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The following is a list of all entries from the Oil Spill category.

Key West Taking Oil Spill Cleanup Into Own Hands – Repost from Tonic

The wonderful folks at Tonic.com have given me permission to pass on this fabulous article by Katie Leavitt originally posted on Tonic TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 2010 6:00 AM ET

Tired of waiting for BP or the government to do something, Florida Keys residents are organizing on their own terms.

The sunsets. The famous lineage of writers and artists. Key West is the southernmost tip of the United States, and at more than 100 miles from the mainland, the island has a unique culture all its own.

The community and location of Key West naturally lends itself to a strong state of independence, and when it comes to protecting their beloved ocean, coral reefs and plant and wildlife, these islanders will not take the laid-back approach.

The citizens of Key West are not happy with the way BP has approached the cleanup of Deepwater Horizon’s oil spill. With the possibility of the oil reaching Key West in the next few weeks, residents have decided to organize their own efforts. They are choosing to focus on preventative measures rather than wait around for the oil to reach their shores before any action takes place.

This is where Key West residents have an issue with BP and the bureaucratic red tape that makes it nearly impossible to take early steps. For example, BP’s Deepwater Horizon’s Unified Command, working with the US Coast Guard, demands that it maintain complete control over cleanup actions.

Despite regulations, thousands of volunteers and hundreds of boat captains have signed up to help out through the site KeysSpill.com. However, BP insists that boat captains can only contribute by signing up through their own Unified Command’s Vessels of Opportunity program. Dan Robey, owner of KeysSpill, told Time that he thinks the BP program is a complete waste, with only a third of their boats prepared for service.

The island community is determined to begin protecting their ecosystem no matter what, but are trying to work out a few kinks with BP. So far progress has been limited to the hiring of one sentry boat operator and the offer to pay up to $10,000 for the mandatory hazmat training needed before volunteers can deal with the oil.

Clearly, residents feel they must be prepared to take matters into their own hands. After all, many of the local fisherman, scientists and area natives have extensive knowledge about the corals and ocean life that are unique to the waters surrounding the island.

In addition to Robey’s volunteers, Adopt a Mangrove is assigning kayakers their own mangrove tree to clean. Florida Keys Environmental Coalition was born in order to connect environmental activists, scientists and boat captains, while volunteers are already working to clean up the beaches so they are easier to clean should oil the arrive.

Patrick Rice, dean of marine science and technology at Florida Keys Community College, has another plan he wants to see implemented. By placing air hoses with holes into the water, the air bubbles would block at least some of the oil from reaching the reefs and mangroves.

The people of the Keys, no matter what protocols may be in place, are determined to do all they can to be prepared for possible oil damage. “I just talked with BP yesterday,” Rice told Time. “I told them flat out, ‘If you come down here and start doing what you’ve done in Louisiana, you’re going to have a revolt. They’ll shut down U.S. 1. You won’t be able to bring any of your contractors in or out.'”

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Key West, Hurricane Season, and the Oil Spill

Hurricane season is now officially at its beginning for this year.  The massive storms are a fact of life that the residents of Key West are always at the ready to deal with.  But what about the presence of so much oil in the Gulf of Mexico right now?  What will the oil spill contribute, if anything, to the damage that hurricanes are capable of causing?

As always, I still think that the best way to deal with such issues is to get yourself educated.  The worst thing we can do is give into the media hype and hit the panic button.  To reach that goal of more education, I thought I would share a little information that is available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The following is from the NOAA Fact Sheet on Hurricanes and Oil Spills:

What will happen to a hurricane that runs through this oil slick?

Most hurricanes span an enormous area of the ocean (200-300 miles) — far wider than the current size of the spill.  If the slick remains small in comparison to a typical hurricane’s general environment and size, the anticipated impact on the hurricane would be minimal.  The oil is not expected to appreciably affect either the intensity or the track of a fully developed tropical storm or hurricane.  The oil slick would have little effect on the storm surge or near-shore wave heights.

What will the hurricane do to the oil slick in the Gulf?

The high winds and seas will mix and “weather” the oil which can help accelerate the biodegradation process.  The high winds may distribute oil over a wider area, but it is difficult to model exactly where the oil may be transported.  Movement of oil would depend greatly on the track of the hurricane.  Storms’ surges may carry oil into the coastline and inland as far as the surge reaches. Debris resulting from the hurricane may be contaminated by oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident, but also from other oil releases that may occur during the storm.  A hurricane’s winds rotate counter-clockwise.

Thus, in VERY GENERAL TERMS:
o A hurricane passing to the west of the oil slick could drive oil to the coast.
o A hurricane passing to the east of the slick could drive the oil away from the coast.
o However, the details of the evolution of the storm, the track, the wind speed, the size, the forward motion and the intensity are all unknowns at this point and may alter this general statement.

Will the oil slick help or hurt a storm from developing in the Gulf?

Evaporation from the sea surface fuels tropical storms and hurricanes. Over relatively calm water (such as for a developing tropical depression or disturbance), in theory, an oil slick could suppress evaporation if the layer is thick enough, by not allowing contact of the water to the air.   With less evaporation one might assume there would be less moisture available to fuel the hurricane and thus reduce its strength.  However, except for immediately near the source, the slick is very patchy. At moderate wind speeds, such as those found in approaching tropical storms and hurricanes, a thin layer of oil such as is the case with the current slick (except in very limited areas near the well) would likely break into pools on the surface or mix as drops in the upper layers of the ocean. (The heaviest surface slicks, however, could re-coalesce at the surface after the storm passes.)  This would allow much of the water to remain in touch with the overlying air and greatly reduce any effect the oil may have on evaporation. Therefore, the oil slick is not likely to have a significant impact on the hurricane.

Will the hurricane pull up the oil that is below the surface of the Gulf?

All of the sampling to date shows that except near the leaking well, the subsurface dispersed oil is in parts per million levels or less. The hurricane will mix the waters of the Gulf and disperse the oil even further.

Have we had experience in the past with hurricanes and oil spills?

Yes, but our experience has been primarily with oil spills that occurred because of the storm, not from an existing oil slick and an ongoing release of oil from the seafloor.  The experience from hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005) was that oil released during the storms became very widely dispersed.  Dozens of significant spills and hundreds of smaller spills occurred from offshore facilities, shoreside facilities, vessel sinkings, etc.

Will there be oil in the rain related to a hurricane?

No. Hurricanes draw water vapor from a large area, much larger than the area covered by oil, and rain is produced in clouds circulating the hurricane.

Learn more about NOAA’s response to the BP oil spill at

http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/deepwaterhorizon.

To learn more about NOAA, visit
http://www.noaa.gov.



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