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After big 1979 spill, a stunning recovery
News-Observer ^ | 6/13/10 | GLENN GARVIN

Posted on 06/17/2010 10:47:52 AM PDT by AT7Saluki

The oil was everywhere, long black sheets of it, 15 inches thick in some places. Even if you stepped in what looked like a clean patch of sand, it quickly and gooily puddled around your feet. And Wes Tunnell, as he surveyed the mess, had only one bleak thought: "Oh, my God, this is horrible! It's all gonna die!"

But it didn't. Thirty-one years since the worst oil spill in North American history blanketed 150 miles of Texas beach, tourists noisily splash in the surf and turtles drag themselves into the dunes to lay eggs.

"You look around, and it's like the spill never happened," shrugs Tunnell, a marine biologist. "There's a lot of perplexity in it for many of us."

For Tunnell and others involved in the fight to contain the June 3, 1979, spill from Mexico's Ixtoc 1 offshore well in the Gulf of Campeche, the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico conjures an eerie sense of déjà vu.

Like the BP spill, the Ixtoc disaster began with a burst of gas followed by an explosion and fire, followed by a relentless gush of oil that resisted all attempts to block it. Plugs of mud and debris, chemical dispersants, booms skimming the surface of the water: Mexico's Pemex oil company tried them all, but still the spill inexorably crept ashore, first in southeast Mexico, later in Texas.

But if the BP spill seems to be repeating one truth already demonstrated in the Ixtoc spill - that human technology is no match for a high-pressure undersea oil blowout - scientists are hoping that it may eventually confirm another: that the environment has a stunning capacity to heal itself from manmade insults.

Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/06/13/530250/after-big-1979-spill-a-stunning.html#storylink=misearch#ixzz0r8LixHLV

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


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 1979; oil; oilspill; recovery; spill
Apologies if repost. Another example of the audacity of humanity vs. the reality of creation.
1 posted on 06/17/2010 10:47:52 AM PDT by AT7Saluki
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To: AT7Saluki

Thanks for the post.


2 posted on 06/17/2010 10:51:23 AM PDT by Jaded (I realized that after Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says W T F)
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To: AT7Saluki

hopeful and informative.

Articles like this keep me grounded.


3 posted on 06/17/2010 10:52:43 AM PDT by hoe_cake
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To: AT7Saluki

It’s the same as forest fires. The Earth will always replenish itself after a disaster.


4 posted on 06/17/2010 10:52:45 AM PDT by HungarianGypsy
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To: AT7Saluki

I have been to Prince William Sound in Alaska and toured the area by boat.

You cannot see any signs that an oil-spill took place.


5 posted on 06/17/2010 10:55:58 AM PDT by Erik Latranyi (Too many conservatives urge retreat when the war of politics doesn't go their way.)
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To: Erik Latranyi

walk on the beaches and lift some rocks.
You will see it then.


6 posted on 06/17/2010 10:58:41 AM PDT by a real Sheila (NOTHING makes SENSE anymore!)
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To: AT7Saluki

The Earth is not fragile.


7 posted on 06/17/2010 10:59:54 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: AT7Saluki
This too shall pass, after being milked dry of every possible advantage for every possible politician.
8 posted on 06/17/2010 11:02:35 AM PDT by F.J. Mitchell (If Obama doesn't destroy America, she is indestructible.)
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To: dfwgator
. .. and it's chock full of more oil than we could possibly use in prolly 10 forevers!
9 posted on 06/17/2010 11:04:49 AM PDT by norraad ("What light!">Blues Brothers)
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To: AT7Saluki

BTTT. Thanks for the post.


10 posted on 06/17/2010 11:06:16 AM PDT by Constitution Day
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To: Erik Latranyi

The damage done by detergents and steam-cleaning - not oil - to that place was terrible. There are still sterile patches.

But the ‘control’ beach they just left to itself has done really well.


11 posted on 06/17/2010 11:06:54 AM PDT by agere_contra (Obama did more damage to the Gulf economy in one day than Pemex/Ixtoc did in nine months)
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To: AT7Saluki
For all of the hazards of an oil spill, it's worth noting that crude oil exists in a natural environment -- which means nature has a way of dealing with this sort of thing.

An oil spill isn't all that much different than a devastating forest fire, when you think about it.

12 posted on 06/17/2010 11:07:01 AM PDT by Alberta's Child ("Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark.")
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To: agere_contra

Very interesting. This may be one reason why a friend of mine in the logging business tells me that they don’t re-plant trees where he works. They simply clear-cut an area, strip the limbs off the pine trees right there, and leave the branches and pine cones behind to re-seed the area naturally.


13 posted on 06/17/2010 11:09:24 AM PDT by Alberta's Child ("Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark.")
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To: AT7Saluki

Crude oil is all natural and biodegradable.


14 posted on 06/17/2010 11:10:02 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: mojitojoe; Smokin' Joe; Black Agnes

ping


15 posted on 06/17/2010 11:17:03 AM PDT by Travis McGee (---www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com---)
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To: agere_contra

Post 11: interesting! And hopeful.


16 posted on 06/17/2010 11:18:17 AM PDT by Travis McGee (---www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com---)
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To: Moonman62

True. It’s no accident that there are bacteria that can live off crude oil.


17 posted on 06/17/2010 11:19:23 AM PDT by agere_contra (Obama did more damage to the Gulf economy in one day than Pemex/Ixtoc did in nine months)
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To: AT7Saluki

After only 31 years!


18 posted on 06/17/2010 11:22:31 AM PDT by trumandogz
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To: AT7Saluki
But you get up into wetlands, where you're cleaning up shrubs and sea grasses, and it's far more difficult.

Actually, grasses are pretty good about soaking up oil so fast it doesn't have time to get very far. I remember reading about a tanker truck that overturned near "sensitive wetlands" on its way to the refinery. By the time emergency vehicles got there, the oil that had spilled into the swamp was gone. Someone on the scene broke off a phragmites reed from a nearby clump, and there was the oil, it had been sucked up into the hollow part of the stem just like a drinking straw.
19 posted on 06/17/2010 11:26:46 AM PDT by Ellendra (Can't starve us out, and you can't make us run. . . -Hank Jr.)
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To: AT7Saluki

Makes me think of Mt. St. Helens. It was completely desolate after the big explosion. But now a lot of plants have re-started.

To me it’s a theology lesson. God’s life-giving love breaks through wherever and whenever it possibly can.


20 posted on 06/17/2010 11:32:44 AM PDT by married21
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To: AT7Saluki

Thank you so much for posting this!


21 posted on 06/17/2010 11:33:21 AM PDT by proud American in Canada (my former tagline "We can, and we will prevail" doesn't fit with the usurper's goals.)
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To: Moonman62

BUMP for common sense truth.


22 posted on 06/17/2010 11:37:39 AM PDT by newfreep (Palin/DeMint 2012 - Bolton: Secy of State)
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To: trumandogz

Nothing in the article says that it took 31 years. The beach has been clean and clear for many years already.


23 posted on 06/17/2010 11:40:27 AM PDT by Teacher317 (It's Islam)
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To: AT7Saluki
Crude oil is deoxygenated (reduced) biological material, i.e hydrocarbons. It is not surprising when re-oxidized it can slowly meld with the natural environment, after all that is basically the same as respiration or combustion: HC + O2 = CO2 + H2O.

Not trying to be an apologist for an imminent (and moderate term) environmental disaster, but one will never hear such a perspective from ABCCBSNBCPBS.

Kind of like the global warming thing.

Incidentally on the surface we do not take Barack Obama to task for the slow redress of this situation any more than we blamed George Bush for Katrina results. That's silly bigoted politics. Most of us know BO is just a Harvard buffoon. But if BP was actually given environmental waiver for the drilling, and donated big money to the BO campaign, as mentioned on FR, then we are indeed seeing the sinister global conspiracy; and the complicity of the Republican Party if nothing is brought out.

This is why "they" want to control the Internet, and it extends far deeper than just the News Media politicians.

24 posted on 06/17/2010 11:42:53 AM PDT by jnsun (The Left: the need to manipulate others because of nothing productive to offer.)
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To: married21

After forest fires, etc, the ground gets nitrogen enrichment, and is then fit for growing plants again.

At least, that’s one theory I remember reading/hearing.

Some people/scientists say the Earth is billions of years old - but we humans are only a few ‘hundred thousand’ years old. We have no power capable of destroying what has lasted for ‘billions’ of years.


25 posted on 06/17/2010 11:54:16 AM PDT by Ro_Thunder (The press wants “Camelot II - The Return of JFK”, and not “Peanuts II - that’s all you’ll have)
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To: Teacher317

I recall seeing immediate signs of the Ixtoc spill on the beaches and in the Gulf well into the 1980’s. However, after 31 years there are still some not so obvious signs of that spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and it would be dishonest to say that the 1979 spill has been completely cleaned up.

Moreover, cleaning the oil from a beach in Galveston, Texas is much easier than eradicating the oil from wetlands and estuaries in Buras, Louisiana.

The effects of the BP spill will be with the residents and wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico until long after any of us are still alive.

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2010/06/08/spills_damage_could_persist_for_decades/


26 posted on 06/17/2010 12:06:54 PM PDT by trumandogz
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To: AT7Saluki

Oil is a natural product, and Ma Nature has her methods for dealing with it. It’s not like it came spewing out of a Monsanto plant.


27 posted on 06/17/2010 12:20:28 PM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: AT7Saluki
But if the BP spill seems to be repeating one truth already demonstrated in the Ixtoc spill - that human technology is no match for a high-pressure undersea oil blowout -

Human technology stopped the Ixtoc 1, and will get the BP well plugged as well.

i am glad to see someone writing about the capacity for nature to deal with such ills. It is a refreshing alternative to the hysterical apocalyptic ravings which have predominated the discussion.

28 posted on 06/17/2010 12:22:08 PM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
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To: Travis McGee

Thanks for the ping. Nice to see a ray of sanity in the discussion!


29 posted on 06/17/2010 12:23:24 PM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
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To: trumandogz
However, after 31 years there are still some not so obvious signs of that spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and it would be dishonest to say that the 1979 spill has been completely cleaned up.

Sure there are traces out there, short of eroding away the surfaces which came into contact with the oil, there will be. We see ash layers from volcanic eruptions, carbon layers from forest fires, boulder pavement and moraine deposits from glaciers, silt layers from floods, even old river chanels from the ice ages out on the continental shelf--now underwater.

Everything leaves a mark unless the slate is wiped away. Even the dirt in your yard has a story to tell if you can read it.

I guess the point is that most of the Gulf will be back to 'business as usual'--that the planet bounces back.

In the meantime, some things will be messed up, individual organisms will die, but the species will almost always prevail and continue and replenish their numbers.

It has been that way for a long time.

Unfortunately, and prehaps now more than ever, humans have become increasingly impatient. We want it yesterday, and we have (collectively, as humans) no sense of history, short or long term with which we can provide perspective on current events.

If you think about that, it makes us susceptible to all sorts of tomfoolery, and easy prey for charlatans and thieves, especially those who would steal our liberty with edicts passed in apparent haste over an emergency.

Moreover, cleaning the oil from a beach in Galveston, Texas is much easier than eradicating the oil from wetlands and estuaries in Buras, Louisiana.

Absolutely. I agree. Early on in this I said the wetlands should get priority over the beaches. Not only are beaches less intricate, but reworked sand has a much less intricate fauna than wetlands. From a sedimentological standpoint, beaches are almost continually reworked, where wetlands are seldom reworked by wave action. The particle sizes inboth areas are vastly different, and the much finer clays and silt of the wetlands are nearly impossible to clean, where the sand in the beaches can become oil soaked--drawing oil into the pore spaces of dry sand--but can be cleaned as well, with less environmental impact.

From a biological standpoint, the wetlands are the rookeries of the nearshore environment and have an incredibly diverse fauna; about the only things that mate on a beach are humans, horseshoe crabs, and turtles.

While some effect will remain for some time, the majority will pass pretty quickly--remember, I'm a geologist, and reckon time a little different than some--but mostly in 3-5 years. The remainder will take longer, and there will be traces left unless and until the shorelines erode away.

30 posted on 06/17/2010 12:47:26 PM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
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To: married21

I think the problem is that nature doesn’t repair itself AS QUICKLY as we humans would like for it to.

Even Chernobyl will be safe and wonderful someday....

not in MY lifetime though.


31 posted on 06/17/2010 12:51:33 PM PDT by a real Sheila (NOTHING makes SENSE anymore!)
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To: Smokin' Joe

“Early on in this I said the wetlands should get priority over the beaches. Not only are beaches less intricate, but reworked sand has a much less intricate fauna than wetlands.”

Good point and one thing that has pissed me off from day one of this disaster is that the popular media hype will be focused on oil on the beaches of Florida and not wetlands and estuaries of Louisiana.

Oil on the beach means that hotels in the area lose business and families must alter vacation plans, oil in those wetlands means that species will be set back and our seafood supply will be drastically reduced.


32 posted on 06/17/2010 12:54:48 PM PDT by trumandogz
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To: Travis McGee

TY for the ping. I hope that is the case, I fear this is far worse. The Corexit will kill the microbes that eat the oil.


33 posted on 06/17/2010 1:03:09 PM PDT by mojitojoe (banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson)
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To: AT7Saluki

“Another example of the audacity of humanity vs. the reality of creation.”

Great quote!!


34 posted on 06/17/2010 1:05:26 PM PDT by PATRIOT1876 (Language, Borders, Culture, Full employment for those here legally)
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To: a real Sheila

good point


35 posted on 06/17/2010 1:20:32 PM PDT by married21
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To: trumandogz
After only 31 years!

The event occurred 31 years ago. The recovery was complete long, long before that, so long ago nobody seems to even remember it. At least nobody in the media and none of the 0bama-sucking anticapitalist BP bashers around here (FR) who claim the gulf is dead. Dopes.

36 posted on 06/17/2010 1:26:53 PM PDT by Travis T. OJustice (I can spell just fine, thanks, it's my typing that sucks.)
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To: Travis T. OJustice
Only been a few years, less than 10, since motels in Port Aransas Tex quite putting little packages of towelettes in your room to wipe the tar off your feet. Even today a storm or unusual tide will expose some tar on Mustang Island. But most of it was gone in about 15 years.

I need to look up whoever made those little towelette packages and buy some stock.

37 posted on 06/17/2010 1:39:26 PM PDT by nomorelurker
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Thus far, the main comparison, accurate comparison, we can make between these two events is they’re both big.

We don’t know what we’ve got with Deepwater yet, just lots of increasing flows, failed attempts and theories on what the situation with the seabed and lining and field and pressure.

Locations are very different - both in what ecosystems are impacted and the vertical depths.

They’re both big, how big Deepwater is we don’t know yet. The composition of what’s coming out and the result of it and the disperants we don’t know yet. And so on..


38 posted on 06/17/2010 4:16:16 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: AT7Saluki
Persian Gulf is the perfect example of nature knowing how to clean up itself. The water in the Persian Gulf it crystal clear with some of the best fishing.

39 posted on 06/17/2010 4:21:33 PM PDT by Steve Van Doorn (*in my best Eric cartman voice* 'I love you guys')
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To: AT7Saluki

31 years?... How about 3-4 years. By 1982, the beach (Galveston as an example) was basically just random tar balls every few feet apart or so. Everyone basically knew to take baby oil to wipe it off when you left. Mother Nature’s healing powers are a lot more powerful than everyone realizes.


40 posted on 06/18/2010 10:10:02 PM PDT by catfish1957 (Hey algore...You'll have to pry the steering wheel of my 317 HP V8 truck from my cold dead hands)
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