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."