Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Modern oil spill cleanup technology applied to California spill

The industry term for it is "best available technology."
You have to wonder if this is Shell's plan for a spill in the Arctic.

It is such a damn shame that every time there's a spill, for all their promises and contingency plans, oil companies are chronically slow to respond, with inadequate equipment and try to spin  the best possible scenario for what they've done.

One thing I learned in 12 years of working in the world of oil spill response is that oil spills do not get smaller. Industry consistently gives a low estimate of the original spill and then has to adjust upward as the travesty unfolds.

The original estimate for this spill along the coast of California was about 20,000 gallons. Tuesday the company said it was more like 105,000 gallons. Smart money is that the spill will eventually be larger even than that.

And, what is the most effective way to clean it up?  Forget all those high tech skimmers and booms, this oil is being collected in five-gallon buckets. And it took several days for that to start because initially volunteers were prevented from going to work on the oil. There are reasons for that; spilled oil is considered a hazardous material and OSHA and EPA demand that workers have specific training. Those agencies also demand that workers wear adequate protective gear. Volunteers were just allowed to work on the oil over this past weekend.

Look at the guy in the picture.  He is wearing leather or fabric shoes, when oil resistant boots are required. Shorts? The guy has oil on his leg up to his shorts. Gloves? Those look like cotton and would be very absorbent helping to confine the oil against the skin on his hands.  Oil can cause severe problems for people who get it on their skin. This guy is just a time bomb waiting for the effects of the oil on his body. Who knows what he is inhaling from that oil as fresh as it is. And, you have to believe everybody else who is working on the spill is pretty much dressed the same way.

Given the warm temperatures normal along the California coast, it can be expected the lighter ends evaporate fairly quickly. But as those vapors rise they contain carcinogens that people there are breathing and most often the damage doesn't show up for years.

This is all indicative of one company and an industry that is in no way ready to handle an oil spill. According to MSNBC this company has been fined for oil spill violations at least 10 times in the last decade in four other states. The company, Plains All American, based in Houston, has been called one of the the "worst violators" by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration.

Every spill exposes the inadequacy of the industry to perform any sort of cleanup.  The company has claimed it has collected 20 percent of the spilled oil. That is an outrageous claim. Best recovery rates with good equipment usually come in a little more than 10 percent and looking at what's going on there, it's doubtful this operation is doing any better than that.

It is really an outrage that in 2015 after lessons learned from massive spills like Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon and thousands of smaller ones that people still have to pick up oil in five-gallon buckets. A friend of mine did that from his fishing boat during Exxon Valdez and it looks like the technology hasn't improved much. Better technology exists, better collection methods exist though none get more than the 10 or 11 percent normal recovery despite the claims of industry contingency plans. There are also some effective techniques and equipment for protecting shore from oil.  None of that is evident in any of the photographs of this spill so far.

We are facing a huge challenge with Shell preparing to drill in the Arctic and the proposed Keystone pipeline, not to mention aging, deteriorating pipelines all over the place, just like the one that ruptured off California. I guess we just save our five-gallon buckets against the day it happens close to home.

And just an aside, juduging by the color of those buckets it looks like the only one making a profit here is Home Depot, but unfortunately there isn't a Home Depot within 500 miles of where Shell plans to drill in the Arctic.

Oil spills and deja vu

Grass banks, wetlands and the Delta Blues

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Interesting quotations

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve