Help me understand the long term effects of oil spills. It's more than obvious that oil spills have an immediate impact on areas directly effected.
But what are the true long term effects? I'm hoping to get help in gathering data to understand it fully, and I've identified 3 major target areas
to focus in on.
The 3 target areas are the Santa Barbara coastline, Galveston Bay, and the Persian Gulf. It just so happens that each is not only ideal, but
also provides 3 different regional scales for this study.
It could come about that I might need to depend on seafood in an area that I believed would be directly impacted by the current spill. This drove me
to attempt to understand the true effects. In the process I noticed many myths and perspectives I hadn't known before that. This prompted me to start
thread where I was quickly shouted down as some sort of Big Oil
shill. But I genuinely desire to understand the true threat level here, and in this thread I hope to keep it focused on productive facts, figures,
data and etc. In the process we'll all gain a better understanding of the current leak crisis.
So I have here 3 worst case scenario locations. The challenge: to identify the total extent of the environmental threats of each, and then the
actual long term impacts. Any and all data is the promised land, whether it shows negative or marginal impacts.
I've had an 'easy' enough time finding info about some of the incidents or variables affecting each area, but not as much luck finding hard data to
paint a portrait with. So to begin I will be mostly covering the threats, not the impacts.
#1: Santa Barbara, CA:
SB is home to the worlds largest Natural Oil Seep. It has had a constant flow of crude oil from under the oceans surface for thousands
years. So much so that it has formed multiple undersea "Asphalt Volcanos
Now, imagine 8 to 80 times the amount of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez accident.
According to new research by scientists from UC Santa Barbara and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), that's how much oil has made its
way into sediments offshore from petroleum seeps near Coal Oil Point in the Santa Barbara Channel. Their research, reported in an article being
published in the May 15 issue of Environmental Science & Technology, documents how the oil is released by the seeps, carried to the surface along a
meandering plume, and then deposited on the ocean floor in sediments that stretch for miles northwest of Coal Oil Point.
Oil seeps occur naturally all along the coast of California, notably in the Santa Barbara Channel near Coal Oil Point. The widespread nature of
oil seeps in this area is well documented by early explorers and by coast-dwelling Chumash Indians.
The Coal Oil Point seep field offshore from Santa Barbara, California is a petroleum seep area of about three square kilometers adjacent to the
Ellwood Oil Field, and releases about 40 tons per day of methane and about 19 tons of reactive organic gas (ethane, propane, butane and higher
hydrocarbons), about twice the hydrocarbon air pollution released by all the cars and trucks in the county in 1990. The liquid petroleum produces a
slick that is many kilometers long and when degraded by evaporation and weathering, produces tar balls which wash up on the beaches for miles
This seep also releases on the order of 100 to 150 barrels of liquid petroleum per day. The field produces about 9 cubic meters of natural gas per
barrel of petroleum.
Meaning this single location
releases about 45,625 barrels per year, or 4,562,500 barrels per 100 years.
I found a detailed report on the seepage that happens there, but it doesn't
satisfy my desire to understand what the actual environmental impacts are.
#2: Galveston Bay, TX:
An asphalt volcano is a rare type of submarine volcano (seamount) first discovered in 2003. Several examples have been found: first, along the
coasts of America and Mexico, and, recently, all over the world; a few are still active. Resembling seamounts in structure, they are made entirely
of asphalt, and form when natural oil seeps up from the earth's crust underwater. en.wikipedia.org...
It wasn't until deep into my OILPOCALYPSE thread did Galveston hit my radar. That area has been directly hit by constant oil spills, and a
hodge-podge of other environmental threats, including Natural Oil Seeps
This map showing gas production wells & platforms depicts some of the potential threats:
The oil spills that Galveston has felt effects from (excluding Tampa):
The largest oil spill in North America occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. The 200-foot-deep exploratory well, Ixtoc I, blew out on June 3, 1979, in the
Bay of Campeche, Mexico, releasing 10,000 - 30, 000 barrels (0.4 - 1.2 million gallons) per day for nine months. Nearly 500 dispersant air sorties
were flown in Mexico. Manual cleanup in Texas was aided by storms. Though the blowout preventer (BOP, valve designed to seal off a wellhead) failed,
injection of metal and concrete balls into the well slowed the release. By the time the well was brought under control in March 1980 by drilling two
relief wells to relieve pressure, an estimated 113 million to over 300 million gallons of oil had spilled (10 times the amount of oil spilled by the
Exxon Valdez). Oil travelled 800 miles to the north, oiling more than 150 miles of shoreline in Texas and unknown miles of shoreline in Mexico.
More than 250 oil-related pollution incidents were reported in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, releasing an estimated total of 8 million gallons of oil
directly into inland waterways and wetlands. Because many spills went unreported and others were never attributed to a specific
source, the actual amount of oil released into the environment will never be known. Shallow nearshore areas, coastal and inland wetlands, and sand
beaches were among the numerous habitats impacted by these spills. A variety of cleanup methods were employed including in-situ burning, mechanical
cleanup (heavy equipment, vacuuming, etc.), and manual recovery and removal of oil. However, many marsh areas were left to recover naturally because
the impacts associated with cleanup of the oil would have exacerbated damage to these sensitive marsh environments.
On November 1, 1979, the M/V Burmah Agate collided with the freighter Mimosa southeast of Galveston Entrance in the Gulf of Mexico. The collision
caused an explosion and fire on the Burmah Agate that burned until January 8, 1980. An estimated 2.6 million gallons of oil were spilled, and an
estimated 7.8 million gallons were consumed by the fire. Oil traveled more than 200 miles, impacting Matagorda Peninsula and Padre Island. Marshes
were not cleaned because response efforts could have caused more damage than the oil.
[edit on 18-5-2010 by IgnoranceIsntBlisss]