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Earth Science

Oil Means More Arsenic In Seawater 168

Posted by timothy
from the must-cut-back-on-shrimp dept.
oxi writes "Besides the oil already spilling into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of up to 60,000 barrels daily, a group of British scientists says one can expect to see elevated levels of arsenic as well. The research, published in the journal Water Research, showed that oil prevents naturally-occurring arsenic from being filtered out of the water by the sediment on the ocean floor."
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Oil Means More Arsenic In Seawater

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  • by nido (102070) <nido56 AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday July 04, 2010 @02:32AM (#32790428) Homepage

    I am of the opinion that the best way to clean up the Gulf of Mexico is to Send the Enterprise [teslabox.com] (no, not that Enterprise, silly rabbits!). The complete proposal is given at the link.

    Tell everyone you know.

    (kuro5hin.org [kuro5hin.org] has two options for voting for a story: "Front Page" and "Section Page". 93% of the people who voted for my story voted FP, so I have reason to believe that my proposal has merit.)

  • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:11AM (#32790546) Homepage Journal
    Maybe you should care how nature took care of other ocean contaminations [wikipedia.org] on the past,
  • Re:And yet... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@hacki s h . o rg> on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:16AM (#32790568)

    Some have turned out not all that catastrophically [wikipedia.org], though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:58AM (#32790666)

    http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-461896 [cnn.com]

    "According to Sagalevich’s report, the oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico is not just coming from the 22 inch well bore site being shown on American television, but from at least 18 other sites on the “fractured seafloor” with the largest being nearly 11 kilometers (7 miles) from where the Deepwater Horizon sank and is spewing into these precious waters an estimated 2 million gallons of oil a day."

    "As a prominent oil-industry insider, and one of the World's leading experts on peak oil, Simmons further warns that the US has only two options, “let the well run dry (taking 30 years, and probably ruining the Atlantic ocean) or nuking the well.” "

    "On top of the environmental catastrophe currently unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico the situation may about to get even worse as new reports from the US are confirming the grim predictions of Russian scientists regarding the oil dispersement poisons being used by BP which are being swept up into the clouds and falling as toxic rain destroying every living plant it touches"

  • by Dilaudid (574715) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @07:20AM (#32791200)
    Clever analogy. If America consumed 20 million barrels of raw sewage every day, and if humankind's thirst for raw sewage was so desperate that it led them to start wars, dig in environmentally special areas until the only places left for them to find more sewage was underneath the ocean - then you'd be spot on. I find it funny to see America looking around for who to blame here. They bought the SUVs. They are the biggest oil consumers in the world (along with the UK) - and they're still buying. The pollution in Nigeria caused by oil is desperate - this kind of thing happens every year. But no one cares at all about Nigeria, because Nigerians are worth a lot less than Americans. The board of BP aren't my favourite people, but singling them out is ridiculous (and politically expedient). So in short, perhaps better to throw shit at the next SUV you see, or the next person who tells you they've been scuba diving in the caribbean (like the then-head of Greenpeace, Lord Melchett) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/30/oil-spills-nigeria-niger-delta-shell [guardian.co.uk]
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday July 04, 2010 @08:17AM (#32791364) Homepage Journal

    You still don't understand the situation. The USA has oil on land that it's not pumping. We're devastating the oceans for the sake of maintaining our reserves.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 04, 2010 @09:02AM (#32791498)

    "I can seal that bitch with half a million dollars worth of focused C-4 charges from 50 feet down to 500 feet of well-breach."

    Unfortunately that would likely result in a casing failure as the pressure built up below the collapsed zone, and then you'd have a sub-sea blowout, and perhaps a short time after that you'd have it breach to the sea floor and achieve the (lack of evidence/wrong/insane) scenario that Simmons has fantasized already exists.

    There is simply no evidence for the seepages elsewhere on the sea floor that Simmons somehow imagines are there. There are *natural* seeps on the Gulf of Mexico sea floor, but not related to this field or well. The ROVs wander all around the well site and there's no sign of anything nearby. And if there was evidence further away it would be impossible to cover it up. Simmons has mentioned these supposed sites several times in news accounts, but nobody with any scientific knowledge knows where the supposed seeps are or how he is coming up with it. He talks about huge "lakes" of oil beneath the sea surface, but those plumes have now been measured -- in ppm concentrations. There is no inconsistency between what is coming out of the single hole and the amount that has been observed at the surface and subsea.

    Also, this well won't leak in significant amounts for 30 years. There isn't enough oil in the reservoir to sustain it at environmentally significant rates for that long. Even one of the greatest gushers ever, the Lakeview Gusher [wikipedia.org], which at its peak approached 100000 barrels/day, more or less killed itself in 18 months. The rock around the borehole in the reservoir eventually collapses and clogs the hole, or the pressure decline in the reservoir is sufficient that the flow ceases (or both).

    Simmons claims are poorly-thought-out, unsubstantiated nonsense. He's a financier with a lot of oil experience, not a geologist, oceanographer, or engineer. But his wild claims make sensational press, which is the only reason I can think of why they keep putting him on talk shows and news segments, because his claims make no sense to anyone with a scientific background. For example, he's also claimed that the pressure in the reservoir is 100000 psi, when it was DIRECTLY MEASURED at ~11000 psi as the well was drilled. Even if the measurement was wrong, a fluid pressure of 100000 psi would be more than enough to fracture the rocks at that depth and cause the fluids to leak out of the formation until the pressure dropped back to normal. He just doesn't know what he's talking about.

  • Re:OMG! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrKaos (858439) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:41AM (#32791816) Journal

    How much more arsenic will there be? Will the entire ocean die? Will just a few patches of the Gulf die? Or more likely will it not make the tiniest bit of difference?

    I found these [wiley.com] two [sciencedirect.com] abstracts that may help. Langmuir [wikipedia.org] adsorption model [thuisexperimenteren.nl] is used to determine the effects.

    I was trying to put some perspective on the BP oil spill for myself and found it's roughly an Exxon Valdez (E.V) disaster every week (based on approx 50,000 bbls per day), so it's 6 E.V's so far. Considering the amount of damage that was done there, local fisheries are now supported by hatcheries so the overall toxicity of the oil spill has pretty much destroyed the ecosystem. Twenty years later not much seems to have improved and Huffington Post [huffingtonpost.com] reports not only the human health implications but the same-old same-old response we get from these companies as data collection efforts are simply stopped. Ignorance really is bliss and when it's not possible to do any science and politicians in the future can honestly say "The health implications cannot be determined".

    That arsenic is a carcinogen that bio-accumulates in the environment means that even if this catastrophe was to stop right now the human health implications are something that will continue to unfold well into the next generation. Airborne pollutants like Hydrogen Sulfide, which took a week to dissipate from E.V just continue.

    Bottom line: No-one knows (A metric ass load?). EPA says you can't harvest fish from seawater with a greater concentration of 0.0175 micrograms of Arsenic. Seawater is more capable of containing As than fresh water and there are many other factors (temperature, organic/inorganic As) that determine toxicity. Pressure from the depth of water is also a factor. I think what is being said here is that the Gulf of Mexico's days as a fishery are pretty much over and it's time to drill the shit out of that oil reserve and empty it as soon as possible.

    Lets be realistic No-one is going to take the risk of being the "Oh but you made it worse" person that everyone points fingers at so NO-ONE will do ANYTHING. Right now you are seeing the people standing around the dying person bleeding wondering when someone is going to call the ambulance. I blame the greenies, if they'd have protested more none of this would have ever happened and we could have lived our apathetic little lives without an oil spill of this magnitude. As it so happens now we have to live our apathetic little live without the luxury of ignorance going, tsk tsk that oil spill - so bad tsk tsk.

    References; Neff, Bioaccumulation in Marine Organisms: Effect of Contaminants from Oil Well Produced Water

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:41AM (#32791818)

    I think you've forgotten that for the first 30 - 40 days or so, there was a complete media blackout on the oil spill. They were afraid to even report about it on any news network, including CNN. I think that BP and Obama were telling them not to report on it, that they had things under control and not to blow it out of proportion to the public. That's the only thing that could explain why it took so long for the media to jump on this story 24/7. The first reporter to really get angry about what was happening in the gulf was Anderson Cooper, by reporting on it he forced all the other networks to end their silence. With 24/7 coverage now, people realize this is actually a serious problem now. Even with all the coverage, most of the public still doesn't grasp that this is one of the most categorically dangerous events man has created in the history of world barely eclipsed by Chernobyl. It may even be worse, because of the uncontrollable extinction events occurring right now in the Gulf.

    Anderson is probably one of the few reporters who actually gives a shit that this is happening. Everyone else is merely reporting on it, he feels and understands it. I remember watching each and every news network every single day thinking, I hope to hell someone starts beating the drums soon on how important this is. And, day after day, no one did. The day Anderson said, my god what have we done, I admired that guy. Took some balls, insight, and a backbone.

  • by moonbender (547943) <moonbender@NOSPAM.gmail.com> on Sunday July 04, 2010 @11:02AM (#32791870)

    So who then are the right people?
    If you know why haven't you sent their names to the Government so they can do more than just worry about why it's taking so long?
    Also is it really a "news blackout" is is there really just nothing else to report?
    How on earth would BP enforce a news blackout anyway?

    Are you astroturfing or something?

    The right people would have been the Dutch [financialpost.com].

    Sending their names to the government woudn't help; they've already refused the help.

    There is a kind-of blackout, ie here is CNN's take on it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpJBsjKhRTo [youtube.com]

    BP doesn't enforce the blackout, the government does.

  • by countertrolling (1585477) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @11:37AM (#32791994) Journal

    BP doesn't enforce the blackout, the government does.

    Upon BP's request... All those campaign "contributions" are paying off very nicely. The corruption on display here goes far beyond the pale. They're making Cheney look like a saint.

  • Re:And yet... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GrumblyStuff (870046) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @11:44AM (#32792042)

    Within the same order of magnitude, sure. So is .08 BAC and .35 BAC but the difference in effects [brad21.org] is quite pronounced.

    But, then again, going from .01 to .05 would mean you're not partying hard enough and going from .5 to 2 means you're still probably dead.

    What I mean is that just because there's no apparent effects from the previous spill doesn't mean there will be no apparent effects from one that is gushing over four times the rate.

    BTW, as pointed out by another commenter, I math bad. Still not sure how I got it but the figure should be 412,500 barrels a month (about 14k a day).

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