Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Oil-Spill Investigators: 'This was an Entirely Preventable Disaster' - Daily Comet

photo credit USCG

Just the headline breaks my heart.

Deep down I think we all knew it, but now it's proven. We could have avoided this. All of the death of marine life and all of the hardships of the people of the Gulf coast were avoidable.

"BP failed to keep a close watch on work done by the cement contractor at its doomed Macondo oil well, even though an audit had spotlighted problems with the firm, Halliburton Co., three years before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, according to the presidential oil spill commission."

The "root technical cause" of the BP blowout last April was found to be a "failure of the cement that BP and Halliburton pumped to the bottom of the well."

"The commission previously documented concerns about the stability of the nitrogen-injected foam cement used to seal the Macondo well before BP temporarily stopped work at the site.
[Well sites are first drilled, then temporarily stopped in order to attach rigs.] A faulty cement job could allow channels or vulnerabilities for natural gas and oil to escape a well during the time between when it is drilled and when it is later hooked up to a production facility.

In 2007, BP commissioned an audit of Halliburton's work on a separate project that concluded the contractor's cement foam slurry had a tendency to become unstable.

'BP's own cementing expert described the "typical Halliburton profile" as "operationally competent and just good enough technically to get by,"' the report said."

Halliburton has not yet accepted the investigation's results.

Halliburton isn't the only one to blame, however. Accountability was spread across all companies involved including BP and Transocean. A combined lack of attention to warning signs, faulty equipment and poor communication caused this terrible disaster - all of which were entirely preventable.

Full article here (Daily Comet)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Shark Fin, Sea Cucumber Exports Banned in Marshalls - Marianas Variety

That would be me and a sea cucumber

The Marshall Islands in Micronesia have been experiencing a rise in their illegal shark and sea cucumber fisheries. Concerned about overfishing, species depletion and illegal exporting, Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph has announced a moratorium on all trade and export of both sharks and sea cucumbers, and their products.

“No one is registered and authorized to fish for sharks, but there are substantive reports that it is happening,” he said.

The same situation appears to be happening with sea cucumbers.

“'Any company involved is required to register and get authorization from the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority to export sea cucumbers,' Joseph said.”

The issue for the sea cucumbers of the Marshall Islands is that there are currently no regulations in place for harvesting.

“'So MIMRA has instituted a moratorium on sea cucumber trade until we develop a management plan,' Joseph said.”

Sea cucumbers are often sold in Asian countries as traditional medicine for all kinds of circumstances from pail alleviation to aphrodisiacs. Whether these treatments actually work or not is debatable.

Full article here (Marianas Variety)

Thursday, 3 March 2011

U.S. Gulf Coast Dolphin Death Toll Rises - Reuters

I haven't written about the spill in a while. Partially because I've been away, and partially because the reporters have been too. It's been almost a year now, and the spill has effectively slid back in the news and is not receiving nearly as much attention as it used to. Of course we all saw this coming, but it's been especially hard to find articles about the science of the spill rather than the business. Besides, Justin Bieber got a new haircut...who CARES about the Gulf Coast?


Dolphins have been dying in large numbers in the Gulf. The remains of 59 dolphins have been recovered from beaches along the coast...and that's not the most heartbreaking part of it. Half of them are babies.

This is about 12 times the normal number of dolphin deaths for this time of year.

"Although none of the carcasses bore outward signs of oil contamination, all were being examined as possible casualties of petrochemicals that fouled the Gulf of Mexico after a BP drilling platform exploded in April 2010, rupturing a wellhead on the sea floor, officials said."

I did read something not so long ago...I believe it was in Leviathan or, The Whale by Philip Hoare (which is a great book by the way), though I can't be sure. Studies have shown that the contamination in adult bottlenosed dolphins along the American coast are so high that most females will lose their first calf due to their own toxicity. Perhaps with the additional contamination the BP oil spill has caused in the Gulf, this statistic is rising even higher? What if no females can give birth to healthy calves this year...then what?

At least 29 of the dead dolphins have been positively identified as bottlenose dolphins.

"The latest wave follows an earlier tally of 89 dead dolphins - virtually all of them adults - reported to have washed ashore in 2010 after the Gulf oil spill.

Results from an examination of those remains, conducted as part of the government's oil spill damage assessment, have not been released, though scientists concluded those dolphins 'died from something environmental during the last year,'"
said Blair Mase, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spokeswoman.

I think it's pretty obvious what they're suggesting.

Full article here (Reuters)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Fishing Skippers admit £3 Million ‘Black Fish’ Scam at High Court - The Shetland Times

Illegal fishing is becoming more and more of a problem as stocks continue to decline. Most cases unfortunately slip by unnoticed by authorities, but this one...This one was big.

A massive scam has been pulled by fishermen in order to cheat the fishing quota restrictions set by the European Union. A £14 million discrepancy between declared landings and total earnings has been found at Shetland Catch Ltd. Yesterday, three more fishermen confessed to illegally landing mackerel and herring at an estimated value of £3 million.

"They hid the true quantity of their catch from the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) and landed in excess of their agreed quota of mackerel and herring."

"The court was told that the boats did not even have to land their catch at [Lerwick] harbour. A supply pipe took the fish straight from the hold into the Shetland Catch factory."

An investigation into the scam found that in some of the landings, the amount of illegal undeclared fish actually exceeded the amount of declared fish. Illegal fish comprised up to 42% of total landings.

When I think about the amount of fish that is, it just disgusts me. These people have no regards to the environment, sustainable fishing, other fishermen and the population of both fish and people that depend on them. It is truly a sad case.

The prosecuting advocate depute added that as a result of this gross overfishing, the United Kingdom "had effectively exceeded its fish quota for herring and mackerel." In other words, they ruined it for everybody. Thanks, assholes.

If this doesn't get you livid enough, check out this post that shows another side of illegal fishing - dumping of "cheap" species to make room for fish with a higher payout.

I hope karma rips these guys a new one.

Full article here (The Shetland Times)