Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gulf of Mexico Spill

rev. May 4, 2010

Since broader media coverage inevitably focuses on the bloody shirt and what ever will sell advertising and skips boring factual information, I thought I my provide a little low-spin information. I'm not with the Sierra Club, I don't work for a major oil company, and I don't live in the area such that my boat or lively hood is at stake. I like clean water but I recognize that I consume oil.

It seems, between burning, spraying soap, evaporation and sinking, the spill is not growing so fast as you would think... which isn't to say there isn't impact, only that it is not so immediately visible as oil on a beach or bird. It's staying out of sight, the winds and currents corralling it off-shore.

The current amount collected seems pretty pitiful, but I would guess that the number is at least 24 hours old and the sea state has only allowed effective skimming for a day of so. On the other hand, it's typical in spill clean-up efforts that much of the oil volume credited as recovered is actually water mixed in with the oil.

Still, that is a lot of boom and a lot of skimming platforms. There is also a lot more time, until the well is capped. Let's hope.

From NOAA and the Coast Guard:
Current Operations
May 4, 2010 Operations:

Total Vessels (including tugs and skimmers): 196
Boom deployed: 486,940 feet
Boom available: 668,081 feet
Oil and Water Mix - Recovered: 23,968 gallons
Dispersant Used : 156,012 gallons
Dispersant available: 230,000 gallons
Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV): 10
Overall Personnel Responding: 7,484

In addition to the overall personnel responding, more than 2,000 volunteers have been trained to assist in the response effort.

9 staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines. These areas include:

Biloxi, Miss.
Pensacola, Fla.
Venice, La.
Pascagoula, Miss.
Port Sulphur, La.
Port Fourchon, La.
Gulfport, Miss.
Dauphin Island, Ala.
Shell Beach, La.

Weather conditions for May 4: Winds from the south at 8-9 knots, 2-3 foot seas.

From the State of Louisiana:

Spill Trajectory Maps:
Maps - Past and Future

And you can even hire-out to join the clean-up effort.
Vessels of Opportunity

But you won't compete with the beast they are sending to drill relief wells:
Deepwater Discovery


  1. Hi Drew; It will be something to watch closely. My theory is; if the well leaks 5000 gallons of oil per day, and a gallon of oil can cover 2500 sq feet by natural dispursion on water (not including wind and waves). Then in 30 days the coverage could be as much as 71,000 sq miles. The Gulf is about 310,000 sq miles in size. So, it could be possible that the spill could cover 25% of the gulf in only 30 days. Additionally the Straits of Florida and Cancun gap are the only two ways in and out - with the Cancun side being the largest exit flow point. It pretty scary to me... Eric

  2. Scary, yes.

    Actually, the oil can be much thicker than that, much evaporates (gasoline and diesel), and some actually sinks. But...

    It's leaking 50,000 gpd.

    This is their chance to show that they know how to respond... or not.

  3. Hi Drew
    I have read a lot of your blog, I find it very interesting. I am in agreement with a lot of your jackline and tether info. I am making tethers, and I am sourcing my supplies from a rock climbing supply company. I have seen you refer to "proper sewing" when suggesting that one could sew one's own tethers, and I wonder if you would elaborate. I have sewn some tubular webbing up into test pieces, and had my stitches ripped out by a local rigging and supply company, to try and quantify the strength of my stitches. Up to now, I have sewn box stitches and partial box stitches to reach a stitch that will "give" at 500 lbs. This is for a flag that will give the user an idea of the stress the tether has been subjected to....
    For making the major loops that secure the spinny shackle and two locking gate clips, I have been using a series of rows of bar stitches. If you have a better and stronger stitch type suggestion, I'd like to hear of it...
    I am also doubtful about the use of the quick release shackle, as a way of releasing the harness from the tether, WHEN UNDER THE PRESSURE OF THE WEIGHT OF THE PERSON WHO FALLS OVERBOARD. Two things: such an unfortunate person would need to temporarily unload the weight on the shackle to get it to release. Secondly, the key ring type of connector between the spinny shackle and the row of beads one is supposed to pulltto release, might very well pull out and leave the overboard person with a handfull of beads and his tether still attached to the boat! I am currently eliminating the ring ding and running a loop of 1/16 inch SS stranded wire through 4 beads and through the stem of the spinny shackle pin, so you will either pull the pin or not have enough strength, one will not normally be able to break the SS wire. There is actually more to the tether story, as I have been in contact with the international offshore group, and their requirements for tethers are not well thought out either. Also, If you need some stitching done, I'd be glad to help out. John Spurlock Inland Sail Boise Idaho

  4. Note: I moved a copy of the above post to the "Jackline" thread. I assume it was posted here in error.

    A good comment, worth reading.