Monday, August 09, 2010

Red Oil or Red Tide?

The spate of fish kills along the Florida, Alabama, Mississipi and Louisiana coast continue. Local officials raise the specter of red tides, while promising test results in a few days. Consider the data to date:

July 16 Gulf Shores, AL--water samples show toxicity at deadly levels per EPA testing.

July 18 Gulfport, MS--millions of dead menhaden wash up on Jones Beach. Test results, expected within several days, are not available after more than two weeks. Although the SunHerald ran a story, it did not include the promised test results.

August 4 Port Fourchon, LA--thousands of dead fish, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fish to investigate.

August 5 Port St. Joe, FL-Fish kill includes hundreds of flounder, sting rays, eels and other fish. Test results expected to take several days.

August 5 Pass Christian, MS-Massive dead fish on the beach and in the water, along with crabs and sting rays. A state administrator determined it was "not related to oil," despite a lack of test results on the Pass Christian kill.

August 6 Twelve miles off Gulfport, MS--two square miles of dead fish. No reports of testing.

August 9 Chandeleur Sound, LA--red tide/oil seen for miles and miles. Testing to occur tomorrow.

The lack of truth telling applied to last week's Congressional testimony by government officials. The headline reads:

Experts: Oil Dispersants Not Much of a Threat to Gulf Critters
This would be true if the dispersant were being dumped away from the oil. When dispersant mixes with oil, the resulting mixture is a toxic as oil alone. That's deadly below 10 ppm. Tuna eggs perish at 1 ppm.

EPA's scientist couldn't give the basic facts on their toxicity study before Congress. Did the media dig into the study and fill in the gaps? No.

Take this statement by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) during the hearing:

The damage of the combined oil-dispersant mix is so great on the sample that you can't pick out of the damage any endocrine disruption, because the cell damage is so acute and so quick. There's nothing left to test for endocrine disruption.
The interchange occurs around the 1:07:40 mark of CSPAN's video.

Actual test results don't make Congressional testimony or follow up media reports. Why is that?

Update: Dahr Jamail did a story on the same theme, fish kills.

Update 9-15-10: Fish kill in Plaquemines Parrish. It is huge. Low oxygen in the water wouldn't kill a dolphin. Chemicals might.

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