Oil spill cleanup workers more likely to have asthma symptoms

Read the full story at Environmental Factor.

Researchers from the NIEHS Gulf Long-term Follow-up Study (GuLF STUDY) found that workers involved in cleaning up the nation’s largest oil spill were 60% more likely than those who did not work on the cleanup to be diagnosed with asthma or experience asthma symptoms one to three years after the spill.

TAMUCC embarks on study to train K9’s to detect oil spills on Gulf Coast beaches

Read the full story from 3News.

With the right training, canines are able to detect many things that can keep us out of harms way.

Everything from drugs to weapons and even missing people, but two canines with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi are able to detect crude oil on our beaches.

Bin is a German shorthair pointer, and while he is a good boy, he is also the only dog in the world with the training to sniff out “new” crude oil on Gulf Coast beaches. 

U.N. turns to crowdfunding to salvage decaying oil tanker off Yemen

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The United Nations has turned to crowdfunding to raise the $80 million needed to remove more than a million barrels of oil from a decaying tanker in the Red Sea and prevent a potential environmental catastrophe.

Edwardsville pipeline leaked an estimated 165K gallons of oil. Some flowed into a creek

Read the full story in the Bellevelle News-Democrat.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has asked the Attorney General to enforce cleanup and other action by energy company Marathon Pipe Line after an estimated 165,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from its pipeline in Edwardsville, some of which flowed into a creek, according to the state agency.

The oil leak started Friday morning in Edwardsville near Illinois 143 and Old Alton Edwardsville Road and entered Cahokia Creek, which is parallel to the pipeline.

The cause of the leak was not immediately clear. Marathon wrote in a statement that an investigation will be conducted.

A key tool for cleaning up oil spills is more hazardous than helpful

Read the full story at Hakai Magazine.

In the decade since the record-breaking use of oil dispersants in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response, science shows they’re dangerous, potentially deadly, and rarely useful. A new court case is forcing the US EPA to reconsider their use.

Offshore Oil Spills: Additional Information is Needed to Better Understand the Environmental Tradeoffs of Using Chemical Dispersants

Download the document.

What GAO Found

When an oil spill occurs, responders have several options to manage the environmental effects, including using chemical dispersants (see figure). Chemical dispersants used on a surface oil slick can be effective at breaking up floating oil, which can help prevent the oil from reaching shore and harming sensitive ecosystems, according to studies GAO reviewed and stakeholders GAO interviewed. However, the effectiveness of applying dispersants below the ocean surface—such as in response to an uncontrolled release of oil from a subsurface wellhead—is not well understood for various reasons. For example, measurements for assessing effectiveness of dispersants applied at the subsurface wellhead during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill had limitations and were inconclusive. In addition, there are limited experimental data on the effectiveness of subsurface dispersants that reflect conditions found in the deep ocean.

Application of Chemical Dispersants at the Surface by Aircraft and Boat
Application of Chemical Dispersants at the Surface by Aircraft and Boat

Chemically dispersed oil is known to be toxic to some ocean organisms, but broader environmental effects are not well understood. Dispersants themselves are considered significantly less toxic than oil, but chemically dispersing oil can increase exposure to the toxic compounds in oil for some ocean organisms, such as early life stages of fish and coral. Other potentially harmful effects of chemically dispersed oil, especially in the deep ocean, are not well understood due to various factors. These factors include laboratory experiments about the toxicity of chemically dispersed oil that use inconsistent test designs and yield conflicting results, experiments that do not reflect ocean conditions, and limited information on organisms and natural processes that exist in the deep ocean.

Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other agencies have taken some actions to help ensure decision makers have quality information to support decisions on dispersant use. For example, the Coast Guard and EPA have assessed the environmental effects of using dispersants on a surface slick. However, they have not assessed the environmental effects of the subsurface use of dispersants. By assessing the potential environmental effects of the subsurface use of dispersants, the Coast Guard and EPA could help ensure that decision makers are equipped with quality information about the environmental tradeoffs associated with decisions to use dispersants in the deep ocean.

Why GAO Did This Study

In April 2010, an explosion onboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in 11 deaths and the release of approximately 206 million gallons of oil. During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, responders applied dispersants to the oil slick at the ocean surface as well as at the wellhead more than 1,500 meters below the surface. The subsurface use of dispersants was unprecedented and controversial.

GAO was asked to review what is known about the use of chemical dispersants. This report examines, among other things, what is known about the effectiveness of dispersants, what is known about the effects of chemically dispersed oil on the environment, and the extent to which federal agencies have taken action to help ensure decision makers have quality information to support decisions on dispersant use. GAO reviewed scientific studies, laws, regulations, and policies. GAO also interviewed agency officials and stakeholders from academia and industry.

Pipeline spills 300,000 gallons of diesel near New Orleans

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

A severely corroded pipeline ruptured and spilled more than 300,000 gallons (1.1 million liters) of diesel fuel just outside New Orleans after the operator delayed needed repairs, according to federal records.

Most of the fuel drained into two artificial ponds called “borrow pits” and thousands of fish, birds and other animals were killed, state and local officials said Wednesday. The spill also contaminated soil, according to state and federal officials.

Texas Tech professor’s cotton mat could improve oil spill clean up

Read the full story from Texas Standard.

The mat is made of a specific type of nonwoven cotton, which can absorb up to 50 times its weight in oil.

A rare ecological gem is slicked with spilled oil — again

Read the full story at Cal Matters.

Wetlands painstakingly created with millions of dollars are the most devastating victims of the Huntington Beach oil spill. The trio of marshes provides rare feeding and resting grounds for at least 90 species of shorebirds.

Competent regulation might have prevented the Huntington Beach oil fiasco

Read the full story from Mother Jones.

Whomever shares the immediate blame, it was systemic under-regulation that set the scene for the spill. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  responds to more than 150 oil and chemical spills in US waters each year. But earlier this year, a report by the Government Accountability Office warned that the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, responsible for overseeing construction and monitoring of offshore oil drilling, was failing to properly monitor and inspect active pipelines.