News Service: Undersea Oil Plumes Confirmed in Gulf

University of South Florida (USF) scientists working for NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have confirmed that a wide area of the undersea particulate oil has been found dozens of miles from the gushing well in the gulf.

They confirmed the existence of an undersea oil plume about 25 miles northeast of the blown-out BP well, though they say oil concentrations were low.

The oil may still impact marine life however, according to USF spokeswoman Vickie Chachere.

BP has questioned the existence of subsurface plumes, but says they are looking into it. The government says the sampling was too small to definitively link the oil to the BP well.

USF says additional tests will be made on the water samples. Its research vessel, the Weatherbird II, is expected to return to the area around the spill soon.


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Texas A&M News: Déjà vu: 1979 Oil Spill Like Today’s, But Took 10 Months To Cap

BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill is eerily reminiscent of an incident that happened 31 years ago when the Mexican well named Ixtoc 1 blew out. The oil spewed for 10 months, says a Texas A&M University oceanographer Norman Guinassa, who has more than 40 years of experience studying the Gulf of Mexico. It was not stopped until a relief well was completed.

Guinassa, says the Deepwater Horizon well and the Ixtoc are very similar events, particularly with regards to their failed efforts to contain the oil leaks.

Ixtoc exploded and the entire rig sank, just like Deepwater Horizon. The cause of the Ixtoc explosion was a failed blowout preventer, also like Deepwater Horizon.

Guinassa says, “There was failure after failure to cap the well, just like today.” But all of those failed attempts to cap Ixtoc were in only 160 feet of water. The exact same methods were used to cap the spill today but in 5,000 feet of water and they also failed.


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WSJ: Oil drilling should be resuming soon

The Obama administration announced yesterday that the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service will be releasing new safety rules as early as Tuesday.

Since May, shallow water oil and gas drilling has been placed on hold pending the new regulations. There has been rising public outcry that delays in releasing the rules are impacting thousands of jobs.

The six-month moratorium on deep-water oil drilling that was placed following the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion will remain.


Continue reading WSJ: Oil drilling should be resuming soon releases in depth investigation into California’s Proposed Desalination Plant


Contact: Joseph Trento, 202-466-4310 or (mobile) 202-255-2441

Janet Wilson, 714-649-0514 releases in depth investigation into California’s Proposed Desalination Plant

Washington, DC, May 11, 2010 – From the beginning, developers of a huge desalination plant in Carlsbad, Calif., have promised it would cost the public nothing to build and would provide a critical new drinking water supply.

But dozens of interviews and a review of available records by the Public Education Center’s show that southern Californians would actually pay at least $640 million over 30 years, including as much as $374 million in public subsidies. All that money would repay construction costs with interest, operating costs with overhead fees, and unspecified profits to investors for what would be the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere.

So is the project a thirst quencher, an environmental problem, or both?

As population swells and climate change could begin to wreak havoc on already dwindling supplies, boosters say it is well worth the price to bring a local water supply to the drought prone region. They say desalination is a crucial piece of multi-pronged strategies to keep California flush with water, and despite recessionary woes, the time is right

But critics say that far from being a New Age answer to water woes, desalters are costly, unnecessary boondoggles that often malfunction and carry damaging environmental side effects. They argue subsidizing the costly plants is the wrong approach, and that conservation, recycling wastewater and other, far cheaper alternatives should be tried first.

Poseidon Resources LLC, the private developer, is pushing to complete a dizzying checklist of approvals before heading to Wall Street for financing later this month. Before the bond sale, it needs to obtain a second rating in addition to the BBB- it got from Standard and Poor’s, the lowest investment grade rating.

# # # is a non-profit project staffed by award-winning reporters whose mission is to investigate previously overlooked news stories about significant issues and bring them to the attention of national and international audiences. Janet Wilson, a USC Annenberg Hunt national health reporting fellow, is an environmental journalist based in southern California.

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