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Washington Post : In gulf oil spill's long reach, ecological damage could last decades
Washington Post ^ | 06/05/2010 | Joel Achenbach and David Brown

Posted on 06/05/2010 8:40:19 PM PDT by SeekAndFind

Snorkeling along a coral reef near Veracruz, Mexico, in 2002, Texas biologist Wes Tunnell spotted what looked like a ledge of rock covered in sand, shells, algae and hermit crabs. He knew, from years of research at the reef, that it probably wasn't a rock at all. He stabbed it with his diving knife. His blade pulled up gunk.

"Sure enough, it was tar from the Ixtoc spill," Tunnell said.

Twenty-three years earlier, in 1979, an oil well named Ixtoc I had a blowout in 150 feet of water in the southern Gulf of Mexico. The Mexican national oil company Pemex tried to kill the well with drilling mud, and then with steel and lead balls dropped into the wellbore. It tried to contain the oil with a cap nicknamed The Sombrero. Finally, after 290 days, a relief well plugged the hole with cement and the spill came to an end -- but only after polluting the gulf with 138 million gallons of crude.

That remains the worst accidental oil spill in history -- but the Deepwater Horizon blowout off the Louisiana coast is rapidly gaining on it.

The spill has now been partially contained with the cap that BP engineers lowered onto the mile-deep geyser Thursday night. That means roughly a quarter to half of the flow is being piped to a surface ship, the national incident commander, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said Saturday. BP hopes to improve the rate captured in coming days. If official government estimates are correct, 23 million to 47 million gallons of oil have spewed so far.

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bp; ecology; gulf; oilspill
Ecosystems can survive and eventually recover from very large oil spills, even ones that are Ixtoc-sized. In most spills, the volatile compounds evaporate. The sun breaks down others. Some compounds are dissolved in water. Microbes consume the simpler, "straight chain" hydrocarbons -- and the warmer it is, the more they eat. The gulf spill has climate in its favor. Scientists agree: Horrible as the spill may be, it's not going to turn the Gulf of Mexico into another Dead Sea.

But neither is this ecological crisis going to be over anytime soon. The spill will have ripple effects far into the future, scientists warn.

1 posted on 06/05/2010 8:40:19 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Thanks 0bama!
He said he wanted to have a lasting effect on the American landscape...


2 posted on 06/05/2010 8:42:04 PM PDT by counterpunch (GOP: Government's Other Party)
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To: SeekAndFind
Even though I'm not terribly fond of having to move to California to keep my job, I am now grateful I no longer live in St. Petersburg Florida as it won't be long till that crap is washing up on the shore next to the apartment complex I used to live in.
3 posted on 06/05/2010 8:44:26 PM PDT by Pox
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To: SeekAndFind
ecological damage could last decades... or only a couple years.

The spill will have ripple effects far into the future, scientists warn. Kind of like that impending anthropomorpgic global warming doom they warn about.

4 posted on 06/05/2010 8:44:55 PM PDT by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Thanks OILbama!!


5 posted on 06/05/2010 8:45:17 PM PDT by boycott (CAL)
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To: SeekAndFind

The Washington Post must not be aware that Russia, China, Vietnam and apparently every other commie country in the world is going to drill between the Florida Keys and Cuba. Spills from those wells are likely to go right into the Florida loop current and up the eastern seaboard. But, I guess since those are commies, the Compost is ok with that or maybe the Compost figures those commies will do the “honorable” thing quickly and efficiently so no crude is loosed on the waters leading to the Compost’s doorstep.


6 posted on 06/05/2010 8:51:32 PM PDT by Rembrandt (.. AND the donkey you rode in on.)
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To: SeekAndFind

If it saturates the Louisiana coast, the effects will last longer than anyone currently alive. When that stuff gets into the soil in large amounts, it takes decades before the soil returns to its former level of productivity.

Once when I was a teenager, I removed an automatic transmission from a car without draining it. As I was moving it around in the driveway I did something that caused all the fluid to dump onto the driveway. I hosed it off the driveway and into the grass. It killed the grass and it was easily 15 years before the grass would thrive in that spot again. And that was just a few quarts.


7 posted on 06/05/2010 8:59:44 PM PDT by mamelukesabre (Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum (If you want peace prepare for war))
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To: SeekAndFind
Of course I really know nothing about how this should be handled. But I wish I understood why they can't wrap a mile long sock with a rubberish draw string toe around the outside base of the well head, and collect what comes up, until a more permanent solution is found. I saw a graphic where the well is something like 30 feet high above the sea floor. It seems you could collect every drop if you could get a tight seal at the base. As long as all gushing oil was being captured and collected, the pressure would be off. If it took six months for a relief well to do the trick, no big deal. But I'm sure if something like that would really work, the minds on the scene would have thought of it.

Another question: where is Exxon? They have nothing to contribute here?

8 posted on 06/05/2010 9:05:11 PM PDT by Minn (Here is a realistic picture of the prophet: ----> ([: {()
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To: SeekAndFind

The Poison they added to the oil is the real problem and the Worthless One will not use the method the Mexicans and the Saudis used to clean up huge quanties of surface oil,instead preferring to desecrate the whitehouse with his slimy presence and the commie buddies.


9 posted on 06/05/2010 9:28:22 PM PDT by Cheetahcat (Zero the Wright kind of Racist! We are in a state of War with Democrats)
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To: SeekAndFind
While trying to paint their picture doom gloom and total utter ecological discussion they made this small mistake-- "covered in sand, shells, algae and hermit crabs" -- how could the ledge of TOXiC KILL EVERYTHING FOR DECADE TAR be "covered in sand, shells, algae and hermit crabs"

Just askin'

10 posted on 06/05/2010 9:33:21 PM PDT by commish (Freedom tastes sweetest to those who have fought to preserve it.)
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To: commish
picture doom gloom and total utter ecological discussion

Picture of doom gloom and total utter ecological destruction.

Must be time for bed. LOL

11 posted on 06/05/2010 9:37:04 PM PDT by commish (Freedom tastes sweetest to those who have fought to preserve it.)
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To: Rembrandt

good reason to invade Cuba and it right this time.


12 posted on 06/06/2010 12:05:13 PM PDT by kabumpo (Kabumpo)
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To: SeekAndFind; All
Barry's Legacy

13 posted on 06/06/2010 12:07:26 PM PDT by Larousse2 (The price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance. ~ Thomas Jefferson)
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