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Archive for the ‘Gulf of Maine’ Category

Nightmare Plume and ‘Cozy Relationship’

Posted by feww on May 16, 2010

Wondered where all the oil spill was?

If you have been reading this blog, or listening to experts describing the daily ration of oil spewing into the Gulf as being much larger than reported by  NOAA, and jumped on by BP, you must have wondered what could have happened to the oil.

Wonder no more! Scientists have discovered  massive oil plumes in the Gulf including one measuring 10 miles by 3 miles by 300 feet thick, according to New York Times.

To put the measurement into some prospective, a plume measuring as described above would be very large, indeed, and supports our earlier estimates that the at least 25,000bpd of crude oil was gushing out of the ruptured pipe.

Meanwhile, BP admitted that its latest attempt to stop the leak, by threading a much narrower 6-in (15-cm) tube inside  a 21-inch (53-cm) riser-pipe, to funnel the oil to a vessel at the surface had failed.

A company spokesman said, they would try again.

Meanwhile, the British newspaper Guardian reported BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward  as saying that the size of the spill was “tiny” compared to how large the he Gulf of Mexico was.

Cozy Relationship Or Federal Felony

Readers would recall that President Barrack Obama declared that  the epoch of  “cozy relationship” between oil firms and US regulators was over.

“For too long, for a decade or more, there’s been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill,” Obama said.

“That cannot and will not happen anymore,” Obama added.…

What the President failed doing was to define the exact meaning of a “cozy relationship.” Was it about the oil executive and MMS officials sharing a joint together, swapping sexual partners and doing each other a few “harmless” favors, or was it about breaking the law and committing a federal felony?

Environmental group suing U.S. Govt over oil permits

The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, has filed a notice of intent to sue Ken Salazar the U.S. Interior Secretary, and the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) for failing to get the necessary environmental permits, required by two environmental laws, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act, before approving offshore oil operations.

Note, the key words and phrases here are, “failing to get the necessary environmental permits,” the Endangered Species Act and “the Marine Mammal Protection Act.” and

“The Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act prohibit private entities, such as oil companies, as well as federal agencies, such as the Minerals Management Service — the branch of the Interior Department responsible for managing offshore oil activities — from killing, harming, or harassing marine mammals, unless they have received authorizations and take measures to minimize the impacts of their activities. The Endangered Species Act protects species such as the sperm whale, which is listed as endangered, while the Marine Mammal Protection Act applies to all marine mammals, such as the bottlenose dolphin and the Florida manatee.” The group said in their notice.

Lawsuit to Challenge Salazar’s Wholesale Disregard of Marine Mammal Protection Laws in Gulf of Mexico: 400-plus Oil Projects Illegally Approved by Salazar Without Permits to Harm Endangered Whales

Ongoing Risk of Deepwater Drilling

The fact remains however that there are at least 77 drilling rigs and commercially producing oil platforms operating in deep waters of Gulf of Mexico, and many more are slated to go on line.

Also, Fire-Earth Moderators forecast the probability of another major oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico between now and December 2011 at greater than 90 percent. SEE:

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Posted in environment, Gulf of Maine, Gulf of Mexico Exploration, gulf of mexico oil leak | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Significant ‘Red Tide’ to Plague New England in 2010

Posted by feww on February 25, 2010

Shelfish such as Mussels and clams accumulate biotoxins produced by Alexandrium, which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans who ingest them.

NOAA Public Release

Researchers Issue Outlook for a Significant New England ‘Red Tide’ in 2010

Seed Population on Seafloor Points to a large ‘Red Tide’; Impacts will Depend on Ocean Conditions and Weather

Researchers at Gulf of Maine Toxicity project have issued an outlook for a significant regional bloom of a toxic alga that causes ‘red tides’ in the spring and summer of this year, potentially threatening the New England shellfish industry.

Microscopic image of Alexandrium fundyense cysts, the “seeds” that fall to the ocean bottom at the end of one season’s blooms.  Under the right conditions, these cells can germinate the following year to initiate another season’s blooms.
High resolution (Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The outlook is based on a seafloor survey of the seed-like cysts of Alexandrium fundyense, an organism that causes harmful algal blooms, sometimes referred to as ‘red tides’. Cysts deposited in the fall hatch the following spring; last fall the abundance of cysts in the sediment was 60 percent higher than observed prior to the historic bloom of 2005, indicating that a large bloom is likely in the spring of 2010.

The cyst bed also appears to have expanded to the south, so the 2010 bloom may affect areas such as Massachusetts Bay and Georges Bank sooner than has been the case in past years.

Maps showing the concentration of Alexandrium cysts buried in Gulf of Maine seafloor sediments over four years. The cyst abundance in 2009 is higher than ever observed and the Alexandrium cyst “seedbed” extends further to the south than was ever observed before.  High resolution (Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Although the algae in the water pose no direct threat to human beings, toxins produced by Alexandrium can accumulate in filter-feeding organisms such as mussels and clams, which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans who consume them. In order to protect public health, shellfish beds are monitored by state agencies and closed when toxin concentrations rise above a quarantine level. There have been no illnesses from legally harvested shellfish in recent years despite some severe blooms.

“’Red tide’ is a chronic problem in the Gulf of Maine and states have limited resources to handle it,” said Darcie Couture, director of Biotoxin Monitoring for the Maine Department of Marine Resources. “When we get this information about the potential severity of a bloom season and the dynamics of the bloom once the season has started, then it gives us an advantage in staging our resources during an otherwise overwhelming environmental and economic crisis.”

More …

Posted in Alexandrium fundyense cysts, Biotoxin, Gulf of Maine, New England, shellfish poisoning | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »