Oil Spill Update for Thurs, May 13

A bit of news, a bit of analysis, and lots of videos for you today.


Obama has sent legislation to Congress in response to the oil spill, asking for additional funds for cleanup and damage assessment, as well as raising industry caps on liability.  The tarballs that washed up on Dauphin Island are a “high-probability match” to oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill.


Lisa Margonelli at the Atlantic has an excellent analysis of the situation:

If you follow the tower block analogy, it’s clear that while we may want a simple explanation for the Deepwater Horizon accident that allows us to go back to business as usual with a few modifications, what we’re going to get is a long, detailed, thoroughly modern flow chart about the limits of technology, humans, geology, and regulation. As people who like simple narratives, the public and policy makers will be tempted to try to find one locus for blame — whether it’s BP or BOP’s (blow out protectors) — but that may prevent us from figuring out the deeper system of problems that lead to this accident. And we may determine that business as usual doesn’t work for offshore drilling — which leaves us unable to count on the 40 percent of domestic oil production we were expecting to get from the offshore industry in the next ten years. Rereading what’s been written about offshore oil drilling over the last few years, it’s obvious it was thought to be the methadone for our overseas oil addiction. Now what?

And the Shark Divers blog has the latest, terrifying doomsday scenario: oil+hurricane season. (Thanks, Patric Douglas).

Colorado State University predicts this to be an “above average season.” Halting relief well drilling efforts and clean up will be these storms first impacts. Taking surface oil airborne and carrying it far in shore with 100-140 mile an hour winds will be these storms second and most devastating effect.


John Holdren, the President’s Science Advisor and Director of the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, explains why we don’t know how much oil has been released.

Video of a robot trying unsuccessfully to cap one of the leaks last week:

Open ocean fish are congregating under the oil slicks. They’ll hide under anything, from their natural seagrass to pieces of trash, but as the captain in the video says, it’s unlikely that hiding under oil will work out well for them. And it could conceivably attract predators such as sharks and dolphins that will then contact the oil themselves.

Miriam Goldstein (230 Posts)

5 Replies to “Oil Spill Update for Thurs, May 13”

  1. I wonder if they want to beef up the government’s first response as spelled out in the 1990 OPA law and finalized after study by the 1994 followup plan. And what would that be? Well simple, the government studied the oil well blowout problem of offshore wells and concluded the best way to combat was immediate response with fire booms and burn the leaking oil at the source.

    And the fire booms were to be stored on air bases where aircraft could transport to the scene within hours of the occurrence.

    So where were the fire booms? The problem is there were none, the government had not done their job, and bought and stored fire booms. So this allowed Obama’s oil spill to get out of control and reach disastrous proportions.

    Odd the media isn’t all over this problem.

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