Sunday, 30 January 2011

Gulf Oil Spill Disaster – What are the Long Term Effects?

Jun 23, 2010 Fleur Hupston
Gulf of Mexico - Long Term Effects? - Blacquenhard
Gulf of Mexico - Long Term Effects? - Blacquenhard
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is the worst in US history and now surpasses the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. What will the effects be in years to come?
Scientists who have worked to clean up past oil spills are not sure how to predict the long-term effect of damage on shorelines and wetlands, exacerbated by the fact that more oil continues to flow into the ocean on a daily basis.
While some research is being done to examine the effects of the spill, much more important research is needed to determine the long term impact of the disaster.

Gulf Oil Spill Disaster – Methane Gas and Corexit

Pollution in the Gulf of Mexico is not only the result of the catastrophic oil leak. Methane gas and Corexit are also destroying marine life in the region.
The oil spill has is already taking its toll on the region's wildlife due to the crude oil, affecting pelicans, sea turtles, fish and dolphins so far.
However, the deaths and damage is not only the result of crude oil gushing into the ocean. Crude oil from the damaged oil well contains vast amounts of natural gas that could pose a serious threat to the Gulf of Mexico's fragile ecosystem.

What is Methane Gas?

Methane is a colorless, odorless and flammable substance that is a major component in natural gas. Petroleum engineers typically burn off excess gas attached to crude before the oil is shipped off to the refinery. That's exactly what BP has done as it has captured more than 7.5 million gallons (28 million liters) of crude from the breached well.
According to John Kessler, oceanographer, the oil emanating from the sea floor contains an estimated 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits.
Kessler's crew took measurements of both surface and deep water within an 8 kilometer radius of BP's broken wellhead. In some areas, the crew of 12 scientists found concentrations of gas that were 100,000 times higher than normal.
That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, scientists say, potentially suffocating marine life and creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing can live.
Methane in the Gulf is said to be “astonishingly high”, according to David Garrison, a program director in the federal agency who specializes in biological oceanography. He adds that “This has the potential to harm the ecosystem in ways that we don't know. It's a complex problem."

Corexit in Gulf Waters

If oil and methane gas are not bad enough news, add toxic chemicals to the mix. Corexit is a chemical dispersant used on oil spills which was banned in the United Kingdom over a decade ago.
The Corexit 9527 product has been designated a "chronic and acute health hazard" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is made with 2-butoxyethanol, a highly toxic chemical.
So far, Corexit has been dumped into the Gulf of Mexico in huge quantities (over a million gallons to date). Corexit works by by breaking the oil down and sinking it to a lower depth, along with dead marine life. This is purely for a visual fix, the oil is still there, but now mixed with chemicals and out of sight.
The damage all of this is causing to the environment may well have repercussions for generations to come.

Related Articles:

Scienceray, information retrieved 23 June 2010
Naturalnews, information retrieved 23 June 2010
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