Two things: the Deepwater Horizon disaster involved conventional, crude oil. They were not dealing with tar-like sludge laced with toxins, acids, heavy metals and carcinogens. Secondly, it was a fairly easy site for oil spill response crews and vessels to get at. No mad currents, no huge swells, no tides, no rocky projections and inaccessible coastlines.
For all that, it was a catastrophe. That much should have been obvious as soon as they used military-grade transport aircraft, C-130 Hercules, to spray an even more lethal chemical, Corexit, not to disperse the oil or render it harmless, but to sink it out of sight.
Oil spills, even conventional crude oil spills, are catastrophic. More than a quarter century later the Exxon Valdez oil still confounds clean up crews in Prince William Sound, Alaska. It's on the shoreline, it's in the water. It's now expected to claim one of the two resident Orca pods in that area. That's a quarter century plus.
What about the Deepwater Horizon? It is now allowing researchers to chronicle how even a conventional oil spill can savage the marine ecology - for ever.
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster may have had a lasting impact upon even the smallest organisms in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists have found – amid warnings that the oceans around America are also under fresh assault as a result of environmental policies under Donald Trump.
Lingering oil residues have altered the basic building blocks of life in the ocean by reducing biodiversity in sites closest to the spill, which occurred when a BP drilling rig exploded in April 2010, killing 11 workers and spewing about 4m barrels of oil into the Gulf.
Researchers took sediment samples in 2014 from shipwrecks scattered up to 150km (93 miles) from the spill site to study how microbial communities on the wrecks have changed. On two shipwrecks close to the source of the outpouring of oil – a German U-Boat and a wooden 19th-century sailing vessel – scientists saw a visible oil residue.
“At the sites closest to the spill, biodiversity was flattened,” said Leila Hamdan, a microbial ecologist at the University of Southern Mississippi and lead author of the study. “There were fewer types of microbes. This is a cold, dark environment and anything you put down there will be longer lasting than oil on a beach in Florida.
The BP oil disaster fouled more than 1,300 miles of coastline, caking seabirds and killing sea creatures and other wildlife, leading to huge financial losses for the tourism and fishing industries. But Hamdan said the oil’s impact on microbes, each measuring just a fraction of a millimeter, could prove even more significant given their foundational role at the base of the ocean food chain.The marine ecology begins at the sea bed. Ocean food chains begin with the smallest creatures on the sea bed that are eaten by the next biggest creature in a process aptly described as a "food chain" in which the top predators are usually found toward the surface.
“We rely heavily on the ocean and we could be looking at potential effects to the food supply down the road,” she said. “Deep sea microbes regulate carbon in the atmosphere and recycle nutrients. I’m concerned there will be larger consequences from this sort of event.”
As the smallest creatures are eaten, the contamination they have absorbed into their bodies or cells passes on to their immediate predators in a process called "bio-concentration." That contamination keeps concentrating at each successive link in the food chain, straight up to the top. It attacks everything, every species, along the way. It's a direct path from microbe to orca or the great whales.
Maybe you believe prime minister Trudeau's most outrageous and deliberate lie - that there's some magical oil spill response that will keep British Columbia's coastline and our productive marine environment safe from a bitumen spill. Where is this world class oil spill package? Given that oil spills, on average, take 50 years to clean up, "world class" is a euphemism for catastrophe. And, besides, why did his own EnviroMin, Dame Cathy herself, authorize the use of Corexit in BC waters?
Trudeau assures us that his government has "done the science" on these environmental hazards. That's a lie. His very own Environment Canada says the science hasn't been done. Canada's pre-eminent scientific body, the Royal Society of Canada, says the science hasn't been done. They both put the lie to every dodgy and maliciously false claim this prime minister makes. He's simply not to be trusted, especially by the very people his petro-greed most imperils, coastal British Columbians.
Now, of course, Trudeau has even more incentive, 4.5 billion of them (and that's just for starters), to lie and obscure, confound and confuse. He's bought himself a goddamned pipeline, the J. Trudeau Memorial Pipeline, 65-years old and prone to leaking like those middle age women dancing around in those TV ads. He likes that pipeline so much he paid a sketchy outfit from Texas more than six times its actual value. There's a guy who's not looking to give any straight answers on environmental questions.
Even the former Bank of Canada governor, David Dodge, says some British Columbians protesting the pipeline will have to be killed before urging the Trudeau government to find the courage to take those lives.
"we have to be willing to enforce the law once it’s there … It’s going to take some fortitude to stand up.”No, Dave. What will take fortitude is to take those bullets and fall down.
Justin Trudeau, his entire cabinet and all the horses they rode in on; Rachel Notley, the outgoing premier of Alberta; Jason Kenney, the incoming premier of Alberta; some stooge from Saskatchewan named Moe; that former governor of the Bank of Canada; those Kinder Morgan bandits who fleeced the Dauphin and the entire roster of the Calgary Petroleum Club, they're all - oh what's that word?
Which brings to mind an article in Vox by Stanford psychology professor, Robert Sutton, who has now defined the term, "asshole" -
There are a lot of academic definitions, but here’s how I define it: An asshole is someone who leaves us feeling demeaned, de-energized, disrespected, and/or oppressed. In other words, someone who makes you feel like dirt.
Christy Goldfuss, former environmental advisor to Barack Obama, now with the Center for American Progress, summed it up in a way that should resonate with the people of British Columbia, our First Nations and our provincial government:
“In the absence of a
president[prime minister] who is willing to lead, it is now more important than ever that coastal governors[premier Horgan], tribal leaders, state legislaturesthe [B.C. legislature] and local communities take up the mantle of leadership and work together to defend and restore the health of [Canada's] oceans."
Not to worry. The Chinese will own the country by the time the first bitumen supertanker runs aground. They frown upon bad press even under their pseudo-democratic resource colonies (like Australia and New Zealand.) So however livid the natives might get, the de-facto position of all governments involved (and the corporate Fake News Media) will be: "nothing to see here" – like so many other bitumen spills going on across North America.
You know what they say: no news is good news!
It's still not clear to me what was spilled from the derailment in Iowa a few days ago. Media is calling it 'crude oil' and occasionally also 'Alberta tar sands oil'.
Does anyone know what was actually spilled? The media has gone silent since it's now 4 day old news & everyone has moved on.
I have no idea, Al. That's one of those countless stories that pop up and just as quickly are flushed down the Memory Hole.
That derailment spilled Alberta dilbit on both sides of the track.. so its in the flooded farm fields plus in the outward bound floodwaters. As usual, mainstream media muddles multiple confusions.. its oil, no its Alberta crude oil, nope, its heavy oil, no its crude.. whatever it is. it is not to be defined as diluted bitumin.. yet it is always unfairly discounted. There must be a memo floating around.. 'never call this sludge dilbit.. just call it 'oil'..' and the 'discounted' aspect.. its as if sirloin or chuck roast is unfairly discounted for not being tenderloin or strip loin.
The spill itself is not quite as large as the Kalamazoo spill.. which happened in a small creek in a residential area.. the'cleanup' is still underway.. as is the residue from the Esso Valdez, which dispersed everywhere.. but was crude oil. But the Iowa spill will be an inland water example, plus flooded farmland exposed heavily as well. So from either side of the tracks and wreckage, we will get a lesson, indeed a 'schooling' on dilbit 'recovery' in essentially calm waters with no tides or 40 foot swells with sweeping rains.. and the leakage & spill, from a stationary train wreck, not a suoertanker hulk with dead engines.. banging on the rocks
Sal, your recitation was terrific. The only thing you left out were 10 to 11 Beaufort scale winds that you get kind of used to out here on the island in the winter - but not really.
It didn't take long for an oil spill off the coast of Nova Scotia. Way to go BP! Anyong
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