Natural Disasters | News

And Now for Something Completely Terrifying...

From a piece in the Huffington Post by James Moore on the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster:

A well blowout in 1979 offers a bit of context; except the Deepwater Horizon horror show is already about to transcend what happened in the Bay of Campeche off the coast of Mexico. The Ixtoc 1 rig blew and began to spew crude that flowed uninterrupted for nine months. Before the well was capped, 3,000,000 barrels of crude had drifted north to Texas and the northern coast of Mexico. The endangered Kemps-Ridley turtle, which nests along the border beaches, had to be airlifted to safety and has only begun in recent years to recover in population.

The Ixtoc disaster, however, is spit in the ocean compared to the British Petroleum apocalypse. Estimates are the current blowout is putting 200,000 gallons or 5000 barrels of crude per day into the waters of the Gulf. Ixtoc's blowout was not capped until two relief wells were drilled and completed at the end of those nine months, and regardless of optimistic scenarios from the federal government or BP, relieving the pressure on the current flow is probably the only way to stop the polluting release of oil. The only way to relieve that pressure is with additional wells. No one is going to honestly say how much time is needed to drill such wells but consider the scope of environmental damage we are confronting if it requires at least as long as Ixtoc. Nine months of 5000 barrels of crude per day ought to turn the Gulf of Mexico into a lifeless spill pond and set toxins on currents that will carry them to deadly business around the globe.

NOAA apparently believes the situation is on the verge of getting worse. A leaked memo suggests that the tangle of pipes on the ocean floor are covering and constraining two other release points. Pressure is likely to blow those loose and, according to NOAA, the gusher will increase by "orders of magnitude." In most interpretations, that phrase means a ten-fold rise in the flow, which will replicate the Ixtoc disaster in three days.

And there are no guarantees relief wells are the fix. That is a complicated project. They are drilled to intersect the main well and then concrete is forced down the holes to seal the leaking well. What do we do, if that doesn't work? Humans cannot function at 5000 feet of ocean depth and the mitigation efforts currently are being handled by robotic remotes. What is left to us as a solution other than an explosive device, which is often what is deployed during above ground blowouts? Given the pressures reported and the amount of flow, we may need a bunker-buster nuke to be placed over the wellhead. We can then begin to talk about the water pressures caused by burst at detonation and residual radiation. Is that a better or worse situation? Certainly, aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico is doomed unless there is a reclusive genius to step forward and save us from our great failure.

The attorney general of Texas, Greg Abbot, informed reporters that it appears Texas will escape harm. Abbot's visionary powers must exceed his legal skills since there is no way to know when and even if the well will ever be capped. In fact, if there is no plug placed in the hole, it is not inconceivable that no part of the planet's oceans will escape harm. According to the non-profit, non-partisan Air and Waste Management Association, a quart of crude oil will make 150,000 gallons of water toxic to aquatic life. BP, which has been marketing itself as an energy company "beyond petroleum," is setting loose upon the planet what is quickly turning into humankind's worst environmental disaster.

Nobody Knows the Trouble We'll See [james moore - huffpost]

In optimistic news, BP says it has capped one of the three leaks on the well.

A report from ITN News and a recent update on where the oil is at from CNN, AFTER THE JUMP...

(thanks alan)

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  1. I think we should blame Bush-Cheney for being too cozy with the oil industry during their 8 years of ruin...

    Relaxing regulations for oil platforms and safety features...

    We will be paying dearly for the Bush-Cheney mistake for a LONG TIME.

    Posted by: Daniel | May 5, 2010 11:04:44 AM

  2. Daniel is dead wrong. This a bipartisan thing, not a Republican thing. Democrats are as culpable as their cousins across the aisle.

    There is a political solution to all this.

    That's to seize all the assets of BP until every last little bit of the oil spill is properly cleaned up and a fine, equal to the cleanup costs, is paid in full.

    If the English looter class gets upset then we can seize all English assets in the US until all BP's bill are paid in full.

    I wonder. Are Obama, Reid and Pelosi are up to it.

    Most likely not.

    It's utterly stupid to trust Big Oil and their hand puppets in the White House and Congress. As the damage gets worse and worse the costs will go up and be passed on to us, just as they were with Exxon-Valdez and the buyout-handouts to banks effected by the economic collapse they caused.

    Obama wants more, not less offshore drilling. He and the Congress are open enemies of those fighting for environmental survival. they won't change anytime soon.

    "An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought." Mark Hanna, Republican National Committee Chairman (1896)

    Posted by: Bill Perdue | May 5, 2010 11:19:38 AM


    Posted by: crispy | May 5, 2010 12:02:26 PM

  4. Placing blame seems utterly pointless if this thing gets as bad as I fear it will. We could seriously be looking at the starvation of billions who depend on the oceans for food. We could be seeing the end of the oceans food chain which could forseeably result in the end of us all. An AP report today quotes one of the worlds leading experts who says he sees no way to stop this until the well runs dry. If that happens...

    Posted by: Mikey | May 5, 2010 12:13:43 PM

  5. @/re: Bill Perdue

    I'm sure you mean well, but BP isn't owned by the "British looter" class, as you seem to believe.

    Despite being a British corporation, most of the shares are held by retirement accounts of middle class Americans. This info is public and is required to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You can view most of it on sites like under the "SEC" section of each company's profile.

    For example, just to name a few very popular mutual funds that are part of the retirement plans of millions of average workers, the T. Rowe Price Intl Gr & Inc fund has 2.87% of its assets invested in BP and Putnam Equity Income A has 3.10% of its assets invested in BP. The FMI Large Cap fund has 4.43% of its assets in BP. The Fidelity Diversified International has 1.01% of its assets in the company. The Vanguard Energy fund has 3.51% of its assets invested.

    Furthermore, a lot of the BP shares are owned by American pension funds. The men and women who receive those pension checks don't know where the money comes from, but the dividends on mega-caps, as they are called, such as BP stock provide a substantial portion of the income because it is companies like that which pay out almost all of their earnings as dividends, making them most appropriate for retirement plans.

    Were you to seize BP's assets, you wouldn't be taking much from the "looters", but rather most of it would be coming out of the pockets of average Americans.

    The company should have to pick up the tab for the entire cleanup costs, no matter how large that is - tens of billions of dollars, perhaps. EVEN if that meant the company went bankrupt (it won't; the earnings power is just too large). But it doesn't give a small group of highly unpopular politicians with historically low popularity ratings the right to go in and seize assets that literally belong to middle America, especially when some of those people have spent years punching a time clock to save up for their own retirement.

    In fact, unless you have NO assets in any way shape or form, I'm going to guess that it is statistically likely YOU are a partial owner of BP. You just don't realize it.

    Posted by: John John | May 5, 2010 12:49:23 PM

  6. Maybe I am missing something, but 3 million barrels divided by 5,000 a day = 600 days to be the same amount. In 9 months, that would only be 1,350,000 barrels, less than half of Ixtoc. Not to belittle this spill, but I wouldn't call Ixtoc a spit in the bucket compared to the BP one. People really need to stop home schooling.

    Posted by: steve talbert | May 5, 2010 1:18:41 PM

  7. Steve, the 5000 barrels a day is just a guess. The reality is likley much more. But more important is the real possibility that several other leaks will start as the pressure on the collapsed pipes begins to increase. Again, rig experts have been quoted as saying this is a real possibility. The rate could increase tenfold or more per day.

    Posted by: Mikey | May 5, 2010 1:33:46 PM

  8. Not to suggest this isn't a horrible disaster, but 5,000 barrels X 9 months X 30 days/mo = 1,350,000 or about 1/4 of the release of the Ixtoc 1 spill.

    Given weather, location, currents, etc. the new spill could have more severe consequences, of course.

    Posted by: BobN | May 5, 2010 2:06:43 PM

  9. Ummm, BD execs just admited on capital hill today that they actually believe the spill is on the order of 60,000 plus barrels a day. So all you math wizzards, that means in about three months the spill will be over 6 MILLION barrels. Twice the Ixtoc spill. And it will probably greatly exceed that before it is over. Worldwide dissaster folks. I would call your financial anylists if I were you and protect your assets from the coming storm.

    Posted by: Mikey | May 5, 2010 4:07:34 PM

  10. I suggest dumping the dead fish, etc. on Rush Limbaugh's lawn.

    Posted by: Jim | May 5, 2010 5:13:40 PM

  11. I suggest dumping the dead fish on Rush Limbaugh!

    Posted by: David B. 2 | May 5, 2010 5:33:04 PM

  12. I suggest drastically altering our way of life!

    Posted by: in response | May 5, 2010 10:53:25 PM

  13. We will have no choice by to drastically alter our way of life. The pollution levels from the spill will see to that.
    As for blame. The majority of society is to blame. Our 'need' for oil has brought us here. Our collective refusal to embrace alternate power sources despite being warned of this type of risk for decades has brought us here. Our 'need' for ease and comfort without regard to how it effects the rest of the world has brought us here. And, ultimately, our GREED has brought us here.
    Watch...CapeWind will still be challenged despite this disaster. Because, really, which is worse? A toxic oil spill, or a 'ruined' view?

    Posted by: Sad | May 6, 2010 12:12:26 PM

  14. John John... brilliant description of the financial asset markets and their shared ownership of BP stock, coupled together with a rather good bit of research.
    Thanks from an Englishman!

    Posted by: Philip in London | May 13, 2010 12:27:14 PM

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