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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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  • OMG! (Score:3, Informative)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @02:13AM (#32790382)
    Well in other news every time I pee in the ocean the ph level drops too.

    This is about as valuable insight as a story above without any meaningful interpretation of what the rising level of arsenic means. 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?
    • 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 Xest (935314)

        A good start would be looking towards Nigeria, where foreign oil companies (including Exxon) have been leaking at very least an Exxon Valdez (the new official unit of measurement for oil spills ;)) each year for about 50 years.

        I'd imagine the level of toxicity there would give you a good starting point, although of course it's a different dynamic, because it's multiple smaller leaks over a long time, rather than a single big leak over a relatively short time.

        I'm not sure if there are increased levels of can

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @02:15AM (#32790390) Homepage

    This is probably some parts-per-billion phenomenon.

    Arsenic is naturally found in some fish [nifes.no], and the concentrations approach regulatory limits. It's not clear in what compounds the arsenic appears; if it's locked into a compound that doesn't metabolize, it's probably not a problem.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by davester666 (731373)

      Has somebody informed the fish that the levels of arsenic in their bodies are approaching regulatory limits? Maybe throw in some dialysis machines or pills that absorb arsenic mixed in with fish food into the oceans?

      Why aren't we helping the fish help themselves?

    • by jhantin (252660)

      It's not clear in what compounds the arsenic appears; if it's locked into a compound that doesn't metabolize, it's probably not a problem.

      I think it largely ends up in the form of arsenic-substituted pyrrole compounds [wikipedia.org], which seem to undergo biomagnification [wikipedia.org] as one proceeds up the food^H^H^H^Hmanagement chain -- there's no other way to explain [wikipedia.org] some of the rather toxic mismanagement messes generated by large companies.

    • by Khyber (864651)

      Arsenic doesn't metabolize easily, at all. Finding soluble arsenic is not too easy, especially in a non-toxic form that we could possibly use. The agent for chelation, dithiol dihydrolipoic acid, is more common but still rather uncommon in a natural state.

      I've had arsenic poisoning twice now, to add to silicosis of the lungs, mercury poisoning, lead poisoning, and aluminum poisoning. To top it off, I'm anemic (iron-deficient) even though I eat tons of iron-loaded food.

      I'm a walking labrat. Have been since t

    • Your referenced article talks about mg/kilogram in the fish, which is parts per million. The article doesn't reference any concentration of arsenic. Where does your quoted figure of ppb come from?

  • by jordan_robot (1830144) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @02:25AM (#32790406)
    This means we'll all build an immunity to...

    Oh dear.

  • by lxs (131946) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @02:26AM (#32790412)

    is there any other kind?

  • by nido (102070) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (65odin)> 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.)

    • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @02:41AM (#32790442)
      With respect, that article shows the author really has not the remotest clue about the navy, oil experts, oil eating bacteria, oxygen in water, weather (stopping a hurricane - OMFG), and let me just add reality in general to the list.
      Massive fuckups that can not be solved quickly with all the experts on earth happen - and this is one of them. We're just going to have to cope with it being fixed slowly.
      It makes a good story to send a "ship of heroes" but unfortunately magic does not exist in this world so they won't be able to fix it any more quickly.
    • by ls671 (1122017) *

      Have you managed to slashdot your own site or is it just me experiencing problems connecting to www.teslabox.com ?

      • by nido (102070)

        Have you managed to slashdot your own site?

        Apparently... I suspected that this would happen. I'm hosting on a small vps that I've been playing with for a year. I recently asked my host to increase the memory, but I haven't heard back from him yet. You can read the same proposal at the kuro5hin.org [kuro5hin.org] link - you just won't get the three small pictures. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thegarbz (1787294)
      So rather then send in specialists (reads not necessarily BP, there's lots of companies in the oil and gas industry), you'd rather send a big-arse ship full of people who know nothing about the problem, to tackle a job they were never designed to do, with equipment that's not even designed.

      I especially love this bit:

      After licensing the design, the U.S. Navy’s engineers can refine the pump for their purposes and the military-industrial complex can quickly establish a production line.

      It seems clear to me that the author has never tried sourcing a custom made pump before. Redesigning equipment designed to operate at speed and pressure, and getting it produced takes a phen

      • by nido (102070)

        It seems clear to me that the author has never tried sourcing a custom made pump before. Redesigning equipment designed to operate at speed and pressure, and getting it produced takes a phenomenal amount of time. The up-front engineering hours alone would amount to months of work before the pump would be ready to run through a production line.

        The MYT pump is simple. It has 22 parts, while a conventional piston pump/engine has thousands.

        Furthermore, a geothermal energy company is looking to use the pump on one of their wells.

        Geothermal Application

        For that reason, Morgado has been successful in talking one renewable energy company, The Tesla Corporation, LLC, into using his system for harnessing the geothermal energy found on their land in Southern Utah. In fact, Co-President, Korey Robinson, surprised Morgado the other day telling him that they

        • by thegarbz (1787294)
          For a standard off the shelf system not hard. Customise anything industrial and the months start queueing up. I've seen this with far simpler pump designs in the oil industry.

          Ok so you have the urgency of an environmental disaster backing your purchase, but even that may only half the production time if you're lucky (and quadruple the cost). The waste and lost time in industrial enginerring processes should never be underestimated.
          • by nido (102070)

            You have a very good point here - Maybe I should have known that the "military-industrial complex" is incapable of doing anything "quickly". But thanks for pointing it out!

            And you're right - I underestimate timetables all the time. :)

  • 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 khallow (566160) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @09:54AM (#32791656)

      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

      Bullshit. Florida (as well as the rest of the Gulf coast) isn't some mysterious location about which little is known. If there was toxic rain "destroying every living plant it touches", we'd have a zillion people on the internet complaining about their messed up lawns. We'd probably have riots in Tallahassee (the capitol of Florida). This stuff would get in the news too. And Obama would have photo-ops all over the place. Because an evil oil corporation destroying voters' lawns, especially lawns in a critical swing state, is a crisis that Obama could use.

      Keep in mind that the relief wells come in below most of that fracturing. It's also possible that the fracturing and oil leaks were already there. Just because oil leaks out of the Gulf seafloor, doesn't mean it came from a BP oil well.

  • FTGE.
  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joetheappleguy (865543) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @07:15AM (#32791184) Homepage
    Fish don't vote.

    Drill, baby! Drill!

    Palin / Haliburton 2012!!
  • Why don't people ever think of the bacteria? They're having a whale of a time (excuse the pun) down there right now.
  • Sweet Delicious Arsenic, most poisonous of the heavy non metal elements.

  • high levels of arsenic : my boy is still being evaluated, he came down with something ... best way to describe it is autism with a 6 week onset at 6 years old, but it's not autism, more ASD, it's hard to describe, but suffice to say horrible, and a very good team of doctors (Dr House style) keep ordering more tests, eliminating things, showing nothing. so far the best lead is he has elevated levels of arsenic. He was in Chile over Christmas, there are copper mines there creating high levels of arsenic and c

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