Sunday, June 13, 2010

Feds Chose Dispersants over Pumping to Date

In a response to federalizing spill response, EPA Chief Carol Browner said:

“The cleanup process is done at our [the federal government] direction.”

Which is why it took four to six weeks to request Dutch skimmers? President Obama never responded to the Supertanker question. Maybe, he'll speak to the Saudi solution in his fourth trip to the Gulf Coast. BP's new man in charge of the spill, Robert Dudley said:

We have looked at that (supertankers). It's a — we have looked at that. It's an interesting, interesting idea. Those have you — been used in the — in the Arabian Sea in the Gulf over there for spills. What we're finding with this oil, it's — it's light, it's relatively volatile. And with the use of dispersants, it tends to string out a number of miles long but very narrow. And so, as we look at this, it's — it's not the same concept to be able to work. And — and our spill responses at the surface now are being very, very effective.

How light is the oil pre-contact with dispersants? What impact does lightness have on vacuuming oil into supertankers?

Keeping oil underwater in huge plumes is one strategy to date. Collecting it via the containment cap is another. Pumping what doesn't make the cap deserves serious consideration, at least until a relief well is successful.

Every day, more oil is spilled than collected, officially 25,000 barrels per day. That number rises to 45,000 to 55,000 barrels per day based on other estimated maximum flows (60,000 bpd-Tony Hayward, 70,000 bpd-scientist). Vacuuming oil is the primary cleanup solution.

It's Day 54 and the federal government is in charge. BP's surface response is now very, very effective.

Update: Max provided links to the Corexit dispersant being used and the use of dispersants in Louisiana. Brad included a chart of Corexit use by BP. Chemical & Engineering News ran a piece on dispersants. Austin American Statesman ran The unseen disaster.

Update 2:
Dispersants kept much of the oil off the surface. It made the spill virtually unskimmable.

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