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The 90 Day Plan

Monday, May 3, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill Update: Siphoning Oil From Sea Floor, Sea Turtle Deaths, Obama Visits La., and More

Here's a look at oil spill cleanup efforts and news from this weekend and this morning. 
Kemp's ridley sea turtle at Padre Island National Seashore. Courtesy USFWS 

Dead sea turtles wash up on Mississippi beaches
This weekend at least 20 sea turtles, some of them endangered Kemp's ridley turtles, were found dead along a 30-mile stretch of Mississippi beaches from Biloxi to Bay St. Louis, the AP reports. Wildlife officials don't yet know whether they died as a result of the oil spill, but they may have taken ill after consumer oil-coated fish. Necropsies that will determine cause of death will be performed today.
BP plans subsea oil recovery
BP is preparing to deploy a system to siphon crude oil spewing out of the blown-out well a mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico, but the geyser will continue pouring from the seafloor for at least another week, the AP reports. The system has never been used at such a depth before.
Here's how it works: A 125-ton, 14'X24'X40' dome will be placed over the leak (about 600 feet from the wellhead). A 5,000-foot riser will pump the oil to a tanker on the surface, the Deepwater Enterprise, which will separate the hydrocarbons from the water. BP says the system, which won't be deployed for at least 6-8 days, could collect as much as 85% of the oil rising from the seafloor. The approach wouldn't shut off the leak—something BP is still trying to figure out how to do. Today the company said it will pay "all necessary and appropriate clean-up costs" from the disaster: "BP takes responsibility for responding to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. We will clean it up,"The New York Times reports.
From the AP: Even if the well is shut off in a week, fishermen and wildlife officials wonder how long it will take for the Gulf to recover. Some compare it to the Hurricane Katrina that Louisiana is still recovering from after nearly five years. "My kids will be talking about the effect of this when they're my age," said 41-year-old Venice charter boat captain Bob Kenney.
NOAA closes commercial and recreational fishing
Yesterday, NOAA announced that it's stopping all fishing in oil spill-affected waters, largely from the mouth of the Mississippi to Florida's Pensacola Bay, for at least 10 days.
"NOAA scientists are on the ground in the area of the oil spill taking water and seafood samples in an effort to ensure the safety of the seafood and fishing activities," said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA Administrator, who met with more than 100 fishermen in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish on Friday night. "I heard the concerns of the Plaquemines Parish fishermen as well other fishermen and state fishery managers about potential economic impacts of a closure. Balancing economic and health concerns, this order closes just those areas that are affected by oil. There should be no health risk in seafood currently in the marketplace."
Obama visits Venice, LA
President Obama visited Louisiana yesterday to take a look at the oil spill response effort. "We're dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster," he told media at Coast Guard Station Venice. "The oil that is still leaking from the well could seriously damage the economy and the environment of our Gulf states and it could extend for a long time.  It could jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who call this place home. And that's why the federal government has launched and coordinated an all-hands-on-deck, relentless response to this crisis from day one." [Photo: U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley]

Stephen Colbert offers some levity
After all the serious news, a little levity is refreshing. Over at Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert took a lighter tone. "The ocean hasn't seen that much oil since the cast of Jersey Shore all went swimming at the same time." He does get across the severity of the spill, in under three minutes, but manages to convey it in a very entertaining way. Watch here.

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