How do you stop an ongoing
1000 barrels 5000-barrels-a-day oil spill from reaching sensitive coastal habitats?
Maybe you burn it.
With options dwindling, the Coast Guard started test burns last night, and is likely to do some larger patches today.
It sounds a little crazy. Yes. But, we're past good solutions here and on to the world of slightly-less-shitty. Frankly, that oil was going to get burned (and the CO2 emissions produced) anyway, had it not spilled out of the broken well all over the freaking Gulf of Mexico. And the particulate pollution is less of a threat than the oil itself would be to animal lives and human health/livelihoods if this stuff makes landfall.
Based solely on foggy, childhood memories of the Exxon Valdez spill, one might be tempted to think that an oil spill on land can be cleaned up effectively. But Treehugger points out that job isn't as easy, or successful, as you might think. The stress of cleanup can kill as easily as oil. Plus, there's the massive expense involved. And the oil is only about 20 miles away from Louisiana.
For the record, cleanup crews have already been suctioning up the oil and using chemical treatments to break it down and disperse it. Burning is a last-ditch effort, and probably will only be used in spots where the oil is thickest and difficult to get rid of fast enough any other way. It's also worth noting that this isn't just tossing a match out onto the waves. There's a protocol here, which involves corralling oil inside a fireproof enclosure. The burns are controlled. Each lasts about an hour and gets rid of more than 90 percent of the oil. What's leftover can be easily skimmed off.
Historical photo of burning oil tanker courtesy Flickr user paddling, via CC
A better understanding how a sperm swims its way toward an egg could help inform new treatments for male infertility. Researchers from the University of York have now come up with a mathematical formula to model how large numbers of moving sperm interact with fluid they’re swimming through. From the University: By analysing the head […]
Dr Gale Ridge is a public entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, where an average of 23 people a day call, write or visit; an increasing proportion of them aren’t inquiring about actual insects, they’re suffering from delusional parasitosis, and they’re desperate and even suicidal.
Biologist Nipam Patel and his team at UC Berkeley study how butterflies develop wing shape and color by performing surgery on caterpillars, creating translucent windows in their cocoons.
When you can’t wait for the world’s longest meeting to end, the mindless leg bouncing makes your boredom obvious and just annoys everybody else. Everyone knows the TPS reports need the damn cover sheet, but some sadistic colleague keeps forgetting, probably on purpose just to eat into your lunch hour. Enough is enough!While serving a […]
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]