Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

02.18 Tesla big battery is holding its own in a burgeoning energy storage market

02.18 Trump administration condemned over delaying action on toxic drinking water

02.16 New experimental drug rapidly repairs age-related memory loss and improves mood

02.16 Toxic black snow covers Siberian coalmining region [0:49 video; If its killing us, stop doing it]

02.16 Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP [But in America's capitalistic bubble, bribed-to-be-biased media and government defy reality]

02.16 My generation trashed the planet. So I salute the children striking back

02.16 US coastal businesses hit by everyday impact of climate change, study shows

02.16 What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]

02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]

02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]

02.12 Biggest offshore windfarm to start UK supply this week

02.12 Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition

02.12 Politicians are complicit in the killing of our insects – we will be next

News Media Matters

02.16 We Shouldn't Stick Our Heads In The Sand, But We Do It Anyway [26:46 audio; Fear like Trump & Fox News incite makes us avoid unpleasant information we need to know]

02.16 The Realized Temptations of NPR and PBS [With bribed-to-be-biased media and government, we all live in a "Truman Show"-style concentration camp]

02.15 Samantha Bee: Fox News 'soiling themselves over the Green New Deal' [video clips from Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

02.18 With the Green New Deal, Democrats Present a Radical Proposition for Combatting Climate Change

02.18 Dictator Trump

02.18 With Americans Outraged Over Trump's 'Power Grab Based on Lies,' Nearly 250 President's Day Protests Planned Across the Country

02.16 ‘A Parkland every five days’: project tells stories of the children lost to gun violence [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]

02.16 Rambling Trump calls an emergency in speech that goes on and on and on [1:42 video; an incoherent president just paraphrases lies and distortion from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh...]

02.16 Calling Emergency Declaration a 'Patently Illegal Power Grab,' ACLU Sues Trump [Empathy and fairness are scarce when your President is a psychopath]

02.15 Bernie Sanders Wants to Expand Social Security

02.15 Progressives Need to Ignore the Noise and Stay Ambitious

02.15 Jayapal Says Medicare for All Bill Coming in Two Weeks as Expert Calls Plan 'Astonishingly Strong' [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]

02.15 To Be Crystal Clear: 'Medicare for All' Does Not Mean 'Medicare for Some'

Justice Matters
High Crimes?

02.16 Elliott Abrams Defends War Crimes As Happening Back In The ’80s When Everyone Was Doing It

Economics & Corrupting-Capitalism

02.13 The Green New Deal offers radical environmental and economic change [For the survival of life on earth, capitalism must be effectively regulated or banned]

02.12 Climate and economic risks 'threaten 2008-style systemic collapse' [Willfull ignorance of Trump, Republicans, corporate-media and corporate-Democrats is steadfast, if not worsening]

02.11 Trump offers socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else [and the poor will die out like the insects]

02.10 Green New Deal Targets Link Between Trade Policy and Climate Change

International & Futurism

02.18 Hate-Fest in Warsaw

02.18 They Used To Hold Hands Through the Wall. Now, There’s Razor Wire.

02.15 Who Is Really A Socialist? [Who is really a Republican, etc.?]

02.15 In Germany, the Green New Deal Actually Works

02.14 House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen [Congress does something good again!]

02.14 Millions Flowed From Venezuelan Oil Firm to Small Bulgarian Bank [Transactions like Manafort performed for Trump. Which Venezuelan political leader is likely behind this—Maduro or Trump-supported Guaidó?]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Print view: Federal Gulf Oil Report: A Flawed Abuse of Science - Gulf Crisis is Not Over
SCIENCE, HEALTH & BUSINESS:

Federal Gulf Oil Report: A Flawed Abuse of Science - Gulf Crisis is Not Over

SOURCE: Defend Science
Previous studies have warned that the combination of oil and dispersants is more toxic than oil on its own, because the chemicals break down cell walls, making organisms more susceptible to oil.

The federal government's National Incident Command has released it's report on the gulf oil spill “BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Budget: What Happened To the Oil?” The main message of this report – and certainly the main spin it has been given in statements by government spokespeople and the major media is - “it's all but over, we've accounted for most of the oil, most of it's gone and what's left is disappearing fast”.

But the report's conclusions are at best premature, based in many respects on guesswork, and evidence that didn't fit its conclusions was suppressed. The conclusions drawn from the report and being pushed out broadly to the public are wrong. Leaving aside the dangerous implications this report may lead to in terms of governmental policy, this report is itself an attack on and abuse of science.

Here is the report's key summary finding:

“In summary, it is estimated that burning, skimming and direct recovery from the wellhead removed one quarter (25%) of the oil released from the wellhead. One quarter (25%) of the total oil naturally evaporated or dissolved, and just less than one quarter (24%) was dispersed (either naturally or as a result of operations) as microscopic droplets into Gulf waters. The residual amount — just over one quarter (26%) — is either on or just below the surface as light sheen and weathered tar balls, has washed ashore or been collected from the shore, or is buried in sand and sediments. Oil in the residual and dispersed categories is in the process of being degraded.”

There is so much wrong with this report and how it is being used that it would take pages to describe. A New York Times article from August 4 describes some initial response from scientists who have done research in the gulf for years:

“Some researchers have already attacked the findings and methodology, calling the report conclusions premature at best and its methodology sloppy. They noted that considerable research was still under way to shed light on some of the main scientific issues raised in the report.

“'A lot of this is based on modeling and extrapolation and very generous assumptions,' said Samantha Joye, a marine scientist at the University of Georgia who has led some of the most important research on the Deepwater Horizon spill. 'If an academic scientist put something like this out there, it would get torpedoed into a billion pieces.' ”

There is nothing wrong with modeling per se but there is something very wrong about modeling using wild guesses for inputs and using that to draw premature unfounded conclusions.

Even Edward Overton, an emeritus LSU gulf researcher who is listed as one of the scientists consulted in preparation of the report, while generally supporting the report, was reported to have “expressed concern, however, that dispersed oil in the deep ocean might not break down quickly.”

Oil plumes are “disappeared” from the findings

For weeks after the Deepwater Horizon accident both BP and NOAA director Jane Lubchenco, echoing BP's CEO, denied that there were any oil plumes beneath the surface. When researchers reported clear evidence of the massive plumes, she called their findings only “anomalies” that might or might not be oil which might or might not be from the BP disaster. Only later on June 8, in the face of overwhelming evidence, Lubchenco reversed her stance conceding “The bottom line is that yes, there is oil in the water column, it’s at very low concentrations...” (Lubchenco joint press conference with Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, June 8, 2010) partial timeline of NOAA stonewalling on undersea plumes...

The report continues to seriously downplay both the existence of the underwater plumes and the continued dangers posed by their aftermath, stating only:

“All of the naturally dispersed oil and some of the oil that was chemically dispersed remained well-below the surface in diffuse clouds where it began to dissipate further and biodegrade. Previous analyses have shown evidence of diffuse clouds of dispersed oil between 3,300 and 4,300 feet in very low concentrations (parts per million or less), moving in the direction of known ocean currents and decreasing with distance from the wellhead.”

And in the report's description of the 26% of the oil not yet accounted for, the deepwater plumes are omitted. Here is the description:

“Residual: After accounting for the categories that can be measured directly or estimated (i.e., recovery operations, dispersion, and evaporation and dissolution), an estimated 26% remains. This figure is a combination of categories all of which are difficult to measure or estimate. It includes oil still on or just below the surface in the form of light sheen or tar balls, oil that has washed ashore or been collected from the shore, and some that is buried in sand and sediments and may resurface through time. This oil has also begun to degrade through natural processes.”

What About the Effects of the dispersant Corexit?

The federal report tries to whitewash and downplay this critical issue too. Here is what it says:

“Our knowledge of the oil, dispersants, ecosystem impacts and human impacts will continue to evolve.” (duh!).

“EPA and NOAA have carefully monitored BP's use of dispersant”. But evidence is emerging that they did nothing of the sort, ultimately allowing at least 2 million gallons of this highly toxic chemical to be used.

Ron Kendall, a toxicologist from Texas Tech was reported to have testified to congress that "The bottom line is that a lot of oil is still at sea dispersed in the water column," said Ron Kendall. "It's a big ecological question as to how this will ultimately unfold." Previous studies, including a 400-page study by the National Academy of Sciences, have warned that the combination of oil and dispersants is more toxic than oil on its own, because the chemicals break down cell walls, making organisms more susceptible to oil. from Guardian UK August 3, 2010...

The Obama Administration and Media further distort the message

NY Times: “U.S. Finds Most Oil From Spill Poses Little Additional Risk”

CNN: “Battle to stop leak and contain oil 'coming to an end,' Obama says” and “The report bolsters a top Obama administration energy official's statement Wednesday that the oil spill crisis is 'turning a corner,' with the 'vast majority' of the oil now gone and the procedure to permanently seal BP's crippled well apparently working.”

We close with two points:

First: even if you take the new government figures for real (which we don't, by a long shot), there is still way more oil in the gulf now (after over 100 days of oil in the Gulf) than there was in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez spill - and that spill basically caused major portions of the ecosystem to collapse, in some cases years later. It's true that this disaster is different from the Exxon Valdez spill in many ways. But the key point is that what is needed urgently is fully transparent release of all findings (including from BP and all government agencies) and much more research, not rosy reports that obscure the truth.

And finally: a much more scientific assessment of where things stand with the gulf oil spill, this from University of Georgia investigator Samantha Joye. She has spent more than 15 years doing research in the gulf with her team and they were among those who found and measured the massive undersea oil plumes:

“I read many reports that stated conclusively the oil had been either transferred to the atmosphere (via evaporation) or that it had been consumed by oil-eating microorganisms. Everyone’s reaction was, not surprisingly, ‘what a relief !!’.

“Should we be relieved? Is this disaster over?

“On the whole, I believe the answer to both questions is no. It is a relief that the volume of surface oil is reduced, as this lowers the probability of oil-fouling of coastal beaches and marshes. However, it’s likely that a great deal of oil is still out there in the Gulf of Mexico’s waters, it’s just no longer visible to us.

“While some of the oil has most certainly evaporated, much of it was dispersed and this oil is still floating around, invisible to our eyes, within the ocean’s water column. Some of the oil has probably sedimented to the seafloor, where it is also invisible to our eyes. The fact that this oil is “invisible” makes it no less of a danger to the Gulf’s fragile ecosystems. Quite the contrary, the danger is real and the danger is much more difficult to quantify, track and assess.

“And, what about the dissolved gases, mainly methane? Very few measurements of methane concentrations have been made and very few people are thinking about methane’s potential impacts on Gulf deep waters. We, and a couple of others, have measured remarkably high methane concentrations in the water column. Its oxidation, and the microbial growth it fuels, will influence oxygen and nutrient budgets in the deepwater.

“What about the dispersants? Where have they gone and what is their impact in the system? How are dispersants influencing the organisms that call the Gulf’s waters, beaches and marshes home? We do not know the answers to these questions but we need to know.” Gulf Oil Blog Samantha Joye / UGA Department of Marine Science...

Read the entire federal report here...

We welcome more comments. Email us your comments.


In the United States today science, as science, is under attack as never before, mostly from uninformed evangelical organizations. Defend Science is an activist group to defend against illogical suppression of scientific research.



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 16, 2010.

 

Public Service Ads: