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June 19 2010


Fmr. Labor Secretary Robert Reich: US Should Put BP Under Temporary Receivership During Gulf Coast Recovery


We get reaction to BP CEO Tony Hayward’s appearance on Capitol Hill from Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration and now a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. Reich says BP should be put under temporary receivership, which would allow the US to take over its operations until the spill is stopped. We’re also joined by Tyson Slocum, the director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. [includes rush transcript]

Reposted byfilme filme

June 14 2010

South Korea: Understanding the Oil Spill From Painful Experience

By Lee Yoo Eun

As the BP oil spill disaster in the United States is reported in South Korea, numerous Korean bloggers, for whom painful memories of the deadliest oil spill in Korean history in 2007 remains fresh, are expressing their worries and sympathy to the oil spill victims.

In December 2007, 2.7 million gallons of crude oil gushed into Korea's scenic west sea near the Port of Daesan on the Yellow Sea coast of Taean County after a crane barge owned by Samsung Heavy Industries slammed into the Hebei Spirit, a Hong Kong-registered crude oil carrier, spotting Korea's west coast with jet black crude oil.

Photos from a blogger who participated in the clean up process as a volunteer.

Around 120 million people from different social backgrounds volunteered in the West Sea shore clean-up process which lasted for several months. Celebrities, politicians and professionals from various fields scrubbed stones covered in oil by hand, one-by-one, using absorbent materials to soak up the remaining oil.

A volunteer of the Taean clean-up process reported on her blog the mild distress she suffered during the clean-up work and following days due to the strong smell of the oil:

기름을 닦아내도 바닷물이 들어오면 다시 엉망이 되고마는
태안. 기름 냄새에 속이 울렁거리고 머리가 지끈거린다…집에 돌아온 지금도 온 몸이 으실으실하고 속이 메스겁다.

Even after we scrubbed off the oil, Taean turned into a mess again when the water came in. The smell of the oil gave me nausea and headaches… Even after I returned to my house,
I still felt malaise and nausea.

Even though the Korean government dispatched hundreds of vessels, cranes, helicopters and airplane to the west coast, most of the clean-up process had to rely on people's hands as the oil permeated deep and wide into the shore's complicated landscape, hiding itself in the sand and millions of rocks laying there.

A blogger on his Daum blog noted that the BP oil spill clean-up process might speed up if more manpower and financial support are injected to the process, at the same time expressing envy of the US' high-end cleanup equipment:

부자 나라답게 장비도 고급이고 대량으로 투입하기 때문에 방제작업을 의외로 싱겁게 끝날지도 모르겠습니다. 앞서도 언급했지만 손으로 일일이 닦아 내던 우리의 현실이 겹쳐집니다. …이버 서태를 대비해서 Oil pollution trust fund(기금)을 조성하여…1건당 사용 가능한 금액은 US$ 1bn (1억 달러)인데 이번 사고를 처리하기에는 턱 없이 적다는 생각이 듭니다. 우리나라처럼 자원봉사자가 많으면 모르겠지만.

Since the US is a rich country, lots of high quality equipment has been deployed at the scene in large amounts. There is a chance that the clean-up operation may prove to be much easier than people expected. This is quite contrary to our case of scrubbing oil off with our hands, one by one (from oil-inflicted objects)… The US has formed the Oil pollution trust fund…with a spending cap (of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund) for each incident at $1 billion. This is way too small since there is no large group of volunteer workers in the United States like we had in Korea.

Local media reported that the Taean oil leak was only two-thirds the amount of oil that spews from the BP oil pipe on a single day. And it was one-third of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Nevertheless it was deadly enough to kill marine life in one of Korea's largest wetland areas, damaging the fishing industry and 445 sea farms, and the tourism industry by tainting a national maritime park, thereby wrecking people's livelihoods. Samsung, one of biggest multinational conglomerate corporations in Korea, had been blamed for causing the disaster for letting its barge go wild with loose cables linking it to the tug. As the oil spill case in Mexico Gulf appeared, Koreans came to recall that Samsung Heavy Industries got off with a relatively light punishment.

A Naver blogger expresses a unpleasant feeling toward governments and companies' shirking their responsibilities:

지난 2007년 겨울 한국에서 발생했던 서해 태안 기름 유출
사건을 연상케 합니다…우리는 지난 태안 기름 유출 사건때 수많은 자원봉사자들의 덕에 빠르게 정상화를 찾아갔던 기억이 있습니다… 미국 정부도 이번 사건의 늑장대응에 대한 책임을 피하기는 쉽지 않을 것 같습니다. 열심히 BP에 모든
책임을 떠넘기고 있군요. 한국에서 태안 기름 유출을 일으킨 삼성 중공업이 고작 56억원의 손해 배상 책임을 판결 받은 것을 기억하니 무지하게 씁쓸합니다.

This [BP oil spill] reminds me of the Taean oil spill in winter 2007 in Korea. We made a fast recovery thanks to help of numerous volunteer workers…It seems it will be hard for the US government to wiggle its way out of the criticism on its belated response to this incident. Now the government tries to dump all responsibility onto BP. This reminds me of the Samsung Heavy Industries' Taean oil spill liability verdict, where Samsung got away with a penalty of only 5.6 billion Korean won [about USD 4.6 million]. All this makes me feel/taste bitter.

With its compensation cap limited to 5.6 billion Korean won, Samsung was fined only 30 million Korean won, or about USD 22,000.

Some blogger are approaching this issue from a realistic angle. One Naver blogger have posted speculation on affect the BP oil disaster will have on oil prices, himself predicting that it will surpass USD 100 dollar a barrel soon in this year.

Another OhMyNews blogger stressed the urgent need to seek a fundamental way to stop oil disasters from recurring:

궁극적으로 전세게가 하루빨리 원유 의존에서 벗어나 친환경 에너지로 하루빨리 바꿔야 하겠습니다…우리 모두 같은 지구촌 사람인이상 남의 일이 아닙니다.

The world needs to shift from its heavy dependency on the oil to eco-friendly energy use as early as possible…We all belong to the same earth, this is not the other's matter any more.

Koreans, after being burnt from their oil spill disaster, have expressed their sincere worries over the the endless spewing of the oil in the United States and the aftermath it will bring on a global level.

May 26 2010

TERRA 534: Hindsight and Foresight - 20 Years After the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

In light of the recent catastrophe in the Gulf Coast region, it seems appropriate to re-visit the previous disaster of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. This film, produced by NOAA, takes a look at the past 20 years of recovery and persisting environmental effects in Prince William Sound. What does this film tell us about the consequences of the present BP oil drilling disaster in the Gulf Coast region and what can we learn from it?
TERRA 534: Hindsight and Foresight - 20 Years After the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

In light of the recent catastrophe in the Gulf Coast region, it seems appropriate to re-visit the previous disaster of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. This film, produced by NOAA, takes a look at the past 20 years of recovery and persisting environmental effects in Prince William Sound. What does this film tell us about the consequences of the present BP oil drilling disaster in the Gulf Coast region and what can we learn from it?

Transocean will für höchstens 27


 Millionen Dollar haften

Wachsende Kritik an Zuger Ölbohrfirma wegen Ölpest im US-Kongress

Transocean will für höchstens 27 Millionen Dollar haften (Wirtschaft, Aktuell, NZZ Online)

BP and the Audacity of Greed

Even as BP’s blown well a mile beneath the surface in the Gulf of Mexico continues to gush forth an estimated 70,000 barrels of oil a day into the sea, and the fragile wetlands along the Gulf begin to get coated with crude, which is also headed into the Gulf Stream for a trip past the Everglades and on up the East Coast, the company is demanding that Canada lift its tight rules for drilling in the icy Beaufort Sea portion of the Arctic Ocean. In an incredible display of corporate arrogance, BP is claiming that a current safety requirement that undersea wells drilled during the newly ice-free summer must also include a side relief well, so as to have a preventive measure in place that could shut down a blown well, is “too expensive” and should be eliminated. Yet clearly, if the US had had such a provision in place, the Deepwater Horizon blowout could have been shut down right almost immediately after it blew out, just by turning of a valve or two, and then sealing off the blown wellhead. The current Gulf blowout has already cost BP over half a billion dollars, according to the company’s own information. That doesn’t count the cost of mobilizing the Coast Guard, the Navy, and untold state and county resources, and it sure doesn’t count the cost of the damage to the Gulf Coast economy, or the cost of restoration of damaged wetlands. We’re talking at least $10s of billions, and maybe eventually $100s of billions. Weigh that against the cost of drilling a relief well, which BP claims will run about $100 million. The cost of such a well in the Arctic, where the sea is much shallower, would likely be a good deal less. Such is the calculus of corruption. BP has paid $1.8 billion for drilling rights in Canada’s sector of the Beaufort Sea, about 150 miles north of the Northwest Territories coastline, an area which global warming has freed of ice in summer months. and it wants to drill there as cheaply as possible. The problem is that a blowout like the one that struck the Deepwater Horizon, if it occurred near the middle or end of summer, would mean it would be impossible for the oil company to drill a relief well until the following summer, because the return of ice floes would make drilling impossible all winter. That would mean an undersea wild well would be left to spew its contents out under the ice for perhaps eight or nine months, where its ecological havoc would be incalculable.
Reposted fromFreeminder23 Freeminder23

Ölkatastrophe im Golf von Mexico - morgen startet Operation "Top Kill"

Über einen Monat ist es nun schon her, dass die Bohrinsel "Deepwater Horizon" vor der US-Golfküste explodierte und sank. Seitdem strömen bis zu 100.000 Barrel Öl pro Tag ins Meer, alle Versuche, die ökologische Katastrophe einzudämmen, sind bislang gescheitert. Morgen nun will BP mit "Top Kill" den Durchbruch schaffen. Wie aber funktioniert das noch nie erprobte Verfahren?Bislang hat sich BP beim Kampf gegen die Katastrophe wahrlich nicht mit Ruhm bekleckert - von irreführenden Angaben über die Menge des austretenden Öls bis hin zum Einsatz von risikobehafteten Chemikalien wurde so ziemlich alles falsch gemacht, was falsch zu machen war. Nicht ohne Grund zweifelt inzwischen sogar die US-Regierung an der Kompetenz des Ölkonzerns - und das, obwohl BP sowohl Präsident Obama als auch zahlreiche Abgeordnete beider Parteien mit großzügigen Wahlkampfspenden unterstützt. Nachdem vor zwei Wochen der Versuch, das Bohrloch mit einer 100 Tonnen schweren Stahlglocke abzudichten endgültig gescheitert ist, soll morgen eine weitere technische Großanstrengung unter dem martialisch klingenden Namen "Top Kill" den Durchbruch im Kampf gegen die Ölpest bringen. Wie aber funktioniert das Verfahren - und welche Risiken sind damit verbunden? Das Prinzip ist schnell erklärt: Schwerer Bohrschlamm wird in das Bohrloch gepumpt und verstopft dieses, gegebenenfalls ergänzt durch ein Abfallgemisch, das unter anderem aus Golfbällen und zerhächselten Autoreifen besteht - dem sogenannten "Junk Shot". Anschließend wird das auf diese Weise provisorisch abgedichtete Bohrloch mit einer Zementschicht bedeckt. Der Vorteil einer solchen Vorgehensweise im Vergleich zu den bereits gescheiterten Versuchen ist, dass der Ölfluss sozusagen "direkt an der Quelle" unterbunden wird. Das nachfolgende Video verdeutlicht das "Top Kill"-Verfahren. Natürlich ist der Einsatz eines bislang unerprobten Verfahrens mit Risiken verbunden. Da das Öl mit enormem Druck aus dem Bohrloch austritt, müssen Abfall und Schlamm mit noch höherem Druck ins Bohrloch gepresst werden, um einen Verstopfungseffekt zu erzielen. Wird aber durch den Druck von beiden Seiten der ohnehin bereits beschädigte Blowout Preventer vollends zerstört, könnte am Ende noch mehr Öl als bisher in den Golf von Mexiko fließen. Laut Doug Suttles, dem Chief Operating Officer bei BP, liegt die Wahrscheinlichkeit eines Misserfolgs zwischen 30 und 40%, was angesichts des schwer fassbaren Umfangs, den diese Katastrophe jetzt schon angenommen hat, wenig beruhigend ist. Es könnte demnach durchaus sein, dass sich die Situation an der US-Ostküste im Fall eines Scheiters von "Top Kill" noch weiter verschlechtert. Für diesen Fall arbeitet BP bereits an einer alternativen Lösung unter dem weitaus weniger martialischen Namen "Lower Marine Riser Package Cap" (LMRP). Dabei würde die demolierte Steigleitung abgetrennt und durch eine neue, mit einem Bohrschiff verbundene Leitung ersetzt werden, welches das an die Oberfläche schießende Öl auffangen könnte. Das auch dies keine dauerhafte Lösung sein kann, liegt auf der Hand. Unklar ist außerdem, ob BP bei einem erneuten Scheitern überhaupt die Chance auf einen weiteren Versuch erhält - so deutete US-Innenminister Salazar bereits am Wochenende an, dem Konzern das Heft demnächst aus der Hand zu nehmen, sollte nicht bald ein Erfolg eintreten. In diesem Sinne heißt es morgen wohl: Daumen drücken und auf das Beste hoffen - immerhin befürchten die Experten der American Association of Petroleum Geologists bereits, dass aus dem Bohrloch noch mehrere Jahre lang Öl austreten könnte, sollten alle Eindämmungsversuche scheitern. Was das wiederum für das marine Leben im Golf von Mexico bedeuten könnte, mag man sich gar nicht ausmalen...
Reposted fromFreeminder23 Freeminder23

May 25 2010

Oil reaches Louisiana Shores - The Big Picture - 20100524

Picture 10: A reddish egret, its legs and tail feathers coated with oil, flies above the water in Grand Isle, Louisiana, May 20, 2010. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley)
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