Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ike and Oil Spills

Hurricane Ike caused some oil spills in Texas, in this case not from drilling platforms or ships but from stationary tanks.

Darcey explained that there was probably little in the tanks for Ike to pillage, which is partly why they were wrecked. Full tanks are less likely to take the kind of beating these tanks took, having greater stability.

However, there was at least enough Texas crude in the tanks to make a mess on the water and plantlife around the operation. At this site, Darcey and Shuler saw evidence of about 10-15 gallons of the stuff.

There likely was more spilled than that, but they can only report what they see.

The response teams attempt to trace the spills to their source, so they can have owners shut off the pressure to those pipelines to stanch the bleeding.
A few miles away, across the Intercoastal Waterway, they found another site with evidence of as much as 150 gallons of crude....

Darcey explained that the salt water incursion will likely kill marsh plant life, but the oil makes it even harder for the area to recover, because once the water level drops the crude to ground level, it will sterilize the soil. The time it will take to recover will depend on the amount spilled and how long it takes to biodegrade.

The oil can also harm fish and waterfowl in the area, which is one of the more sensitive ecosystems in the region.
The damage reported in that article occurred around McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast.

I frequently hear or read the claim that offshore or coastal drilling is environmentally safe, even when hurricanes pass through. That claim simply is not true. Even well-designed and well-built human structures have trouble surviving strong storms intact.