Monday, September 9, 2013

Gulf Coast 2010 BP Oil Spill Photo Gallery Updated

I've updated my 2010 Gulf Coast BP Spill photographs at

Gulf sperm whales may be most polluted in the world

By Dennis Pillion | dpillion@al.com
on August 06, 2013 at 1:19 PM, updated August 06, 2013 at 1:21 PM

PENSACOLA, Florida -- Researchers with Ocean Alliance are finishing up the third year of a field study of sperm whales in the Gulf of Mexico and the group says preliminary findings indicate that sperm whales in the Gulf are showing significantly higher levels of heavy metals, including nickel and chromium, than sperm whales in other parts of the world.

The research team, a collaborative effort between Ocean Alliance and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has been studying Gulf sperm whales by using a biopsy dart to collect a small skin and blubber sample from the animals. The cells are cultured on board the 93-foot Odyssey research vessel for further tests.

"The cautionary signs are really suggesting to us that these may be some of the most polluted whales we've found in the world," Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr said in a press conference at the Palafox Pier in Pensacola. 
See rest of the story at http://blog.al.com/gulf-coast/2013/08/ocean_alliance_gulf_sperm_whal.html#incart_river

Thursday, January 24, 2013

BP Oil Spill - dead bird pictures

Despite the glitzy adds for the Gulf Coast paid for by BP, extreme environmental damage has been done and continues to this day.

Source: taken on shore of major rookery island

Location:Louisiana Inland Coastal Waters

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Speculation that oil unearthed by Isaac from BP oil spill

NEW ORLEANS – Weathered oil in the form of tar has washed up on some Louisiana beaches from Gulf waters churned by Hurricane Isaac, prompting restrictions of fishing in some waters and tests to determine whether the source is submerged oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Read more: http://fxn.ws/Q5TrJL
Published September 05, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

Study: Dispersants used in Gulf oil spill could damage marine food web

By Kari Huus, msnbc.com (Follow Kari Huus on Facebook)

During the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which dumped nearly 5 million barrels of crude into the water, responders applied some 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersant to break up the oil slick.

The chemicals, which were sprayed on the surface and pumped near the gushing pipe on the ocean floor, largely prevented the slick from saturating delicate coastal marshes, but they had their own environmental impact that scientists are only now beginning to understand.

A study published Tuesday provides one possible piece to that puzzle, indicating that chemical dispersants of the type used in 2010 hurt microorganism populations that are a key link in the marine food chain, with dire implications for fish and larger sea animals.

"Our study was interested in the tiny organisms that support the base of the food web," said Alice Ortmann, who led the study at Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama. "These are the small things support all the big things in the ocean."

The research conducted in a controlled lab setting showed that dispersants and dispersed oil "significantly reduced" the growth of phytoplankton and ciliates — essentially, fish food.

It also showed that oil that was left alone — and thus degraded while floating on the water's surface — was found to cause no significant damage to these organisms.

The study, published in the online science journal PLoS ONE, suggests one of the environmental trade-offs made in the disaster response.

Dispersants are soap-like agents that break up oil slicks into smaller particles. Using them introduces some toxicity — albeit far less than oil, scientists agree. But in breaking up the oil, the dispersants can expose organisms in the water, while possible sparing those on the surface, like pelicans.

At the time of the disaster response, the large volumes of dispersants being applied sparked accusations that BP — the owner of the Deepwater operation — was trying to hide the oil from view for public relations reasons as much as out of environmental considerations.

"We are still reviewing the study, but the state can say that the use of dispersants in the volume and conditions under which it were applied were unprecedented," said Garrett Graves, chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana. "We did raise objections to this application of dispersants during the spill, the unknown impact on our Gulf, and that we were being used as lab rats."

That impact remains unknown, Ortmann said, because these findings were based on lab results.

"This is what we saw in our incubations," she said. "What happens out in the ocean we don’t really know yet."

Independent studies like this one will supplement a large, long-term effort called the Natural Resource Damage Assessment administered by federal and state trustees. The assessment is an attempt to account for all the damage caused by the oil spill to the environment and human activities that depend on it.

"We’ll come up with a tab to say 'BP, you are responsible for this injury'," said Tim Zink, spokesman for NOAA, one of the federal agencies leading the effort. "The way they pay it back is through restoration projects" for shorelines, land protection and dunes and efforts to restore turtle or bird populations.

About $60 million has been disbursed for initial restoration projects, even as the effort to assess the damage continues.

A separate investigation by NOAA is looking into a dramatic spike in dolphin deaths — more than 720 from the time of the explosion in April 2010 to July 29 this year.

NOAA report on dolphin strandings/deaths

"Oil is being investigated as one of the key factors," said Tim Zink, spokesman for NOAA’s damage assessment and remediation efforts.

Meantime, studies of live dolphin populations that were in contact with the oil in the Gulf have turned up troubling findings, including pulmonary issues, chronic low weight, anemia and low levels of hormones that could affect the animals' ability to survive, Zink said.

Another recent study by a team of researchers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in March has documented damage to coral in the vicinity of the broken well at a depth of about 4,000 feet, an ecosystem that normally would not be affected by oil spills.

"The sheer magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its release at depth make it very different from a tanker running aground and spilling its contents," said Haverford College chemistry professor Helen White, lead author of the study, who was cited in a report on the Penn State website.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest in U.S. history, occurred in one of the continent's most productive ecosystems. It dwarfed the 11 million gallons spilled by the Exxon Valdez tanker in Prince William Sound in 1989.

"Fully understanding the short and long-term impacts of the explosion, oil and natural gas released, dispersants, and other factors is likely to take several years," said Graves.

Source: MSNBC.com

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oil is more toxic than previously thought, study finds

By Dean Kuipers, Los Angeles Times
December 27, 2011, 12:00 p.m.

Bad news for the Gulf of Mexico: a study released this week sheds new light on the toxicity of oil in aquatic environments, and shows that environmental impact studies currently in use may be inadequate. The report is to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study, spearheaded by the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory in collaboration with NOAA, looked into the aftermath of the 2007 Cusco Busan spill, when that tanker hit the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and spilled 54,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay.

The key finding involved the embryos of Pacific herring that spawn in the bay. The fish embryos absorbed the oil and then, when exposed to UV rays in sunlight, physically disintegrated. This is called phototoxicity, and has not previously been taken into account when talking about oil spills.

“This phenomenon had been observed in the laboratory, but had never been observed in the field, and there were even some skeptics out there wondering if this was just a phenomenon that people would see under lab conditions,” said Gary Cherr, director of the marine lab and professor of environmental toxicology.

Read the rest of the story . . .

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gulf Coast Task Force Releases Ecosystem Restoration Strategy For Public Review

 EPA Press Office                                                                       
 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  
 October 5, 2011                                                                        
 Gulf Coast Task Force Releases Ecosystem Restoration Strategy For Public Review        
 Agenda outlines blueprint for reversing decline of Gulf Coast ecosystem                
 WASHINGTON - The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, chaired by U.S.          
 Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, today released for      
 public review and feedback its comprehensive preliminary strategy for long term        
 ecosystem restoration. The strategy, which will be presented to President Obama at the 
 end of the public review period, represents an historic opportunity for addressing     
 long-standing issues contributing to the decline of the Gulf’s critical ecosystem.  The
 preliminary strategy is the first effort of its kind to be developed with the          
 involvement of parties throughout the region, including the states, tribes, federal    
 agencies, local governments and thousands of interested citizens and organizations. The
 plan strategy, which builds upon on-going efforts underway in the Gulf Coast states    
 includes specific steps for on-the-ground action and represents the Task Force’s       
 commitment to putting Gulf coastal restoration on an equal footing with other national 
 One year ago today, President Obama established the Task Force by executive order, in  
 response to recommendations from a report by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, to       
 continue the Administration’s ongoing commitment to the Gulf region. The group is made  up of representatives from the five Gulf States and 11 federal agencies, including the 
 Environmental Protection Agency, Council on Environmental Quality, Department of the   
 Interior, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture,    
 Department of Justice, Department of Transportation, Office of Management and Budget,  
 Office of Science and Technology Policy and Domestic Policy Council.                   
 "Even before last year’s oil spill, the Gulf of Mexico endured decades of decline that 
 threatened the environmental and economic health of this region. This strategy is      
 designed to prepare the region for transitioning from a response to the spill into a   
 long-term recovery that supports the vital ecosystem and the people who depend on it," 
 said Administrator Jackson. "The health of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem starts and ends
 with its people and its communities. The individuals and families who visit the Gulf,  
 who work in the region, who depend on its resources, and especially those who call it  
 home, know its needs and challenges best. They will be integral to creating and        
 executing this long-term strategy."                                                    
 “The Task Force’s draft strategy identifies fundamental obstacles that have plagued    
 restoration and protection efforts in Louisiana and other states for decades.  The     
 report attempts to begin reversing 80 years of mismanagement,” said Garret Graves, Task
 Force vice-chair and chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of      
 Louisiana.  “It identifies critical issues such as changes in river management, the use
 of dredged sediment, navigation channel bank stabilization, and the need to expedite   
 the snail’s pace process of implementing water resources projects.  History has proven  that being reactive on disaster mitigation costs exponentially more.  This report is an
 important first step in moving toward a proactive strategy as recognized through the   
 implementation of the state's coastal master plan.  There is much work still left to be  done and we look forward to continuing to work with Task Force agencies and our fellow 
 Gulf States to finally stabilize our coast and protect the Gulf communities.”          
 The natural resources of the Gulf’s ecosystem are vital to many of the region’s        
 industries that directly support economic progress and job creation, including tourism 
 and recreation, seafood production and sales, energy production and navigation and     
 commerce.  Among the major initiatives with specific actions recommended by the        
 preliminary strategy to protect and restore those natural resources are:               
     Stopping the Loss of Wetlands                                                     
 Stopping the loss of critical wetlands, sand barriers and beaches is a key             
 recommendation of the preliminary strategy. Key habitats for a wide range of fish and  
 other animals are being lost or reduced across the Gulf.  The creation of channels and 
 levees from dredging in the Lower Mississippi often can “disconnect” the vast wetland  
 delta from the source of sediments that built the delta over thousands of years.   The 
 strategy aims to restore the supply of sediments needed to build up eroding wetlands   
 and to ultimately reconnect these valuable resources to their historic source of       
 sediments, particularly in the Lower Mississippi.  To help do this, the strategy       
 recommends placing ecosystem restoration on an equal footing with historic uses such as
 navigation and flood damage reduction by approaching water resource management         
 decisions in a far more comprehensive manner that will bypass harm to wetlands, barrier
 islands and beaches. The strategy also recommends implementation of several            
 congressionally authorized projects in the Gulf that are intended to reverse the trend 
 of wetlands loss.                                                                       
     Reducing the Flow of Nutrients into the Gulf                                      
 The strategy calls for working in the Gulf and upstream in the Mississippi watershed to
 reduce the flow of nutrients into the Gulf by supporting state nutrient reduction      
 frameworks, new nutrient reduction approaches, and targeted watershed work to reduce   
 agricultural and urban sources of nutrients.  The strategy recommends addressing the   
 complex issues surrounding the transport of nutrients in excess to our Gulf coast by   
 broadly supporting action-oriented innovations from all sectors that address both the  
 environmental as well as the economics of effective nutrient management.               
     Enhancing Resiliency Among Coastal Communities                                    
 The strategy calls for enhancing the quality of life of Gulf residents by working in   
 partnership with Gulf with coastal communities themselves -- the living laboratories   
 for facing the challenges posed.  The strategy specifically recommends working with    
 each of the States to build the integrated capacity needed through effective coastal   
 improvement plans to better secure the future of their coastal communities and to      
 implement existing efforts underway.                                                   
 Additionally, the Task Force will begin immediately reviewing existing policies,       
 programs and regulations that are slowing down restoration progress, particularly in   
 the habitat restoration area.  The Task Force will also explore innovative ways to     
 implement restoration, measure success and support the restoration with science.       
 The following are statements on the release of the preliminary strategy from           
 representatives of the member states on the task force:                                
 N. Gunter Guy, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural      
 Resources said, “The combined efforts of the federal and state members of the Task     
 Force have resulted in the release of a preliminary strategy focused on restoring the  
 Gulf Coast ecosystem.  Alabama looks forward to receiving feedback from the public on  
 the strategy and commits to continue working to improve Alabama’s Gulf Coast           
 communities and protecting its natural resources.”                                     
 Mimi A. Drew, Florida’s representative on the task force and Special Advisor to the    
 Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard, Jr. said,
 “Today’s release of this important report is the culmination of more than a year’s     
 worth of collaboration and hard work to identify priorities and a strategy to improve, 
 restore and protect the fragile and vital Gulf ecosystem. The Gulf of Mexico provides  
 huge environmental and economic benefits to Florida and we look forward to input from  
 the public to refine this plan.”                                                        
 Trudy D. Fisher, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental     
 Quality said, "The Task Force marked an unprecedented commitment at the federal and    
 state levels to create a shared vision for a healthier Gulf Coast ecosystem. We are    
 confident that the resulting strategy will set the stage for future cooperation and    
 success.  Mississippi will be a critical partner as the work continues."               
 Helen S. Young, Deputy Commissioner of Coastal Resources in the Texas General Land     
 Office commented, "The collaborative federal, state, and local process that involved   
 visits to the five Gulf states and listening sessions with locals highlighted the      
 states' shared issues and unique needs.  For instance, it emphasized the importance of 
 Texas's barrier islands, which are the first line of defense against storm surge like  
 Hurricane Ike produced in 2008, making it the second costliest hurricane in recent     
 times with damage of $127 billion.  The Strategy also underscores the significance of  
 the Gulf of Mexico to the national economy and identifies the issues of greatest       
 concern for the region.  Restoration efforts based on the strategy will help ensure    
 that these critical environmental and economic resources remain viable."               
 This preliminary strategy represents the Task Force’s strong commitment to the         
 restoration of the Gulf Coast.  The strategy was developed following more than 40      
 public meetings throughout the Gulf to listen to the concerns of the public. It is     
 available to the public for review and feedback at www.epa.gov/gulfcoasttaskforce,     
 until 11:59 p.m. EST October 26, 2011.  The Task Force will release the final version  
 in December.                                                                           
Thanks to Anne Weinberg
weinberg.anne@epa.gov on behalf of:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency · 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW · Washington DC 20460 ·