Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Oil Spills, Oil Sands, Dispersants and Magnets – The Latest from the Fossil Fuel World


August 2, 2014 – Fossil fuels have been so convenient as an energy source for us for more than a century. Less messy than coal, able to be distributed through pipelines from the source to consumer, and providing a high energy return on investment. We’ve been pumping them out of the ground since the mid-19th century, finding new uses for even their throw away liquid and aerosol byproducts like gasoline and methane. Before the internal combustion engine all gasoline was good for was as a solvent to clean rusty tools. Now it is almost the reason for the industry’s existence.
Of course there has always been a recognizable downside to fossil fuels – spills. But with so much of fuel around spills have always taken a back seat to drilling and exploiting the resource. But an unrecognized downside, carbon emissions, is altering our dependence on fossil fuels. And because fossil fuels are being found today in less accessible places, the technologies we bring to bear to find and extract them come with increasing risk. That risk was no more obvious with Deepwater Horizon and the BP oil spill which began on April 20, 2010, capped almost three months later, and responsible for spilling 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The response to this spill is our first story today.
Dispersants from Deepwater Horizon Remain in the Environment Four Years Later
Did you know that in attempting to clean up the oil from Deepwater Horizon, besides the skimmers and booms and other technologies deployed, more than 6.8 million liters (1.8 million gallons) of dispersants were released to break up the slicks that coated the Gulf? And residue from those dispersants, chemicals that contain ingredients found in laxatives, is still being found in the tar balls that wash up on Gulf Coast beaches.  MORE