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Dome or garbage to seal hole drilled thru seafloor in Earth crust spewing oil?..dispersant chemicals make pollution worse


By WcP.Watchful.Eye - Posted on 10 May 2010

Top L: Gulf Oil Spill - do chemical dispersants pose their own environmental risk?
(quote)
BP has dumped about 160,000 gallons of Corexit – chemical dispersant made by the Nalco Company - in the Gulf (as well as pumping 6,000 gallons more all the way down to the leak location). The dispersant particles bind to oil, sink, and are carried away by ocean currents. But while that could help keep a spill from reaching the shores en masse, it means the oil isn’t actually “cleaned up,” but rather diluted. And the dispersant chemicals themselves can be dangerous. Nalco’s own documents go into detail about compounds that must be handled with great care in their original form, that should not touch the skin and can damage lungs.

Gulf oil spill: giant containment box towed to site
Top: Gulf oil spill: giant containment box towed to site. BP tows a huge dome into the Gulf of Mexico, but it is far from certain whether it can stop the oil gushing from the seafloor.Efforts on Wednesday to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill centered on a towering metal box the size of a four-story building that engineering teams hope will corral the crude that continues to spout from the seafloor. Bottom: Oil from the massive Deepwater Horizon spill is seen on the surface of the water in Breton and Chandeleur Sound, off the Louisiana coast.

BP to lower 100-ton chamber to stop oil flow from ruptured well. Blown-out well spewing 210,000 gallons of crude a day; US questions firm's survival as ecological disaster looms

The 100-ton concrete and steel box that remains BP's best hope of containing the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was lowered towards the ocean floor on Friday, May 7 amid acrid fumes from thick layers of crude oil.

As submersible robots swept the ocean floor for debris, a crane slowly lowered the box 5,000ft to the blown-out well that has been spewing 210,000 gallons of crude oil into the gulf each day for more than a fortnight.

The first orange-coloured tendrils of oil were reaching both sides of an uninhabited chain of barrier islands designated as a wildlife refuge by Theodore Roosevelt. But BP officials said they needed time to get the box safely into position over the leaking pipe. Work was interrupted overnight because of the fumes and fears of triggering an explosion.

The marshes of the Chandeleur Islands, about 60 miles east of New Orleans, are an important nesting ground for pelicans and other birds.

Coastguard officials said flotillas of shrimp boats had been sent to reposition protective booms to stop the oil getting to land. But environmental scientists also warned the efforts to hold back the oil could be undermined by BP's decision to break up the spill with dispersants. The resulting thinner oil was proving much harder to contain.

"There is as much oil behind the booms as in the booms," said Rick Steiner, a conservation professor at the University of Alaska. "It's an exercise in futility."

If all goes to plan, the box will hoover up 85% of the oil gushing from the ocean floor and pipe it into a waiting tanker. But BP admits it is unclear whether its efforts will work. No containment box, or coffer dam, has ever been deployed at such depths, and the operation is threatened by frigid ocean temperatures and the immense pressures.

The company said today it was also exploring the possibility of injecting heavy fluids into the blowout preventer that sits at the top of the well, and whose failure two weeks ago led to the disaster.

Meanwhile, crews have begun to drill a relief well, but that could take months.

The outcome of BP's efforts to contain the oil with the gigantic contraption could be critical to the future of offshore drilling in America. The Obama administration yesterday suspended new offshore drilling in Alaska and Virginia.

The interior secretary, Ken Salazar, warned that BP's very survival could depend on its response effort. "Its life is very much on the line here," Salazar told reporters after meeting BP officials in Houston.

"Are they doing everything that they can possibly do? I hope that they are."The spill could also kickstart stalled energy and climate legislation in the Senate. John Kerry, the Democratic Senator, said today he would formally roll-out his proposals on Wednesday even though a key Republican ally, Lindsey Graham, has withdrawn support for the measures.

CNN: Next step to stop oil: Throw garbage at it. If using a massive dome to cover the source of the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico doesn't work, crews are preparing for another option: clogging it. Engineers are examining whether they can close a failed blowout preventer by stuffing it with trash, said Adm. Thad Allen, the commandant of the Coast Guard. The 48-foot-tall, 450-ton device sits atop the well at the heart of the Gulf oil spill and is designed to stop leaks, but it has not been working properly since the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20 and later sank.

Swimming through patches of oxidizing oil mingling with chemical dispersants used by BP to break up oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill, a sea turtle surfaces to feed this week in the Gulf of Mexico.

Crude oil contains such harmful chemicals as benzene, which can cause cancer, and hydrocarbons, which can cause ailments ranging from headaches and nausea to breathing problems and abdominal pains. The Environmental Protection Agency has already begun taking air samples all along the Gulf Coast to check for unhealthy levels of hydrocarbon fumes in the air.

One study of people who breathed in the fumes from a 2003 tanker spill off the coast of Pakistan found that they suffered "impaired lung function." A year later, after avoiding the fumes for months, they had recovered. After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, more than 200 of the claims that cleanup workers filed with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration were for respiratory problems while more than 40 concerned skin irritations.

NGC will air "Gulf Oil Spill" on Thursday, May 27 at 10pm ET/PT. The special documentary will replace the previously scheduled "Known Universe: Cosmic Collisions." The Nat Geo special will include exclusive footage from salvage crews on the scene. The oil spill is now one of America's biggest environmental disasters ever, and the largest oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico since 1979.

Now, as experts scramble to stop the oil leak, NGC will reveal what happened to the Deepwater Horizon as a blowout tore it apart, killing 11 of the 126 men on board, sending oil toward the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

The special will contain never-before-seen video shot by salvage crews as they battled to get close to the burning rig. Pulling together video and news footage from the scene, intercut with first-person accounts from the crew — get the inside story of what really happened during the first 36 hours of the disaster.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard / Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Kendrick, Apex News Network, New York Times, Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times, and Joe Raedle / Getty Images

This is absolutely insane. It seems like in this day and age we should be able to use some technology in order to get this disaster under control.

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