In Tauranga, the oil spill have had ‘gone’ public minds – I have seen public beaches previously ‘closed’ and now ‘back to normal’ . The waste and its impact, however, is still being dealt with …. This from the Bay of Plenty Times | twitter.com/#!/LearnFromNature & twitter.com/#!/NAEE_UK
About 2325 tonnes of waste from the stricken cargo ship Rena has been processed since it ran aground off Tauranga in October, clean-up company Braemar Howells show.
Of that, 1870 tonnes has gone into landfills while 117 tonnes has been liquid waste, mostly blood from meat freezers.
About 25 tonnes of milk powder has been collected and 120 containers have been processed by Braemar Howells.
The figures include waste which washed ashore and waste collected from the sea.
Braemar Howells spokeswoman Monique O’Connor said the company was prepared to deal with the same amount of waste again, but it was unclear how much more would be washed from the ship.
“A lot of that depends on what’s happening on board, which depends on what’s happening with weather conditions. It’s in the lap of the gods really.
“The clean-up is very much an ongoing operation. Initially it focused on the western Bay of Plenty because debris was focused nearer the Rena but it’s now a far greater area, it’s spread far to the north and south.
“We have vessels and people working constantly targeting different areas at different times.”
One of the aims this week was to recover containers holding timber which had washed up at two secluded beaches north of Waihi Beach, she said.
Nearly 110,000 gallons of oil may have spilled into the Atlantic Ocean because of a leak at an offshore Chevron drilling site, Brazil‘s environmental protection agency said Friday.
Officials think between 8,400 to 13,800 gallons of oil leaked each day from Nov. 8 through Tuesday, Ibama said in a statement on its website. Chevron had said that only 16,800 to 27,300 gallons in total leaked into the ocean.
Officials are still investigating the cause of the leak, which has been almost entirely contained, but the Ibama statement said it was a result of drilling.
An official at Brazil’s Federal Police, which has opened an investigation into the spill, said Chevron “drilled about 500 meters (1,640 feet) farther than they were licensed to do.” The official, who agreed to discuss the matter only if not quoted by name, said that information came from a person with knowledge of the drilling.
The leak occurred at a drilling site about 230 miles (370 kilometers) northeast of Rio de Janeiro.
Rio state Environment Minister Carlos Minc said earlier he was sure the leak was larger than Chevron estimated and he called for more transparency from the company.
“We can’t trivialize this,” he told the Globo TV network. “It’s really serious and we don’t yet know all the consequences.”
Marine life in the area of the spill will be affected by the leak, Minc said, adding that whales are migrating from north to south through the spill area.
The oil slick, which was moving away from the coast, grew to 11 miles (18 kilometers), Ibama said. Most of the oil was concentrated around the drilling rig in a layer about 3 feet (1 meter) thick.
Chevron said “current estimates place the volume of the oil sheen on the ocean surface to be less than 65 barrels.”
The company said it has 18 ships working on a rotating basis to collect oil off the surface and monitor the slick.
The drilling contractor for the well is Transocean Ltd., the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that oil company BP PLC was leasing at the time of last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the largest in U.S. history and one that dwarfs the Brazilian leak. At its peak, BP’s Macondo well was spewing more 2 million gallons a day.
Chevron said cementing operations were taking place so the well off Brazil is plugged. ANP, Brazil’s national petroleum agency, said in a note on its website that “the first stage of cementing, to permanently abandon the well, was successfully completed.” The regulator said the success of permanently plugging the well would be known “in the coming days.”
ANP also said underwater footage showed that a “residual leakage flow” was continuing, but that “the oil slick continues moving away from the coast and is being dispersed, as desired.”
Fabio Scliar, head of the Federal Police’s environmental affairs division, which is investigating the case, said those responsible would be held accountable.
“There is no doubt that a crime occurred. The spill comes from the drilling activity. What interests me now is to find who is responsible,” Scliar was quoted as saying by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.
The oil is believed to be coming from seep lines in the seafloor near the well and not from the well itself. Natural seeps are common around the world – perhaps the most well known in the U.S. is the La Brea Tar Pits in the heart of Los Angeles – and are often used by oil companies during undersea exploration to determine where a good prospect for oil drilling may be.
Natural seeps are usually so small in volume they don’t cause a nuisance beyond producing the periodic tar ball that washes up on a beach.
But problems with drilling a well nearby can exacerbate the seeps and cause greater flow of oil, which can be hard to control, said George Hirasaki, a Rice University engineering professor who was involved in the Bay Marchand oil containment effort for Shell off Louisiana in the 1970s.
“Anytime there is movement of fluids, even if it didn’t go to the surface of the well, the internal flow could result in the fluid going somewhere else,” Hirasaki said. “It could move laterally at the same depth or increase the flow rate of natural seeps that are connecting to the surface.”
Investigators will want to look at whether the weight of the mud being used during the drilling and abandonment operations was sufficient to contain the pressure inside the well, and they will also want to see whether drilling too deep caused problems in a geopressure zone beneath the seafloor, experts said.
Ed Overton, a Louisiana State University environmental sciences professor, said that to truly control the leak could be difficult.
“If you have this stuff oozing up through the ground you don’t have a mechanism for control,” Overton said. “If something started that to leak, that would worry me a lot more than a leak around the well. You’d have to drill a relief well and intercept that ooze.”
People familiar with last year’s BP oil spill off Louisiana know about relief wells.
BP spent four months drilling a relief well that it used to pump cement under the area that was spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and sealed the leak permanently.
Experts said that while there are many physical differences between the BP spill and the Chevron spill, the main common thread is the slow flow of information and different explanations for what happened and the severity of what happened.
“There’s a pretty long track record of all the people involved in spills underestimating at least initially the size of the spills,” Overton said. “I would suspect they literally don’t know, so they are trying to figure out.”
The Chevron leak is smaller than those Brazil has seen in the past.
In 2000, crude spewed from a broken pipeline at the Reduc refinery in Rio de Janeiro’s scenic Guanabara Bay, spewing at least 344,400 gallons into the water. Just a few months later, more than 1 million gallons of crude burst from a pipeline state-controlled oil company Petrobras into a river in southern Brazil.
Brazil’s worst oil disaster was in 1975, when an oil tanker from Iraq dumped more than 8 million gallons of crude into the bay and caused Rio’s famous beaches to be closed for nearly three weeks.
Associated Press writer Bradley Brooks reported this story in Rio de Janeiro and Harry Weber reported from Atlanta, Georgia.
Two weeks after the Liberian-flagged Rena got stuck on a reef off New Zealand’s east coast, the 47-tonne oil container ship’s captain and navigational officer appear in court in Tauranga. They are charged under the Maritime Transport Act with operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk. The Guardian video
But then, the events of last year’s BP oil disaster have so far been largely revisited in books, not documentaries. Until now, when a newdocumentary about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has its premiere at the New Orleans film festival.
The Bix Fix, by Josh and Rebecca Tickell, re-opens some of the most persistent questions about last year’s oil spill. How BP was able to exert so much control over the crisis as it unfolded? What were the long-term health consequences of using a toxic chemical, Corexit, to break up the oil and drive it underwater?
Rebecca Tickell herself had a serious reaction to the chemical after being out on the open water – and as it turned out so did the doctor she consulted in an Alabama beach town. She still has health problems.
A severe weather warning for the Bay of Plenty area on Monday has heightened fears that the stricken cargo vessel Rena, which is carrying 1,700 tonnes of fuel oil and 200 tonnes of diesel, will start to break up, with grim consequences for the local marine wildlife.
The fallout from the incident, which saw Rena run aground on a reef on Wednesday, is already being felt, with seven little blue penguins and two cormorants recovered and treated today at a centre in Tauranga.
However, this number is expected to rise to more than 200 in the coming days, with warnings that an escalation of the situation would have dire consequences for several species.
WWF New Zealand said it hoped the incident would not prove a “tragedy” for the region’s marine wildlife, which includes bottlenose dolphins, orcas and beaked whales. Large baleen whales also migrate through the affected area.
“There’s only 1,200 dotterels left due to coastal developments, so the last thing they need is their feeding ground contaminated,” said Bob Zuur, marine advocate at WWF New Zealand.
“Little blue penguins are also very vulnerable as they swim through the oil. Fairy terns frequent the estuary and many northern hemispherebirds, such as godwits, that have migrated south for spring, are also under threat.”
“New Zealand is known as the seabird capital of the world. We have about 85 different seabirds that breed here. It’s breeding season now, so there are many birds, such as petrels, that are diving into the water to find food for their chicks.
“The oil makes it difficult for them to fly and there’s a real risk they will ingest the oil when they preen, or pass it into their chicks.
“Should the vessel break up, we risk an international-scale incident. It’s a huge amount of oil. I sincerely hope the it doesn’t break up as the storm bears down on it.”
It’s estimated that up to 50 tonnes of oil has already been jettisoned into the sea. Radio New Zealand has reported that four of the 1,300 containers aboard Rena carry ferro-silicon, a hazardous substance which is flammable if it comes into contact with water.
More than 300 Defence Force personnel have been deployed to tackle the spill, along with specialists from Australia, the UK and the Netherlands.
The exclusion zone around the Rena has been extended to 2.8km today, with teams set to resume pumping oil off the damaged vessel. So far, just 10 tonnes of oil has been removed.
Humans, as well as marine wildlife, are also in danger from the spill, according to Maritime New Zealand.
The government agency has urged people not to touch the oil, which has started to wash up on the tourist-friendly Mount Maunganui beach, despite the efforts of volunteers to begin the clean-up operation.
Engineers from Shell were last night still working to halt the biggest oil leak in the North Sea for more than a decade, as conservationists expressed fears for the safety of young seabirds in the affected area. Michael McCarthy of The Independent reports
Shell estimates that about 216 tonnes of oil (more than 1,300 barrels) have escaped so far, which would make the spill the most serious in the North Sea since 2000, when about 350 tonnes were released in the Hutton field.
The Gannet Alpha leak is in a pipeline on the seabed, 300ft down, which makes repair work extremely difficult. Shell has sent down a remotely operated vehicle and divers but by last night the leak had still not been fully sealed.
As soon as the leak was detected, the well was shut down, Shell said, so the only oil leaking is that remaining in the pipe. By yesterday the rate was down to about seven barrels, a day. This contrasts with a peak of 53,000 barrels a day which gushed from BP’s damaged Macondo well under the Deepwater Horizonproduction platform in the Gulf of Mexico last year. The full amount of oil spilled in the Gulf was between 2.2 million and 5.3 million barrels.
Shell said that rough seas over the weekend had dispersed much of the oil which had reached the surface and the area of surface “sheen” had been reduced to about half a square kilometre, from 37 sq km. The company believes it unlikely that any oil will reach the shore.
Stuart Housden, Director of the RSPB in Scotland said: “We know oil of any amount, if in the wrong place, at the wrong time, can have a devastating impact on marine life. Currently thousands of young auks such as razorbills, puffins and guillemots, are flightless and dispersing widely in the North Sea during late summer. So they could be at serious risk if contaminated by this spill.”
The leak, which began last Wednesday at the Gannet Alpha production platform 100 miles off Aberdeen, was “under control”, a Shell UK spokesman said yesterday, but had not been completely halted.