Monday, November 14, 2011

Dredging Today – USA: Perdido Key Renourishment About to Begin

Dredging Today – USA: Perdido Key Renourishment About to Begin: Gulf Islands National Seashore and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are expected to begin a sand-renourishment project on the south shore of Perdido Key next week.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of December.
Seashore Superintendent Dan Brown said the purpose of the project is to:
- Restore beach that has been lost to erosion through storm action and active shoreline processes.
- Relocate sand deposited within the Pensacola Pass navigational channel.
- Restore the sand that erodes from the island, which is vital to barrier island function and longevity.
The renourishment project with sand taken from the Pensacola Pass channel will be placed along a two-mile segment of shoreline near the eastern end of Perdido Key, park officials said.
The sand is expected to be similar to the existing island sand in grain size, texture and color. In time, the sand placed in what’s called the swash zone –- the near-shore area and up to an elevation of approximately 3 feet near of the sand berm — on the beach will be indistinguishable from the sand already there.
The public may notice unusual concentrations of sea birds that will flock around the work site because the sand slurry discharged from the dredge pipes will include aquatic organisms. The initial discharge will appear grayish or blackish until the finer materials settle out into the water column leaving behind the white sand for which the area is known.
The operation will involve dredges that will remove sand from the borrow area and pump it onto shore through 30-inch pipes. The pipes will place slurry of sand and water on the beach where bulldozers and other construction equipment will be used to place the sand.
Operations will be conducted 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the project is completed. Floodlights will also be used at night to illuminate the project areas. For public safety purposes there will be fencing and personnel on site to restrict access in the active project areas to authorized personnel only.
By Kimberly Blair (pnj)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Senate votes to audit BP claims fund | Pensacola News Journal |

Senate votes to audit BP claims fund Pensacola News Journal Senate votes to audit BP claims fund
WASHINGTON — The fund that compensates businesses and people hurt by last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico would be audited under a measure the Senate approved Tuesday.
The proposal, drafted by Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of West Miami and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, passed as an amendment to a package of spending bills. The vote on the package was 69-30.
The amendment would require the Justice Department to find an independent auditor to review the process that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility uses to evaluate and pay out claims of economic damage as a result of the oil spill.
The claims fund was set up last year with $20 billion from BP.
Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the compensation fund, has said he would welcome an audit and it should be done as soon as possible.
He cautioned that several competing interest groups would want input in the audit process. Groups representing business interests, environmental agendas and low-income Gulf residents already have lobbied claims fund officials.
"You can't win on this independent audit," he told lawmakers last week.
Rubio voted against the overall spending bill Tuesday because he wants to see more cuts to the $182 billion measure that funds agriculture, transportation, housing, law enforcement and NASA programs. But he said he's glad it includes language requiring the audit.
"This amendment brings us one step closer to an audit that will bring greater transparency to the claims process by providing a full review of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility on behalf of those impacted by the 2010 Gulf oil spill," Rubio said in a statement.
Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who co-sponsored the audit proposal, voted for the entire spending package.
A similar amendment introduced by Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala., was approved by the House Appropriations Committee in July.
Tuesday's vote follows a hearing last week before the House Natural Resources Committee where Gulf Coast lawmakers angrily said the compensation fund has processed claims slowly and inconsistently, and lacks transparency.

Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, who sits on the Natural Resources panel, last week called the compensation fund process "a flawed payment system that lacks accountability and fails to account for the tremendous economic growth in North and Northwest Florida over the past two years."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visited Orange Beach in Alabama in July to assess damages from the spill and to meet with Bonner. He met later that month with Feinberg, and both agreed to support plans for an independent audit.
"We are pleased that Mr. Feinberg agreed to the department's request that an independent audit be commenced before the end of the year," Wyn Hornbuckle, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said in an email. "We believe the process will benefit from the input we have received from our Gulf partners over the past several weeks, and we remain on schedule and pressing forward."
Gulf Coast lawmakers are irked that it hasn't happened.
News Journal Washington bureau reporter Ledyard King contributed to this story.

Transocean claims indemnity from fines under BP contract | Pensacola News Journal |

Transocean claims indemnity from fines under BP contract Pensacola News Journal Transocean claims indemnity from fines under BP contract

Depleted oyster beds just need time to rest, biologist says | Pensacola News Journal |

Depleted oyster beds just need time to rest, biologist says Pensacola News Journal Depleted oyster beds just need time to rest, biologist says

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

4 dead dolphins wash up on Gulf Coast beaches in 5 days; deaths part of 'unusual mortality event' |

4 dead dolphins wash up on Gulf Coast beaches in 5 days; deaths part of 'unusual mortality event' 4 dead dolphins wash up on Gulf Coast beaches in 5 days; deaths part of 'unusual mortality event'

Courtesy of blog of al dot com

4 dead dolphins wash up on Gulf Coast beaches in 5 days; deaths part of 'unusual mortality event'
Published: Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 6:29 AM     Updated: Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 6:53 AM
 By Ben Raines, Press-Register Press-Register
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Print DAUPHIN ISLAND, Alabama -- A dolphin carcass, bloated and violet in the morning sun, was found on Fort Morgan early Saturday, bringing the number lost since the BP oil spill to more than 400.
Three other dolphins have washed up in Alabama in the past week, including a pregnant female on Dauphin Island and a mother and calf pair on Hollingers Island in Mobile Bay.

Courtesy of John C.S. PierceThis dolphin was found on the Mobile Bay side of the Fort Morgan peninsula Saturday morning, one of four found since Friday. The death brings the total number of dead dolphins found since the BP oil spill to more than 400. Federal officials say an "Unusual Mortality Event" has been declared for the Gulf's dolphin population, which have been dying at a rate 5 to 10 times higher than average.
"We should be seeing one (death) a month at this time of year," said Ruth Carmichael, a Dauphin Island Sea Lab scientist tasked with responding to reports of dead dolphins. "We’re getting one or more a week. It’s just never slowed down."
An examination of the Gulfwide death toll, broken down by month, reveals that dolphins continue to die at rates four to 10 times higher than normal. For instance, 23 dolphins were found dead in August, compared to a monthly average of less than 3 each August between 2002 and 2009.
Federal scientists acknowledge they are no closer to solving the mystery behind the "Unusual Mortality Event" that has been sweeping through the Gulf’s dolphin population since March of 2010, one month before BP’s well was unleashed.
But progress has been made, federal officials said, noting that tissue samples are now being sent to various laboratories for analysis. No results have been released.
"We have samples out now, and they’ve been going out for a while," said Jenny Litz, a research biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We still have animals stranding. I would say the event is still unfolding."
Blair Mase, NOAA’s point person for all dolphin strandings in the Gulf, said that reports of dead dolphins have remained stubbornly high, meaning a final report is a long way off. She said that most of the casualties now are adults.
Stillborn or juvenile dolphins made up nearly half of the casualties in February and March this year, but 90 percent of the deaths since then have been adults. Scientists said part of the explanation is simply timing. Dolphins typically calve in the spring, meaning pregnant females and newborns are at their most vulnerable between February and May.
Though many believe a link between the BP oil spill and the elevated death rate seems obvious, dolphins actually began dying a month before the spill.
'Unusual mortality event' for dolphins not unheard of
To report dead dolphins

To report dolphin and other marine mammal strandings, call: 1-877-942-5343 (1-877-Whale-help).
In March of 2010, 56 dolphins washed ashore in the Gulf, compared to the seven-year average of 16 for the month.
Mass die-offs of dolphins are not unheard of. Fifty-three dolphins washed up on South Carolina beaches this year, and three or four such events typically occur each year around the country.
The majority of the time, the official cause of death is listed as "undetermined," according to federal records.
What’s unusual about what is happening in the Gulf is the duration of the die-off, now well into its second year. It’s possible, scientists said, that whatever killed dolphins in March of 2010 — be it a cold winter, scarce food supplies, or a virus — meant the population was already in a weakened position when the Gulf spill began.
"Clearly, something is going on. My prediction is that it is not going to stop in the near time, if it is what we’re afraid it might be," said Graham Worthy, a University of Central Florida researcher specializing in examining the blubber layer of dolphins and seals to glean information about their health.
"Earlier this year, with the major die-off of the neonates, one of the ideas scientists were throwing around was the disruption of the food chain. Many folks had speculated that was one possible outcome of the spill."
Worthy said such a disruption could weaken the health of the dolphin population on a broad scale, though he cautioned that he has not received any samples from federal officials for analysis.
"I haven’t seen any of these dolphins and don’t know their physical condition. Without tissue samples, all we can do is speculate," Worthy said. "But there have been some interesting stories lately, about abnormalities in developing fish in Louisiana, and reports of the shrimp catch being way, way down this year. Something similar happened after Exxon Valdez, where they had record catches the year after the spill, then a number of species crashed and have never recovered."
Carmichael said the scientific community could do little more than guess about the causes of the deaths until the carcasses have been analyzed.
"We don’t know about lesions on the animals, or about the blubber content. Those are the kinds of analyses we are waiting on," Carmichael said. "When they are done we can work as a group all along the coast and figure out what is going on."
Until that time, all researchers can do is count the bodies as they wash ashore.

Related topics: Dauphin Island Sea Lab, dauphin island sea lab, dead dolphins, dolphins, Gulf of Mexico oil spill 2010, Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, ruth carmichael

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Updated: Feds order Transocean to investigate oil floating above well responsible for Deepwater Horizon spill |

Updated: Feds order Transocean to investigate oil floating above well responsible for Deepwater Horizon spill Updated: Feds order Transocean to investigate oil floating above well responsible for Deepwater Horizon spill

Updated at 6:59 p.m. to reflect BP comment at close of story.
MOBILE, Alabama — The U.S. Coast Guard announced Tuesday that it would require Transocean, owner of the drilling rig that exploded and unleashed the Gulf spill, to determine the source of the BP oil found floating above the wellhead.
The announcement came one month after the Press-Register collected samples of oil bubbling up on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and sent them to Louisiana State University for scientific analysis.
The newspaper visited the well site 4 days after Bonny Schumaker with On Wings of Care and the Gulf Restoration Network first observed oil on the surface during an Aug. 19 overflight.
Coast Guard Capt. John Burton, commanding officer of the Morgan City Marine Safety Unit, said the agency routinely issues Notices of Federal Interest to companies believed to be responsible for sheens found floating on the Gulf’s surface. He said federal officials do not believe the well is leaking.
Burton said the Press-Register samples, coupled with repeated sightings of sheens in the area by Schumaker and interviews with LSU chemist Ed Overton, suggested that oil originating from BP’s well was making its way to the surface.
The notice stated that the oil on the surface suggests “the possibility of a release from the riser pipe or other debris on the ocean floor from the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon incident.”
“They did the survey of the well, and it doesn’t seem to be coming from there, so we’re looking at other sources. One of the possible sources is the wreckage of the Transocean rig,” Burton said. “One option is to send down a remote vehicle. Certainly a survey of the wreckage, a survey of the riser pipe is appropriate.”
The notice also says that Transocean may be responsible for debris removal costs.
"If a volume of oil has remained in the riser, there is no question that it is oil from BP’s Macondo well," Transocean PR spokesperson Lou Colasuonno said in an email.
"As owner and operator, BP is the responsible party for all fluids that emanated from the Macondo well head, and BP has repeatedly acknowledged that responsibility. Transocean has accepted responsible party status for rig fluids, such as diesel fuel, consistent with the law. We take this very seriously, and we are committed to working with BP, the Coast Guard, and other parties to investigate these reports."
In the weeks after LSU’s Ed Overton described the Press-Register’s oil samples as a “dead ringer match” for oil from BP’s well, federal officials suggested the oil might have come from another source, such as a natural seep.
Overton, who did much of the government’s oil sampling work during the BP spill, conducted additional analyses suggested by BP and federal scientists and ruled out natural seeps and nearby production wells.
He urged officials to conduct a thorough survey of the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon using machines designed to sniff for oil underwater to determine the source of the oil on the surface.
Petroleum engineers have said it was important to rule out other, more remote possibilities, such as oil bubbling up around the outside of the sealed well.
“Transocean will come up with the best way to determine if they are the responsible source,” Burton said.
A BP spokesman said the company would work with the Coast Guard to identify the source of the oil at the site.
"As we have said and the U. S. Coast Guard now confirms, the Macondo well is not leaking oil and is not the source of the sheens," said spokesman Ray Melick. "We will continue to cooperate with the Coast Guard to investigate other possible sources, including Transocean's riser

Friday, May 13, 2011

BP Contractor attempting to remove Tarmats from the Surf Zone in Perdido Key FL

BP Contractor is attempting to remove Tarmats in the Surf Zone in Perdido Key, FL

A BP Contractor has been working the last three days on the Beaches of Perdido Key, FL to remove large areas of tarmat in the surf zone near Eden Condominiums.

I was able to gain access to the area on Thursday afternoon 5-12-11 and take som photo's of the operation.

This is their machine of choice.  The process is seems slow and deliberate. The operator seems to be sifting through the surf zone until he sees enough black and then he dumps the content of the bucket into a blanket that is laying out on the beach.

Sifting taking place

Sad version of BP Beach Blanket Bingo!

The Day's Haul

 I am obviously happy they are going after the subsea oil, but I realize that this is basically just a media event.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

BP working to remove tar mats on Perdido Key | Pensacola News Journal |

Originally Published by the Pensacola News Journal

BP working to remove tar mats on Perdido Key | Pensacola News Journal | "BP working to remove tar mats on Perdido Key"

BP contractors have begun work today to remove two more submerged oil mats just off the beach near Eden Condominium on Perdido Key.

The process is expected to take four days for each tar mat, weather permitting, said Floyd Sanders, section planning chief for BP’s Florida restoration organization.

These oil mats were discovered in late April by a shoreline assessment team of representatives from BP, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Coast Guard. One mat is just east and the other just west of the oil mat that was removed in March. Sanders said.

The mats are in about 3 feet of water and are being removed by an excavator sitting on the beach. The excavator is able to dig up the underwater mats that are buried in the sand on the Gulf floor. The excavator’s arm can reach up to 45 feet offshore.

Once the job is completed, the areas will be reassessed to make sure all of the mats were removed, Sanders said.

The operations are independent of, but coincide with, a plan BP is about to launch to test a number of sonar methods to search for suspected tar mats farther offshore – between water that is four feet deep out to the edge of the second sand bar -- along Pensacola and Perdido key beaches. That operation is expected to take more than two months.

Editorial: Gulf research is critical

Editorial: Gulf research is critical

Originally Published by Pensacola News Journal


Concerns about sick red snapper and other fish in the Gulf of Mexico make clear the importance of continued, long-range research into the environmental impact of the BP oil spill.

The layman's logical step is to conclude that the problems in the fish — including skin lesions, spots, liver blood clots and fin rot — are connected to the oil spill. But scientists admit they don't yet know the cause, and that it could be something else.
Maybe it's a natural condition that has been exacerbated by the stress the spill induced in fish.
A roster of state and federal agencies testing seafood assure us that it is safe. They report no traces of oil-related chemicals being found in commercially available seafood. But perhaps their testing method — obtaining fish from local seafood markets across the Gulf Coast — selects out the sick fish because fishermen don't try to sell them to the markets, or else the markets won't buy them.
That could simultaneously mean that seafood available for sale is indeed safe, but that there are also sick fish out there.
It could also raise concerns about how long the fish are sick before these problems manifest themselves. Could the sickness in the fish make them unhealthy for human consumption even though they don't show any signs of oil contamination at that point?
It shows the complexity involved in trying to identify environmental problems.
Dick Snyder, director of the University of West Florida's Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation, made the point well: "Cause and effect is a huge problem for environmental work. You see anomalies in fish. Is it oil related? How do we prove it? We can make the connection with economic stuff. But after the oil is gone, how do you definitely say the fish are sick because of the oil spill?"
Snyder said that we might never know the full impact. But the only real chance we have is to continue the research, and to increase the focus anytime a specific problem surfaces.
Certainly, this problem is one that bears more intense scrutiny

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Greener plan for Saufley landfill pitched | Pensacola News Journal |

Greener plan for Saufley landfill pitched | Pensacola News Journal | "Greener plan for Saufley landfill pitched"

Greener plan for Saufley landfill pitched
Local company says it can clean site safely, affordably

8:30 AM, May. 10, 2011 | 3Comments
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Written by
Jamie Page Filed Under
Local News
A chemist puts black, oil-saturated sand into a glass beaker, adds water and a clear plant-based cleaner, and swirls the now jet-black water.

Within minutes the sand becomes visibly clean and the oil eventually separates from what is seemingly clear water.
The demonstration held Monday in a University of West Florida laboratory holds promise that the same industrial technology can clean debris, soil and contaminated groundwater at Saufley Field Landfill and avoid taking most of the waste to an expensive lined landfill, says Bio Blend Technologies.
The Cantonment-based company, which conducts its research and development at UWF, also says its processes can be done at a significantly lower cost than Escambia County would spend hauling all removed Saufley debris to the county's lined Perdido Landfill.
That's the county's current plan for cleaning up Saufley, an abandoned, mismanaged construction and demolition debris (C&D) landfill that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has said is contaminated.
The original plan was to haul Saufley material that "appears to be" C&D debris to other C&D pits, such as Rolling Hills or Longleaf C&D landfills.
But after the News Journal wrote a story about how residents in those communities planned to fight the decision because they feared their groundwater would become contaminated from the waste, commissioners voted unanimously to send all Saufley waste to a lined landfill.
"The people who live around Saufley can assure you that what they saw go in Saufley Landfill was unimaginable, things like refrigerators and air conditioners where Freon could have leaked into the ground. They said caskets were put in there, medical waste and materials from old buildings that may have had asbestos in it," said Commissioner Wilson Robertson, whose district includes Saufley.
Robertson, last week, moved for all waste removed from Saufley to go to Perdido Landfill.
"So, we have committed to taking it all to a lined landfill," he said. "But with this technology, if the Department of Environmental Protection is on board and there is a better way to do this, we are open to considering it. Safety is number one here."

Bio Blend representatives made the lab presentation to show a group of elected officials, engineers, environmentalists and others stakeholders how its plant-based liquids work in hopes of eventually getting a county contract to clean up Saufley.

After seeing the presentation, Robertson said he would be open to allowing the company to meet with county engineers and create a small test site at Saufley Landfill to determine whether the technology could work there.
The Bio Blend cleaners can leave the water they clean in drinkable condition, meaning the water can be reused, said David O'Neill, president/CEO of Bio Blend Technologies.
Roger Kubala, COO of the company, also claims the product can clean the contaminated groundwater wells and contaminated soil at Saufley in an environmentally green way.
As proposed, Bio Blend also would use another of O'Neill's Cantonment-based companies, Enviro Pro Tech, for the landfill cleanup.
EPT uses a trommel machine that takes a mixture of things like wood, concrete, metals and dirt, and grinds, screens and separates them into separate piles by material for recycling. As the debris is fed through the machine it is sprayed with a Bio Blend cleaner that its makers say will remove all contaminants and leave no harmful by-products.
EPT currently provides environmental monitoring services to Rolling Hills C&D Landfill, the only C&D pit in the county that recycles construction waste.
State Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, also attended the presentation, where he said he would like to see the Saufley mound brought down to ground level if state and U.S. Navy funds are available to assist with it. And Robertson agrees.
Currently, the plan is to take off 20 to 30 feet of the top of the 58-foot mound.
Evers favors the Bio Blend/EPT method of dealing with Saufley's waste.
"I don't care where the waste is taken, but if we are concerned about people's health and the odor that is going to be generated out there, well, if they want to use something to actually break down the contaminants then that's great," Evers said.

"But I have a problem with just hauling off the raw contents from the landfill without treating it and trying to be as safe as possible."

Bio Blend used its technology to clean up an active gas station in Escambia County. After 30 years as a gas station, it had contamination from three underground storage tanks and dispensers that occurred prior to 1996.
The gas station owner first tried a different remedial cleanup method starting in July 2002, and after four years had limited results. Then Bio Blend was hired and after 77 days of treatment, nearly 99 percent of the contamination was removed and the gas station continued operating during the cleanup, O'Neill said.
The cost was $575,000 compared to $1.2 million spent using the previous unsuccessful method, O'Neill said.
It's unclear whether the product has DEP's approval. The county's DEP representative who inspected Bio Blend's work at the local gas station could not be reached for comment.
Bio Blend said its process also could be used to clean up the BP oil spill.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sick fish in Gulf are alarming scientists | Pensacola News Journal |

Sick fish in Gulf are alarming scientists | Pensacola News Journal | "Sick fish in Gulf are alarming scientists"

Sick fish in Gulf are alarming scientists
Unusual number a 'huge red flag' to scientists, fishermen

11:00 PM, May. 7, 2011 | 82Comments
Red snapper with abnormal stripes caught by a local commercial fisherman. Scientists are seeing a growing number of Gulf fish with lesions and other health problems and are conducting tests to determine whether they are related to the BP oil spill. / Special to the News JournalTwitterFacebookShare Digg Reddit Facebook Twitter Newsvine FarkIt EmailPrintAAA

Written by
Kimberly Blair Filed Under
Local News

Zoom Red snapper with a skin lesion and fin rot caught by a local commercial fisherman. / Special to the News JournalFish health
Some of illnesses scientists are concerned about may be signs of compromised immune systems and include:

» Fin rot: When bacteria eats away the fins of a fish.

» Skin lesions: Ulcers or infections on the skin of a fish that may be caused by a wound not healing properly.

» Skin pigmentation: Fishermen are finding red snapper with odd black pigmentation.

» Parasites: Fungus, bacteria, worm or crustaceans.

» Liver damage: Blood clots where liver is hemorrhaging.

What's next?

Preliminary results of UWF's research may take months. Research will continue until enough data is collected to better understand what is happening, and if there is a real problem or if the occurrences of sick fish are random. Data collected will go through scientific review and be published.
Scientists are alarmed by the discovery of unusual numbers of fish in the Gulf of Mexico and inland waterways with skin lesions, fin rot, spots, liver blood clots and other health problems.

"It's a huge red flag," said Richard Snyder, director of the University of West Florida Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation. "It seems abnormal, and anything we see out of the ordinary we'll try to investigate."
Are the illnesses related to the BP oil spill, the cold winter or something else?
That's the big question Snyder's colleague, UWF biologist William Patterson III, and other scientists along the Gulf Coast are trying to answer. If the illnesses are related to the oil spill, it could be a warning sign of worse things to come.
In the years following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound, the herring fishery collapsed and has not recovered, according to an Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee report. The herring showed similar signs of illness — including skin lesions — that are showing up in Gulf fish.
Worried that same scenario could play out along the Gulf Coast, Patterson is conducting research on the chronic effects of the BP oil spill on Gulf fish. And he sees troubling signs consistent with oil exposure: fish with lesions, external parasites, odd pigmentation patterns, and diseased livers and ovaries. These may be signs of compromised immune systems in fish that are expending their energy dealing with toxins, Patterson said.
"I've had tens of thousands of fish in my hands and not seen these symptoms in so many fish before," said Patterson, who has been studying fish, including red snapper, for 15 years. "All those symptoms have been seen naturally before, but it's a matter of them all coming at once that we're concerned about."
He's conducting the research with some of the $600,000 in BP money distributed to UWF from $10 million the oil company gave to the Florida Institute of Oceanography in Tampa to study the impact of the spill.
Higher scrutiny
As part of his studies, Patterson is collecting samples at targeted sites in the Gulf and from commercial fishermen. Samples from his targeted sites have shown fewer problems than those from fishermen.

While Patterson is alarmed, he's quick to point that the Gulf's ecosystem never before has been scrutinized as closely as it is now, or by so many scientists.

"Are we looking more closely, or are these unusual?" he said.
Sick fish have been reported from offshore and inshore waters from Northwest Florida to Louisiana, he said. Scientists are trying to figure out how prevalent these abnormalities are and their cause.
In that pursuit:
» Patterson and Florida A&M University scientists are conducting toxicology tests to find out if the fish were exposed to hydrocarbons or oil. Results are not final.
» Scientists at Louisiana State University's veterinarian school are in the Gulf looking into what microbes might be causing the diseases.
» Pensacola marine biologist Heather Reed is studying red snapper for a private client using broader testing methods than mandated by the federal government, which she says are not adequate.
"I've been testing different organs in game fish that have been brought to me, and I'm seeing petroleum hydrocarbons in the organs," said Reed, the environmental adviser for the City of Gulf Breeze. "I was shocked when I saw it."
She is trying to secure grants to continue that research and is talking to federal and state officials about her findings, she said.
All the studies are aimed at one goal: "To find out what is really going on and get things back to normal," Reed said.
Solving the mystery
But both Reed and Patterson say it's hard to determine just how many fish are being found sick because many commercial fishermen are reluctant to report their findings to state and federal officials out of fear fishing grounds will be closed and their livelihoods will be put at risk.
But at the same time, to protect the future of the Gulf, Patterson said, the fishermen quietly are asking scientists to look into what is happening.
Clay Palmgren, 38, of Gulf Breeze-based Bubble Chaser Dive Services, is an avid spear fisherman who has about 40 pounds of Gulf fish in his freezer. He has not seen sick fish so far, but he said many of his angler friends, both recreational and commercial, are talking about catching fish that appear abnormal.

"I'm 100 percent glad scientists are looking at this," he said. "I'm concerned with the health of fish, and I think it will take a couple of years for the (toxins) to work up the food chain. I think that's a shame."

Patterson's studies and those of other scientists delving into this mystery of the sick fish are not trying to determine whether the seafood is safe for public consumption.
"There is fish health and human health, and we're concerned about the sublethal effects of the oil spill on communities of fish," he said.
Findings so far demonstrate that studies need to continue far into the future, he said.
The $500 million BP has provided for long-range research on the Gulf oil spill will ensure "people will be examining the impacts for the next decade," Patterson said.
The cause of the fish illnesses may be hard to nail down, Snyder said.
"Cause and effect is a huge problem for environmental work," Snyder said. "You see anomalies in fish. Is it oil-related? How do we prove it? We can make the connection with economic stuff. But after the oil is gone, how do you definitely say the fish are sick because of the oil spill?
"We may never know, and that's the frustrating thing."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 / Companies / Oil & Gas - Exxon chief says BP lost time / Companies / Oil & Gas - Exxon chief says BP lost time: "Exxon chief says BP lost time"

GO to the LINK to View the Video!

Exxon chief says BP lost time
By FT reporters

Published: April 19 2011 21:10 | Last updated: April 19 2011 21:10

BP lost valuable time at the height of its devastating accident in the Gulf of Mexico last year pursuing solutions to contain the oil spill that were never going to succeed, the chief executive of ExxonMobil has claimed.

In a sharp criticism of the handling of the disaster, Rex Tillerson said Exxon’s engineers knew that one of BP’s initial efforts to stem the oil flowing from the ruptured Macondo well – by building a containment dome – “wasn’t going to work”.

Silent minute to mark year of change at BP - Apr-19.BP clean-up costs to soar, say experts - Apr-19.Graphic: how the BP spill happened - Apr-19.Video: BP one year on - Apr-19.California steps out on bold green venture - Apr-18.Testing times await disaster response units - Apr-17..“We knew they were going to form hydrates [a type of ice], which they did,” he told the Financial Times on the eve of the first anniversary of the accident which killed 11 workers and led to the worst offshore oil spill in US waters. There was, he added, “a significant loss of time while they pursued that option and while that was going on, the integrity of the well itself was deteriorating daily”.

He said: “So I think there was some time lost pursuing some alternatives that most of us felt that in the end were not going to be successful – and with the loss of time the challenges just got greater.”

Exxon, he said, had learnt over the years that in crisis situations like the Gulf accident, companies needed to act quickly and aggressively “because these situations only get worse with time”.

Mr Tillerson has formerly criticised BP about its assessment that there are industry-wide lessons to be drawn from the Deepwater Horizon accident – but his remarks about the handling of the crisis are the most specific to date.

BP responded: “We made all efforts to contain the well and worked closely with industry, US federal agencies and regulators on proposals to respond to the incident at the time. Our response drew on all of those.”

Mr Tillerson said he would be concerned if the public or regulators were to be told that “this industry was operating on the edge of its capabilities as we moved into ever-deeper water”. He added: “[That] flies in the face of 14,000 wells that were drilled without this happening.”

A year after the accident, only 10 fresh drilling permits have been issued in the gulf. “We are not back to business as usual. I can’t really see the end,” Mr Tillerson said.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Seashore wants to set record straight about oil on beaches | Pensacola News Journal |

This our Friend: "Citizens for a Clean Coast" HE IS DOING A GREAT JOB KEEPING UP ThE PRESSURE.

Seashore wants to set record straight about oil on beaches | Pensacola News Journal | "Seashore wants to set record straight about oil on beaches"

Dan Brown, superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore, received an email this week from Citizens for a Clean Coast implying the Seashore is misleading the public about how much oil is still on the beaches of Fort Pickens and Perdido Key.

Brown wants the public to know the Seashore has never claimed to have cleaned up all the BP oil.

"There’s still is subsurface oil out there,” he said. “And in some places wind has exposed it.”

Citizens for a Clean Coast maintains a blog that is compiling stories and news about the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill from contributors. Some of the information is excerpts from news stories. Contributors post updated photos of tar balls and mats they find on area beaches, including those in the Seashore.

The Seashore has been very open about the fact that submerged oil will continue to be uncovered and tar balls will continue to wash up, Brown said.

And that’s because deeply buried oil was only mechanically removed in the recreational portions of the Seashore, and this only came after much debate with National Park Service scientists, he said.

They recommend no mechanical cleanup of submerged oil on beaches at all because of concerns about damaging the ecosystem. The Park Service position was to let the oil naturally biodegrade, Brown said. That process could take decades, he said.

None of the non-recreational stretches of beaches have been deep cleaned below 6 inches, Brown said. “We had recommended no further cleaning to allow waves and wind to expose the areas so it would be easier to clean up and not have as much impact on the marine life in the sand,” he said.

Fort McRae, at the mouth of Pensacola Pass, on the tip of Johnson Beach, is the most oiled area. And it’s an area for which the Seashore is receiving the bulk of complaints.

Cleanup at that area and all along the Seashore beaches stopped on March 1 because of bird nesting season and likely won’t resume until after Aug. 15, at the end of nesting season, Brown said.

Small numbers of BP cleanup crews and Seashore rangers do monitor the beaches and clean up tar balls along the surf line on a regularly basis.

Under some circumstances the Seashore may cleanup larger tar mats that become exposed, only if birds and their chicks are not in the area.

BP searching for underwater tar mats near Northwest Florida beaches | Pensacola News Journal |


BP searching for underwater tar mats near Northwest Florida beaches | Pensacola News Journal | "BP searching for underwater tar mats near Northwest Florida beaches"

PNJ.COM/BEACHES: What's new at Pensacola Beach this year? Visit our beaches page for tons of information on where to eat, where to party, where to shop and where to play at the beach this summer.
BP has completed a tactical plan for locating and removing underwater tar mats near Northwest Florida shores, and specialized equipment is being moved in to begin the process.

Several Escambia County officials traveled to New Orleans last week to meet with BP representatives, cleanup contractors and Coast Guard officials.

During the meeting, BP officials said acoustic instruments will be used to search for offshore tar mats in areas where tar balls are still washing ashore.

Once tar mats are located, they will be recovered using dredging, vacuuming and excavation techniques, as well as other methods, officials said.

The full BP report outlining the plan should be released to county officials this week.

County officials said the plan was a step in the right direction, but they made clear that they wanted a complete survey of local shorelines, not just targeted searches near areas of known oil.

“We are happy with the commencement of this operation but still feel the scope may be too narrow,” Escambia County Director of Community Environment Keith Wilkins said.

Deadline approaching for those wishing to sue Transocean over Deepwater Horizon disaster |

Deadline approaching for those wishing to sue Transocean over Deepwater Horizon disaster | "Deadline approaching for those wishing to sue Transocean over Deepwater Horizon disaster"

MOBILE, Ala. -- People have less than a week to get involved in a lawsuit against Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, in connection with last year’s oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, based in New Orleans, set an April 20 deadline for plaintiffs to sign up for a February 2012 trial of the Transocean case.

The trial is part of the multi-district litigation blaming Transocean, BP PLC and several others for last year’s Gulf of Mexico spill. More than 40,000 individuals and businesses have signed up as plaintiffs so far, according to Stephen Herman, one of the lawyers on the plaintiffs steering committee.

The 2010 spill poured an estimated 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, savaging the tourism and fishing seasons in a wide coastal region.

Transocean is trying to invoke a maritime law that would limit its liability to $27 million.

But according to a document released by Barbier’s court, the trial might also determine much larger issues, such as how fault could be divided amongst defendants and whether any defendant is liable for gross negligence, which could form the basis of a punitive damage award.

If people do not sign up for the trial, they risk losing the benefit of any ruling made against the drilling rig giant, said Joy Patterson, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

People who miss the deadline can still pursue a lawsuit against BP PLC or other parties linked to the spill, she said.

"It’s all about preserving rights," Herman said. "The only way you risk anything at all is by not filing by the deadline."

Anyone who believes they suffered damage from the oil spill can join the lawsuit by filling out a form and mailing it to the U.S. District Court in New Orleans, postmarked by April 20.

For more information about the form, or a copy to fill out, go online to People can also call 1-877-497-5926 or consult with a lawyer.

The form should be mailed to: Clerk of Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, 500 Poydras St., New Orleans, LA 70130.

Gulf oil spill: Environmental official more optimistic as anniversary approaches |

Gulf oil spill: Environmental official more optimistic as anniversary approaches | "Gulf oil spill: Environmental official more optimistic as anniversary approaches"

GULF SHORES, Alabama -- Almost a year after mobilizing to deal with the biggest oil spill in history, environmental officials looked out over a Baldwin County beach where tourists sunbathed on white sand and pelicans soared overhead.

The worst predictions about the effects of the spill did not happen, Bob Haddad, chief of the Assessment and Restoration Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said standing on the beach of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. Officials will be working for a long time, however, to determine what the long-term impact of that Deepwater Horizon spill will be, he said.

"Twelve months ago, I was ramping up to try to put natural resource damage teams across almost 2,000 miles of coastline," Haddad said. "This has been the largest accidental oil spill in the world, not just in our history. Sure, I was pretty pessimistic 12 months ago. In some cases I’m less pessimistic now, more optimistic. I think the shoreline issues now as we work through those we are going to find what those injuries look like."

Haddad and other environmental officials toured the refuge as part of several days of inspections of sites hit by the spill.

During the spill, birds, mammals and marshes were coated in oil. What was not so obvious was the effects that cannot be seen right away, Haddad said.

30,000 turtle eggs moved

At the wildlife refuge in Gulf Shores, 30,000 sea turtle eggs were moved to Atlantic coast beaches. No one will know for years if those turtles will return to Alabama when the time comes to lay their eggs or if a generation of animals will be lost. The effect of the oil on the predators at the top of the food chain also might not be clear for decades.

Haddad said NOAA officials are preparing a report on the environmental impact of the spill to be used by the federal government to seek compensation. He said he did not know when the Natural Resource Damage Assessment would be ready.

"We need to make sure we understand the totality of the injuries before we settle and let anybody off the hook, whether it’s BP or any of the other responsible parties," he said.

Haddad said some data gathered as part of the assessment has not been released to the public because the information could be used in civil or criminal court cases.

Jereme Phillips, manager of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, said officials have been working in the last year to protect and clean the refuge, which includes about five miles of undeveloped beaches.

Berms were built after the April 20 spill to protect the dune system and areas such as Little Lagoon.

Work continues to clean the beaches, but officials are also trying to be sure that the cleaning efforts do not disturb sensitive areas. He said cleaning equipment is not allowed at the edge of the surf line, an area known as the wrack, where birds often feed and small fish and other animals congregate.

Now, they are waiting to see how the wildlife, such as the sea turtles, responds this year. In about a month, the turtles will return to lay eggs on the sand. He said 20 to 30 nests are built on the refuge beaches in an average year.

Auburn University beach study could be ready by end of month in Baldwin County |

Auburn University beach study could be ready by end of month in Baldwin County | "Auburn University beach study could be ready by end of month in Baldwin County"

ORANGE BEACH, Alabama -- An Auburn University report on the cleanliness of the city’s beaches could be ready by the end of the month.

Joel Hayworth, an engineering professor with the university, told the City Council on Tuesday that he would start the first of six beach sample collections this week.

Hayworth is working with fellow engineering professor Prabhakar Clement on scientifically proving whether the beaches were thoroughly cleaned after the BP oil spill.

They were hired by the city in February for about $100,000 to analyze the sand after the oil giant spent months on a deep-clean process, removing tar buried as deep as 3 feet below the surface.

In Orange Beach, Mayor Tony Kennon sent crews to the sand with augers to determine whether anything was left behind. Kennon has said that little tar was located, but workers marked spots where it was found.

The city approved the Auburn study after Hayworth suggested a more scientific approach.

The professors had initially hoped to reveal some preliminary findings by the anniversary of the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion, but Hayworth said they had run into delays.

They spent the past two months on preparation work and getting the OK to collect samples from Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, an area impacted by the oil spill where BP was asked not to perform a deep beach clean in order to protect sensitive habitat.

Hayworth said the Bon Secour samples would be collected to compare differences in the sand.

The professors plan to continue analyzing their data well after they submit their report to the city, by publishing findings in scientific journals and seeking grants to continue studying the ecosystem of the beaches.

“We anticipate this is going to be a long, drawn-out thing into the future,” Hayworth said.

“All of this is about trying to make sure that our friends don’t leave town without really addressing this all the way.”

The two also completed a review of dispersant analysis collected by the city, but Hayworth said he was not prepared to release the findings because their report was not final. He expected that to be released at the end of this month, as well.

The city spent months collecting air, water and sediment samples to test for oil and dispersants, reaching out to scientists at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, along with universities around the state, to help analyze what was found.

Officials have said that areas such as Cotton Bayou are free of dispersant.

In other business Tuesday, the council agreed to spend much of its $4 million in excess revenue from 2010 on The Wharf Conference Center, now known as the Orange Beach Civic Center.

The majority will go toward the $1.6 million purchase, upon which the council agreed last month, with an additional $500,000 of excess revenue spent on capital upgrades and another $300,000 reserved for additional parking at the facility.

Gulf Seafood Deemed Safe But Still Under Scrutiny : NPR


Gulf Seafood Deemed Safe But Still Under Scrutiny : NPR: "Gulf Seafood Deemed Safe But Still Under Scrutiny"

April 14, 2011 The Gulf of Mexico is known for its bounty — blue crab, shrimp, grouper, tuna, oysters — but ever since oil tainted a portion of the Gulf's fishing grounds, the seafood has been a tough sell.

Even though much of the oil that spilled from last April's Deepwater Horizon rig explosion has been cleaned up, the future is still murky for people who make a living plying Gulf waters.

Mike Voisin is a seventh-generation Louisiana oysterman.

"Once it was capped, everybody brought out that proverbial sigh of relief, like 'Whew, we're through this thing.' Well we weren't, and we still aren't," Voisin says.

Voisin is president of Motivatit Seafoods, an oyster processing company in Houma, La. His workers are shucking oysters mostly from Texas these days.

The Biggest Challenge

Before the spill, Louisiana produced half of the oysters sold from the Gulf. Voisin's business was down 60 percent after the spill, and it has been slow to recover. The state's fisheries are projected to lose $74 million this year from the lingering impact of the oil spill.

NOAA technician Chanda Gaines pulls a sample from a tripletail caught in the Gulf of Mexico. The lab puts Gulf seafood through a series of sensory and chemical tests for contamination from the BP oil spill.

NOAA technician Chanda Gaines pulls a sample from a tripletail caught in the Gulf of Mexico. The lab puts Gulf seafood through a series of sensory and chemical tests for contamination from the BP oil spill.
"People are hesitant to buy Gulf shrimp or Gulf product coming out of this oil area," says Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham.

Most oyster grounds are open again. But they're not producing nearly what they did before, in part because of damage caused by flushing freshwater out of the Mississippi River to hold the oil at bay.

But Voisin says the main problem is that customers are afraid.

"The brand for the seafood community is the biggest challenge that we're faced with," he says.

A recent survey of restaurants around the country conducted by Greater New Orleans Inc. shows just how bad the perception is. The economic development group's president, Michael Hecht, says twice as many people now ask about the origin of seafood.

"The implication of course is they're asking about whether it's from the Gulf or whether it's Louisiana seafood," Hecht says.

He says 50 percent of people surveyed nationally now have an unfavorable view of Louisiana seafood. That's a huge swing from a 73 percent favorable view before the spill.

They plan to fight back with a national ad campaign paid for with BP money.

The state of Alabama is already doing that with a new Serve the Gulf campaign.

Seafood samples are placed in Pyrex dishes to await sensory analysis. Inspectors will sniff for the slightest whiff of oil. Samples are also cooked for a taste test to detect any problems.

Seafood samples are placed in Pyrex dishes to await sensory analysis. Inspectors will sniff for the slightest whiff of oil. Samples are also cooked for a taste test to detect any problems.
Seafood Testing

The federal government is also trying to get the word out.

"Test results have been unequivocal. Gulf seafood is safe to eat," says Eric Schwaab, head of fisheries at NOAA.

At the agency's lab in Pascagoula, Miss., sensory analysts spend their days bending over Pyrex dishes and smelling the fish inside for the slightest whiff of oil.

Then they'll have a taste. Seafood samples are also chemically analyzed for hydrocarbons and the dispersant BP sprayed on the oil slick. NOAA's Walt Dickhoff says they've analyzed more than 5,000 samples and all have passed at margins 100 to 1,000 times below levels of concern.

"This is the most tested seafood in history. I'm completely confident it's safe, it's not contaminated," Dickhoff says.

But others aren't so convinced.

"I'm not eating the seafood, and I really think there are questions about its safety," says Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an environmental group that helps citizens collect their own samples.

She says their testing has found oil and heavy metals in Gulf seafood at levels the FDA says are not of concern. Rolfes says she has a different definition of tainted.

"It shouldn't be considered normal to have the presence of oil in your shrimp and to have heavy metals in your oyster. What I fear is that we're creating this new normal where you have oil in your seafood and nobody blinks an eye," she says.

Oyster processor Voisin says restoring trust will take time. It took several years to recover from Hurricane Katrina, he says, and he expects to overcome this man-made disaster, too.

"We're not shy about portraying who we are. And in five years, we've been knocked down a few times. But we're getting back up. We're comin'," he says.

Florida Flirts With Deadline To Join Oil Spill Lawsuit : NPR

Florida Flirts With Deadline To Join Oil Spill Lawsuit : NPR: "Florida Flirts With Deadline To Join Oil Spill Lawsuit"

Eric Thayer/Getty Images
Workers clean oil leftover from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last month at Perdido Key State Park in Pensacola, Fla. The state has until April 20 to decide whether to join a lawsuit to recoup economic damages.
text size A A A April 14, 2011 from WUSF The one-year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill is April 20; that's also the deadline to join a massive lawsuit to recoup economic damages from the companies involved.

It may seem simple: You get wronged, you sue. But when you up the stakes to include the oiled shoreline of four states and economic damages to thousands of fishermen, hotel operators and restaurateurs, the political waters can get muddied.

Related NPR Stories
Gulf Seafood Deemed Safe But Still Under Scrutiny

April 14, 2011
Gulf Oil Spill: Complete Coverage

April 14, 2011
Florida Gov. Rick Scott isn't making the situation any clearer. He talks tough about getting the state's fair share of the damages: "We will continue to hold BP accountable to Floridians, and the Floridians and the businesses who lost millions of dollars because of the oil spill."

But he's balking at joining a consolidated lawsuit against Transocean, the operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded last April, killing 11 workers and setting off a massive spill that took months to contain.

As for BP, which leased the rig, Scott says he'd rather negotiate than litigate. Earlier this week, he celebrated a pledge of $30 million from BP to promote tourism in Florida's Panhandle.

Steve Yerrid, who served as special counsel on the oil spill to Scott's predecessor, former Gov. Charlie Crist, has another description of that money: "chump change."

Yerrid has tried to contact Scott with his findings three times. Three times, he got no response. He says the governor owes it to Florida taxpayers to get all the money he can.

"I know that we had a viable claim," Yerrid says. "We can argue over the money — OK, if it wasn't $2 billion, it was a billion; if it wasn't a billion, it was $500 million. It was a hell of a lot of money."

A Pro-Business Governor?

Scott was elected on a pro-business platform. And that, says University of South Florida political scientist Susan MacManus, is coloring his strategy.

"He's reticent to sue — he pursues every other avenue possible," she says. "And I think that this is consistent with his business philosophy."

Louisiana and Alabama aren't hesitating. Those states have joined the lawsuit against Transocean, which is likely to include finger-pointing at who's responsible — BP, Transocean, or oil services company Halliburton.

Alabama's top officials, Gov. Robert Bentley and Attorney General Luther Strange, even recorded a PSA encouraging people in that state to join the lawsuit.

Yerrid says Scott has less than a week to make his decision, or the state may be left out of that settlement.

"This governor has run up on a deadline, which they can minimize, they can ignore or they can utilize," he says. "The problem is, it is a deadline, and I hope we don't end up being dead wrong."

A spokesman for Scott says the state may still sue BP, but they want to keep their options open.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guy Fieri to host 500-seat dinner on beach in Gulf Shores |

Guy Fieri to host 500-seat dinner on beach in Gulf Shores | "Guy Fieri to host 500-seat dinner on beach in Gulf Shores"

GULF SHORES, Alabama -- Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri is hosting a 500-seat dinner on the beach in Gulf Shores this weekend to mark the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion that sent 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism spent $100,000 of BP grant money putting together “Supper on the Sand: A Celebration of the Gulf.”

It’s an invitation-only event that Kim Chapman, spokeswoman for the tourism group, said officials hoped would “showcase safe seafood and safe, wonderful beaches,” while thanking community leaders who helped the area recover from the disaster.

The dinner starts at 4 p.m. at Gulf State Park Pavilion, where a menu of Gulf seafood will be cooked and served on a 175-yard-long table.

Along with Fieri, host of NBC’s “Minute to Win It” and the Food Network’s “Guy’s Big Bite” and “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” the event features local chefs Lucy Buffett, owner of Lulu’s at Homeport Marina, and Pete Blohme, owner of Panini Pete’s in Fairhope.

Students from the Faulkner State Community College Culinary Institute also will help with the meal.

Monday, April 11, 2011

YouTube - Cat and Dolphins playing together

YouTube - Cat and Dolphins playing together: "Cat and Dolphins playing together"

A friend sent this to me off of Youtube, I don't know where or when it took place?

Some of the comments allude to Australia but all of the voices sound very American.

This is what's up with the GULF!! I hope we can see more HAPPY Postings like this in the Month's ahead!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Surfrider Foungation is sponsoring Beach Oil Testing this weekend - Baldwin County NOW - A Gulf Coast Information Source for South Alabama

Surfrider Foundation is sponsoring Volunteer oil testing on Florida beaches this weekend. The Testing is to take place in South Walton County and Pensacola Beach.

Surfrider Foundation would like to invite any and all volunteers from the surrounding area's to assist in this second phase of testing our area Water and Beaches for oil along Gulf since last year’s oil spill.

The second phase consists of digging three trenches along beaches on April 10 in Pensacola and South Walton County and taking core samples of the sand to submit for results, according to the nonprofit group’s news release.

“Based on our initial results we are seeing heavy settling of oil in our beaches that are not being cleaned up but rather just grinded into place,” the news release stated.

The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit environmental group dedicated to protection of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches, according to the release.

For more information, visit the group’s website at or contact Mike Sturdivant at 850-225-1747 or

Monday, April 4, 2011

BP ends deep-cleaning operation; mayor relieved, activist skeptical |

BP ends deep-cleaning operation; mayor relieved, activist skeptical "BP ends deep-cleaning operation; mayor relieved, activist skeptical"

Originally Published by The Mobile Press Register

MOBILE, Ala. -- BP PLC officials said Friday that they have moved all their deep beach-cleaning equipment and personnel from Alabama’s shoreline in time for the tourist season.
BP workers will continue to monitor the beaches and will keep equipment staged nearby to clean any oil or tar balls that wash ashore, company officials said in a news release.
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said the shift brings with it a sense of relief.
“It’s time to get back to normal and get BP out of our hair,” Kennon said. “It’s time for us to get back to doing what we do well, and that’s entertain our guests.”
Kennon said the sand in Orange Beach is as clean as it ever has been, and good weather over the past month has helped draw large crowds.
Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said the beaches the public can access on the island are clean. But the west beach, on the other side of the Katrina Cut project, is only about 35 percent clean. BP had to leave it alone because of bird nesting season, but will finish the deep clean there in the fall, Collier said.
Clean enough?
A mid-February federal report indicated that in most areas across the four states most affected by the spill, cleanup operations had already removed as much oil as was practical from shorelines. The report argued that in some cases, further cleaning would do more harm than good from an environmental perspective.
But Casi Callaway, executive director of Mobile BayKeeper, said she doesn’t understand how BP can say it’s done with deep cleaning.
She said that she visited the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge last week. The beach looked beautiful from far away, she said, but when she got close to the water, she saw small tar balls everywhere.
“I want this to be over more than anybody,” she said, “but the oil is not gone. We’re going to have tar balls every day, probably for the rest of our lives.”
BP spokesman Justin Saia said the level of personnel and equipment staged for the beach monitoring will fluctuate depending on need. The company said in a written statement that at the peak of its deep-cleaning operation, it had more than 1,300 workers and 370 pieces of heavy equipment on Alabama’s shoreline.
Collier said he just wants the workers to be on the beach early.
“We need them out there at sun-up to take look at beaches, clean up anything they find and get off the beach before the public gets there,” Collier said.

Friday, April 1, 2011

USGS Release: 2,000 Year-old Deep-sea Black Corals call Gulf of Mexico Home (3/30/2011 3:19:44 PM)

USGS Release: 2,000 Year-old Deep-sea Black Corals call Gulf of Mexico Home (3/30/2011 3:19:44 PM): "2,000 Year-old Deep-sea Black Corals call Gulf of Mexico Home"

Originally Published by the USGS March 30, 2011 (see link above)

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — For the first time, scientists have been able to validate the age of deep-sea black corals in the Gulf of Mexico.  They found the Gulf is home to 2,000 year-old deep-sea black corals, many of which are only a few feet tall.
These slow-growing, long-living animals thrive in very deep waters—300 meters (984 feet) and deeper—yet scientists say they are sensitive to what is happening in the surface ocean as well as on the sea floor.
“The fact that the animals live continuously for thousands of years amazes me,” said Dr. Nancy Prouty of the U.S. Geological Survey Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, who analyzed the coral samples that were collected by the USGS and colleagues as part of several ongoing deep-sea coral ecosystem studies between 2003 and 2009. “Despite living at 300 meters and deeper, these animals are sensitive to what is going on in the surface ocean because they are feeding on organic matter that rapidly sinks to the sea floor. Since longevity is a key factor for population maintenance, recovery from a disturbance to these ecosystems, natural or manmade, may take decades to centuries.”
Reliably age dating the corals, as done in the recent study, is a critical step in using them as natural archives of environmental change.
Like shallow-water coral reefs, deep-sea coral-reef ecosystems are among the most diverse and productive communities on Earth, providing shelter and feeding grounds for commercial and non-commercial fish species and their prey, as well as breeding and nursery areas. Activities that affect both the seafloor and the surface ocean, such as certain methods of petroleum exploration and commercial fishing, can impact these ecosystems.
“We used a manned submersible, the Johnson-Sea-Link, to go to the sea floor and specifically collect certain samples using the sub's manipulator arms,” said Prouty. “Deep-sea black corals are a perfect example of ecosystems linked between the surface and the deep ocean. They can potentially record this link in their skeleton for hundreds to thousands of years.”
The skeletons that these animals secrete continuously over hundreds to thousands of years offer an unprecedented window into past environmental conditions. Age dating used in combination with emerging technologies, such as sampling skeletal material with a laser to determine its chemical composition, enables scientists to reconstruct environmental conditions in time slices smaller than a decade over the last 1,000 to 2,000 years.
Black corals grow in tree- or bush-like forms. Scientists confirmed that black corals are the slowest growing deep-sea corals. They grow 8 to 22 micrometers per year as compared to the shallow-water reef-building coral, typically found in tropical areas like Hawai‘i, which grows about 1 mm per year, or 65 times as fast as black coral. Human fingernails grow about 3 mm per year, or 200 times faster than black coral.
Because black corals get their food from sinking organic matter instead of from symbiotic algae, like their shallow-water counterparts, they need skeletons that are flexible but strong enough to withstand currents that transport food to the colonies. In addition to a constant flow of water bringing them food and oxygen, the corals require a stable substrate, such as volcanic or calcareous rock, or even a shipwreck or oil rig that can serve as a platform for the corals to settle on and build their skeletons.
Black corals can capture and record in their skeletons the history of changing concentrations of carbon in surface waters and the atmosphere. Unlike the skeletons of most shallow-water corals, which consist of calcium carbonate, black coral skeletons are composed mainly of organic matter: successive layers of protein and chitin (a long molecule containing carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen) glued together by a cement layer. These skeletons are very similar to insect cuticles in that they are quite flexible and can thus bend in water currents.
“The flexibility and shiny luster of black coral have made it a precious commodity in the coral jewelry trade and international trade is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora,” noted Prouty. “In fact, black corals have been harvested for centuries to create charms; the scientific name of the order to which black corals belong, ‘Antipatharia,’ comes from Greek roots meaning ‘against suffering.’”
Like trees, black corals exhibit radial growth, with the oldest skeletal material found in the center and successfully younger material building out toward the edge. Viewed in a horizontal cross section, the black coral’s growth bands resemble tree rings.
USGS scientists and their colleagues, for example, are measuring trace metals and stable isotopes in the black coral skeleton that are related to nutrient supply in surface waters, which in turn may reflect the amount of runoff from nearby land surfaces. With a proper understanding of how these chemical constituents vary over time, scientists can reconstruct a record of environmental changes, such as changes in land-based sources of nutrients and natural variations in climate.
The recent study was part of the USGS Diversity, Systematics, and Connectivity of Vulnerable Reef Ecosystems (DiSCOVRE) Expedition, in which USGS scientists are partnering with other federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as several academic institutions, to study deep-sea coral reefs. A full copy of the study can be found online in the Feb. 10, 2011, edition of “Marine Ecology Progress Series.”
An upcoming DiSCOVRE expedition scheduled for summer 2011 will include mapping the sea floor and studying underwater canyons off the coasts of Maryland and Delaware. More information about the deep-sea cruises can be found on the USGS Southeast Ecological Science Center website.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fort McRee Recon for Tarmats 3-22-11

3-22-11 Fort McRee Recon for Tarmats

The following are pictures from our trip to Fort McRee on the very east end of Perdido Key. We had some friends in from Germany who are doing a "One Year Later"  project on the Oild Spill and we wanted to show them some Tarmats that BP seems to continue to "overlook".

The Gulf Islands Nat Seashore sign at Fort McRee.

Our Track

Melting tarmats

 The Big Nasty
Older Oiled Jetty Foundation that is starting to melt and run down the rock!

We have some extremely knowledgable folks who are helping us with locations...

Runny Oil on our beaches ... just what I was hoping for a year later!

If you can look closely in this's tarmats and tarballs are everywhere.  Email me and I will send you the original photo.  chuckb61at gmaildotcom.

When I look at this Photo I keep getting the Gilligans Island Theme Song running through my head...... three hour tour...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Particularly Deadly Night on Perdido Key, FL

One more Juvenile Porpoise and Turtle found this morning on Perdido Key.

I figured my foot would give you some scale.

From Cleanup to Recovery

From Cleanup to Recovery: "From Cleanup to Recovery"

From Cleanup to Recovery
The relatively few, isolated incidents of oil coming ashore were dealt with quickly and efficiently, say economic developers along the Gulf Coast, but the national press never bothered to report the full story on the cleanup.
Source: Gulf Shores (Ala.) Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In the aftermath of the BP oil spill in the Gulf, what's needed is a massive and expeditious response.
ine months after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and ensuing spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the people and communities of the Gulf Coast region are still awaiting the massive relief effort that has never materialized.
Yes, the oil has largely been cleaned up and removed from the Gulf's waters, estuaries and bays, and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility has paid out billions in BP funds to victims of the disaster.
But the real help that is desperately needed, from Florida to Texas, has yet to arrive.
Companies are closing. People are losing their jobs. Whole industries are being shut down. Communities are cutting back services and laying off workers. And the voices of civic leaders are crying out for help.
So far, that aid has been slow in coming, if it has come at all.
"BP's first words to us after the spill were, 'We will make you whole,' " says Bob Higgins, vice president of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance in coastal Alabama. "It turned out that this was an overstatement."
Inefficiencies, bureaucratic delays and downright incompetence are all hindering the claims process that was designed to pay restitution to the victims of the spill's economic impact and help beleaguered communities recover.
"More stress has been caused by the broken claims process than was caused by the disaster in the first place," Higgins says. "Without that process being fixed, affected businesses in our region will face a hard road to recovery."
Throughout the five-state region of the Gulf Coast, a clearer picture of the oil spill's devastating effect is starting to emerge.
"The oil spill's effects are expected to last a number of years," according to Samuel Addy and Ahmad Ijaz of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama. "In the worst case, the oil spill results in losses of $3.3 billion in Alabama economic output, $971 million in earnings, and nearly 49,000 jobs for 2010."
The best case results in losses of about $1 billion in economic impact and the loss of 13,600 jobs in Alabama, the researchers conclude in their comprehensive report on the economic impact of the BP oil spill.
Whichever estimate is closer to reality, the bottom line is this: Alabama has been severely damaged by the spill and various public policy decisions and media-generated public opinion in the wake of the disaster.
'We Still Face the Perception Problem'
According to Herb Malone Jr., president and CEO of the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism agency in coastal Alabama, lodging revenue was down 41.5 percent and retail sales were down 22.9 percent in the summer of 2010 versus 2009 along the state's coast.
Adam Sacks, managing director of tourism economics for Oxford Economics in Philadelphia, extensively studied the oil spill's effect on Gulf Coast tourism in 2010 and concluded that "the interest in beach area vacations along the Gulf Coast plummeted for key destinations."
Among the hardest hit areas, he said, were Gulf Shores, Ala.; Pensacola, Fla.; and Fort Myers, Fla. Hotel bed tax collections were down sharply in Bay, Broward, Escambia, Citrus and Gulf counties in Florida, and recreational sales taxes were down by 50 percent in Franklin County, Fla.
The problem, according to economic development officials along the Gulf Coast, was the media-generated perception that tar balls were washing ashore from Texas to Florida all summer. But that was simply not the case. The relatively few, isolated incidents of oil coming ashore were dealt with quickly and efficiently, they say, but the national press never bothered to report the full story on the cleanup.
"We still face the perception problem," says Chris Laborde, an official with the New Orleans Regional Transportation Management Center and a leader of the multi-state Gulf Coast Alliance. "The perception is that we have oil-tainted beaches and seafood, and that is blatantly not true. And the drilling moratorium by the federal government is a real killer for small businesses, especially for those who sell products and services to the offshore oil and gas drilling, even for shallow draft drilling."
Jeff Helms, vice president of PBS&J in Pensacola and volunteer chairman for Florida's Great Northwest, tells Site Selection that "tourism was hit pretty hard this past summer. Our secondary industries of food and lodging were hit hard in Gulf, Escambia, Franklin, Santa Rosa and Washington counties. Gas stations and fast-food restaurants were hit too. Whenever the beaches suffer, they suffer."
The result was a lost year for tourism and economic development in Northwest Florida, he said. "The perception created by the media hit us badly. It hit our economic development pretty hard," he notes. "We basically skipped a year."
Help that was promised, in the form of relief payments from the $20-billion fund set up by BP, has not come fast enough for the businesses and communities that need it most.
The administration of President Obama took over the relief payment process last summer and assigned that task to new claims czar Ken Feinberg, the official who had earlier presided over the much-criticized relief fund for 9/11 victims.
His track record for helping the victims of the BP oil spill has been even worse, say dozens of business and community leaders interviewed by Site Selection for this article. Queries to the office of Feinberg by phone and e-mail were not returned.
"The bottom line on the claims process is that Mr. Feinberg over-promised and under-delivered," says Helms. "He did make some adjustments, after we complained, and the money started flowing a lot quicker. The problem is that these businesses along the coast were hit, and they have to make 80 percent of their annual revenue in the summer. When it takes such a long time to get your check cut, it is very difficult to pay your workers."
Lack of Accountability Frustrates Local Officials
Help is needed now so that companies can keep their workers employed and so that communities can do remedial marketing.
"If the oil spill fine money is reallocated to the coast, we will be fine," says Helms. "The problem is that we do not want to lose another year. We need some revenue to help the economic development folks reach out and let everyone know we are okay. We need the money to do marketing now, not later."
Higgins adds that the longer Feinberg waits to pay claims, the worse the situation is going to get on the ground. "It is very bad right now. We have 20 mental health people on the ground right here in Baldwin County," he says. "How do we get our arms around this, especially if we don't have the money we need to help these people recover?"
Higgins says that nothing less than a full-scale relief program from Washington is needed to help the region rebuild its economy. "We would like to see programs out of Washington that encourage investment to happen here, similar to the Gulf Opportunity Zone program after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005," he says. "We need to incentivize buyers to invest in the entire five-state region."
Donna Watts, CEO of the South Baldwin Chamber, says the sooner that relief arrives, the better. "The impact to our businesses has been dramatic," she says, while fighting back tears borne of anger, frustration and a sense of loss. "The Gulf Coast Claims Facility has been worse than anything I have ever dealt with in my entire life. Our businesses are failing and closing. We are struggling every day, trying to help as much as we possibly can. The money is still not coming to Alabama. We are far, far, far from being made whole."
Appeals for help from Feinberg's office have fallen on deaf ears, says Watts. "The only person I know of who can make a difference in this small area of South Alabama is President Obama, and to get his attention right now is a difficult thing to do," she says. "We have people going out of business who have run their family business for decades. We are seeing our free and reduced-price lunch rolls go up in our schools. Our children who are classified as homeless are increasing. That speaks volumes of our economic crisis here. People are not dying from starvation, but there is human suffering going on here."
Watts wants to make it clear that the proud people of South Alabama do not want charity. "We have said all along that we do not want a handout," she notes. "We don't want to just get a check. We want to help BP save us, and we know how to do that better than anyone else. We know how to recover. Living on the coast, you learn how to do that, but we need a shot at recovery. If you give us a shot at recovery, we will make it work."
Tourism-dependent communities are not the only ones looking to Washington for relief. The hard-hit oil and gas exploration industry is desperate for help as well.
"The moratorium on new oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is and was unnecessary from the outset, and the delay of future drilling only adds to the cost burden that American consumers will experience in gasoline and diesel prices," says John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil Company and the founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy.
"The federal government is in shutdown mode," he says. "In six months, the shallow water of the Gulf has received the equivalent number of permits that it used to receive monthly, and there are zero new permits for deepwater — therefore, no new drilling since the May 25 shutdown of the industry. Meanwhile, the rest of the world keeps drilling for oil offshore in deepwater."
A Proposed Four-Step Action Plan
The Houston-based Hofmeister says that while large companies can absorb the impact caused by the moratorium, small businesses cannot. "For the small companies directly dependent on the Gulf of Mexico for most if not all of their livelihood, they are either shut down or operating on longstanding maintenance projects," he says. "The head of the Gulf of Mexico for a major services firm told me in September that they had effectively shut down payments to about 2,000 companies for Gulf of Mexico work."
When asked what was needed to prompt change in Washington, Hofmeister said, "It will take more than industry pressure to move the administration to a different permitting environment. Until American consumers pay an exceedingly high price for gas at the pump, there will be no change in policy."
What's needed to help the devastated economy of the Gulf Coast region is swift and remedial action. A broad-based aid plan should include the following:
  • Expedited Gulf Coast Claims Facility payments, whereby damaged companies and individuals are recompensed appropriately and quickly. A deadline for paying out the $20 billion in damages should be set and the payment process fixed to match it.
  • A new GO Zone program, created to specifically jumpstart investment in the hardest hit communities along the Gulf Coast, should be fully funded and ramped up to incentivize new investment into coastal economic development as soon as possible.
  • The U.S. Department of Interior should scrap its ill-fated, de facto drilling moratorium in the Gulf in exchange for a common-sense policy compiled by a coalition of private industry engineers and government scientists.
  • An influx of marketing dollars targeting beleaguered industries to help them recover. This should include fishing, tourism, restaurants, recreation, lodging and other industries in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
If Washington would devote the same attention to helping Gulf Coast communities recover from the BP oil spill as it did to helping the victims of Katrina and Rita, then places like Foley and Gulf Shores in South Alabama would recover sooner rather than later.
These communities have already lost one year to the economic fallout of the spill. If they lose another, it will be only because decision-makers in Washington lacked the political will to act.