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Sticky Situation

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Bryan Walsh, staff writer for Time Magazine, talks about the oil spill cleanup efforts in the Gulf Coast. Joining him will be Tom MacKenzie, spokesman for the  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to talk about physically finding and cleaning birds covered in oil.

Video: Cleaning an Oil-Soaked Bird

Guests:

Tom MacKenzie and Bryan Walsh

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Comments [31]

Marcy from Brooklyn

Just wondering why BP and the government aren't using non toxic cleanup materials: hair booms and hay. They say they can't dispose of them but the chemical booms are even worse!

Jun. 10 2010 09:28 AM
mg from Manhattan

Idea to contain oil spoil...

Why don't they put some sort of parachute over the oil pipe at the bottom (where the oil is spewing) and then they can suck the oil out from this parachute onto the ships? It will contain the oil inside the chute, however, they must suck out enough oil so it does not overflow from the sides of the chute. This is different from what they had attempted earlier in that a chute is open at the bottom (as we know).

Jun. 09 2010 11:16 AM
MK from Westchester, NY

National Geographic reported on same, but with a completely different conclusion:
Even after cleaning, many birds die as a result of liver and kidney damage due to oil ingestion, according to German biologist Sylia Gaus, speaking to Spiegel Online. The birds use their beaks and tongues to clean toxic oil from their feathers, which are vital to keeping the animals warm and afloat.

Gaus said the "middle term" survival rate of cleaned birds is under 1 percent, and he therefore advocates that rescuers "kill, don't clean."

But the public demands that something be done, so we are fed these "feel good" stories without understanding that 99% of those oil-soaked animals will not survive, but everyone can continue thinking this too will pass and then we can all go back to sleep.

Jun. 08 2010 05:32 PM
David from Boston

duh 1 barrel = 42 gallons. We've been hearing 10,000 to 20,000 barrels from day 1. 10,000 barrels equals 420,000 gallons. Jezus Brian. How can you come on the air not knowing the difference between a gallon and a barrel?

Jun. 08 2010 03:55 PM
sj from seaford ny

This farce has gone on long enough. This is a national emergency which is attacking our shores and ocean life for decades to come. The president should declare this a national emergency, and take action using all of the country's resources (inlcluding underwater equipment) and send the bill to BP.

Jun. 08 2010 11:09 AM
Lee NYC from NYC

As the only language BP understands is money, the government should immediately start fines of $100million/day until the leak is stopped and redistribute funds for cleanup, impact, etc.

Look how much Alaska's residents lost when the Exxon Valdez case dragged on for decades. Brian O'Neill (attorney for the fishermen) offered insights on legal implications of BP spill on CSpan recently: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/293860-5

Jun. 08 2010 10:57 AM
aneece from Brooklyn

To Mary,

There aren't enough bacteria if we hope to find some quick solution. There is none. Given enough time, the bacteria and simple chemical degradation WILL solve this problem, but not quickly enough to satisfy our political or emotional exigencies. The time to decide if decades of poison in the gulf is offset by a tiny drop in our domestic oil demand was before we started drilling.

We seem bad, as a species, at dealing with issues that can't be fixed by human effort. We let out kid ride his motorcycle without a helmet, and now we're yelling at the brain surgeon for failing to put the brains back in the skull.

Jun. 08 2010 10:54 AM
Jim from NJ

used to be the cry of outrage was the control and influence of "Big Oil! Big Oil!"
but right now, our goverment is even beholdend to Small Oil!
right now in the congress, politicians are making the ludicrous logic that they can't raise the corporate liability amount BP would be on the hook for because.....it would adversely effect small oil companies!!!!! Small oil companies!!
So, the illogic goes, that if you raise the liabilty to 10 billlion (forget 40 billion, this is congress we're talking about) but just to 10 billion, that the result would be insurance premiumns for small oil companies to cover the potential liability of 10 billion, would be so high that small oil companies could not affored the premiumns and therefore be out of buisness. SO, because a company may not have enough money to pay the premiun of an insurance policy to cover the very very conservative estimate to endimify in a spill like this, they claim you can't raise the LIABILITY!! It's insanity.
The small oil companies aren't big enough to pay the market determind premium to cover the potential cleanup, the promblem is, thier just big enough to buy off enough politicians to stand in the way of raising the liability.

Jun. 08 2010 10:53 AM
Chris

Early into this event it was learned that most of the oil is not on the surface. It is in enormous plumes under the surface. Why aren't they simply sticking lines into these plumes and pumping that into tankers. The water that comes in could be separated later. This would not prevent damage on shore from oil that reaches the shore but it seems like the simplest solution to get most of the oil out of the water. Can someone explain why they are not doing this?

Jun. 08 2010 10:48 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Leonard Lopate had a segment on oil-eating bacteria on Thursday (http://beta.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/2010/jun/03). Can't boil it down to comment length, but I remember that they produce their own dispersants & have some other products that would cause new environmental problems. To aneece, there aren't enough of the natural bacteria to eat these huge amounts of oil; maybe those could be bred up to adequate numbers?

Jun. 08 2010 10:42 AM
mary from old bethpage, ny

Concerning the equipment needed for the clean up and who runs the show, couldn't the government use eminent domain to seize all the equipment it needs from BP for the clean up??

Of course, BP would not be compensated since they are required to pay for the clean up.

Jun. 08 2010 10:41 AM
Maya from Brooklyn, NY

I don't feel like America understands the passionate willingness of its own people to help! People want to help, they want to put on boots, grab a bucket and mop and get in there....and there just seems to be a lack of voices saying, "We need you in this place, right now, to do X, Y and Z. Come sign up. Please. We need you..."

Instead I feel we just hear, "Don't call us, we'll call you." And people who truly give a damn are getting frustrated and angry...and we donate our dollars, not knowing what's being done with them....and we wait for those whom we assumed are qualified to take care of this to start taking care....and it's Day 50 and counting...

Jun. 08 2010 10:41 AM
Al from manhattan

Orange County, Ca. developed a "toilet to tap" sewage treatment center that generated a lot interest several years ago. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/27/us/27conserve.html
Could tainted Gulf water be treated in a facility of this type?

Jun. 08 2010 10:36 AM
Greg Tucker from Manhattan

Why can't a mile-long tube be attached, so the oil will flow into the tube, and get it to the surface, where it can be collected into a tank or some sort of vessel. There was a rig there at one point, and the pipe was connected to it, so there must be some way to make another pipe to get it to the surface.

Jun. 08 2010 10:36 AM
Edward from NJ

Let's boycott BP and send their executives to jail!!! Then let's send them the bill for the clean-up!!! Then let's pay for the clean-up with tax dollars because BP had gone bankrupt because we boycotted them and sent their executives to jail!!!

Jun. 08 2010 10:34 AM
Nancy downtown

I hope we're making volunteers and workers use protective gear, and not just providing the gear. Even when gear was provided to 9/11 ground zero workers some didn't use it and now have continuing health problems.

Jun. 08 2010 10:33 AM
adsf

How frequent are oil spills in this area? I stopped eating gulf shrimp (and all shrimp, since the rest seem to be from china, don't eat that either) several years ago after each frozen bag of "natural gulf shrimp" tasted like nothing but motor oil.

Jun. 08 2010 10:33 AM
aneece from Brooklyn

Yes, there are oil eating bacteria in the gulf, they've evolved there over millions of years, eating the oil that naturally seeps from the sea-floor. Why would we crowd out these fine tuned, diverse bacteria with our lab grown, homogeneous bacteria?

Jun. 08 2010 10:33 AM
norman from NYC

This is ridiculous. Every wildlife expert says that you can't wash birds. They don't survive. How can you let this guy go on and on about washing birds?

Jun. 08 2010 10:32 AM
Brendan

BP is Keeping Some 'Alternative' Oil Dispersant Ingredients Secret (http://www.newsroomamerica.com/story/15193.html) force BP to reveal the chemicals they are dumping into the ocean. Sign petition:
www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/979/606/413

Jun. 08 2010 10:32 AM
Jim from NJ

CORPORATE LIABILITY LAWS!
this is all after the fact. The reason BP is dragging their feet at every opportunity is there is NOTHING the goverment can do to force them to move more quickly. BP's ENTIRE motivation is to SPEND as LITTLE as possible now even though it means the onshore diasaster will be worse BECAUSE that fight they know they can sting out for decades and it doesn't involve any outlays of thier CASH now.

Jun. 08 2010 10:31 AM
norman

read that quote from the german wildlife biologist and ask him what he has to say about that.

Jun. 08 2010 10:30 AM
norman

Yes, they have oil-eating bacteria. It would take 100 years for them to digest a spill like this.

Jun. 08 2010 10:29 AM
norman

Der Spiegel, 6 May 2010, Gulf of Mexico spill: Expert recommends killing oil-soaked birds. Sylvia Gaus, biologist at Wattenmeer National Park, Schleswig-Holstein, says survival <1%. "We therefore oppose cleaning birds." Catching and cleaning birds often leads to fatal stress. Forcing birds to ingest coal solutions, or Pepto Bismol, as animal-rescue workers are doing along Gulf Coast, is ineffective. Birds will eventually die from kidney and liver damage. Gaus has 20y experience, and worked on the environmental cleanup of the Pallas, which spilled 90 tons of oil in North Sea in 1998, resulting in death of 13,000 birds. Better to let birds die in peace, or kill them "quickly and painlessly." World Wildlife Fund agrees.

Jun. 08 2010 10:27 AM
Micah from Queens

I hate when people have nothing constructive to say, ahem, tom, and just say something that would get an emotional response.

If any of these whiners could fix they problem, they should go out and fix it already. James Carville needs to apply his vast engineering knowledge, get out there and fix this problem already.

Jun. 08 2010 10:22 AM
aneece

Please, Brian, can you discuss the fact that often, in natural or ecological disasters, doing "everything" to fight the problem is often worse than doing nothing!

"Doing everything" makes us feel better. The earth doesn't care about how we feel. The only thing that matters is doing what helps, and refraining from doing what harms.

Jun. 08 2010 10:18 AM
Tim from Westchester

There is no reason BP should be making money now. Any bp employee not working on the disaster should be sent to do the clean up. They would also boost the ruined tourism industry

Jun. 08 2010 10:16 AM
Holly

How many gallons are in a barrel??

Jun. 08 2010 10:11 AM
Ana

Brian,
I think you might be confusing barrels a day and gallons a day. The 12-19 thousand figure is barrels a day. 460 thousand is gallons a day.

Jun. 08 2010 10:10 AM
snoop

Hey Brian,

Don't forget, when the talk about the size of the spill, they speak in barrels.

When they talk about what they are recovering, they talk in gallons.

It makes the spill sound smaller and the recovery sound larger.

Jun. 08 2010 10:10 AM

why does it take so long to drill the relief well? are they still trying to save money. I'd add right now they are waiting for a second ship to process the oil after the first one could only handle half the oil captured. why is it taking so long for a the second ship? why wasn't it ready and standing by?

Jun. 08 2010 10:07 AM

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