Today in BP Oil Disaster: Day 55



  • President Barack Obama is back on the Gulf coast tomorrow, visiting Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. Following a two-day trip (that means a sleepover, you guys!), he'll address the nation — before he meets with top BP heads.

  • Meanwhile, a busted, crude-pumping Chevron pipeline in Utah is capped — though officials still have no idea when it started in the first place.

    Without knowing when the leak started, though, any estimate of the actual size of the spill remains just that, said (Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph) Becker's spokeswoman, Lisa Harrison Smith. Still, Fire Department Deputy Chief Karl Lieb estimated 500 barrels (about 21,000 gallons) of oil escaped.

  • A chunk of the Deepwater Horizon rig washed up near Panama Beach — 190 miles from its point of origin.

  • Is bacteria the answer? Maybe, according to some Oregon State University scientists researching the Chinese-discovered NY3 bacteria which breaks down oil without any damaging effects (unlike Corexit).

    ... a new bacteria developed at Oregon State University may help to break down PAH particles faster and safer than has ever been possible.

    The bacteria produce rhamnolipids, a natural, non-toxic and entirely biodegradable substance that breaks down PAHs before they have a chance to hurt the surrounding ecosystem.

    While it's not going to get rid of the thick gooey mess on beaches, it will go a long way to making it a non-toxic gooey mess.

    "Some of the most toxic aspects of oil to fish, wildlife and humans are from PAHs," said Xihou Yin, a researcher working on the project.

    "They can cause cancer, suppress immune system function, cause reproductive problems, nervous system effects and other health issues. This particular strain of bacteria appears to break up and degrade PAHs better than other approaches we have available."

  • On energy policy, the oil disaster will be a talking point for both Republicans and Democrats while clean energy and climate change legislation gets even more stale in the Senate. What'll it take to get things moving? Maybe, perhaps, a demon's mouth spitting unholy carnage into the Gulf?

  • The Day the Shucking StoppedP&J's Sal Sunseri tells the New York Times Green blog, "We are not the P&J Oyster company that our restaurants rely on for the finest farm raised oysters in the Louisiana gulf.”

  • Hope. Nearly 400 sea turtles have been collected by wildlife agencies. Most of them died. Then there's this:

    On the shores of southern Alabama, there was a disaster, and a miracle: The worst oil since the Deepwater Horizon blowout washed ashore late Saturday, even as a sea turtle swam through the mess and laid a new nest on shore.

    It got worse: Though motorized vehicles are not supposed to be used in cleanup in the area used by the turtles, the beach was soon swarming with all-terrain vehicles and heavy equipment. One of the vehicles ran over the nest, said Mike Reynolds of Share the Beach, whose volunteers patrol the 47 miles of sandy beach west of the Florida border to find and protect new turtle nests.

    Then came the good news: Volunteers were able to find the nest, safely dig up the 127 new ping-pong-ball-sized eggs and rebury them in a safe location. The nest, which is the first to be laid in the area since the oil spill began, will be fenced off to protect the eggs until they hatch in about two months.

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