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Archive for July 2010

Shut-in Fever

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A few days ago, out of the carefully managed flow of hard information regarding all matters of the Gulf Gusher, came the sudden announcement of the “well integrity test”. This procedure would slowly close valves and vents on the newly replaced riser cap thereby “shutting-in” the well. Everyone sane person on the planet wants that gusher stopped, yet there have been constant warnings about the fragile condition of the well bore. Is it up to sustaining the pressure levels associated with a shut-in? Why risk it when the relief wells/kill bores are so close to intercept?

But Authorities decided they had an itch and an edge and rolled some lucky dice. The valves closed and for a full day now the gusher has been stopped, while the careful measurements of this well integrity “test” proceed. Pressures are less than favorable so far, yet not said to be particularly scary either. For now.

And so BP gets their headline: “Gushing Well Finally Capped”, and so forth, in papers and on websites worldwide.

Of course, whatever pressures that may reach out from deep inside the beleaguered Macondo well are surely dwarfed by the political pressure to keep those valves closed, and turn this “test” into a remedy. Indeed, you already see the media skipping the “test” characterization.

Experts caution that conditions may compel opening up the valves again, and urge that more monitoring time is needed, especially since the observed well pressures are lower than expected. And I think they will get their wish, though not because of any Official desire for additional data collection. Those valves will stay closed because a closed well today has been deemed worth the risk of a downhole blowout tomorrow: the bet has been placed. Perhaps one day we’ll learn who made it.

Written by nullsequence

July 17, 2010 at 5:40 am

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Sandboni Spumoni

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As the Gulf gusher moves on to day 80 of spewage, the relentless waves of oil emulsion continue to accrete poison strata on the beaches. And still the sand-washing “beach Zamboni” machines are not swarming all over, each and every night. Those machines have been tested and talked about for weeks (including a positive mention today in this excellent NOLA.com story), so what’s the deal?

Look, I doubt that their cleaning operation is perfect, or for that matter speedy or cheap. But those beaches are getting fresh gunk-loads with each passing day and it’s pretty obvious that the scrape & hide strategy is not a winner. If those sand washing vehicles have any restorative utility at all it seems lame to not use them.
While we wait for the Super Magic Pixie Dust to arrive how about running three shifts of Sandbonis up and down Santa Rosa Island? Because a big toxic, nasty batch of petrochemical-laced cookie dough is no one’s idea of a vacation spot. Or an ecosystem.

Written by nullsequence

July 8, 2010 at 5:54 am

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Ah, the Nurturing Goodness of Mercury Water

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Drink up, Bay Area!

…the study showed that the fish in the San Mateo County lake – which collects rainwater as well as water piped in from Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy reservoir – had some of the highest mercury levels in the state.

( SF Chronicle )

I have the feeling that there would be a lot of unwelcome surprises in store, were we to perform a comprehensive toxin assay survey across our “pristine” water sources here in the US. Anyone think that’s likely to happen?

Written by nullsequence

July 7, 2010 at 6:19 pm

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