The NY Times is now reporting that there is considerable disagreement over the flow rate of the leak. Worse, the Times reports that a NOAA (US agency) scientist used bad science:
The figure of 5,000 barrels a day was hastily produced by government
scientists in Seattle. It appears to have been calculated using a method
that is specifically not recommended for major oil
spills.Scientists around the world have challenged the extremely low numbers. Apparently, now that the leak can be seen on video, more scientists have been emboldened to speak out on the lowball estimate NOAA issued.
The 5,000-barrel-a-day estimate was produced in Seattle by a NOAA unit
that responds to oil spills. It was calculated with a protocol known as
the Bonn convention that calls for measuring
the extent of an oil spill, using its color to judge the thickness of
oil atop the water, and then multiplying.
However, Alun Lewis, a British oil-spill consultant who is an authority
on the Bonn convention, said the method was specifically not recommended
for analyzing large spills like the one in the Gulf of Mexico, since
the thickness was too difficult to judge in such a case.
Even when used for smaller spills, he said, correct application of the
technique would never produce a single point estimate, like the
government's figure of 5,000 barrels a day, but rather a range that
would likely be quite wide
One has to ask why the US government agency issued such a low estimate that didn't even list a range.
At 60,000 barrels a day, the leak produces an Exon Valdez size leak every four days, or under ten days if the leak is 25, 000. This is the worst environmental disaster event the US has ever seen. Making matters worse, we now know that under Ken Salazar, the MMS regulatory agency failed to require recent well starts to meet regulations and has repeatedly failed to register and accept scientific assesments of risks to sea life, include whales.
President Obama should immediately eliminate the MMS and replace it with a functional agency that does it's job, or, at the least, replace all the decision makers with a history of failing to meet regulatory guidelines. While president Obama is at it he should replace Ken Salazar for allowing this to happen on his watch--- and continuing to allow at least a dozen more oil well starts in the gulf SINCE the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
Eric Holder should be lining up an investigation into whether the lowball estimate was an effort at coverup and for who to place criminal charges against in BP, Transocean, Haliburton and MMS.
whoops. Corrected MMI to MMS. Thanks, commenters, for the heads up.
Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect of OpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of Storycon.org, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor . He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com
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