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Reports establish tens of millions of gallons of BP oil still in Gulf

Millions of gallons of oil from BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout have been discovered in the sediments on the Gulf of Mexico’s floor says a new report, giving lie to the petroleum giant’s continue claims that it eradicated the worst consequences of the biggest maritime oil spill in US history. This and other studies are offering documentary evidence that backs findings by independent researchers who have spoken to Bellona, and begin to assemble the puzzle about where mutated fish life, plunging seafood harvests, continued oily beaches and persisting and emergent human health conditions are coming from. The Florida State University issued a report, which comes amid the third and final stage of BP’s civil trial over the spill. Earlier this month, an expert witness for BP testified that the Gulf’s shoreline had shown “substantial recovery” since the spill, and that BP’s work to clean up the oil had been “comprehensive” and “effective.” But this and other studies – as well as compelling expert testimony at the trial – show that the spill’s lasting impact on the Gulf – and the amount of oil left in it – are far from being determined. The last week of the civil trial, in which the US Justice Department is ...

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BP Statement on Gulf Oil Spill Trial

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled on the issues raised in the Phase 2 trial of the Deepwater Horizon case: the quantification of oil spilled and BP’s source control efforts following the accident. The Court found that 3.19 million barrels of oil were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico and therefore subject to a Clean Water Act (CWA) penalty. In addition, the Court found that BP was not grossly negligent in its source control efforts. No penalty has yet been determined. The decisions in the Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials represent steps in the process of assessing a CWA penalty. The third phase of the CWA trial, currently scheduled to begin in the Court on Tuesday, 20 January, 2015, will address the penalty to be assessed. During the penalty proceedings, the Court is required to consider the application of eight statutory factors, including the violator’s efforts to minimize or mitigate the effects of the spill: the seriousness of the violation or violations; the nature, extent, and degree of success of any efforts of the violator to minimize or mitigate the effects of the discharge; the economic impact of the penalty on the violator; ...

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Number of Oil Spills in Canada has Significantly Decreased

Despite a dramatic rise in worldwide oil tanker traffic since the 1980s, the number of oils spills has dropped significantly, finds a new study released by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank. The study, Energy Transportation and Tanker Safety in Canada, spotlights oil tanker traffic worldwide and in Canadian waters. "A dramatic increase in the amount of oil shipped by sea has coincided with a dramatic drop in the amount of spilt oil, which is great news for marine wildlife and ecosystems," said Kenneth Green, senior director of the Fraser Institute's Centre for Natural Resources. Internationally, between 1985 and 2010, aquatic transport of oil nearly doubled, while the number of oil spills (in excess of 700 tonnes) declined sharply. Moreover, of all the seaborne oil spilled (by volume) worldwide over the past four decades, 56 per cent was spilled in the 1970s while only 3.7 per cent was spilled between 2000 and 2009. In Canadian waters, the number of major tanker oil spills per decade dropped from 18 in the 1980s, to six in the 1990s, to zero between 2000 and 2004. And yet, some activists and politicians want to restrict and/or ban tanker traffic in ...

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New modeling system helps predict movement of oil spills

A project being carried out for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) by MetOcean Solutions Ltd is allowing the Ministry to more accurately predict how oil spills and marine pests may move around our coastline. New Zealand has a highly-diverse marine environment that is influenced by rapidly evolving weather systems and a complex coastline.  This makes predicting the movement of pollutants and organisms in our coastal waters a very challenging task. By pairing high powered computer resources with a new advanced numerical code that can simulate ocean and atmospheric processes, MetOcean has developed effective tools that can help resolve this complexity. The system architect, Dr David Johnson of MetOcean Solutions, says over the next year this innovative new system will be established with the collaborative support from fisheries scientists at MPI and researchers from the Cawthron Institute. “The application will be designed within a GIS platform, and allow scientists and researchers with minimal numerical modeling experience to be able undertake meaningful simulations,” he says. The core of the application will be a continuous ten-year hindcast of the ocean currents around New Zealand, including all the major ports and harbours.  A hindcast is essentially a recreation of the historical conditions.  Hour-by-hour ...

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New 5-year low in tanker oil spills

Half-way into this decade and the downward trend in oil spills from tankers is sustained. For the last two and a half decades the average number of incidents involving oil spills from tankers has progressively halved, with the current figures showing the lowest yet, at less than 2 per year. At a time when focus on protecting the marine environment is high, this trend should provide encouragement to tanker owners. It is also a testament to the ongoing work by industry and governments to maintain high standards of operations in sea-borne transportation. During the year, ITOPF recorded 1 large spill of bitumen (~3,000 MT) from a tanker in the South China Sea, and 4 medium spills of various oil types, totalling 5 spills of 7 tonnes and over. Interestingly, a number of tanker incidents reported in the media in 2014 involved fire and explosion, where potentially significant quantities of cargoes and bunker fuel burned. The cargoes involved included condensate, diesels and fuel oils. Major Oil Spills A brief summary of the top 20 major oil spills that have occurred since the TORREY CANYON in 1967 are shown below; it is of note that 19 of the largest spills recorded occurred before ...

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Monitoring oil spills under the ice

The Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 went on for 87 days. The breached underwater well pumped out an estimated 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Monitoring technology allowed responders to direct resources to intercept the spreading oil plume and prevent the catastrophe from becoming even worse. Monitoring techniques and technologies that are reliable in the warm open waters of the gulf aren’t necessarily much use in the Arctic, especially if there is oil spreading underneath several feet of sea ice. Sam McClintock says it’s a scenario that’s bound to happen. “It’s just a matter of when the next oil leak is going to occur up there,” said McClintock, CEO of Midstream Technology. “Hopefully it won’t be catastrophic.” Midstream is a Williamsburg-based tech-development firm. Midstream officials have been working in conjunction with Mark Hinders, professor of applied science at William & Mary, to develop technology to track oil spills under ice. The group is collaborating with Evigia Systems and URS Group to develop the under-ice monitoring technology, backed by two contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), part of the United States Department of Interior. Midstream is a subcontractor under URS group. Hinders ...

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BOEM adjusts limit of liability for oil spills from offshore facilities

As part of the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts to ensure the safe and responsible production of domestic offshore energy resources, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has administratively increased the limit of liability for oil-spill related damages from $75 million to approximately $134 million for offshore oil and gas facilities. This is consistent with recommendations to increase the liability cap from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and other studies and represents the maximum increase allowable under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. “BOEM is taking an important step to better preserve the “polluter pays” principle of the Oil Pollution Act and further promote safe and environmentally responsible operations,” said Acting Director Walter Cruickshank. “This is the first administrative adjustment since the Oil Pollution Act was enacted in 1990 and is needed to keep pace with inflation, which has increased 78 percent since then.” The administrative adjustment to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 liability cap for offshore facilities is based on the significant increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that has occurred since 1990. The liability cap is set by statute and may only be adjusted to address significant increases in the CPI. ...

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Drilling company gets charged with Environmental crimes in Alaska

Noble Drilling (U.S.) LLC was charged with environmental and maritime crimes for operating the drill ship Noble Discoverer and the drilling unit Kulluk in violation of federal law in Alaska in 2012, the Department of Justice announced. Under the terms of a plea agreement filed in federal court today, Noble will plead guilty to eight felony offenses, pay $12.2 million dollars in fines and community service payments, implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan, and will be placed on probation for four years. In addition, Noble’s parent corporation, Noble Corporation plc, headquartered in London, England, will implement an Environmental Management System for all Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs) owned or operated by Noble Corporation plc and its direct and indirect subsidiaries worldwide. Noble Drilling (U.S.) LLC was charged in an eight-count Information with knowingly failing to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book and an accurate International Oil Pollution Prevention certificate, knowingly failing to maintain a ballast water record book, and knowingly and willfully failing to notify the U.S. Coast Guard of hazardous conditions aboard the drill ship Noble Discoverer. At the time of the offenses, the Noble Discoverer was operating under contract with Shell Offshore, Inc. and Shell Development, Ltd. for ...

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The Deepwater Horizon Spill impact on coast

Since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in 2010, Annette Engel has been traveling the coastline by boat and foot, taking samples to study how the oil has changed the coastal ecosystems. The associate professor in earth and planetary sciences, and her team have made new discoveries about bacterial diversity and oil degradation processes never before seen in marshes—and thanks to a new grant, their work can continue. Through a collaboration with the Coastal Waters Consortium (led by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, LUMCON), and funded from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, Engel and her team of graduate and undergraduate students and research staff will receive $849,000 over the next three years. This is the second round of funding provided by GoMRI to LUMCON and other consortia. GoMRI is a ten-year research initiative established in 2010 and funded by a $500 million commitment by BP. Over the past three years, Engel’s research has uncovered fundamental changes in the types of bacterial communities associated with oil and carbon degradation. These changes, which affect the quality and quantity of oil by removing some compounds and concentrating others, also affect the overall ecosystem. For example, microbial changes correlate to increased concentrations of ...

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Texas company pays fine for oil spill violations

Superior Crude Gathering Inc. (Superior Crude) has agreed to pay a civil penalty for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act stemming from a 2010 crude oil spill from tanks at Superior’s oil storage facility in Ingleside, Texas, the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced. Under the consent decree lodged today in federal court, Superior will pay $1.61 million to resolve the government’s claims. The United States’ complaint, which was also filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, alleges that Superior discharged at least 2,200 barrels (or 92,400 gallons) of crude oil in violation of Section 311 of the Clean Water Act. The oil discharged from two tanks at the facility on Feb. 9 and 10, 2010, and crude oil flowed into an unnamed lake and wetlands near the Intracoastal Waterway and Redfish Bay. The complaint also includes related violations of the Clean Water Act’s spill prevention, control, and countermeasure regulations and spill response plan regulations. The $1.61 million penalty is in addition to the costs incurred by Superior Crude to respond to the oil spill and to repair the tanks and containment areas. Superior Crude has ceased operations at ...

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