Gulf Coast Oil Disastor Summary

From the good folks ar NRDC
This morning’s summary
There’s a huge plume of dispersed oil deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists say it’s as long as Manhattan – 22 miles. And it’s raising concerns that it has not broken down rapidly and could pose a threat to marine life for months or even years. The news about the plumes adds to a welter of recent, and to some extent conflicting, scientific claims about the health of the seas. While scientists generally agree that the risk of additional harm at the surface and near shore has diminished since the well was capped a month ago, a sharp debate has arisen about the continuing risk from oil in the deep waters. It continues to feed the controversy over the federal government’s claim that oil has dispersed in the Gulf. And it raises the possibility that this catastrophe will not end when the well is finally plugged in September – if it is by this new target date.

Quotable Quote

“The oil is coming into the food web at every point. Everything is affected, directly and indirectly, and the indirect effects may be the more troubling ones, because they’re so much harder to understand.” Jim Cowan, Louisiana State University.

National News

Bloomberg: Transocean – everything ‘normal’ during tests

There are a lot of different stories starting to emerge about the Deepwater Horizon. Donald Vidrine, BP’s well-site leader aboard the rig in the Gulf of Mexico on the night of the catastrophe that killed 11 workers, told company representatives conducting the probe that a BP engineer in Houston and employees of rig owner Transocean Ltd. assured him everything was normal during tests conducted shortly before the blast.

Read more from Joe Carroll and Jim Snyder

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-19/bp-well-manager-said-there-was-no-warning-of-blowout-before-gulf-explosion.html

See this one, too
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/41257.html

Los Angeles Times: Testimony: most of the oil remains

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a controversial “oil spill budget” Aug. 2 estimating that a large part of the oil released into the Gulf of Mexico by the Deepwater Horizon spill was gone. But in a hearing on Capitol Hill, a NOAA official conceded that three-fourths of the pollutants from the 4.1 million barrels spewed into the gulf are still lingering in the environment. Bill Lehr, senior scientist with NOAA’s Office of Restoration and Response, said booming and burning probably cleaned up only about 10 percent of the spilled oil. And then there’s the question of the 22-mile long oil plume beneath the surface that scientists say has not disappeared.

Read more from Kim Murphy

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2010/08/noaa-official-concedes-majority-of-gulf-oil-still-there.html

Check this one, too:

NPR: Giant oil plume below Gulf surface
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129304546

New York Times: BP’s lump settlements come with conditions
In the “it-was-too-good-to-be-true-department,” people seeking payment from the BP Claims Fund stand to be stiffed one way or the other. “If they decide to sue instead of accepting a settlement, they could face years of litigation; and if they decide to accept the settlement, it could come before the full damage from the spill is known.”- which shields most of the major defendants.” The terms are similar to the terms of the 9/11 Fund which was administered by the same man, Kenneth Feinberg.

Read more from Ian Urbina

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/20/us/20spill.html?_r=1&hp

Also see

New York Times: BP’s spill fund, facts and figures

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/20/us/20spillside.html?ref=us

Politics

Politico: White House slammed for rosy Gulf view

It is the White House in the crosshairs this week as scientists unload on the administration’s assessment that most of the oil leaked in the Gulf has gone.

Read more from Dan Berman and Josh Voorhees

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/41280.html

Politics Daily: Is Gulf seafood safe to eat? Scientists say yes, but testing is limited

Government scientists told a congressional panel Thursday that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is now safe to eat even though no tests have been conducted on fish in the most toxic waters and new tests have not been developed to measure all of the effects of dispersants on fish.

Read more from Patricia Murphy

http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/08/19/is-gulf-seafood-safe-to-eat/

Times Picayune: 2 legal experts added to next week’s potentially explosive oil spill hearings

A joint federal Marine Board panel investigating the cause of the oil spill hearings has added two legal experts, a retired federal judge and a Coast Guard lawyer, to bolster its control over what promises to be explosive hearings in Houston next week. One witness, the top BP man on the rig has refused to testify. The other company man is the only witness to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Read more from David Hammer

http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/08/oil_spill_hearings_marine_boar.html

Regional

Washington Times: Media blamed for scaring away Gulf tourists

There are places along the Gulf coast that did not feel a big impact from the oil spill. But local officials say they got a huge negative impact from all the media coverage about the disaster – media that killed business for the 2010 summer season just when businesses were trying to climb out of recession. Business owners say the media was the cause of the problem so the media should step up and be the cure.

Read more from Stephen Dinan

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/aug/19/media-hit-and-run-leaves-gulf-tourism-reeling/

WGNO: Top administration officials meet with Gulf Coast damage assessment trustees; visit Delta National Wildlife Refuge

More meetings in the Gulf with top government officials and more damage control for the Obama administration. Thursday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the EPA and NOAA chiefs toured the Delta National Wildlife Refuge and pledged “We will stay focused on the job at hand every step of the way and ensure that those accountable for the spill fulfill their responsibilities.”

Read more

http://www.neworleans.com/news/local-news/457534.html

AP: Mayor: New Orleans needs more time to rebuild

Five years after Hurricane Katrina, Mayor Mitch Landrieu says recovery now after the Gulf oil spill – will take at least another five years. He said Katrina and the spill have brought the Big Easy “to its knees.”

Read more from Ileana Morales

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jqpPwjFAFB5oB5-cWNUqrN7m8HhQD9HMP6O80

New York Times: Locals track spill’s impact, paving way for federal study

The nonprofit Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an environmental group, has embarked on an ambitious oil-leak mapping project and conducted hundreds of post-spill health surveys. The group’s volunteers station themselves in convenience stores, marinas, and bars where residents of the state’s rural southern bayous congregate, collecting information on health effects to urge federal attention.

Read more from Elana Schor

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/08/19/19greenwire-locals-track-gulf-oil-spills-health-impacts-pa-41267.html

Times Picayune: BP will fund three-year study of Louisiana fisheries

BP has agreed to fund a three-year study of the effects of the Gulf oil spill on Louisiana’s fisheries, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Thursday.

Read more from Paul Purpura

http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/08/bp_to_fund_three-year_study_of.html

PNJ.com: A camp to help kids cope with oil spill
Lutheran Services Florida in partnership with Florida Department of Children and Families provided a therapeutic camp experience for children called Camp Beyond the Horizon. Over the past month, 150 children have attended five camps to help them talk about their fears and learn to cope with them.

Read more:
http://www.pnj.com/article/20100820/NOTEBOOK/8200339/1006/NEWS01/Oil-spill-s-sociological-impact-can-have-devastating-effects

Business

AP: BP removes logos from company cars in Colorado after employees complain of harassment

The BP office covering southwest Colorado has removed company logos from about 200 vehicles after employees complained of harassment. Spokesman Curtis Thomas said employees have been reporting routine abuse from the public, at traffic lights, gas stations and the grocery store.

Read more

http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/08/blowout_preventer_from_damaged.html

Reuters: Norway watchdog seeks better spill prevention

Norway’s oil safety watchdog said on Thursday it was seeking improvements from the petroleum industry to prevent offshore blowouts and leaks in the wake of BP’s damaging U.S. oil spill.

Read more from Gwladys Fouche

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67I4ZD20100819

Editorial

Washington Post: Eugene Robinson: President Obama’s winning streak

According to Eugene Robinson, the President has scored victories in the oil spill disaster to add to his “winning streak” in office—the $20 billion claims fund, quieting the talk of “Obama’s Katrina” and yes, even that dip in the Gulf last week as a sign that things are looking up, Robinson argues.

Read more from Eugene Robinson

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/19/AR2010081904771.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Times-Picayune: Feinberg ready for claimants
Ken Feinberg’s unequivocal promise of quick emergency payments for those affected by BP’s oil spill is refreshing — and his office must live up to that pledge. Feinberg said he plans to earn the public’s trust with fair, quick payments. That’s the best way to do so, the Times-Picayune writes.

Read more
http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2010/08/be_ready_for_claimants_from_bp.html

Feature

Smithsonian: A crude awakening in the Gulf of Mexico

We are only beginning to understand the damage of the Gulf oil spill, according to this account from the Smithsonian Magazne. The idea that the oil has dissipated and the Gulf has already greatly recovered could not be farther from the truth. “Oil is penetrating the Gulf Coast in countless ways—some obvious, some not—and could disrupt habitats and the delicate ecology for years to come. For the scientists who have spent decades trying to understand the complexities of this natural world, the spill is not only heartbreaking, but also deeply disorienting. They are just beginning to study – and attempting to repair – a coast transformed by oil.”

Read more from Michelle Nijhuis

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/100465449.html

Graphics:

Ø Factbox: BP’s last steps to plug the well
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67I5TH20100819

Ø Graphic showing location of the plume
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/2010-08-20-plume20_ST_N.htm

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