Dying coral after BP -“Cleanup”

The LA Times Reported: A colony of hard coral at a depth of more than 4,000 feet was sloughing off tissue and producing mucus, while a nearby community of soft corals had extensive bare areas. A type of starfish associated with the coral was also in bad shape.

…academic researchers on the federal ship Ronald H. Brown were surveying coral communities they have studied for several years. Most showed no changes from previous visits.

But when the ship crew focused underwater cameras on colonies seven miles southwest of the BP leak, images of stricken corals, covered with a brown substance, popped up on the screen.

The findings:

“These kinds of coral are normally beautiful, brightly colored,” Fisher said. “What you saw was a field of brown corals with exposed skeleton – white, brittle stars tightly wound around the skeleton, not waving their arms like they usually do.”

Fisher described the soft and hard coral they found seven miles southwest of the well as an underwater graveyard. He said oil probably passed over the coral and killed it.

The coral has “been dying for months,” he said. “What we are looking at is a combination of dead gooey tissues and sediment. Gunk is a good word for what it is.”

Tests are being conducted to determine if the oil was the caused of the coral die off. But, the oil is the likely cause.

For one thing, oil from the Gulf spill in this location and depth would not be unusual—4,600 feet (1,400 meters) is about the same depth as the now sealed wellhead, and currents at the time of the April 20 blowout would have carried the oil southwesterly, scientists say.

“The proximity of the site to the disaster, the depth of the site, the clear evidence of recent impact, and the uniqueness of the observations all suggest that the impact we have found is linked to the exposure of this community to either oil, dispersant, extremely depleted oxygen, or some combination of these or other water-borne effects resulting from the spill,” Fisher said in a statement.

Coral is critical in this area as they offer an oasis in a cold oceanic desert.

Coral is essential to the Gulf because it provides a habitat for fish and other organisms such as snails and crabs, making any large-scale death of coral a problem for many species. It might need years, or even decades, to grow back.

“It’s cold on the bottom, and things don’t grow as quickly,” said Paul Montagna, a marine scientist at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi.

Only a few days ago BP was critical of the rush to judgement. The “acknowledged” their mistakes but, the “[wanted to move forward]”.

BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley accused some politicians and the media on Monday of being too hasty to pin all the blame on his company for the devastating Gulf of Mexico spill – and emphasized the need for deep-water drilling.

Dudley(CEO) argued that deepwater drilling is necessary despite the dangers. He cited predictions that the world could be consuming 40 percent more energy than today by 2030. Deepwater drilling is projected to grow to account for 9 percent of total oil supplies in 2020, from 7 percent currently.

“That’s what the company needs, it needs a determined champion not an apologist,” said Nick McGregor, an analyst at Redmayne-Bentley Stockbrokers. “He’s going to want to go forward and leave the apologies … His job is to acknowledge the past, not continuously apologize for it.”

True, what the industry needs is not more apologies, but a real understanding of what happened.

The panel said that of four tests done in February and April by Halliburton, only one – the last – showed the mix would hold. But the results of that single successful test were not shared with BP, and may not have reached Halliburton, before the cement was pumped, according to a letter sent to commissioners Thursday by chief investigative counsel Fred H. Bartlit Jr.

BP, as part of its internal investigation, also conducted independent tests that showed the cement mix was flawed, but its analysis was criticized by Halliburton, which said it was not the correct formula. BP’s report also mentioned a cement test Halliburton performed in mid-April, but it appears BP obtained the results after the accident and considered its methods flawed.

BP has also been criticized for not performing a cement bond long, a test that checks after the cement is pumped down whether it is secure. There are also questions about whether BP pumped down enough cement to seal off the bottom of the well, which was located more than three miles below sea level.

Greed and willful ignorance have no place in any risky activity. Offshore drilling is an incredibly risky activity. The results of a catastrophic failure can be devastating. Halliburton knew it had a faulty product and proceeded to use it. BP had tests that indicated that the cement being used may have been faulty, but proceeded to accept the reassurances of Halliburton. Further, BP did not follow up to see if the cement was secure enough. I think both companies allowed greed and convenience to overshadow the obvious evidence. If these companies are to be trusted in the future, they either need to demonstrate their competence or be heavily regulated.

Not that long ago BP and the government were touting how much of the oil had been cleaned up. But, companies and politicians were operating in the bliss of ignorance. Scientists have been predicting that the oil was not really degrading.

When it comes to the environment government, scientists, companies are working in ignorance. The interrelationships are too complex for us to understand fully. Because we are not operating with full knowledge, it makes it even more prudent to be sure that when undertaking such risky activities as undersea drilling that we take every precaution that no mistakes can be made. This is critical, as the true costs of cleaning up a “mistake” is never fully known. In the instances of the BP oil spill, we are offloading the costs onto future generations.

Government and companies are treating global warming in much the same manner. Scientific warnings have been relegated to being alarmists, insufficient, or simply not credible. The consequences of a climate that becomes unregulated are horrific. But, we are acting, once again in the bliss of ignorance. What happens when the air, the water, and the land are not sufficient enough to support us ? Because, of the incredibly more complex interrelationships of global climate versus an oil spill, it is even more imperative that we slow down our rate of growth. We should not be rushing headlong into this great global climate change experiment.

Critics say that the climate has warmed up in the past. That is true. The thrust of the argument is that the climate has warmed up in the past without the help of increasing CO2’s from burning fossil fuels. So,if the climate has warmed up in the past because of some unknown causes, then the current trend probably have nothing to do with burning fossil fuels. I think a more correct thought would be that the climate has warmed up in the past, but the current reason for why the climate is changing is because we are increasing carbon dioxide levels through burning fossil fuels.

Accepting reassurances from governments, and companies that global climate change is not serious seems ignorant. These people do not really know – heck they didn’t know about cleaning up an oil spill. The oil spill is a relatively easy problem to tackle versus a climate that has run amok.

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One response to “Dying coral after BP -“Cleanup”

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