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August 27, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac creates worries across US gulf states

Tropical Storm Isaac creates worries across US gulf states

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Monday, August 27, 2012

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Satellite file photo of Hurricane Katrina from 2005.

Tropical Storm Isaac is creating a swathe of concerns across many gulf states in the US, as it sweeps into the Florida Keys.

As of 5:00pm EDT, Miami area winds were measuring at 60 miles per hour. Authorities indicated 5,180 homes across Broward county are without electricity. According to media sources, the governor of Louisiana anticipates giving evacuation orders as early as Monday morning.

Hurricane warnings have been issued in the Florida Panhandle, sweeping as far west as Louisiana. Sunday afternoon, Louisiana’s Governor Jindal issued a state of emergency for the state. Over 450 flights at Miami International Airport were canceled this weekend, in light of the storm’s arrival.

Ultimately, the storm’s winds could reach as high as 110 mph, according to sources. The mayor of New Orleans told media that many residents there are nervous. The last time a hurricane struck the Gulf coast was in 2008.



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April 25, 2012

Disposal of fracking wastewater poses potential environmental problems

Disposal of fracking wastewater poses potential environmental problems

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Environment
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A recent study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows that the oil and gas industry are creating earthquakes. New information from the Midwest region of the United States points out that these man-made earthquakes are happening more frequently than expected. While more frequent earthquakes are less of a problem for regions like the Midwest, a geology professor from the University of Southern Indiana, Dr. Paul K. Doss, believes the disposal of wastewater from the hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) process used in extracting oil and gas has the possibility to pose potential problems for groundwater.

Map showing significant earthquakes in the Midwest region of the United States. It was analyzed to show links between felt earthquakes and energy development.
Image: United States Geological Survey.

“We are taking this fluid that has a whole host of chemicals in it that are useful for fracking and putting it back into the Earth,” Doss said. “From a purely seismic perspective these are not big earthquakes that are going to cause damage or initiate, as far as we know, any larger kinds of earthquakes activity for Midwest. [The issue] is a water quality issue in terms of the ground water resources that we use.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique used by the oil and gas industries which inject highly pressurized water down into the Earth’s crust to break rock and extract natural gas. Most of the fluids used for fracking are proprietary, so information about what chemicals are used in the various fluids are unknown to the public and to create a competitive edge.

Last Monday four researchers from the University of New Brunswick released an editorial that sheds light on the potential risks that the current wastewater disposal system could have on the province’s water resources. The researchers share the concern that Dr. Doss has and have come out to say that they believe fracking should be stopped in the province until there is an environ­mentally safe way to dispose the waste wastewater.

“If groundwater becomes contamin­ated, it takes years to decades to try to clean up an aquifer system,” University of New Brunswick professor Tom Al said.

While the USGS group which conducted the study says it is unclear how the earthquake rates may be related to oil and gas production, they’ve made the correlation between the disposal of wastewater used in fracking and the recent upsurge in earthquakes. Because of the recent information surfacing that shows this connection between the disposal process and earthquakes, individual states in the United States are now passing laws regarding disposal wells.

Cquote1.svg The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak. Cquote2.svg

—Dr. Paul K. Doss

“The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak,” Doss said. “A perfect case-in-point is the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, that oil was being drilled at 18,000 feet but leaked at the surface. And that’s the concern because there’s no assurance that some of these unknown chemical cocktails won’t escape before it gets down to where they are trying to get rid of them.”

It was said in the study released by the New Brunswick University professors that if fracking wastewater would contaminate groundwater, that current conventional water treatment would not be sufficient enough to remove the high concentration of chemicals used in fracking. The researchers did find that the wastewater could be recycled, can also be disposed of at proper sites or even pumped further underground into saline aquifers.

The New Brunswick professors have come to the conclusion that current fracking methods used by companies, which use the water, should be replaced with carbon diox­ide or liquefied propane gas.

“You eliminate all the water-related issues that we’re raising, and that peo­ple have raised in general across North America,” Al said.

In New Brunswick liquefied propane gas has been used successfully in fracking some wells, but according to water specialist with the province’s Natural Resources De­partment Annie Daigle, it may not be the go-to solution for New Brunswick due its geological makeup.

“It has been used successfully by Corridor Resources here in New Bruns­wick for lower volume hydraulic frac­turing operations, but it is still a fairly new technology,” Daigle said.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working with U.S. states to come up with guidelines to manage seismic risks due to wastewater. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA is the organization that also deals with the policies for wells.

Oil field located in Lost Hills in California
Image: Arne Hückelheim.

Oil wells, which are under regulation, pump out salt water known as brine, and after brine is pumped out of the ground it’s disposed of by being pumped back into the ground. The difference between pumping brine and the high pressurized fracking fluid back in the ground is the volume that it is disposed of.

“Brine has never caused this kind of earthquake activity,” Doss said. “[The whole oil and gas industry] has developed around the removal of natural gas by fracking techniques and has outpaced regulatory development. The regulation is tied to the ‘the run-of-the-mill’ disposal of waste, in other words the rush to produce this gas has occurred before regulatory agencies have had the opportunity to respond.”

According to the USGS study, the increase in injecting wastewater into the ground may explain the sixfold increase of earthquakes in the central part of the United States from 2000 – 2011. USGS researchers also found that in decades prior to 2000 seismic events that happened in the midsection of the U.S. averaged 21 annually, in 2009 it spiked to 50 and in 2011 seismic events hit 134.

“The incredible volumes and intense disposal of fracking fluids in concentrated areas is what’s new,” Doss said. “There is not a body of regulation in place to manage the how these fluids are disposed of.”

The study by the USGS was presented at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America on April 18, 2012.



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March 5, 2012

Deadly tornadoes blast U.S. Midwest leaving 39 dead

Deadly tornadoes blast U.S. Midwest leaving 39 dead

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Disasters and accidents

F5 tornado Elie Manitoba 2007.jpg
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At least 39 people are confirmed dead, dozens injured and numerous buildings are left damaged in several states after series of tornadoes hit the U.S. Midwest March 2. The storm system stretched from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. Southern Indiana, northern Alabama and parts of Kentucky and Tennessee were affected the most.

Images from the GOES 13 satellite shows the formation and movement of the storm system.
Image: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The first warning went out around 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time and by about 1:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, at least twelve tornadoes had touched down in three different states. At least fourteen people were confirmed dead in Indiana. Officials are still trying to determine how many people might have died and assessing the damage.

New Pekin, Indiana, Marysville and Henryville are reported to have been hit the worst. Marysville about a hour north of Louisville, Kentucky has been reported to be nearly flatted. In Kentucky, at least 17 people had died and at least 200 injuries have been reported. Only one has been confirmed dead in Alabama but at least eleven people were injured during the storm. There are three confirmed dead in Clermont County, Ohio.

Damage reports in the Midwest and South keep piling up. Golf ball, tennis ball and softball size hail was reported in several states. Severe damage was reported in Nashville, Tennessee and Knoxville after high winds and 3 inch in diameter hail tore through the cities.

At the Limestone Correctional Facility in northern Alabama roofs were ripped off two dormitories housing over 500 inmates and multiple security fences were knocked down. Even though the prison lost power, nobody was injured or escaped. Also, flights were delayed for over an hour after storm debris littered the runways at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

The National Weather Service issued 255 tornado warnings on Friday, received 94 reports of tornadoes, 208 reports of strong winds and 410 reports of hail. The storms, caused by a warm, moist and unseasonable air mass that then mixed with colder air, followed a series of tornadoes earlier in the week that killed 13 people in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee.

The storms have raised fear that 2012 will be another bad year for tornadoes. Last year was the deadliest year in a century due to tornadoes, killing 550 people.



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April 24, 2011

U.S. Coast Guard investigation finds \’poor safety culture\’ contributed to Deepwater Horizon disaster

U.S. Coast Guard investigation finds ‘poor safety culture’ contributed to Deepwater Horizon disaster

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Deepwater Horizon disaster
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NASA photo of Deepwater oil slick

Oil  spreading north-east from the leaking Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico

Fireboats tackling the fire on Deepwater Horizon last year. The explosion on the rig killed eleven people and began the largest oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.
Image: United States Coast Guard.

An investigation by the United States Coast Guard has concluded the largest oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry was partly the result of a “poor safety culture” aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The April 2010 explosion aboard the rig, which is located in the Gulf of Mexico, triggered a disaster that led to widespread environmental damage.

The report squarely blames Transocean, which managed the Deepwater Horizon, for being largely responsible for the explosion that claimed eleven lives. The rig had “serious safety management system failures and a poor safety culture,” the report says. Transocean fiercely rejected allegations that crews aboard the rig were badly trained and equipment was poorly maintained.

Cquote1.svg Deepwater Horizon and its owner, Transocean, had serious safety management system failures and a poor safety culture. Cquote2.svg

United States Coast Guard

A slapdash safety environment on Deepwater Horizon would mean equipment was not mended or replaced if it meant losing valuable hours of drilling, the Coast Guard found. Electrical equipment believed to have caused a spark that ignited flammable gas was described as being in “bad condition” and “seriously corroded.” The report found that other deficiencies—improperly assembled gas detectors and emergency equipment; audible alarms switched off because of nuisance false warnings; complacency with fire drills; and poor preparation for dealing with a well blowout—all contributed to the disaster.

Transocean attacked the report’s conclusions and suggested the Coast Guard may have played a role in the disaster. A spokesperson for the company said Deepwater Horizon had been inspected by Coast Guard officials only months before the explosion, officials who said it complied with safety standards. “We strongly disagree with—and documentary evidence in the Coast Guard’s possession refutes—key findings in this report,” the company said.

This week, Deepwater Horizon owner BP launched legal action against Transocean. It also filed a lawsuit against Halliburton, the company that cemented the well, and Cameron, which manufactured the rig’s failed blowout preventer. BP is reportedly seeking to claim US$40 billion in damages, and alleges it has taken a massive financial hit and loss of reputation. In a statement, BP said it filed the lawsuits “to ensure that all parties … are appropriately held accountable for their roles in contributing to the Deepwater Horizon accident”.

A robotic submarine working on the blowout preventer of Deepwater Horizon while oil was leaking from the well. BP is suing Cameron, who manufactured the blowout preventer.
Image: United States Coast Guard.

In the lawsuit against Transocean, BP claims the company missed signs that a disaster was imminent and that it “materially breached its contractual duties in its actions and inactions leading to the loss of well control, the explosion and the loss of life and injuries onboard the Deepwater Horizon, as well as the resulting oil spill.” Halliburton, BP alleges, was riddled with “improper conduct, errors and omissions, including fraud and concealment” which led to the disaster, and continues to refuse to cooperate with investigators.

Transocean dismissed the lawsuit as “desperate” and “unconscionable,” and announced a countersuit against BP, which it claims was responsible for the disaster “through a series of cost-saving decisions that increased risk, in some cases severely.” Halliburton and Cameron, which is also countersuing, announced they would defend themselves against BP’s allegations.

U.S. President Barack Obama marked the anniversary of the explosion by conceding that although “progress” has been made to ensure the safety of deep water drilling rigs, “the job isn’t done.” Obama’s comments came less than a week after leading experts raised serious questions over the security of deep water drilling as the U.S. government approves more exploration without improving safety measures.

Barack Obama marked the anniversary by conceding that although “progress” has been made to ensure the safety of deep water drilling rigs, “the job isn’t done.”
Image: Obama-Biden transition project.

Charles Perrow, a professor at Yale University, said the oil industry “is ill prepared at the least” to deal with another oil spill, despite repeated assurances from the industry and the government, which insists lessons have been learned from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. “I have seen no evidence that they have marshaled containment efforts that are sufficient to deal with another major spill,” he said. “Even if everybody tries very hard, there is going to be an accident caused by cost-cutting and pressure on workers. These are moneymaking machines and they make money by pushing things to the limit.”

However, politicians have insisted they are doing all they can to help clean the coast of oil. “Cleanup efforts in some places are still ongoing, and the full scale of the damage done to our state has yet to be calculated, but the good news is that most all of our fishing waters are back open again,” said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal at a press conference. “All of us here today want the entire nation to get the message that Louisiana is making another historic comeback.”

Cquote1.svg I don’t see any hope at all. We thought we’d see hope after a year, but there’s nothing. Cquote2.svg

Gulf Coast fisherwoman

Gulf Coast residents, activists and relatives of the crewmen who were killed in the explosion paused this week for the anniversary of the oil spill’s beginning. A helicopter took the victims’ families from New Orleans to over the site where the rig stood, where it circled. “It was just a little emotional, seeing where they were,” said one victim’s mother. Remembrance services and candlelight vigils were held in the Gulf Coast region, which continues to suffer from the fallout of the catastrophe. The families have expressed anger at BP, who they say is being unfair and slow in paying out compensation from a $20 billion fund.

The area is still heavily affected by the disaster and reconstruction of the seafood industry that once thrived is slow. While tourists are beginning to return to the region, many are angry at BP and the Obama administration over how they handled the disaster. All the fishing waters in the area have now opened again, but people who live in the area remain dissatisfied. “I don’t see any daylight at the end of this tunnel,” one fisherwoman said. “I don’t see any hope at all. We thought we’d see hope after a year, but there’s nothing.”



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October 24, 2010

Tropical storm Richard nears hurricane strength, soaks Honduras

Tropical storm Richard nears hurricane strength, soaks Honduras

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Tropical cyclones – 2010

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Satellite image of Richard, which is expected to pass just north of Honduras and strike Belize and Mexico late Sunday as a hurricane.
Image: NASA.

Tropical storm Richard is nearing hurricane strength with winds of 70 mph (115 kph) as it lashes Honduras with heavy rains. Richard is expected to pass just north of Honduras and strike Belize and Mexico late Sunday as a hurricane.

Richard is about 85 mi (140 km) east of Isla Guanaja Honduras and is expected to move further westward paralleling the coast of Honduras. Honduras and Belize are currently under a hurricane warning and the Mexican government has begun to evacuate fishermen from the Yucatán Peninsula, which is under a tropical storm warning, as strong winds and rain are expected over the next 24 hours.

Honduran officials have evacuated residents and tourists from coastal areas. “[We will] evacuate between 3,000 and 4,000 people that live in coastal zones where there could be a storm surge and heavy winds,” a Honduran emergency response official, Randolfo Funez, said. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) released a statement, which said: “A storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels along the northern coast of Honduras and Belize…and 1 to 3 feet in the bay islands. Near the coast…the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.” They also advised that life threatening flash floods and landslides are possible, especially in mountainous areas in the storm’s path.

Richard is likely to plow through Belize and the Yucatán Peninsula before emerging into the Bay of Campeche as a tropical depression on Tuesday according to the Miami based National Hurricane Center. Some computer module forecasts have Richard affecting Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas rigs.

Full Wikinews coverage of the 2010 hurricane season



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October 23, 2010

Tropical storm Richard forms, drifts towards Honduras

Tropical storm Richard forms, drifts towards Honduras

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Tropical cyclones – 2010

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  • Fernando Alonso wins 2010 Korean Grand Prix
  • Hurricane Richard makes landfall in Belize
  • Richard becomes a hurricane, threatens Belize
  • Tropical storm Richard nears hurricane strength, soaks Honduras
  • Cyclone Giri makes landfall in Myanmar, kills one
…More articles here

Hurricane Earl 2010-09-02 1529Z.jpg

External/Inter-wiki links
  • 2010 Atlantic hurricane season
  • List of tropical cyclones
  • Wikipedia’s entry on tropical cyclones
  • Wikitionary’s definition of a tropical cyclone

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Satellite image of Tropical Storm Richard on October 22 approaching Honduras
Image: NASA.

Tropical Storm Richard formed in the western Caribbean Thursday and is currently moving slowly westward towards Honduras. A gradual motion to the west is expected later on, and the tropical storm is forecast to impact Honduras and then the Yucatan Peninsula. As a result, several watches and warnings are in effect for Honduras from its border with Nicaragua west to Limón and the Bay islands.

Richard currently sustains winds of 45 mph (75 kph) and is expected to strengthen further, possibly into a hurricane by Saturday. Richard has dumped heavy rains over Jamaica and is expected to produce rainfall in Honduras, then trek towards the Yucatan Peninsula and enter the Gulf of Mexico.

Richard has already caused widespread flooding across western parishes of Jamaica, which is currently under a flash flood watch. A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning are in effect for the north coast of Honduras from the Nicaragua/Honduras border westward to Limón to the Bay islands. A hurricane watch is in effect for eastern Mexico from Gruesa to Chetumal. There is also a tropical storm watch up for Belize and a tropical storm warning for Honduras from Limón westward to the Guatemala border. Richard is not expected to be a threat to oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.



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October 21, 2010

Scientist demands end to US \’addiction to oil\’

Scientist demands end to US ‘addiction to oil’

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Deepwater Horizon disaster
Other stories about the Deepwater Horizon disaster
NASA photo of Deepwater oil slick

Oil  spreading north-east from the leaking Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico

A scientist for the National Wildlife Federation, Doug Inkley, has criticised what he described as America’s “addiction to oil”. Inkley stated it is ultimately responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster earlier this year.

Doug Inkley, a senior scientist working for the National Wildlife Federation, said that [the United States of] America’s “addiction to oil” was responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster six months ago.
Image: Flcelloguy.

Inkley commented on the incident, six months after the explosion which killed eleven rig workers and resulted in over 170 million gallons of crude oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico causing damage to marine wildlife habitats as well as the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries.

Inkley is a senior scientist working for the National Wildlife Federation. He stated, “Looking back at what we knew six months after the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska illustrates the danger of too quickly drawing conclusions about the full impacts of the Gulf oil disaster.”

“Six months after the Exxon Valdez disaster,” he continued, “the herring stocks in Prince William Sound seemed like they’d pull through. It wasn’t until the fourth year after the disaster that herring stocks collapsed due to a delayed population effect of the oil, devastating the people and wildlife that depended on them. Today, more than two decades later, this once-vital fish still hasn’t recovered.”

Cquote1.svg The aftershocks of the Gulf oil disaster will continue to cast a long shadow of uncertainty on the Gulf ecosystem and the livelihoods of those who depend upon it for years to come Cquote2.svg

—Doug Inkley, National Wildlife Federation scientist

His remarks echo those issued by another environmental organisation in July. Greenpeace demanded that BP, who the United States Congress has blamed for the disaster, take a “new direction” and end an “obsession with high risk, environmentally reckless sources of oil.”

A spokesperson for Greenpeace said, “[t]he moment has come for BP to move beyond oil. Under Tony Hayward the company went backwards, squeezing the last drops of oil from places like the Gulf of Mexico, the tar sands of Canada and even the fragile Arctic wilderness […] The age of oil is coming to an end and companies like BP will be left behind unless they begin to adapt now.” Statistics show that the United States is by far the largest consumer of oil, using 20,680,000 barrels every day. Its closest rival, China, consumes only 7,578,000 barrels per day.

Inkley said incidents in the past showed there can be far-reaching effects. “The Exxon Valdez disaster was not simply one ecosystem earthquake – the aftershocks have continued to this day,” he said, citing the 1989 disaster which occurred when an oil tanker ran aground in the Gulf of Alaska.

“What tremors are still to come in the Gulf? The aftershocks of the Gulf oil disaster will continue to cast a long shadow of uncertainty on the Gulf ecosystem and the livelihoods of those who depend upon it for years to come,” pointed out Inkley. Adding, “[a]s I look back on my days in Louisiana’s wetlands wading through thick black oil in prime pelican habitat, I continue to wonder: How long must we wait for lawmakers to act to prevent future disasters? How many more lives, livelihoods and animals must be claimed by our addiction to oil?”



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September 20, 2010

Deepwater Horizon oil well finally dead, authorities say

Deepwater Horizon oil well finally dead, authorities say

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Deepwater Horizon disaster
Other stories about the Deepwater Horizon disaster
  • 24 April 2011: U.S. Coast Guard investigation finds ‘poor safety culture’ contributed to Deepwater Horizon disaster
  • 16 April 2011: Experts raise serious questions over safety of U.S. oil industry and warn another spill may be ‘unavoidable’
  • 30 March 2011: BP lose laptop containing sensitive claimant data
  • 21 October 2010: Scientist demands end to US ‘addiction to oil’
  • 20 September 2010: Deepwater Horizon oil well finally dead, authorities say
NASA photo of Deepwater oil slick

Oil  spreading north-east from the leaking Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico

Monday, September 20, 2010

A worker cleans up oily waste on the coast of an island in the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of workers are cleaning up oil from the damaged Deepwater Horizon wellhead that reached the shore a month after the ultra-deepwater oil rig exploded, killing 11 people.

The Deepwater Horizon is dead. Almost five months after an explosion rocked an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana and caused a natural disaster on a scale not seen before, BP yesterday announced that that the well has been completely shut off. Thad W. Allen, the former Coast Guard admiral who is heading up the response to the oil spill on behalf of the U.S. government said in a statement that the well now “poses no continuing threat to the Gulf of Mexico.” He also released a U.S. goverment department’s confirmation of the news. “The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has confirmed that the cementing operation on the Macondo well was successful, that the well has been permanently sealed with cement plugs, and that pressure tests verify the integrity of the plugs,” it read. BP released a statement, describing the sealing of the well as “a significant technological accomplishment and another important milestone in our continued efforts to restore the Gulf Coast.”

Early on Sunday morning, those aboard Development Driller III drill rig, which aided in the shutting down of the well, successfully conducted a pressure test, and concluded that cement pumped through a relief well into the Macondo well was going to hold. The tests concluded that the cement finally put an end to an environmental disaster that has affected BP, the wildlife on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the hundreds of people who make their living by fishing in the area. Forrest Travirca, who lives in Louisiana, said he was very angry with the response by BP and the authorities. “All the brown spots and patches you’ll see on this beach for the next nine miles is oil, too… And if you dig down a few inches or a few feet, you’ll see oil, too. And if you walk into that marsh back there, you’ll find oil,” he said. “So don’t tell me we dodged any bullets. Or that it wasn’t so bad. ‘Cause I’ve been out there every day since May dealing with all that oil we dodged. It just makes my blood boil.”

Admiral Allen admitted that the disaster was far from over. “Although the well is now dead, we remain committed to continue aggressive efforts to clean up any additional oil we may see going forward,” he said, adding that the response, lead by his team and BP “has been driven by the best science and engineering available. We insisted that BP develop robust redundancy measures to ensure that each step was part of a deliberate plan, driven by science, minimizing risk to ensure we did not inflict additional harm in our efforts to kill the well. I commend the response personnel, both from the government and private sectors, for seeing this vital procedure through to the end.”

The spill began in April, when Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing eleven people, after the blowout preventer failed. Oil began to leak into the Gulf, soon developing into the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. 4.9 million barrels of crude oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, causing damage to marine and wildlife habitats as well as the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries. Extensive measures were used to prevent the oil from reaching the coastline of Louisiana, including skimmer ships, floating containment booms, anchored barriers, and sand-filled barricades. Scientists have also reported immense underwater plumes of dissolved oil not visible at the surface. The U.S. Government has named BP as the responsible party, and officials have committed to holding the company accountable for all cleanup costs and other damage.

BP released their internal review into the spill last week, but it was rebuffed by the head of Greenpeace’s energy campaign, Jim Footner, who said that it was “highly likely that a truly independent report would be even more damning for BP.” However, he said, “the real problem is our addiction to oil, which is pushing companies like BP to put lives and the environment at risk. The age of oil is coming to an end and companies like BP will be left behind unless they begin to adapt now. The time has come to move beyond oil and invest in clean energy.” The report concludes by stating that decisions made by “multiple companies and work teams” contributed to the accident which it says arose from “a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces.” In their statement, BP said that they “will continue sharing what we have learned in an effort to prevent a tragedy like this from ever being repeated. We also believe that the industry will gain important insights on how to be better prepared to respond to any future incidents.”



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September 10, 2010

BP report into Gulf of Mexico disaster lays blame on other contractors

BP report into Gulf of Mexico disaster lays blame on other contractors

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Deepwater Horizon disaster
Other stories about the Deepwater Horizon disaster
  • 24 April 2011: U.S. Coast Guard investigation finds ‘poor safety culture’ contributed to Deepwater Horizon disaster
  • 16 April 2011: Experts raise serious questions over safety of U.S. oil industry and warn another spill may be ‘unavoidable’
  • 30 March 2011: BP lose laptop containing sensitive claimant data
  • 21 October 2010: Scientist demands end to US ‘addiction to oil’
  • 20 September 2010: Deepwater Horizon oil well finally dead, authorities say
NASA photo of Deepwater oil slick

Oil  spreading north-east from the leaking Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico

In their report on the disaster, BP shifts a large proportion of the blame to other contractors, including Transocean and Halliburton. The report was likely written with the company’s legal liability for the disaster in a prominent position. The executive summary is four and a half pages long—and the first page is made up entirely of legal disclaimers—if BP was found to be negligent in their operations of the rig, they could be fined a good deal more.

BP released their report into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster earlier this year on Wednesday, and shifted much of the blame for the explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, onto Transocean, the company managing the rig. The report concludes by stating that decisions made by “multiple companies and work teams” contributed to the accident which it says arose from “a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces.” The report, the product of a four-month investigation conducted by BP’s Head of Safety Operations, Mark Bly, criticizes the oil rig’s fire prevention systems, the crew of the rig for failing to realize and act upon evidence that oil was leaking from the surface of the ocean, and describes how BP and Transocean “incorrectly accepted” negative pressure test results. The document goes on to note that the blow-out preventer failed to operate, likely because critical components were not operational.

Bob Dudley, who will become chief executive of BP, described the accident as “tragic”. He said, “we have said from the beginning that the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon was a shared responsibility among many entities. This report makes that conclusion even clearer, presenting a detailed analysis of the facts and recommendations for improvement both for BP and the other parties involved. We have accepted all the recommendations and are examining how best to implement them across our drilling operations worldwide.” The report included 25 recommendations, according to a press release, “designed to prevent a recurrence of such an accident.” The oil company has previously blamed Transocean and Halliburton, the well contractor, for the disaster and BP executives feel they have been unfairly blamed by US politicians for the disaster, and the report continues this view.

Tony Hayward, who was fired from the position of BP’s chief executive following multiple public relations issues, squarley places the blame for the disaster on Halliburton. “To put it simply, there was a bad cement job,” he said in a statement, also claiming that BP should not be the only company to take the blame for the explosion. “It would appear unlikely that the well design contributed to the incident,” he argues. The report blames the type of cement used by Halliburton, designed to prevent harmful hydrocarbons from reaching the seabed, as well as criticizing the crew of Deepwater Horizon, for failing to realize for forty minutes that oil had started to leak from the well, and once it was realized, the crew “vented” the hydrocarbons “directly onto the rig”.

Describing how the explosion, which killed eleven rig personnel, occurred, the report states that “the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system probably transferred a gas-rich mixture into the engine rooms,” where the hydrocarbons ignited and a fireball engulfed the rig. But, the report states, the blowout preventer, the ultimate failsafe on the Deepwater Horizon failed, likely due to the fire on the rig. An automated system was not operational because the batteries powering it, located in a control pod, had gone flat, and another control pod contained a faulty solenoid valve.

The report was likely, however, written with the company’s legal liability for the disaster in a prominent position, since they are facing hundreds of lawsuits and criminal charges as a result of the spill. The executive summary is four and a half pages long and the first page is made up entirely of legal disclaimers saying if BP was found to be negligent in their operations of the rig, they could be fined a good deal more.

Questions have also been raised as to why BP has chosen to release their report before authorities examine the blowout preventer. The energy editor of The Guardian, Terry Macalister, wrote that the “catalougue of errors – both human and mechanical” in the report “demolish” the oil industry’s “much quoted mantra” of safety first. “It may come first in the board room but it does not down at the wellhead where the real dangers are faced,” he wrote. “It is worth remembering that BP, its rig operator Transocean and the main well contractor Halliburton are the blue chip companies in the wider oil and gas sector. If the shoddy work practices highlighted here are what the best-in-class do, then what is happening in the lower reaches of this industry?”

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Transocean described the report as a “self-serving” attempt to “conceal the critical factor that set the stage for the Macondo incident: BP’s fatally flawed well design. In both its design and construction, BP made a series of cost-saving decisions that increased risk – in some cases, severely.” In a statement, the company listed five issues they felt had contributed to the disaster that were no fault but BP’s. “Transocean’s investigation is ongoing, and will be concluded when all of the evidence is in, including the critical information the company has requested of BP but has yet to receive.” Members of Congress, who are also carrying out a review into the disaster, also dismissed the report. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts democrat who has been investigating the spill in Congress, said that he felt the report was simply a lengthy defense of the oil company’s handling of the spill. “BP is happy to slice up blame, as long as they get the smallest piece,” he said.

Bly acknowledged during a press conference in Washington that the report did not detail the charges raised against the company in Congress and that BP permitted a culture of recklessness to flourish. He did, however, reject suggestions that cost-cutting had put lives at risk and the rig was a disaster waiting to happen. “What we see instead is, where there were errors made they were based on poor decision-making process or using wrong information,” he said. The Guardian reported that “the report is narrowly focused on the final days before the explosion rather than on earlier decisions about well design and safety procedures. It is also closely focused on the rig itself. No BP officials have been sacked for their role in the explosion, and Bly said there was no indication of any blame beyond the well-site managers.”

The Associated Press reported that Bly “said at a briefing in Washington that the internal report was a reconstruction of what happened on the rig based on the company’s data and interviews with mostly BP employees and was not meant to focus on assigning blame. The six-person investigating panel only had access to a few workers from other companies, and samples of the actual cement used in the well were not released.” The report continued, “Steve Yerrid, special counsel on the oil spill for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, said the report clearly shows the company is attempting to spread blame for the well disaster, foreshadowing what will be a likely legal effort to force Halliburton and Transocean, and perhaps others, to share costs such as paying claims and government penalties.”

Heavily oiled Brown Pelicans wait to be cleaned of crude oil in Louisiana. Jim Footner of Greenpeace said that “the real problem is our addiction to oil, which is pushing companies like BP to put lives and the environment at risk … The time has come to move beyond oil and invest in clean energy.”

Head of Greenpeace’s energy campaign Jim Footner said that it was “highly likely that a truly independent report would be even more damning for BP.” However, he said, “the real problem is our addiction to oil, which is pushing companies like BP to put lives and the environment at risk. The age of oil is coming to an end and companies like BP will be left behind unless they begin to adapt now. The time has come to move beyond oil and invest in clean energy.” Alfred R Sunsen, whose oyster company operating in the Gulf of Mexico is facing the prospect of going out of business after 134 years, reacted angrily the the report. “The report does not address the people, businesses, animals, or natural resources that have been impacted by the disaster and will be dealing with the consequences of their inadequate and slow response to the disaster,” he said. The New York Times said that the report is “unlikely to carry much weight in influencing the Department of Justice, which is considering criminal and civil charges related to the spill,” and described it as “a public relations exercise” and a “probable legal strategy as it prepares to defend itself against possible federal charges, penalties and hundreds of pending lawsuits.”

Wayne Pennington, head of the geological engineering department at Michigan Technical University, also alleged that BP was wrong to blame other parties involved with the disaster. “The blowout and subsequent explosion and spillage appear to the result of an overall attitude that encouraged unwarranted optimism in the quality of each component of the job, allowing the omission of standard testing procedures, and the misinterpretation of other tests in the most-favorable light.” He continued: “Instead, skepticism should reign on any drilling job, and testing and evaluation at each stage of the drilling and completion would then be routine; instead of questioning the need for such things as the cement bond log, the companies involved should insist on checking and double-checking quality at each step of the process. This was clearly not done, repeatedly, in the case of the Macondo well, and disaster resulted.”

4.9 million barrels of crude oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, causing damage to marine and wildlife habitats as well as the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries. Extensive measures were used to prevent the oil from reaching the coastline of Louisiana, including skimmer ships, floating containment booms, anchored barriers, and sand-filled barricades. Scientists have also reported immense underwater plumes of dissolved oil not visible at the surface. The U.S. Government has named BP as the responsible party, and officials have committed to holding the company accountable for all cleanup costs and other damage.

Dudley went on to say that BP “deeply regret” the disaster. “We have sought throughout to step up to our responsibilities. We are determined to learn the lessons for the future and we will be undertaking a broad-scale review to further improve the safety of our operations. We will invest whatever it takes to achieve that. It will be incumbent on everyone at BP to embrace and implement the changes necessary to ensure that a tragedy like this can never happen again.”



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September 7, 2010

Wikinews Shorts: September 7, 2010

Wikinews Shorts: September 7, 2010 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: September 7, 2010

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A compilation of brief news reports for Tuesday, September 7, 2010.

Photo of Tropical Storm Hermine.
Image: NASA/ GSFC, MODIS rapid Response .

Texas issued hurricane watch, Tropical Storm Hermine headed to coast

A hurricane watch has been issued by Texas authorities as Tropical Storm Hermine grows closer to the Gulf of Mexico coast. The US National Hurricane Center expects Hermine to reach hurricane strength by Monday night, when it’s also expected to make landfall on the Gulf coast. Eric Blake, hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, said Monday that Hermine “will briefly be over Mexico, and then we’re expecting it to produce very heavy rainfall over south Texas.” A hurricane watch has also been issued for parts of Mexico.

Sources


Photo of General Petraeus, who is on right.
Image: Pfc. Joshua Hutcheson, 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs staff.

September 11 Quran burning endangers troops, says US Gen. Petraeus

General David Petraeus, US commander in Afghanistan, warned on Monday that a planned Quran burning in a Florida church would endanger US troops in Afghanistan. Gen. Petraeus said that the burning of the Islamic holy book, set to take place on September 11, “could cause significant problems” for US troops fighting in the Afghanistan War. The general also said that the burning “is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses.”

The Quran, also known as the Koran, burning is set on the day that Islamic terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York. The book burning will be in a Gainesville, Florida church called the Dove World Outreach Center. Pastor Terry Jones has declared September 11 “International Burn a Quran Day”.

Sources


File photo of Professor Hawking.
Image: Doug Wheller.

God “not necessary” for creating universe, says Hawking

In British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s new book, the scientist argues that a God was “not necessary” for creating the universe. In The Grand Design, Professor Hawking also says that the Big Bang was a consequence of physics at work. The Grand Design was co-authored by Hawking and Caltech physicist Leonard Mlodinow, who explained that “We’re not saying there is no God, we’re saying there is no need for God to explain the universe.”

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