Yesterday I posted Here we go again: Natural gas spews “uncontrolled” into Gulf after blowout. I am grateful to Rachel Maddow for being the only news source I happened to see that covered that catastrophe. Please watch the video above for the entire story.
The Los Angeles Times had more coverage, and theirs is titled "Natural gas fire continues to burn after well blowout." After these disasters, the (ir)responsible parties (along with government agencies) rush in to reassure everyone how everything is under control, no worries, there's very little, if any, damage, and yippee! nobody was killed! Like this:
"There is no immediate danger to humans or wildlife" related to the incident, said staff at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Along with the Coast Guard, it is the lead agency responding.
Let's examine how accurate claims like those are in this case:
Blackmon said it was not clear how long it would take to drill a relief well but it would likely take days. [...]
The U.S. Coast Guard restricted vessel traffic within 500 meters of the rig, recommending vessels stay five miles away, said Lt. j.g. Tanner Stiehl. They were also enforcing Federal Aviation Administration temporary restrictions on air travel up to 2,000 feet above the area, he said.
But there's no immediate danger, see. Key word: "Immediate." Because, they say, so far nobody has seen signs of environmental damage. Key words: "So far."
And because there's no immediate danger, vessels and air travelers... keep your distance!
The workers "experienced a loss of control" of the well at 8:45 a.m. Central Time on Tuesday, according to the BSEE. Soon after, inspectors reported a cloud of natural gas above the rig and a light sheen on the water spanning one-half mile by 50 feet.
Blackmon said the environmental impact of the leak had been minimal at this point because what was leaking was "dry natural gas" that evaporated instead of contaminating the air and water.
Well then, so long as it's "dry" gas. Is that anything like, "Hey, at least it's not humid. Dry heat is so much easier to take!"
There are environmental groups that are concerned about potential contamination from condensate, or liquid released with the gas, because condensate contains the carcinogen benzene and other toxic chemicals. Feel reassured now?
Wilma Subra, a chemist from New Iberia, Louisiana and advisor to the non-profit Louisiana Environmental Action Network, was concerned with "how quickly things can go bad in the Gulf." Ya think?
Dave Valentine, a UC Santa Barbara professor of microbial geochemistry who studied the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf, said, "It's not oil. It's not floating to the surface and causing toxicity issues. But there may be this other level of impact and we just haven't been able to study it effectively."
Marine life and "the seafloor community" could be hurt. Again.
The worry stems from the many unknowns. But rest assured, it's all under control.
U.S. says Halliburton agrees to plead guilty to the destruction of evidence in connection with Deepwater Horizon tragedy #breaking
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 25, 2013