what will happen when a hurricane hits Gulf spill?

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by Squidly-Diddly, May 23, 2010.

  1. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    I would think by now they would have spill at least totally surrounded by large and effective booms.

    Something with enough height above and below the water line to work in anything short of a hurricane.

    Shouldn't it be surrounded by concentric rings of super-tankers at least a couple miles wide to catch what doesn't float straight up?

    Speaking of hurricanes, what if this thing just keeps getting bigger and bigger and even a minor hurricane happens?

    It will cover the entire South East with toxic film. I don't see why the various oil components wouldn't travel with the rest of the hurricane spray. There seems to be everything from "heavy oil" that sinks even in salt water to a lot of gaseous hydro-carbons(that froze on expansion) and everything in-between.

    It will kill all land based plant life and later result in huge spike in cancer and other aliments. It will seep into ground water over a vast area, and ruin wells for 100s of years.

    I remember a guy who pumped out a ditch of water that had fairly minor contamination from gas/oil and he sprayed some on a tree and bushes. Most of the tree and bushes leaves fell off later and they all but died.

    Will this turn into the USA's Chernobyl?

    I don't think the "oil on troubled waters" will neutralize a hurricane.
     
  2. troy2000
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    troy2000 Senior Member

    To begin with, where are they supposed to conjure up all these booms, supertankers and whatnot? Do you have any idea how many supertankers it would take to make a straight line a mile long? Never mind concentric circles....

    And you have to realize the scope of this spill. It's spewing out of a pipe a mile or so underwater, and it doesn't just meekly shoot straight up to the surface to be contained by booms. It's only a little lighter than water, and it spreads. There are reports that scientists have detected multiple oil plumes up to ten miles long, ranging from 2000 to 4000 feet below the surface.

    You're right about it being a disaster, but you're getting a little carried away. Oil isn't quite as toxic as you imagine. It won't kill all land-based life if some of it gets into the air during hurricanes. Nor is it going to cause any huge spikes in cancer and other ailments...I roughnecked on oil rigs in Oklahoma for a couple of years, along with three of my brothers. Trust me: oilies weren't falling dead left and right from coming into contact with crude oil.

    Nor is it going to seep into the ground water and ruin wells for hundreds of years. Crude oil is an organic substance, and it gets eaten and broken down by bacteria. It isn't going to hang around forever.

    I don't want to minimize the spill; it's going to raise billy hell with the environment for years. It may wipe out the fishing and shrimping industry along parts of the coast for a generation, by getting into the wetlands and ruining the spawning grounds and nurseries. As a matter of fact, if there's enough of it to kill the native plants down to the roots so they can't grow back, we may lose many square miles of wetlands completely, as they're washed away by wave action and storms.

    But it isn't quite the doomsday scenario you're picturing. It most certainly is not another Chernobyl...
     
  3. MatthewDS
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    MatthewDS Senior Member

    I don't want to speculate on oil/hurricane interaction, although I'm sure it will be bad. However, I did want to comment on the difficulty of cleanup.

    The leak is 5000 feet below the water surface, as the oil rises through the water column, it becomes emulsified, which mixes the water and oil together to form a watery oily ooze. Most people are familiar with this process, go shake a bottle of oil/vinager dressing, that's pretty much it.

    The result is a oily mess suspended in the water column, which slowly rises to the surface. Also, as a result of the extreme depth that the oil is coming from, and the length of time it will take for the emulsified oil to reach the surface, it may reach the water surface many miles from the original leak location.

    As such, it's impossible to surround with booms. This isn't like the Exxon Valdez*, were we had a light crude product floating neatly on the surface.

    *Not to trivialize the Exxon Valdez spill, the fisheries have still not returned to Prince William Sound, and there is still oil on the beaches, and the spill was over 20 years ago.
     
  4. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    I'm guessing the world has at least 1000 miles of unused/underused

    floating ships right now that could be deployed an deep&high buoy.

    Surely into today's sour world economy we also got more than enough un or under employed sailors and others to rig something.

    I'm also guess this leak will keep leaking for months, or that the fix won't hold.

    I imagine some of these 10+ mile long underwater plumes showing up in varying degrees of concentration or dispersal for years.
     
  5. hoytedow
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    hoytedow I'm not a cat.

    It won't happen for the same reason that all those school buses went under the waves in New Orleans. Poorly run bureaucracy. Too many people in charge with the proverbial head up the proverbial onager. Better to leave the victims on the rooftops and submerge the buses than to evacuate the inhabitants and save the schoolbuses. It is stupidity in (in)action.
     
  6. troy2000
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    troy2000 Senior Member

    That's a crock, Hoyt. Your automatic, knee-jerk 'blame the government/liberals/blacks/yankees/whatever' stance won't fly in this situation. It won't happen because it's a pipe dream--you aren't going to stop oil from thousands of feet deep with booms, or imaginary concentric circles of super tankers.
     
  7. hoytedow
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    hoytedow I'm not a cat.

    You saying the school bus thing didn't happen? The government as far as we know didn't cause this spill, but I don't see much movement in containing it, either.

    http://wizbangblog.com/content/2005/09/04/spot-the-crime.php
     
  8. MatthewDS
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    MatthewDS Senior Member

    @Hoytedow

    I'm pretty sure that it isn't the government's responsibility to contain the spill. The responsibility lies on BP's shoulders. This is especially true when oil companies are the only ones with technology actually able to reach these depths.

    That said, I am utterly disgusted by the limits of liability that our elected officials have placed on corporate entities in the US. Legally, BP is only liable for 75 million dollars of damages as a result of this spill.

    If a private citizen, (or god forbid, a "terrorist") were to commit some sort of attack with chemical weapons that killed 11 people and destroyed the gulf fishing industry, they would be imprisoned and likely put to death.

    It is unfortunate that our legal framework does not allow BP's US assets to be nationalized and liquidated, as this is the closest thing to a death sentence you can apply to a corporation.
     
  9. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    MattDS, I'm pretty sure "the Govt" has lots of jurisdiction to jump in

    on just about any "hazardous material" situation and pull rank, and send the guilty party a bill, and slap liens if the bill ain't paid.

    When some box of white powder falls of a truck, or some company's storage tank starts leaking and the company can't handle it, they roll all sorts of Fire Dept Haz Mat trucks, and the Fire Dept, not the company, is very much in charge.

    Of course, it is different for really, really big companies.

    The other trillion dollar question is does this count as a "single event" or are there 10,000 plaintiffs each with "single events" capped at $75M apiece.
     
  10. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

  11. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    to add to this....

    Another little tidbit really bothers me:

    If you are a private citizen and you pump a tablespoon of oil out of your bilge and it makes a sheen on the surface you can be in some big trouble. If you go and get some dish soap to disperse it, they nail you BAD.

    I'm not sure why, in this spill, they are allowing companies to use dispersants, which merely make it look like there is less of a spill and give you less oil on the surface for the news photos. Also, the way the dispersants allow the oil to remain emulsified (deep underwater in the plumes), don't they actually make the task of cleaning it up harder? I mean you can corral and suck up surface oil.

    Plumes of oil underwater in emulsion? That'll just kill everything living below the surface. Bad news for people who like eating seafood.
     
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  12. DrCraze
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    DrCraze Junior Member

    The blame falls directly on the shoulders of every american who voted for offshore drilling in the first place. There are times when people need to come together and fight to keep corperations from raping us and blinding the weak of mind.
     
  13. troy2000
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    troy2000 Senior Member

    Even if they could round up those ships and man them, most of them would take months to get here; ships aren't airplanes.

    But it doesn't matter anyway, because the oil isn't spreading on the surface. Booms, ships or other barriers are useless against oil that's spreading thousands of feet deep.
     
  14. troy2000
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    troy2000 Senior Member

    The liability law that Transocean, BP and Halliburton are trying to hide behind is one that really has nothing to do with the situation. It was written in 1851, and says that the owner of a sunken vessel is liable only for its value. So they're claiming the oil rig platform was a vessel.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37128693/ns/business-us_business/

    I'm not up for a law that would allow a corporation's assets to be nationalized. This isn't Venezuela, Cuba or Mexico, and I don't think we need to be copying their examples. There are other legal ways to extract the money from them.

    Nor am I necessarily in favor of any action that would result in a 'death sentence;' there are a lot of people with money invested in the company who would take it on the chin. And there are a whole lot of people whose jobs depend on them, directly or indirectly.

    You don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg, just because it crapped on the front porch and you stepped in it.
     

  15. troy2000
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    troy2000 Senior Member

    First, go back and read what I said. Did I say "the school bus thing didn't happen?" After you've ascertained that, explain to me what school buses have to do with an oil spill in the Gulf.

    No. On second thought, don't bother. You'll just wind up irritating me, and I have things to do today that don't involve squabbling on the internet.
     
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