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Archive for Environmental Disasters

Mississippi River Delta and Gulf of Mexico Waters by Oil Spill – July 12th, 2010

29.1N 89.2W

July 12th, 2010 Category: Environmental Disasters, Image of the day, Rivers

USA - June 24th, 2010

USA - June 24th, 2010

This image shows the Mississippi River Delta and the water around the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill. Sediments spilling from the delta tinge some of the water a greenish color. Other dark black areas may be oil, although the precise location of the oil slick is best observed in other images taken by radar or with sun glinting off the surface: click here.

BP and now estimates that they have spent in excess of $3 billion attempting cap off the leaking well and in attempts to clean up the devastation caused by the oil slick.

According to the company the use a giant tanker which has been specially adapted in order to skim off huge quantities of crude from the surface of the ocean has proved to be inconclusive. This is the world’s largest vessel designed for the skimming task, can supposedly picked up in excess of 20,000,000 gallons of oil stained water each day.

However, the appalling weather caused by the passing hurricane hampered the operation making it only partially effective. Other skimming and barrage operations were out of service for a week due to the weather and choppy seas that Hurricane Alex (01L) produced.

More areas have been closed to fishing according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has expanded the area to cover a new north-westerly boundary off the coast of the State of Louisiana. This brings the total no-fishing zone to around 81,000 mi.² or third of all the federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Alex (01L) South of Oil Spill – July 2nd, 2010

23.7N 94W

July 2nd, 2010 Category: Environmental Disasters, Image of the day, Tropical Cyclones

Hurricane Alex (01L) - June 26th, 2010

Hurricane Alex (01L) - June 26th, 2010

Alex - Enhanced image

Alex - Enhanced image

Alex South of Oil Spill

Alex South of Oil Spill

Close-up of Oil Spill

Close-up of Oil Spill

The main image shows Alex (01L) on June 26th, when it was starting to become better organized and increase to hurricane strength over the Caribbean Sea. At that time, the system was reported to have winds of 65 mph (100 km/h).

One detail image shows the system in the lower reaches of the Gulf of Mexico, where it was feared that it would cause greater environmental damage by passing through the Deepwater Horizon oil spill area, best observed in the close-up. Fortunately, the system has stayed relatively clear of the site, although its approach did cause BP to delay plans to increase oil capture from the leak by a week. Tarballs from the spill as large as apples washed onshore around Grand Isle, as well as other parts of Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, from high storm tides created by the hurricane.

The system has now made landfall over Mexico and is weakening. Its remnants, visible in the animated imagery, are moving toward the west near 12 mph (19 km/hr), with maximum sustained winds near 30 mph (45 km/hr), with higher gusts. Estimated minimum central pressure is 1000 mb (29.53 inches).

Track of Hurricane 01L - July 1st, 2010 © Univ. of Wisconsin

Track of Hurricane 01L

The remnants of Alex are expected to produce additional rainfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches across portions of northern and central Mexico. Isolated storm-total amounts of 20 inches are possible over the higher elevations of northeastern Mexico. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides, especially in mountainous terrain.

The remnants of Alex are also expected to produce additional rainfall accumulations of 2 to 4 inches over portions of southern Texas, with isolated maximum storm-total amounts of around 12 inches. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods.

Oil Spill Continues to Spread in Gulf Mexico

29.3N 89.2W

May 31st, 2010 Category: Environmental Disasters

Gulf of Mexico, USA - May 28th, 2010

Gulf of Mexico, USA - May 28th, 2010

Anger and despair intensified across the Gulf Coast on Sunday as BP — after the failure of the “top kill” — planned to attempt yet another short-term fix to contain the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and fouling Louisiana wetlands, one of the worst environmental disasters in US history.

Sunday afternoon, the White House press office announced that the latest plan — to cut off the broken riser pipe at the top of the well and to cap the new opening — could temporarily increase the oil flow by 20 percent. The belief that the increase will be temporary hinges on BP successfully attaching the cap to the top of the well’s failed blowout preventer.

The White House’s statement paints a picture that is slightly worse than what BP Managing Director Robert Dudley described on the morning talk shows. Dudley said that his company has been very careful not to do anything that would make the situation worse.

“There may be a small increase,” Dudley told CNN. “But we should not expect to see a large increase, if any, by cutting this off and making a clean surface for us to be able to put a containment vessel over it.”

To many, news of another attempted solution only reinforced the sentiment that BP has no plan to deal quickly with the out-of-control well, while the long-term solution of drilling relief wells continues.

So far, the company unsuccessfully has tried to seal the broken blowout preventer, put a containment box over a different leak and built a smaller containment device called a top hat, but decided not to use it. Last week BP tried sealing the well with drilling mud, a move known as a top kill; sealing it with a shot of junk rubber, dubbed a junk shot; and combining the two by sealing it with drilling mud and pieces of junk rubber.

Fluctuations in Size and Location of Oil Slick, Gulf of Mexico – May 26th, 2010

28.8N 88.7W

May 26th, 2010 Category: Environmental Disasters, Image of the day

Gulf of Mexico, USA - May 21st - 24th, 2010

Gulf of Mexico, USA - May 21st - 24th, 2010

Over a month after the spill began, oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico. The exact spill flow rate is uncertain –in part because BP has refused to allow independent scientists to perform accurate measurements– and is a matter of ongoing debate.

It is estimated that the resulting oil slick covers a surface area of at least 2,500 square miles (6,500 km2), although the exact size and location of the slick fluctuate from day to day depending on weather conditions. This animated image shows the fluctuations of the slick between May 21st and 24th.

As this environmental disaster continues, more than 22,000 people and 1,100 vessels are now involved in the onshore and offshore exercise to control the slick that is affecting approximately 65 miles of the Gulf coast.

It was reported this week that BP is recovering 40pc less oil than previously claimed as it prepares fourth attempt to halt leak. The oil giant admitted it was recovering less oil from a tube inserted into the mile-long pipeline that snapped after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded with the loss of 11 lives a month ago.

BP initially said that most of the estimated 5,000 barrels a day spewing out of the well was being collected and taken a mile to the surface but yesterday the company disclosed that the average daily recovery is running at just over 2,000 barrels.

BP conceded that the siphoning system involved “significant uncertainties” because of its novelty and said that it was impossible to “assure its success or put a definite timescale on its deployment”.

The use of a special tube to collect the oil is the third technique used by BP to control the flow after the failure to reactivate the blow out preventer and erect domes over the damaged seabed installations.

Now BP is pinning its hopes on operation “top kill” involving the injection of heavy drilling fluids to stop the flow and sealing the well with cement to end the nightmare. Engineers hope to start work on Wednesday while work continues on the slower process of drilling two relief wells.

Oil Coats Louisiana’s Shorelines and Reaches into Marshes, USA – May 25th, 2010

25.6N 92.4W

May 25th, 2010 Category: Environmental Disasters, Image of the day

Gulf of Mexico, USA - May 21st, 2010

Gulf of Mexico, USA - May 21st, 2010

Crews try to clean an island covered in oil on the south part of East Bay May 23rd, 2010. (© REUTERS/Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace)

Crews try to clean an island covered in oil

Over one month after the initial explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, crude oil continues to flow into the Gulf of Mexico, and oil slicks have slowly reached as far as 12 miles into Louisiana’s marshes. According to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, more than 65 miles of Louisiana’s shoreline has now been oiled.

BP said it will be at least Wednesday before they will try using heavy mud and cement to plug the leak, a maneuver called a “top kill” that represents their best hope of stopping the oil after several failed attempts.

Based on low estimates, at least 6 million gallons of crude have spewed into the Gulf so far – though some scientists have said they believe the spill already surpasses the 11 million-gallon 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska as the worst in U.S. history.

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