• BP oil leak "much bigger" than official estimates'

    BP first asserted that the amount of oil its well releases into the Gulf is about 1,000 barrels daily; following the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s (NOAA) initial estimates, that figure has been increased to 5,000 barrels; ocean scientists and engineers now say that amount of oil released daily is more likely to be between five times and 14 times that — about 25,000 to 80,000 barrels a day

  • Scientists discover huge oil plumes deep in Gulf of Mexico; worry for marine life

    The news from the Gulf get worse: Scientists discover giant plumes of oil in the deep water of the Gulf of Mexico; one of the plumes was ten miles long, three miles wide, and 300 feet thick; the plumes are depleting the oxygen in the Gulf, prompting fears that the process could eventually kill much of the sea life near the plumes

  • Corps looking at water diversions to protect Louisiana coast

    The recent, 1,000-year Ohio River Valley rain event that is causing so much flooding in Tennessee and Kentucky is expected to make its way into the New Orleans area by 18 May doubling the current Mississippi River flow to 1 million cfs; The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has an idea: diverting the excess water to push water out of sensitive wetland areas and keep away oil that has been drawing near shore since the 20 April explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig

  • The technology behind the Gulf oil spill disaster

    The culprit on the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a device called blowout preventer, or BOP; the Deepwater Horizon’s BOP is a 450-ton set of hydraulic rams that straddles the wellhead, just above the seabed; when the well blew out last month, sending oil and natural gas up the well, signaling from the rig operators or loss of communication with the surface should have automatically released pneumatic pressure stored in the BOP’s tanks, driving it mechanically to crimp or shear off the well pipe and close off the well; for an unknown reason, the BOP sat paralyzed on the sea floor, doing nothing; the disaster exposes over-reliance on blowout preventers that has been long disparaged by industry insiders and outside critics

  • The bad news: Expect about 38,000,000 gallons of oil to be released into the Gulf

    The 1989 Exxon Valdez spilled 10.8 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound; the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded on 20 April, has already released an estimated 9 million gallons of oil into the Gulf; this means that the well releases between 10,000 and 15,000 barrel of oil into the water (there are 42 gallons in a barrel of oil); BP says it will take about three months to cap the underwater gusher — meaning that we should expect the equivalent of 900,000 barrels, or 37,800,000 gallons, to released into the water yet

  • The good news: Tests confirm oil is light grade

    Preliminary tests on the oil spilled in the Gulf show that the material is typical Louisiana sweet crude, a light oil that can be either burned or readily dispersed; scientists were alarmed Friday when one of the samples showed a higher-than-expected concentration of asphalt and other nonvolatile components; such materials are extremely resistant to degradation, and they also are resistant to burning and extremely difficult to clean up once they reach the shore; scientists now believe the Friday samples were contaminated

  • Gulf oil spill exposes industry's lack of readiness, preparation

    The oil spill in the Gulf will inevitably become the worst spill in U.S. history — if it is not the worst already; BP has begun a three-month project to drill a relief well in 5,000ft of water to intercept and isolate the existing well at around 13,000ft below the seabed; one expert says: “At 1,500m the head is as easy to get to as if it were on the moon”

  • Texas A&M scientist tracks origins of bootleg honey from China

    The United States has imposed a 500 percent tariff on honey from China two years ago because the Chinese government is subsidizing Chinese honey makers so they can drive U.S. producers out of the market; the practice has almost ruined the market for domestic U.S. honey; China is trying to get around the anti-dumping measure by putting labels such as “Product of Thailand” or “Product of Indonesia” on Chinese honey; a Texas A&M honey specialist stands in their way by doing melissopalynology — the study of pollen in honey

  • Gulf of Mexico oil reaches coast; White House calls spill event of "national significance"

    Gulf oil spill reaches Louisiana shore; cost of clean up is estimated at $8 billion; DHS secretary Napolitano declares the spill an event of “national significance,” opening the door for increased federal involvement; Louisiana declares state of emergency

  • A first: Engineers build giant dome to contain Golf oil spill

    Engineers have began to construct a giant dome over a large oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; the dome would capture or gather the oil and allow it to be pumped out of that dome structure; the dome would be similar to welded steel containment structures called cofferdams used in oil rig construction, but it would be an original design never fabricated or tested before

  • Coast guard my use controlled burn for Gulf oil spill

    A large oil spill from a rig in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening vital ecological areas along the Louisiana shore; DHS and the Coast Guard are considering a controlled burn of the menacing oil spill; controlled burns have been done and tested before

  • Indonesia to tap volcano power

    Indonesia is a country of 17,000 islands; the archipelago contains 265 volcanoes, estimated to hold around 40 percent of the world’s geothermal energy potential; investors, the World Bank, and the Indonesian government embark on an ambitious plan to add 4,000 megawatts of geothermal capacity — up from the existing 1,189 megawatts — by 2014, and 9,500 megawatts by 2025, by tapping the volcanoes

  • Federal loans notwithstanding, Georgia nuclear power plant faces hurdles

    The Obama administration has signaled its interest in expanding the U.S. domestic nuclear power industry by giving $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for a Georgia nuclear power plant expansion; critics say that the American tax-payer is at risk; that the original nuclear reactor design has been rejected by the NRC, and that there is no solution for the nuclear waste problem

  • Cold war offered odd benefit: it limited species invasions

    During the cold war, when an Iron Curtain divided the European continent, there were few introduced bird species in Western Europe; following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the removal of the Iron Curtain, trade and the movement of people between east and west increased – and with it the introduction of non-native bird species; these non-native species do not have natural enemies in the local habitat, so they do damage to agriculture and domestic birds, and carry disease

  • Climate change experts argue for international geoengineering effort

    Solar-radiation management (SRM) would involve releasing megatons of light-scattering aerosol particles in the upper atmosphere to reduce Earth’s absorption of solar energy, thereby cooling the planet; another technique would be to release particles of sea salt to make low-altitude clouds reflect more solar energy back into space; long-established estimates show that SRM could offset this century’s predicted global average temperature rise more than 100 times more cheaply than achieving the same cooling by cutting emissions