Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
Ref. : Arts & Education Events
Ref. : Public Service Notices
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
09.19 Shell and Exxon's secret 1980s climate change warnings [that capitalists suppressed this for continuing profit is the most unforgivable crime ever]Trump administration rolls back methane pollution rule despite harmful health impacts [continuing in the tradition of stupid capitalism at all costs]
09.18 'I was horrified that children are breathing air this dirty inside the school' [if your government isn't working, change it!]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
09.18 'This Election Is Last Chance to Stop Them': Kudlow Confirms Trump and GOP Ready to Gut Safety Net After Midterms [Yes, there are far too many sociopaths]
09.19 'Killing a generation': one million more children at risk from famine in Yemen [Does America's government have empathy? Does it understand the concept of morality? The Saudi Air Force would be ineffective without U.S. military assistance...]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
International & Futurism
09.18 Racist rioting in Chemnitz has reopened Germany’s east-west split [We are all mixed-race after 10,000 generations. Helping suffering people makes us feel good, so become their friends instead.]
EARTH BECOMING A TOXIC WASTE SITE:
Here We Go Again: Another Rig Explosion
Saturday, 4 September 2010
Many believe only a total ban of offshore drilling can work, shifting America's fossil fuel addiction to alternative, clean sources. The choice is simple - either a healthy, safe environment or one contaminated and destroyed. There may be little time left to decide.
Drilling means spilling, hundreds of annual incidents, most small, unreported, yet their cumulative effect is devastating, what the industry and nightly news won't mention or explain.
On February 25, 2009, Environmental Research web.org writer Kate Ravilious did, headlining "Small unreported oil spills add up to major damage," saying:
Barcelona, Spain Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya Professors Jose Redondo and Alexei Platonov developed a way to spot spills from satellite images. They show that "small oil spills are very common, and when added together they become comparable to large" ones. Their frequency makes them damaging, yet little about them is reported.
Studying European waters alone, they determined that major spills happen every few years, large ones three or four times a year, and smaller ones virtually daily. Extrapolated globally over time amounts to a major environmental problem, compounded by many small incidents and natural seepage - as much as 14 million barrels a year globally offshore.
"For example, it seems that there are four to five times more spills (large and small) in East Asia than in European Coastal waters," and Middle East ones experience "significantly more spills." Most often, negligence to cut costs is why.
According to Redondo and Platonov, "the cumulative effect and toxic dose (of small spills) is the same as a large spill, and will be detected in the long run," as well as their environmental damage, slowly destroying the health of global waters.
Charles Clusen, Natural Resources Defense Council National Parks and Alaska Projects director believes up to 500 spills happen annually and will increase with greater production, plus natural seeps adding more. According to former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration (NOAA) supervisory researcher Jeff Short:
Besides daily spills, the Gulf of Mexico alone has experienced over 500 oil rig fires since 2006, most never reported.
Another expert says offshore spills cause more damage than a terrorist attack. They're unacceptable risks - reason enough to ban all shallow and deep water drilling and strictly regulate the rest. Besides daily spills, the Gulf of Mexico alone has experienced over 500 oil rig fires since 2006, most never reported, the latest on September 2. More on it below.
Exhibit A in Alaska was the Prince William Sound Exxon-Valdez incident. After over 20 years of natural weathering, it remains an environmental and human catastrophe, and it was minor compared to BP's greatest ever environmental crime.
On land, drilling is hazardous, but offshore requires complex technology, greatly increasing the risks. According to UC Berkeley Engineering Professor Robert Bea:
Drilling is a dirty, dangerous business. The long-term harm greatly outweighs the benefits. Besides spills and other accidents, the ecological damage is immense, contaminating waters and shorelines. Drilling releases toxic muds, containing poisonous heavy metals, including mercury, cadmium and lead, as well as dangerous amounts of arsenic, benzene and radioactive minerals. According to the EPA:
Naturally occurring radioactive materials include radium and radon gas, potent carcinogens that accumulate in water, wildlife, plants and vegetables, and take 1,600 years to degrade. Combined with other toxins (after decades of offshore drilling) has left vast areas of global waters dangerously toxic - why nothing in them should be eaten.
The Latest Reason to Ban All Offshore Drilling
On September 2, operating 100 miles south of Louisiana's Vermilion Bay in shallow water (several hundred feet deep), a rig operated by Mariner Energy, Inc. (a Houston-based independent oil and gas producer) exploded and caught fire, a company press release saying:
False. Workers told rescuers they heard a blast, saw a fire, and had to jump into Gulf waters to be safe. One injury was reported. The Coast Guard said a mile-long, hundred foot wide oil sheen was seen near the site, then later about-faced saying no oil was spotted. It's there and spreading, but there's no indication how much or whether the release was contained. First reported at 9:20AM, the fire was extinguished about six hours later.
Mariner's rig is in production, not a drilling rig platform like BP's. At year end 2009, it produced 47% oil and 53% natural gas. The company has interests in nearly 350 offshore leases, including over 80 in deep water down to 7,100 feet. More than 110 are in development.
According to the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement (BOE, formerly the Mineral Management Service - MMS), federal authorities cited Mariner and its related operations for 10 Gulf accidents in the past four years. They included platform fires, oil spills and a blowout. In a 2008 incident, one employee sustained serious injuries. In early 2010, the company was fined $55,000 for safety violations.
Consider its history. As a former Enron unit, it faced bankruptcy, saved only by private equity investors buying it at fire sale prices. On April 15, Apache Corp., America's largest independent oil and gas producer, announced plans to buy Mariner, calling the deal "a strategic step and a natural extension into the deepwater Gulf....provid(ing) an exciting new platform for growth...." The agreement is still on, Apache saying it's monitoring developments closely but hopes to complete its acquisition in a matter of weeks.
Despite offshore drilling dangers; the industry's history of violations, accidents, and spills, some major like BP's; and the growing contamination of waters and coastal areas, the rage to drill is unabated, few in Congress willing to challenge Big Oil's muscle.
After the Mariner explosion, however, environmental groups are flexing theirs, wanting offshore drilling banned, Greenpeace USA's oceans campaign director, John Hocevar, saying:
Jackie Savitz, senior campaign director for the environmental group Oceana agrees, saying:
Environment America's Mike Gravitz said Obama "need(s) no further wake-up call to permanently ban new drilling."
In a September 2 press release, the Center for Biological Diversity said:
After the BP incident, a coalition of 14 environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace, wrote Obama, urging a permanent moratorium, saying:
Others believe only a total ban can work, shifting America's fossil fuel addiction to alternative, clean sources. The choice is simple - either a healthy, safe environment or one contaminated and destroyed. There may be little time left to decide.
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on September 4, 2010.