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Oh, Great…

Gulf Gusher flagOur coast could be polluted even though Florida derives no benefit from the drilling according to MSNBC: Oil rig leak could take 2 weeks to plug

Officials have been trying for days to use the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to activate a “blowout preventer” aboard the sunken Deepwater Horizon. The preventer is essentially a cutoff valve at the well head.

On Sunday, crews operated a ROV nearly a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, but were unable to activate the switch.

Those efforts are expected to continue but other options listed by the federal Office of Response and Restoration include:

  • “Use an undersea dome to contain leaking oil, rigged by ROVs” — an idea that “has not been tried at this depth before”;
  • Drill relief wells to detour the oil and which could then be plugged, a process that “could take several months”;
  • Continue aggressive skimming and dispersing of oil on the surface using boat crews.

Oil was oozing slowly toward the coast Monday, endangering hundreds of miles of marshes, barrier islands and white sand beaches in four states from Louisiana to Florida.

The sea life in the Gulf is already stressed by the dead zone off the mouth of the Mississippi, and now it will be attacked by crude oil. Yes, they can disperse it, but it will still kill the lowest level of life in the Gulf, which will impact the entire food chain.

People have no idea how expensive the quartz sand that produces our sugar-white beaches is. It came as a bit of a shock when the bills came in after shore replenishment projects. The sand itself is plentiful, but it has to be filtered to remove all of the debris and staining before it is put on the beach. These projects start at seven figure amounts and get higher.

White sand and sparkling water is our tourist economy. It is the justification for the absurd prices along the beach. Our economy is in no shape to absorb another shock, and we are approaching the “season”. If there were schools of sharks off the coast, people would still come, but no one wants to pay money to breathe petroleum vapors and look at tarry sand and dead fish.

7 comments

1 Steve Bates { 04.27.10 at 4:01 am }

“Tarry sand and dead fish…” welcome to the reality of the world of offshore platforms and oil tankers. I worked in the oil industry for only a few years (my resume could tell you how many, but I have blessedly forgotten most of those years), but I became convinced over those years, from people I talked to and things I read, of one simple fact: offshore drilling and transport of large quantities of oil is not reliably safe for the environment. That is the primary reason I quit working for the “awl bidness”: I have no moral objection to extraction industries per se, but in this one as in so many, engaging in them eventually involves very high risks of extensive environmental damage. It simply isn’t safe for the Earth. Florida just found that out in the most painful way. And it’s not the only place that has.

2 cookie jill { 04.27.10 at 9:12 am }

We here in Santa Barbara (also a tourist based economy) know all too well about oil spills and the havoc they bring.

Good luck. Y’all will need it.
.-= last blog ..it’s kentucky derby week =-.

3 Bryan { 04.27.10 at 12:23 pm }

At least this has convinced the Repubs in the Florida lege to pull the bill authorizing drilling within 3 miles of the coast. It will be back as the clowns who sponsored it are slated to be the new leaders of the house and senate. It does, however, significantly weaken their case, as they can no longer say that the type of rig involved in this mess has never had a serious accident.

The rig was 50 miles off the coast, so if the oil reaches the coast, another claim evaporates, and the drilling zone will be pushed further away.

I hope like hell they can cap the sucker, because no one needs the mess.

4 Steve Bates { 04.27.10 at 9:39 pm }

Bryan, here is a post of possible interest to you on Carl Pope’s blog at Sierra Club. It’s about strange attractors and oil spills; the explanation is a bit fuzzy, but it’s the first time I’d ever heard of it.

While I was over there, I rejoined SC. Will that save the Earth? Is it the best activity I could undertake for the environment? Is the “free” “backpack” (both words used advisedly) any good? No, no, and possibly, but I’ve known the locals forever and they’re astonishingly competent at what they do in a city context, I like them (most of them) and have a history with them, and I’m tired of doing absolutely nothing as catastrophe unrolls around us.

Oh, and I could use a new rucksack. 🙂
.-= last blog ..How To Cheer Yourself =-.

5 Bryan { 04.27.10 at 11:32 pm }

Well, I hope the rucksack works out, Steve.

As to Carl’s points, all of this stuff is predictable, which is why I oppose the existing systems. What really bugs me is the people who assume it is because I’m some kind of DFH, when in fact I opposed them on purely utilitarian grounds – after decades of using these systems they still aren’t safe or clean. People are still dying and the environment is still getting screwed up after years of promises that “accidents” like that can longer happen.

The systems that might make a big difference are not being used because “they aren’t economically feasible “. Which translates to the Ford Pinto logic: “It’s cheaper to kill people than fix the problem.”

6 Steve Bates { 04.29.10 at 11:33 am }

Bryan, between your and my coast and Cookie Jill’s, we have two of our nation’s three major coastlines under assault (or recently so) by major oil spills. It gives new meaning to the phrase “from sea to shining sea.”
.-= last blog ..Spill Five Times Worse Than Initially Estimated =-.

7 Bryan { 04.29.10 at 11:52 am }

I’m not sure the writer was thinking of the iridescent sheen of petroleum on water when those words were written, but that’s what we ended up with.