BP Oil Spill Environmental Impact Rhon Jones Environmental
BP Oil Spill Environmental Impact Rhon Jones Environmental Impact: The Science to Date - Topics Difficult to assess the complete environmental impact of such a large scale disaster Who controls the science? What are the known environmental damages? Predictions
Unprecedented Oil Spill Gulf of Mexico covers 615,000 square miles, up to 12,000 ft. deep Largest accidental oil spill in history Over 200 million gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf for 87 days Over 200,000 metric tons of methane gas released Over 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersants (first ever deep sea application) First oil spill at a significant depth (5,000 ft.) Scale and complexity of Gulf Oil Spill makes it difficult to completely assess environmental damages Who Controls the Science?
Federal Government State Governments Universities/Research Grants Non-profit Organizations BP Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)
Most of the studies currently underway are part of the NRDA Process federal agencies, states, and Indian tribes use to evaluate impact Determines damages to be paid by responsible party Evaluates damages and restoration plan Drawback: Because government is building a legal case against BP, it will not share findings until after settlement or trial University/Academic Research: No Quick Answers Funded by various grant
programs R.A.P.I.D. (NSF) Gulf of Mexico Alliance (BP) Quality environmental and ecological research takes time Scientists must study impacted species for multiple generations to assess the impacts of oil on survival, reproductive ability, and population dynamics
Wildlife biologist takes samples from dead dolphin on Gulf Coast Non-Profit Group Research Numerous environmental and ecological non-profits have taken samples and conducted a wide variety of studies Background data on pre-spill conditions Location and extent of shoreline oiling events Effects on various species Records of persistence of oil
Drawbacks: often lack adequate funding and results sometimes viewed as biased British Petroleum Since the spill, BP has been aggressively recruiting all the top scientists in a attempt to control and manipulate the scientific studies. Recently, Greenpeace, an environmental group, obtained and published emails from Russell Putt, a BP environmental expert,
explicitly discussing how the company could control and influence scientific research in the Gulf. Environmental/Ecological Damages Environmental Harm Damage to Numerous Environments/Habitats Oil in salt marshes Layer of dead animals and oil 4 inches thick along the
Gulf sea floor Plumes affect fish and marine mammals Oil slicks on the surface Submerged tar mats lurking off the coast Oil and tar balls on beaches Marsh along the Mississippi River in Louisiana Fish & Invertebrates Fish Eggs and Larvae
Very sensitive to exposure to oil Tests show that exposure to oil causes increased deaths, delayed hatching, and an increase in spinal defects Contaminated food chain Oil can contaminate plankton, eggs, algae Affects fish & invertebrates that consume these contaminated organisms
The killing of tiny fish, like this one in Bay Long off Louisiana, greatly impact the health of Gulf Ecosystems Marine Mammals Immediate Damage Physical Oiling & Inhaling Toxic Fumes Inhalation can causes brain lesions, disorientation, and death Baby Dolphin deaths at an alltime high
115 found dead, likely thousands not found Long-term Damage Oil disrupts the food chain, leads to malnourishment Toxins bioaccumulate in body tissue Dead dolphin on the beach on Horn Island, Mississippi Turtles
Gulf coast provides nesting habitat for 5 of the worlds 7 sea turtle species All 5 on Endangered Species List Nesting occurs between May and Sept Crude oil shown potentially toxic to sea turtles More sea turtles died this year
than the past 20 years4 to 6 times above average (600 turtles found dead) Birds Immediate Damage Oiling of feathers Cleanup activities affect nesting Ingestion of oil 6,000 found dead Long-term Damage Toxins affect eggs
Contaminated food chain Oiled Brown Pelican on East Grand Terre Island, Louisiana BP/GCCF Predictions The GCCF and BP predict that most of the Gulf will fully recover by 2012, with oyster beds recovering by 2014 These predictions are based on the report of Wes Tunnell, a marine biologist at Texas A&M Tunnells report acknowledges that
establishing an exact recovery time is entirely impossible Scientific Predictions Dr. Samantha Joye of UGA predicts that it will take 10 years to fully determine the impact of the spill Dr. Joye also thinks that it will be 2012 before we really start to see the effect on the fisheries Remembering Exxon Valdez: the collapse of the herring population did not occur until 4 years after the spill
Out of Sight There seems to be this If we cant see it, its not going to hurt us mentality. Theres no oil on the surface therefore the problem is solved. Thats just not true. Dr. Samantha Joye, University of Georgia marine sciences professor Thank you. Thank you to Beasley Allen attorneys Chris Boutwell and Luke Bentley for their assistance with this presentation.
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