Archive for June, 2010

Health Effects Of The Spill
June 23, 2010

Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals has been doing diligent surveillance on the health effects from the oil spill. So far there have been 143 cases of people complaining of health problems related to the spill. Most of these cases are clean-up workers. If you remember this was the case with workers cleaning up Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez. Many of those workers still have problems to this day. I’ve spent a lot of time on the water and most of the guys trying to skim off the oil are working long hot days. The heat only makes that “gas station” smell worse.

Here is the DHH report on those reporting health problems. Health Report

Also, here are some pictures I snapped during one boat ride down the Mississippi and out into the Gulf. We headed out with the “flotilla”. These are all the shrimp boats, oyster boats and barges that head out every morning to skim oil, lay spill boom and clean up the marshes. All of these boats have to pass through decontamination stations before being allowed back into port. These stations are huge barges where other boats have oil removed from their hulls and booms. We also stopped by the government’s main scientific base camp. It was set-up in a fishing village that’s been around for 100 years and is only a few miles from the Mississippi Delta. This camp is where all water samples from the Gulf are packed up and shipped off for testing.

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Extending The Moratorium?
June 22, 2010

****Update*****

Federal judge in New Orleans just issued a ruling to block the government’s deep water drilling ban. White House says it will appeal. Judge essentially ruled government’s logic that since one rig failed, all are likely to fail is unreasonable.

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As I write this I’m heading back from the Gulf Coast. The desperation from those living along the coast is clearly seen on the deep worry lines on their faces. You have those who depend on the water to make a living and those who depend on offshore drilling to feed their families. Those who work on the water worry not just about the lack of paycheck, but whether they’re watching their way of life being permanently altered. As for those who work on offshore rigs they worry whether they’ll have a career after this moratorium ends. Many companies are reaching a critical point and will soon have to decide whether they’ll move drilling operations out of the Gulf to places like Africa, Brazil and New Zealand. The drum beat is getting louder to end the government imposed six  month ban on deep water drilling. Except I’m getting word the ban may last longer than six months. I just talked with Ken Arnold. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and spoke up loudly when he felt the government used he and his colleagues names improperly to justify the ban. Despite the hard feelings Arnold is still working closely with the Department of the Interior to find a way to end the moratorium sooner for those 33 rigs already drilling in the Gulf. Arnold says those rigs have been rechecked and all safety equipment recertified. When I spoke to Arnold last week he was hopeful a quicker end to this ban was imminent. He was leaving for a meeting in Washington, DC with the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. The meeting was yesterday and did not go as well as Arnold hoped. Arnold said Salazar doesn’t want to end the ban until all the oil from this spill is cleaned up. Arnold said he pointed out that may take two years. Arnold said Secretary Salazar understood the point but it didn’t do much to dissuade him or change his decision. Arnold said Salazar is concerned other Blowout Preventers will fail the same way the one on the Deepwater Horizon did. Arnold said he also pointed out BP is conducting the largest oil spill recovery experiment in history. In other words, by the end of this disaster the country should have proven technology in place to effectively capture and clean up large oil spills. Arnold said he and his colleagues have another scheduled meeting with Secretary Salazar in two weeks. I’ll keep you posted.

I want to know what you think. Leave me a comment and take my poll.

The History Of Spills
June 8, 2010

The experts in my story stopped short of concluding what exactly caused the well blowout aboard the Deepwater Horizon. However, they do write, “We believe the blowout was caused by a complex and highly improbable chain of human errors coupled with several equipment failures and was preventable.” Yet, these experts argue when the enormity of this tragedy is put in the context of the industry’s history, the government’s current six month moratorium on deepwater drilling is not justified.

According to the federal government more than 50,000 wells have been drilled in the Gulf of Mexico since 1947. 7,000 leases are currently active, 64 percent of which are in water depths greater than 1,000 feet. According to the government 3,600 structures operating in the Gulf produced 31-percent of our country’s oil and 11-percent of natural gas. These rigs also produced $6 billion in revenue for the United States in 2009.

With these numbers in mind let’s look at the history of oil spills in the Gulf. Between 1960 and 1969 the government reported 99,000 barrels of oil were spilled. Between 1970 and 1979 the government reported 106,000 barrels of oil were spilled. But between 1980 and 2009 27,000 barrels of oil were spilled.  In total that’s roughly 30 barrels of oil spilled for every one million barrels produced.

The experts who helped the Department of the Interior compile the report say this industry has made drastic safety improvements over the last 30 years and an all out ban is “punitive”.

What these numbers leave out is the Ixtoc I spill in 1979 off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. This rig was owned by Mexico’s government oil monopoly, Pemex. That blowout took ten months to bring under control and spilled more than three million barrels of oil into the Gulf. 170 miles of Texas beaches were affected, largely around Padre Island.  Norman Guinasso is an oceanographer for Texas A & M University and heads the Geochemical and Environmental Research group. Guinasso says what is happening today is “eerily reminiscent” of the 1979 disaster. “What is happening today, especially the failures to cap the well, happened in a similar way back in 1979,” Guinasso said. “When the Ixtoc well failed, there was also an explosion and fire and the entire rig sank, just like the Deepwater Horizon well did. And just like the current spill, there was a blowout preventer that was supposed to have worked, but it did not.”

Oh, by the way, the Times-Picayune via the Mobile Register is now reporting a rig close to the Deepwater Horizon has also been leaking since April 30th. Here’s a link to the story.

  

Oil Spill Scams
June 7, 2010

 

As with most disasters there are those who will try to make a buck off it. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is no different. Reports are popping up of people offering training to anybody who wants to help with clean-up. This training, of course, comes with a fee. This has prompted BP to issue a statement.. 

Individuals falsely representing themselves as BP employees are offering applicants training and promising job placement for a fee.    

“It is important that the public be aware that this is a scam,” said Neil Chapman, BP spokesperson. “BP does not charge to train and hire applicants.”
 
BP is working closely with local authorities to prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law. If you or someone you know has been charged fees for training, please contact law enforcement. 
 

“BP is committed to protecting the wildlife, marshlands, and residents. We will continue to engage the community in the Gulf region and provide services to ensure that no one, especially those affected by the DeepWater Horizon Incident, are taken advantage of.”     

In addition to employment scams there are those “phishing” around for people thinking they may be entitled to compensation from BP. Since a large numbers of Gulf Coast residents are entitled to compensation scam artists are hoping to confuse unsuspecting people. I received this e-mail today.. 

For You, 

Arising from the BP Victims Compensation Committee just set up by the BP Products North America Inc., Transocean Ltd.in my personal acting capacity empowered to compiled phase-1: names and personal contact information of the victims to receive compensation in the next coming days, I have seen this as an opportunity to work with you and get your name into this phase-1 list of victims to receive financial compensation in the next coming days upon verification and processing of claims by my committe via a personal attorney which will fast track the compensation payment process to your favor as a victim who the BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill has affected it’s daily means of livelihood. 

Details of what to do next,will be communicated to you via my private e-mail with the “BP GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL VICTIMS COMPENSATION RELEASE FORM”{BP-GMOP-VCRF} along with a professional attorney’s contact details who specifies in individual victims individual claim lawsuits and class action lawsuits for you to contact the LAW FIRM right away under my strict instructions and reference,please note this is highly confidential and classified secret. Mail in your full name and contact information to: bp_gmos_victims@mail2register.com or fax: 206-222-1942 

Signed, 

Engr.David Simon 

For: BP Products North America Inc., Transocean Ltd. 

The email is easy to spot as a fake. First of all, the “To You” salutation indicates someone crafting a single message that can be blasted out to hundreds of thousands of people. Second, notice the poor grammar. Whatever your opinion is of BP, you cannot count poor grammar against the company. Third, the 206 area code listed for the fax number is based in Washington State. BP doesn’t have any claims centers in Washington. Fourth, there is no “Phase 1” process. I’ve been to the claim centers in Louisiana. You go in, fill out copious amounts of paperwork. Then you’re either approved or not approved. Again, there is no “phase” process. Fourth, and perhaps the biggest give away, is the “via my private email.” Trust me, if you file a claim with BP you will not be dealing with a single individual through a private email. Also, Engr. is an abbreviation for engineer. Why would an engineer be handling compensation claims?