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Archive for the ‘oil Spills’ Category

BP Leaks in Alaska, Again

Posted by feww on December 2, 2009

BP pipeline in Alaska sprung another leak on Sunday

The pipeline delivers more than 30,000 barrel per day at Lisburne field at Prudhoe Bay, which has a total production of 400,000 bpd.

Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. Alaska Denali Fault trace passes beneath the pipeline (Dated November 2002). Photo: USGS.

“We are implementing the spill cleanup plan,” BP spokesman in Anchorage was reported as saying.

Alaskan officials believe that it could weeks to clean up the spill and determine if BP’s latest leak has caused serious environmental damage.

“It’s going to take a while, but they will clean it down to the tundra when they’re done. That’ll be a few days to a couple of weeks,” Dale Gardner, an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation was quoted as saying.

“They won’t know until they clear everything away how far it penetrated and whether the tundra is affected or not.”

BP said they didn’t know what caused the pipeline leak or how much oil had spilled, but estimated that the leak had affected an area measuring about 800 square meters.

Cleanup is said to be hampered by extreme cold, short daytime and pipeline safety procedures (the line is partially pressurized, and is protected by a 3-meter safety barrier, preventing cleanup crews from getting too close), a spokesman said.

BP is under a three-year probationary period imposed by terms of a federal criminal settlement reached in 2007 after its Alaskan pipeline spills in 2006, which led to partial shutdown of  production in Prudhoe Bay.

State of Alaska map showing place names and Trans-Alaska pipeline route in red. US Govt Map.

More than 500 spills a year occur in the Prudhoe Bay oil fields and along the 800-mile route of the rusty old Trans-Alaska pipeline system, built about 35 years ago. (See 2006 story at  CS Monitor).

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Posted in Alaska, Lisburne field, Oil Leaks, oil Spills, Trans-Alaska Pipeline | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Eco-Terrorists on Thin Ice

Posted by feww on April 7, 2009

submitted by a reader

Antarctic Tourism Control: Too Little, Too Late

Imagine going to a restaurant, the best one around, located in the most exclusive mall in town, with your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, most everyone…

Ordering the best food on the menu, eating as much as you can, then forcing down some…

Now imagine moving around ransacking the fridges, freezers and food storage areas, tearing off the doors, gutting out the contents, pulling the plugs…  smashing the drink bottles in the cellars…   the dishes and drink glasses … watching them as they hit the floor…  puking, urinating and defecating all over the debris…

Then getting in your vehicles, crisscrossing  the restaurant and the mall that surrounds it, burning rubber and spewing fumes until you run out of gas, or choke yourself to death…

For any of the above misdemeanors, you would probably get fined, even go to jail. There are no penalties for committing eco-terrorism…

Clinton urges controls on Antarctic tourism

By Sue Pleming  [Mon Apr 6, 2009 5:13pm EDT]

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday urged tighter controls on cruise ships and tourists in Antarctica to prevent further environmental damage to the fragile region.

Addressing an international meeting on both the Antarctic and the Arctic, Clinton said as tourism increases to Antarctica there must be more regulations governing that travel.

“We have submitted a resolution that would place limits on landings from ships carrying large number of tourists. We have also proposed new requirements for lifeboats on tour ships to make sure they can keep passengers alive until rescue comes,” she said, without providing further details.

Clinton was speaking at a joint session of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting and the Arctic Council, two bodies that discuss issues at both poles.

Tourism to the Antarctic region has increased five-fold since the early 1990s as tens of thousands of people cruise during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer to see shrinking icebergs and wildlife.

In the past four months, there have been two rescue efforts for cruise ships stranded in icy Antarctic waters. Over a year ago, more than 150 crew and passengers escaped in a dramatic rescue after their ship hit ice off Antarctica and sank.

Clinton also said more needed to be done to prevent further degradation of the environment around Antarctica caused by vessels going to the region.

There have been concerns over shipwrecks, oil spills and aggravation of stresses on animals and plants that may already be suffering from global warming.


The Obama administration has made tackling climate change a priority and Clinton said the urgency of the issue was reflected by the collapse last weekend of an ice bridge holding together a huge Antarctic shelf.

“With the collapse of an ice bridge that holds in place the Wilkins Ice Shelf, we are reminded that global warming has already had enormous effects on our planet, and we have no time to lose in tackling this crisis,” she said.

She urged nations to work together to resolve issues resulting from the warming of Arctic waters, an event likely to lead to new shipping lanes and future energy exploration.

The United States is the only one of five countries bordering the Arctic region that has not ratified the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Seas, a 1982 treaty that codifies which countries have rights to which oceans.

Clinton reiterated that the Obama administration wanted to ratify the treaty and this would give the “clarity we need to work together smoothly and effectively in the Arctic region.”

Many environmental groups, the U.S. military, and energy companies looking to explore the Arctic have been pushing for ratification of the treaty, particularly now that sea lines will be opening as soon as the next decade as the ice thins in the summer.

As the ice melts, this could also pit countries that border the Arctic Ocean against each other to claim mineral rights. The Arctic powers include the United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway.

“The changes under way in the Arctic will have long-term impacts on our economic future, our energy future and indeed again the future of our planet,” said Clinton.(Editing by Vicki Allen). Copyright the author/news agency.

Amount of Old Ice in Arctic Hits Record Low in February 2009

The summer minimum and the winter maximum are the two pivotal milestones in the annual cycle of Arctic sea ice. The thickness of sea ice and the extent at each of these times are key indicators of Arctic climate. Over the past two and a half decades, the extent of sea ice at the end of summer (mid-September) has declined significantly. The corollary to that trend is that at the winter maximum (end of February or mid-March), the ice covering the Arctic is much younger and thinner than it was in the past.

This pair of maps shows the median age of February sea ice from 1981-2009 (left) compared to February 2009 (right). Ice more than two years old is dark blue, ice that is one to two years old is medium blue, and ice that is less than one year old is light blue. Compared to the median conditions at the end of winter (the median is the number halfway between the lowest and highest numbers in a range), the ice pack of February 2009 contains much less old ice (dark blue).

According to calculations from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, ice older than two years now accounts for less than 10 percent of the ice cover. Research from 2007 concluded that, in the central Arctic Basin in 1987, 57 percent of the ice pack was 5 or more years old, and 25 percent of that had been around at least 9 years. By 2007, only 7 percent of the ice was 5 or more years old, and very old ice (at least 9 years) had completely disappeared.

The age of ice in the winter pack is important because young ice is thin and likely to melt in the upcoming summer. Historically, a large “core” of sea ice survived the summer. Around the margins of the perennial ice, new ice forms each winter and melts each summer. Ice that survives the summer melt thickens and hardens through freezing of new water and collisions with other ice floes, which builds thick ridges of ice.

A movie of weekly data from 1982 through 2007 (6.9 MB) shows how small the core of perennial ice has become and how much of today’s pack consists of ice that forms in the winter and melts in the summer. Loss of summer ice reduces the amount of sunlight the Earth reflects to space, amplifying global warming.

In both images, most of the oldest ice is in the western part of the Arctic Ocean basin. This arrangement is the result of the prevailing wind and ocean currents, which cause ice that forms in the Russian Arctic to drift toward the Canadian Arctic. Because of these weather patterns, scientists expect that area to be the “last bastion” of perennial sea ice.

To estimate ice age, scientists track the formation, drifting, and disappearance of sea ice by combining satellite observations with ocean measurements from drifting buoys. Satellite observations come from the Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer and the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager on the U.S. Defense Meteorological Space Program satellites and the series of Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer sensors on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites. Ocean data come from the International Arctic Buoy Program.

NASA images by Jesse Allen, based on data provided by James Maslanik and Chuck Fowler, University of Colorado and NSIDC. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey, with input provided by Walt Meier, NSIDC.  Instrument: DMSP

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Posted in Climate Change, Law of the Seas, Obama administration, oil Spills, shipwrecks | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »