.

Also, Little said, plenty of small specks of tarballs are being left behind, and there’s a layer of a cola-colored substance an inch or so below the surface. The latter, he said, makes the sand look like “vanilla ice cream with chocolate swirls.”

“If you bring a shovel, you’ll see that the top of the sand is littered with what looks like chocolate chips, but they’re actually tiny tarballs,” Little said. “I clean the beaches, supposedly, and I find it very disturbing.”

Garman said city leaders are coordinating with BP to make sure that the work is being done properly. He said that cleanup efforts have improved in recent weeks after getting off to a rough start.

He said he knows that some small specks are being left behind, but that’ll change this winter, when contractors will do a “deep cleaning” of the sand. Workers will dig up sand inches below the surface, “digging deeper and sifting finer,” he said.

“We’re not going to do that until a) there’s no indication of more oil coming in at all, and b) it’s cool enough so the tar is easier to pick up,” Garman said.

For now, “We can’t get 100 percent. We never anticipated that,” Garman said. “We’re getting all we can.”

Cleanup methods themselves have come a long way, Melick said, as new inventions have been introduced to aid in the effort.

“We started with guys with shovels and bags. Behind that came front-end loaders,” Melick said. “Over the course of the summer, we started using a better rake system, sifting through the sand. If people have been out there, they’ve seen the system improved.”

Melick said BP may introduce even better cleanup technology soon.

Elsewhere Thursday, the government’s point man for the Gulf spill said that preparations for an attempt to plug the gusher are going well enough that the timeline for a “static kill” may be moved up.

The static kill would involve pumping mud into the top of the well and possibly sealing it with cement, forcing the oil down into its natural reservoir. Next, a relief well would make the “bottom kill,” pumping in mud and cement for a permanent fix.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Thursday that crews would lay in the casing for the relief well later in the day. That could accelerate the work on the static kill, which he previously said would begin late Sunday or early Monday.

Allen also said there is now little chance that any of the spilled oil will reach the East Coast, and the odds will go to zero as the well is shut for good.

Locally, at least 120 people have gone to emergency rooms, clinics and urgent care centers since May 14 complaining of ailments thought to be related to the oil spill, Alabama Department of Public Health officials reported Thursday.

Fifty-four of the patients complaining of oil-caused symptoms were exposed via inhalation, 26 by contact and three through ingestion. Also, nine patients reported multiple exposures, and 28 were exposed indirectly, according to the health agency.

There were no reports Thursday of new oil contamination arriving on Alabama’s beaches. Light nonmetallic sheen was reported in the Gulf about two miles south of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.

View the original article here.

From Truthout-Health Hazards in Gulf Warrant Evacuations

“When Louisiana residents ask marine toxicologist and community activist Riki Ott what she would do if she lived in the Gulf with children, she tells them she would leave immediately. “It’s that bad. We need to start talking about who’s going to pay for evacuations.”

In 1989, Ott, who lives in Cordova, Alaska, experienced firsthand the devastating effects of the Exxon Valdex oil disaster. For the past two months, she’s been traveling back and forth between Louisiana and Florida to gather information about what’s really happening and share the lessons she learned about long-term illnesses and deaths of cleanup workers and residents. In late May, she began meeting people in the Gulf with symptoms like headaches, dizziness, sore throats, burning eyes, rashes and blisters that are so deep, they’re leaving scars. People are asking, “What’s happening to me?”

She says the culprit is almost two million gallons of Corexit, the dispersant BP is using to break up and hide the oil below the ocean’s surface. “It’s an industrial solvent. It’s a degreaser. It’s chewing up boat engines off-shore. It’s chewing up dive gear on-shore. Of course it’s chewing up people’s skin. The doctors are saying the solvents are making the oil worse.”

In a widely watched YouTube video, from Project Gulf Impact, a project that aims to give Gulf residents a voice, Chris Pincetich, a marine biologist and campaigner with the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, said Coast Guard planes are flying overhead at night spraying Corexit on the water and on land.” more here…

Letter from Thad Allen to Dudley do-no Right

Joe Weisenthal
Business Insider
July 19, 2010

Admiral Allen has sent the following letter, via The Oil Drum, to BP, regarding the discovery of oil seeps away from the well:

Dear Mr. Dudley,

My letter to you on July 16, 2010 extended the Well Integrity Test period contingent upon the completion of seismic surveys, robust monitoring for indications of leakage, and acoustic testing by the NOAA vessel PISCES in the immediate vicinity of the well head. Given the current observations from the test, including the detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head, monitoring of the seabed is of paramount importance during the test period. As a continued condition of the test, you are required to provide as a top priority access and coordination for the monitoring systems, which include seismic and sonar surface ships and subsea ROV and acoustic systems. When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours. I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed.

As the National Incident Commander, I must remain abreast of the status of your source control efforts. Now that source control has evolved into a period beyond the expected 48 hour interval of the Well Integrity Test, I am requiring that you provide me a written update within 24 hours of your intentions going forward. I remain concerned that all potential options to eliminate the discharge of oil be pursued with utmost speed until I can be assured that no additional oil will spill from the Macondo Well.

You may use your letter of 9 July as a basis for your update. Specifically, you must provide me your latest containment plan and schedule in the event that the Well Integrity Test is suspended, the status and completion timelines for all containment options currently under development, and details of any other viable source control options including hydraulic control that you are
considering. You should highlight any points at which progress along one option will be impacted by resource trade-offs to achieve progress along another option. Include options for and impacts of continued twice-a day seismic testing versus once a day testing.

As you develop the plans above, note that the primary method of securing the source is the relief well and this effort takes precedence. Therefore, I direct you to provide a detailed plan for the final stages of the relief well that specifically addresses the interaction of this schedule and any other activity that may potentially delay relief well completion.

Have your representative provide results on the monitoring efforts and source control requirements described above during today’s BP and Government Science Team call at 8:00 PM CDT.

Sincerely,

THAD W. ALLEN


Seeps, Leaks and Methane

It takes 90 days to figure all this out, I don’t think so. Its all about the slow leak of pieces of truth to be released to the public. You see what your government thinks of you, how stupid they believe you  to be?

White House reveals “a seep and possible methane were found near the busted oil well”, BP Fails to do Request Monitoring

NEW ORLEANS – “The federal government Monday allowed BP to keep the cap shut tight on its busted Gulf of Mexico oil well for another day despite a seep in the sea floor after the company promised to watch closely for signs of new leaks underground, settling for the moment a rift between BP and the government.

The Obama administration’s point man for the spill, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said early Monday that government scientists had gotten the answers they wanted about how BP is monitoring the seabed around the mile-deep well, which has stopped gushing oil into the water since the experimental cap was closed Thursday.

Late Sunday, Allen said a seep had been detected a distance from the busted oil well and demanded in a sharply worded letter that BP step up monitoring of the ocean floor. Allen didn’t say what was coming from the seep. White House energy adviser Carol Browner told the CBS “Early Show” the seep was found less than two miles from the well site.

The concern all along — since pressure readings on the cap weren’t as high as expected — was a leak elsewhere in the well bore, meaning the cap may have to be reopened to prevent the environmental disaster from becoming even worse and harder to fix. An underground leak could let oil and gas escape uncontrolled through bedrock and mud.

“When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours. I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed,” Allen said in a letter to BP Managing Director Bob Dudley.

When asked about the seep and the monitoring, BP spokesman Mark Salt would only say that “we continue to work very closely with all government scientists on this.”

Early Monday, Allen issued a statement saying there had been an overnight conference call between the federal science team and BP.

“During the conversation, the federal science team got the answers they were seeking and the commitment from BP to meet their monitoring and notification obligations,” Allen said.

He said BP could continue testing the cap, meaning keeping it shut, only if the company continues to meet their obligations to rigorously monitor for any signs that this test could worsen the overall situation.

Both Allen and BP have said they don’t know how long the trial run will continue. It was set to end Sunday afternoon, but the deadline came and went with no official word on what’s next.

Browner said Allen’s extension went until Monday afternoon. She said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that monitoring was crucial to make sure the trapped oil doesn’t break out of its pipe.

“Clearly we want this to end. But we don’t want to enter into a situation where we have uncontrolled leaks all over the Gulf floor,” Browner told ABC.

BP PLC said Monday that the cost of dealing with the oil spill has now reached nearly $4 billion. The company said it has made payments totaling $207 million to settle individual claims for damages from the spill along the southern coast of the United States. To date, almost 116,000 claims have been submitted and more than 67,500 payments have been made, totaling $207 million.

With the newly installed cap keeping oil from BP’s busted well out of the Gulf during a trial run, this weekend offered a chance for the oil company and government to gloat over their shared success — the first real victory in fighting the spill. Instead, the two sides have spent the past two days disagreeing over what to with the undersea machinery holding back the gusher.

The apparent disagreement began to sprout Saturday when Allen said the cap would eventually be hooked up to a mile-long pipe to pump the crude to ships on the surface. But early the next day, BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said the cap should stay clamped shut to keep in the oil until relief wells are finished.

After nearly three months of harsh criticism as it tried repeatedly to stop the leak, BP wants to keep oil from gushing into the Gulf again before the eyes of the world. The government’s plan, however, is to eventually pipe oil to the surface, which would ease pressure on the fragile well but require up to three more days of oil spilling into the Gulf.

Both sides played down the apparent contradiction Sunday. Allen, ultimately the decision-maker, later said the containment plan he described Saturday hadn’t changed, and that he and BP executives were on the same page.

The company very much wants to avoid a repeat of the live underwater video that showed millions of gallons of oil spewing from the blown well for weeks.

“I can see why they’re pushing for keeping the cap on and shut in until the relief well is in place,” said Daniel Keeney, president of a Dallas-based public relations firm.

The government wants to eliminate any chance of making matters worse, while BP is loath to lose the momentum it gained the moment it finally halted the leak, Keeney said.

“They want to project being on the same team, but they have different end results that benefit each,” he said.

Oil would have to be released under Allen’s plan, which would ease concerns that the capped reservoir might force its way out through another route. Those concerns stem from pressure readings in the cap that have been lower than expected.

Scientists still aren’t sure whether the pressure readings mean a leak elsewhere in the well bore, possibly deep down in bedrock, which could make the seabed unstable. Oil would have to be released into the water to relieve pressure and allow crews to hook up the ships, BP and Allen have said.

Engineers are looking to determine whether low pressure readings mean that more oil than expected poured into the Gulf of Mexico since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11 people and touching off one of America’s worst environment crises.

To plug the busted well, BP is drilling two relief wells, one of them as a backup. The company said work on the first one was far enough along that officials expect to reach the broken well’s casing, or pipes, deep underground by late this month. The subsequent job of jamming the well with mud and cement could take days or a few weeks.

It will take months, or possibly years for the Gulf to recover, though cleanup efforts continued and improvements in the water could be seen in the days since the oil stopped flowing. Somewhere between 94 million and 184 million gallons have spilled into the Gulf, according to government estimates.”

Are BP and the US Working on an Omega Plan?

Terrence Aym seems to think so.

“In a desperate attempt to stop a huge area of the Gulf ocean floor from possibly rupturing due to subterranean methane gas (leading to a calamity no human has ever seen) BP has ripped a page from science fiction books.

The giant oil company is now quietly preparing to test a small nuclear device in a frenzied rush against time to quell a cascading catastrophe. If successful they will have the capability to detonate a controlled fusion generated pulse.

While the world watches BP’s attempt to contain the oil gusher at the former Deepwater Horizon site, company officials have given the green light on an astounding plan to use what is known as a nuclear EPFCG charge if all else fails.

Sea floor compromised.” Read more…