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Oil Spill
Old 05-22-2010, 10:07 AM   #1
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Oil Spill

Anyone being, or gonna be, affected by the oil spill?
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Old 05-22-2010, 10:38 AM   #2
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I don't mean to belittle this serious question at all, but I think it is entirely possible that things like oysters on the halfshell, and maybe even Gulf shrimp may become things of the past.
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Old 05-22-2010, 11:10 AM   #3
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I don't mean to belittle this serious question at all, but I think it is entirely possible that things like oysters on the halfshell, and maybe even Gulf shrimp may become things of the past.
Yeah. There was a piece on one of the dinner-hour network news programs about the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. There is considerable areas of the coastline that, today, looks like the "accident" happened only yesterday -- still coated with an oily sludge. So we are looking at 20-years anyway of loss of seashore areas along the Gulf of Mexico. We do live in interesting times.
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Old 05-22-2010, 03:13 PM   #4
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Anyone being, or gonna be, affected by the oil spill?
I think we all are going to be affected indirectly.
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Old 05-22-2010, 03:21 PM   #5
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Yeah. There was a piece on one of the dinner-hour network news programs about the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. There is considerable areas of the coastline that, today, looks like the "accident" happened only yesterday -- still coated with an oily sludge. So we are looking at 20-years anyway of loss of seashore areas along the Gulf of Mexico. We do live in interesting times.
10 years ago I passed the area on a cruise ship. If they had not announced it, I wouldn't have known. From our vantage point at least, I couldn't see any damage at all. Maybe different up close though.

I have not followed this spill closely, but I'm confused by the reports I've heard. On one hand, it sounds like a huge disaster. OTOH, I hear reports about finding a bird (singular) covered in oil, or (again singular) a bird that was killed. And the tar balls that washed up on a shore had to be tested to even determine if they were from the spill, and then they determined that they were not. That doesn't sound so bad if they can't even tell them from other (natural?) sources). I'm confused. Maybe it's just the fact that this is far from shore, the damage is widespread versus pinpoint.

Put in perspective, I imagine the cumulative environmental damage from coal mining is far worse, but I fear we will get a 'oil drilling is bad' response on this, w/o considering the alternatives.

-ERD50
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Old 05-22-2010, 04:10 PM   #6
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Higher seafood prices ? More pcb's and other carcinogens in the seafood from the gulf? Higher taxes as the US taxpayer is once again inevitably hit up ?
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Old 05-22-2010, 05:21 PM   #7
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This is the best thing that could have happened to the California coast.


I've only heard one mention of this: Hurricane season begins in eight days...
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Old 05-22-2010, 07:16 PM   #8
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Yes. It breaks my heart, and it makes me very angry. But, as long as I still use petroleum products, I have no excuse.

We seem to be playing metaphorical musical chairs with this planet, but the music will stop at some point.
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Old 05-22-2010, 08:08 PM   #9
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Great chart Al. I guess the US uses 21 million barrels of oil per day (another source). Incredible. If they're still gonna drill off our coast out here for that tiny bit of oil, I hope they do better than when I was a kid. After a trip to the beach all us kids would have to go to the garage and clean our feet with turpentine to get the tar off. It's much better today.

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Old 05-22-2010, 09:30 PM   #10
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This is the best thing that could have happened to the California coast.

...
Interesting chart. This is why I say that conservation seems so much more 'do-able' than alternative energy, or more drilling. It can't be that hard to conserve 10% of oil, but to find alternative sources for 10% is a big deal.

But I don't think it works very well to mandate conservation, people need to decide to do it on their own. Higher prices have already proven effective to achieve that goal.


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Old 05-23-2010, 01:03 AM   #11
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10 years ago I passed the area on a cruise ship. If they had not announced it, I wouldn't have known. From our vantage point at least, I couldn't see any damage at all. Maybe different up close though.

I have not followed this spill closely, but I'm confused by the reports I've heard. On one hand, it sounds like a huge disaster. OTOH, I hear reports about finding a bird (singular) covered in oil, or (again singular) a bird that was killed. And the tar balls that washed up on a shore had to be tested to even determine if they were from the spill, and then they determined that they were not. That doesn't sound so bad if they can't even tell them from other (natural?) sources). I'm confused. Maybe it's just the fact that this is far from shore, the damage is widespread versus pinpoint.

Put in perspective, I imagine the cumulative environmental damage from coal mining is far worse, but I fear we will get a 'oil drilling is bad' response on this, w/o considering the alternatives.

-ERD50
If you get far enough out in Space, the earth looks like a big clean blue marble, too. Prince William Sound will not be fully recovered for thousands of years, if then. Wildlife populations look good only to those who don't know what was there before.
In the immediate aftermath, dead critters often sink.
Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council -
"Visitors today experience the spectacular scenery and wildlife of Prince William Sound and the North Gulf of Alaska. However, one of the most stunning revelations of Trustee Council-funded monitoring over the last ten years is that Exxon Valdez oil persists in the environment and in places, is nearly as toxic as it was the first few weeks after the spill."

The Gulf is a different environment, the oil spewing out is not Alaska crude, etc, etc, but gee whiz, the quantities are mind-boggling.
I'm nowhere near the Gulf, but I guess you could say this spill affects me because the grief from the Exxon Valdez has been stirred up all over again.
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Old 05-23-2010, 10:10 AM   #12
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....
Put in perspective, I imagine the cumulative environmental damage from coal mining is far worse, but I fear we will get a 'oil drilling is bad' response on this, w/o considering the alternatives.

-ERD50

Sounds like Exxon the spill was not completely cleaned up... Any guesses as to why it wasn't?

Hopefully BP will be force to clean it up and make people, companies, and industries that are affected financially whole!

IMO - Oil Drilling is not bad. Oil Companies that do not take due care and caution are the culprit. See this 60 minutes piece where a survivor tells what happened. An amazing story (Caution... it will certainly make you angry).

Blowout: The Deepwater Horizon Disaster - 60 Minutes - CBS News
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Old 05-23-2010, 10:13 AM   #13
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I'm nowhere near the Gulf, but I guess you could say this spill affects me because the grief from the Exxon Valdez has been stirred up all over again.
Well let me ruin your Sunday morning. Don't forget this.
Great Barrier Reef Oil Spill Hits Wildlife Sanctuary : Discovery News

On the plus side. The Nissan Leaf is coming out in December and Toyota just teamed up with Tesla to make their own electric car.
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Old 05-23-2010, 10:34 AM   #14
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I remember one day when I went windsurfing at the Berkeley marina. There must have been some local oil spill, because there were small dabs of oil/tar on the beach and in the water. A small amount that didn't even make the news.

But this stuff was a mess. It got on the sailboard, it got on me, and it didn't come off. I had to pack up and go home. I can't describe how pervasive and intractable that small amount of oil was.
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Old 05-23-2010, 12:20 PM   #15
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The Gulf is a different environment, the oil spewing out is not Alaska crude, etc, etc, but gee whiz, the quantities are mind-boggling.
Yes, I hope it didn't sound like I was trying to minimize this disaster. It's just that the reports seem odd to reconcile. I think the issue is the quantity distributed over a wide area. Maybe not as much visible damage, but lots of more hidden damage.

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If you get far enough out in Space, the earth looks like a big clean blue marble, too. Prince William Sound will not be fully recovered for thousands of years, if then.
Yes, but fully recovered is not a very useful real-world term. What does that mean? The area under my feet where I type this won't be 'fully recovered' for tens of thousands of years if we did nothing. The cement foundation will be observable for a few thousand I bet, and after that, the alkaline residue in the soil will be measurable.

I guess my point is (more of a question really), is that we have the occasional oil spill. Yet, every coal mine does significant environmental damage, even w/o any 'headline news' incident. But, it seems that oil drilling (when no incident occurs) is pretty environmentally sound. Drill the hole, take the oil, close it up, and not much damage left behind. Compare that to taking the top off a mountain, the erosion and contamination from the 'trailings', etc to get some coal. That happens day in and day out with little attention.


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On the plus side. The Nissan Leaf is coming out in December and Toyota just teamed up with Tesla to make their own electric car.
And just how much impact will those vehicles have? They still need fuel to generate the electricity (a large % from coal). It would be interesting to do the numbers, but I bet $4 gas, with no other changes to anything (except people's behaviors) would save more energy (of all kinds) and lower pollution more than a few electric cars on the road.

-ERD50
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Old 05-23-2010, 03:54 PM   #16
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Oil Companies that do not take due care and caution are the culprit.
The idea that mistakes and disasters like this won't happen if only we're really careful and do things right is a dangerous one.

Human beings are incapable of not making these kinds of mistakes. If you are breaking 50 eggs into a jar, eventually, you will dump the contents of one of the eggs into the garbage, and put the shell into the jar. Other examples:

Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Exxon Valdez
Space Shuttle Challenger
Apollo 13
Hyatt Regency Walkway (Kansas City)
Ford Pinto
Sampoong Department Store collapse

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Old 05-23-2010, 06:18 PM   #17
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Yes, I hope it didn't sound like I was trying to minimize this disaster. It's just that the reports seem odd to reconcile.
....
Yes, but fully recovered is not a very useful real-world term. What does that mean?
...
I guess my point is (more of a question really), is that we have the occasional oil spill. Yet, every coal mine does significant environmental damage, even w/o any 'headline news' incident.
-ERD50
It's easy to reconcile. If the "scientists" are hired by oil companies (and there were some), they speak with forked tongue. When I say "fully recovered" I mean that the wildlife that used to live there can live there again, and the subsistence and commercial human users can go back to their previous livelihoods. Much of PWS is a national park. It's not like the oil got spilled in downtown LA. If you've never seen pristine wilderness you can have no concept of the density and diversity of life there, even this far north (and I speak from personal experience). When I was a child growing up in a city, I was thrilled to visit my grandparent's two acres in the country and see a wild mouse. Here in Anchorage, I enjoy and expect to see moose when I go for a walk, yet 50 years ago residents here would expect to see moose, bear, wolverine, fox, muskrat, beaver, etc, as were here before trappers and subdivisions.
Granted, coal has immediate bad effects and in fact, largely due to deregulation, much of our freshwater fish are contaminated by mercury due to burning coal. It is possible to drill for oil and not make a mess if regulation is there and heavily enforced. But in this world that obviously isn't happening. BP has been screwing up here in Alaska for years and getting their hands lightly slapped.
The only possible good I see from this disaster is that it may stop the Pebble Mine from going forward. Pebble would destroy the world's largest wild salmon runs, in Bristol Bay. It's another foreign corporation saying "Trust me, this time it'll be different."
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Old 05-23-2010, 09:33 PM   #18
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It's easy to reconcile. If the "scientists" are hired by oil companies (and there were some), they speak with forked tongue.
Geez, I was just commenting on some of the news coverage I heard. I don't think NPR was getting their info only from oil company employees. And I heard reports of singular bird occurrences.

Quote:
When I say "fully recovered" I mean that the wildlife that used to live there can live there again,
That is still a very imprecise measure. I don't doubt that one could still find damage at the Valdez area, but animals/plants are living there, right?


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Granted, coal has immediate bad effects and in fact, largely due to deregulation, much of our freshwater fish are contaminated by mercury due to burning coal. It is possible to drill for oil and not make a mess if regulation is there and heavily enforced. But in this world that obviously isn't happening.
What's the solution? If we stop drilling and mining, the rest of the world will continue and we have no assurance that they will regulate/enforce the risks any better than we do. How is China doing with regulations and enforcement on mercury and other coal pollutants?

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The idea that mistakes and disasters like this won't happen if only we're really careful and do things right is a dangerous one.

Human beings are incapable of not making these kinds of mistakes.
Excellent point. Looking glass half-full, I'm actually surprised at just how rare these disasters are. What % of the world is run on drilled oil? Yet, these disasters are (fortunately) big news instead of every day occurrences.

-ERD50
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Old 05-24-2010, 08:16 AM   #19
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I don't mean to belittle this serious question at all, but I think it is entirely possible that things like oysters on the halfshell, and maybe even Gulf shrimp may become things of the past.
Not likely. The oil has just recently washed up in swamp land in LA, but there are not too many other areas where is has had any impact. Kevin Costner has some stuff in the works. I read reports that he would have had his equipment out here earlier, but the Corps of Engineers had to follow their checklists and put up a bunch of red tape. From what I've read his stuff can clean all of the oil being spilled per day and the water is 97% clean, without putting any chemicals back in the environment. There is also a 747 waiting at the airport down here ready to spray dispersant on the oil. The plane was originally designed to drop water on forest fires. That thing is awesome. It can carry enough dispersant to cover over 100 miles of slick. The plane has been sitting at the airport for about a week now. They are just waiting for the government red tape to get cleared up so they can start flying missions. The Navy has some oil skimming boats deployed down here, but again they sat unused for almost a month. They are now out there skimming some of the oil off the top. There are oil booms all over the place to protect the most sensitive and easily protected areas. My point is if all of these items are put into service the impact should not get any worse than it currently is. Costner's stuff can clean more oil than is coming out of the well. The oil skimmers can clean up what Costner's stuff misses. And the plane can spray the oil that has gotten farther away from the well. The problem is getting the government to give its approval to start using all of the stuff.

BP has been paying 5k per week to charter boats and any tourists type boat operation who has had to shut down due to the oil leak. This has in effect rented the company out for the week and has been a boon for some of the less profitable companies.
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Old 05-24-2010, 08:48 AM   #20
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I'm sure that BP is working as hard as possible to shut off the flow, and that they have best mining minds in the world working on the problem. I understand that it's a mile below the surface.

But shouldn't there be some clever solutions to plugging this thing up? They've only tried two things so far.

Is it the high pressure that prevents BP from just sticking some expanding thing into the pipe? Can't they put in a bigger straw?

-----------------

Aren't there some off shore oil fields in the middle east, where the the sea is essentially dead?
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