Since the BP incident, the oil industry has pledged more than $1 billion to develop systems to cap a leaking underwater well, and the government has imposed a series of rules to prevent another major catastrophic event .
Less progress was made on the cleanup part of the spill process, to the disappointment of the government and environmental constituencies. Currently, it could take more than several weeks to install a containment system after a deepwater blowout. That could mean hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil would be poured into the ocean. The oil industry is under greater pressure since the hurricane season is underway.
There are new technologies on the horizon. Disaster Recovery Planning and an up-to-date Contingency Plan are still very important lines of defense in case a catastrophic oil spill ever happens again.
Booms and skimmers are currently the tools employed in case of a major spill. Booms serve as floating barriers to keep oil off shore. These are made from vinyl, foam or polypropylene, a common plastic which repels water and attracts oil. Chemical dispersants are another classic line of defense for keeping oil off the once pristine coastlines.
The damage from the Gulf spill did not reach apocalyptic scenarios. Over a year later, oil is still washing up on some beaches. After the Exxon Valdez disaster, the oil industry formed the Marine Spill Response Corporation to help battle catastrophic spills. During the BP oil spill, the MSRC deployed some 42 skimmers, 65,000 feet of boom and a fleet of other vessels and equipment.
The EPA Regional Administrator has set forth facilities that could reasonably be expected to cause “substantial harm” to the environment by the discharge of oil onto navigable waters. These facilities are required to formulate and submit Facility Response Plans (FRPs). The Oil Pollution Prevention regulation predefines two methods by which a facility may be identified as posing substantial harm:
o Through a process of self-selection or
o By an EPA Regional Administrator finding.
The EPA Regional Administrator may consider factors similar to the self-selection criteria, as well as other factors, including:
o Type of transfer operations
o Oil storage capacity
o A lack of secondary containment
o Proximity to fish, wildlife or drinking water intakes
o Spill history
In addition, the EPA Regional Administrator has the discretion to determine whether or not a facility poses significant and substantial harm. 1)
SkyTruth, SouthWings, and Waterkeeper Alliance launched the Gulf Monitoring Consortium: a unique partnership monitoring oil pollution in the Gulf of Mexico with satellite images and mapping, aerial reconnaissance and photography, and on-the-water observation with sampling.
This effort led by three non-profit organizations is slated to collect and publish images, observations and sampling data of the Gulf of Mexico to respond in real time to reported and suspected oil pollution incidents. SkyTruth, SouthWings and the Waterkeeper Alliance worked collaboratively during the 2010 Gulf disaster to use their expertise to provide the public with quality information about the spill.
The mission of the services and their expertise will help ensure that future disasters are discovered, responded to and documented for the public. This newly formed alliance will bear witness to current, ongoing, and future oil pollution to fill the information gap exposed since the tragic BP /Deepwater Horizon explosion just one year ago. 2)
Enviro Voraxial Technology, Inc. has developed a unique Submersible Voraxial® Separator. The Submersible Voraxial Separator will be the principal element in EVTN’s strategic initiative to penetrate the oil spill recovery market. Management believes the new Submersible Voraxial design is the only oil-water separator that can operate in the water to treat oil slicks. It can also operate hundreds of feet below the ocean surface to treat underwater
oill spills and plumes.
Unlike conventional oil spill recovery methods which require the skimmed oil/water mixture to be transferred from the ocean onto the vessel for oil-water separation, the Submersible Voraxial performs oil-water separation in the ocean.
By employing this method, the skimming vessels will be 90% more efficient, capture ten times more oil and clean the oil spill ten times faster than conventional methods and processes.
The Submersible Voraxial is available in different sizes. A single Submersible Voraxial® Separator can process over 7,200,000 gallons of oil-water mixture per day, a rate over twenty times greater than any of the conventional oil spill recovery separators.
The compactness and low energy requirements enable the Voraxial® to be secured on virtually any size vessel for both deep sea and close to shore oil spill recovery.
After evaluating over a hundred thousand oil spill cleanup suggestions, BP sent a technology team to EVTN’s Fort Lauderdale facility to observe a Voraxial Separator cleaning a simulated oil spill. EVTN received favorable comments regarding the performance of the Voraxial and significant interest
in the Submersible Voraxial.
EVTN subsequently received a purchase order to test its Submersible Voraxial as part of BP’s Rapid Attack Team program. As stated by BP, “The Rapid Attack Tactic may revolutionize our near shore operations. 3)
Random earthquakes pose another great threat to the Gulf based upon significant tremors in the winter of 1811. The most widely felt tremors in North America were a series of four that hit near New Madrid, Missouri in the 54 days from December 16, 1811 through February 7, 1812. They ranged from
magnitude 7.6 to 8.2. New Madrid also represents an intracontinental fault system. 4) 5)
3) Enviro Voraxial Technology
4) Satellites Reveal Earthquake Faults Along Eastern U.S.
By Robert Roy Britt Senior Science Writer posted
March 22, 2000 on Space.com
6) Earthquake Resistant Buildings, Bangash, 2011, Springer