September 17, 2010
BP and the government decided that millions of gallons of dispersants should be dumped into the Gulf to sink and hide the oil.
And giant new underwater plumes have been found in the water column itself.
But officials don’t want to hear about them. As one member of the oil spill recovery team said:
“My biggest concern is there’s [a plume of oil] five miles by 30 miles out there that was reported and no one responded. The Coast Guard said for days that they wanted to run tests, and if they don’t test it when it’s called in, they’ll never find it”
But didn’t the oil-eating microbes eat alot of the oil? No … they mainly ate gas.
And the oil is not staying underwater.Oil is suddenly emerging in many parts of the Gulf.
Oil “patties”, 1 to 3 inches across, have been discovered floating along the seawall in Alabama.
As the Christian Science Monitor notes, oil can remain hidden under sand for decades:
Yet it takes only minutes of digging into the sand [at Louisiana's Grand Isle State Park] to reveal a menace that experts say permanently threatens this picturesquelandscape: pools of crude oil lurking less than a foot below the surface. …
Twenty-one years after the Valdez spill, oil remains submerged in the beaches of Prince William Sound in Alaska.
The same is true in Massachusetts’ Buzzards Bay, where a 1969 spill released 175,000 gallons of diesel fuel; 41 years later, sampling shows oil three to eight inches below the land’s surface.
Indeed, workers are just doing cosmetic clean-ups. They are pressure washing rocks with hot water so they look clean, just as they did with the Exxon Valdez spill. And the government’s targets for “cleaning up” beaches is very lax:
John Tarpley, chief scientific support coordinator for NOAA, says the agency’s goal is to clean beaches so they have “1 percent of oil or less.”
Oil that’s left in the environment can also seep into groundwater used for drinking by Gulf coast residents.
As CNN reports, we might be facing a worst-case scenario in Florida:
LARRY MCKINNEY, HARTE RESEARCH INST. FOR GULF OF MEXICO STUDIES: … [T]hey do tend to support some of our greatest concerns about the fate of these underwater plumes that were discovered back in June, and that is that they could be picked up and this conveyor belt that is upwelling in Desoto Canyon and bringing this oil from the deep waters up to the shallow, and thatseems to be what the Florida State folks are saying. …
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR:… [T]he USF study said, quote, “These findings, although preliminary, suggest that subsurface oil may be emerging on to the west Florida shelf through the Desoto Canyon.” So this is not just restricted to the extremely deep water. There’s enough welling as you mentioned before. How widespread could this become?
MCKINNEY: Well, it depends on how big those plumes are and how long they persist, but that conveyer belt moves water rather quickly. And so the fact that the Florida state folks are finding oil up on that shelf at the distance that they’re finding it is disturbing from that regard. That means that that oil plume could be moving up on the shelf and that’s sort of a worst case scenario. We would not like to see that at all.
While the government denies that they are connected with the oil spill, there have beenmassive fishkills in Louisiana (and see this). Oil can be seen at fishkill sites (and see this), and the EPA has discovered high levels of nickel near the biggest fishkill. There have also been kills of starfish and other sea animals, including whales and dolphins:As I have previously noted, independent scientists state that the EPA’s toxicity tests for the Gulf oil and dispersant were a joke.
And as McClatchy points out, the EPA’s toxicity findings don’t hold up in the real world:
[University of South Florida chemical oceanographer and lead scientist on the mission David Hollander's] team took water samples and fed them to marine plankton in experiments onboard the research vessel in August. Even in greatly diluted form, a lower concentration than what the EPA considers acute toxicity, the oil in the water caused a toxic effect…
The findings raised new questions about what concentrations and what compounds federal scientists should be concerned about, he said. “In spite of the low concentrations, something is in there.”
A marine biologist warns that in a worst-case scenario – the effects on the Gulf could be catastrophic:
[Marine biologist Edith] Widder, senior scientist and CEO at the Ocean Research and Conservation Association, compared the spill to pushing on a light switch. If the switch flips, she said, the rich diversity of species in the Gulf will be replaced by a system in which the only things able to survive are jellyfish and bacteria.
Instead of admitting that there is a problem, BP and the Coast Guard’s spin doctors have come up with code words for oil: instead of “oil sheen”, they call it “fish oil”; instead of “oil mousse”, they call it “algae”. And alot of black oily substances are just labeled “mysteries“.
And fishermen, shrimpers and crabbers are still catching contaminated seafood, although the authorities don’t want to hear about it. And the authorities don’t seem to be thrilled at independent scientists who are finding contamination in seafood, either:
But at least BP has stopped spraying dispersant in the Gulf … right?Unfortunately, numerous vessel of opportunity program participants have said it is still being sprayed (see this and this). And there allegations have been confirmed by chemists and photographers.
Okay, but at least the well has been capped, so that no new oil flows into the Gulf … right?
Its hard to know.
BP has shut off 16 out of 17 of its underwater cameras. The only remaining camera shows a small – but continuous – stream of leaking materials:
But remember, one of the world’s top oil industry accident experts says that the well maynever be killed.
I hope and pray that the relief well is successful. But if there were insurmountable problems in capping the well, do you think we would hear about it before the November elections?
September 17, 2010
By Aaron Smith
Gold prices climbed to yet another record Friday, continuing a week-long rally fueled by uncertainty over the global economy.
Gold futures for December delivery touched an intraday high of $1,284.40 per ounce. That eclipsed the intraday mark of $1,279.50 an ounce and the record close of $1,273.80 an ounce — both set on Thursday.
The surge in gold prices is being partly driven by a “complete lack of confidence in the governments of the world being able to sort out their financial mess,” said Gary Mead, senior commodity analyst with VM Group, a London-based commodity strategist firm.
The value of the precious metal has been recognized for thousands of years, so gold is viewed as a safe haven during tough times. It’s considered a low risk commodity that enjoys peak prices during times of volatility, when traders feel queasy about stocks and currencies.
Over the past week or so, Mead said that gold is being fueled by volatility with the U.S. dollar, perceptions about the U.S. economy, fears of inflation, and the possibility of more quantitative easing — referring to the buying of bonds by the U.S. government.
Jono Remington-Hobbs, a precious metals analyst with TheBullionDesk.com in London, said the possibility that the Federal Open Market Committee might make statements about quantitative easing at its November meeting is partly responsible for the rising tide in gold prices.
“The more we’re going to hear talk about the quantitative easing, that’s going to be real beneficial for gold,” he said.
Gold isn’t the only metal to ride the wave of economic jitters. Silver continued its upward march, edging up 16 cents per ounce to $20.90. Earlier this month, silver rose above the $20 mark for the first time since 2008.
Remington-Hobbs said that silver was flirting with its 30-month target of $21.36 per ounce, an intraday spike that was hit on March 17, 2008.
But he noted that silver is still far short of its all-time high of $49.45 per ounce, reached in January 1980. Adjusted for inflation, that would be even higher in 2010 dollars: $131.01 an ounce.
Gold hit its true peak on Jan. 21, 1980, when it rose to $825.50 an ounce. Adjusted for inflation in 1980 dollars, that translates to an all-time record of $2,184.08 an ounce, in 2010 dollars.
June 8, 2010
By Stephen Bernard and Tim Paradis
NEW YORK — Stocks fell to their lowest level in seven months Monday after traders couldn’t shake fears that Europe’s economic problems will derail a global recovery.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 115 points, or 1.2 percent, to its lowest close since November. The Dow lost 323 Friday after the government’s May jobs report fell short of expectations.
Broader indexes logged steeper percentage drops Monday. The technology-focused Nasdaq composite index fell 2 percent.
Monday’s drop was a smaller-scale repeat of Friday as traders again dumped stocks in the final hour. That signals traders would rather sell than be hit by surprises, especially because Europe’s business day begins before trading opens in the U.S. Some traders say the slide has been overdone but that the market isn’t likely to find much stability until there is a better sense about how Europe’s economies will hold up under heavy cost-cutting.
With only a sprinkling of economic and corporate news to go on, traders again tracked the moves of the euro. The 16-nation currency hit another four-year low and hurt European markets. The euro fell as low as $1.1878 before rising to $1.1915. A drop in the currency is seen as a sign of flagging confidence in Europe’s ability to rein in its debt without falling back into recession.
June 3, 2010
By Ted Roelofs
GRAND RAPIDS — Former President George W. Bush was by turns affable, relaxed — and deadly serious in his local appearance Wednesday.
“Yeah, we water-boarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,” Bush said of the terrorist who master-minded the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. He said that event shaped his presidency and convinced him the nation was in a war against terror.
“I’d do it again to save lives.”
In a speech and question-and-answer session before the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Bush defended his decision to go to war in 2003 with Iraq.
“Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do and the world is a better place without him,” Bush said.
But he also made it clear he would leave political potshots at President Barack Obama to others, saying: “You are not going to see me in the public square criticizing the president.”
Bush underlined the role religion played in his life in the White House, saying prayer gave him strength to go forward.
“I prayed a lot. I really did. I prayed before every major speech. I prayed before debates. It was a very important experience.”
The speech may offer a glimpse of Bush’s forthcoming memoir, “Decision Points,” be released in November. Bush said it would dissect the major decisions of his presidency.
June 3, 2010
By Frank Newport
PRINCETON, NJ — At 46%, President Obama’s job approval average for the week ending May 30 is the lowest weekly average of his administration, one point below the previous low of 47% measured in April.
Overall, Obama’s weekly job approval average has generally been quite stable in 2010 so far, and has been at or below 50% since mid-February. It fell out of the 60% range in early summer 2009 and first fell below 50% in late November.