HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Latest Breaking News (Forum) » Study: Dispersants may ha...
Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 02:57 AM

Study: Dispersants may have hurt Gulf food chain

Source: Associated Press

Study: Dispersants may have hurt Gulf food chain
11:25 PM, Jul 31, 2012

NEW ORLEANS A study on possible effects of the 2010 BP oil spill indicates dispersants may have killed plankton - some of the ocean's tiniest plants and creatures - and disrupted the food chain in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the nation's richest seafood grounds.

Scientists who read the study said it points toward major future effects of the spill. One called its findings scary.

For the study, Alabama researchers pumped water from Mobile Bay into 53-gallon drums, then added oil, dispersant or both in proportions found during the oil spill to simulate the spill's effects on microscopic water-life in the bay.

Over more than 12 weeks in 2010, BP's well spewed nearly 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The company used more than 1.8 million gallons of dispersants - more than 770,000 gallons of it at the oil's source on the ocean floor - to break up the oil into tiny droplets.

Read more: http://www.clarionledger.com/viewart/20120801/NEWS/208010328/Study-Dispersants-may-hurt-Gulf-food-chain

31 replies, 4094 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 31 replies Author Time Post
Reply Study: Dispersants may have hurt Gulf food chain (Original post)
Judi Lynn Aug 2012 OP
sakabatou Aug 2012 #1
wordpix Aug 2012 #19
grahamhgreen Aug 2012 #2
Angry Dragon Aug 2012 #3
dballance Aug 2012 #4
lunatica Aug 2012 #5
Sancho Aug 2012 #6
lunatica Aug 2012 #7
wordpix Aug 2012 #20
Marrah_G Aug 2012 #8
dipsydoodle Aug 2012 #9
dixiegrrrrl Aug 2012 #14
Scuba Aug 2012 #15
Dustlawyer Aug 2012 #16
wordpix Aug 2012 #21
dipsydoodle Aug 2012 #24
wordpix Aug 2012 #26
The Second Stone Aug 2012 #29
IDemo Aug 2012 #25
Berlum Aug 2012 #10
Javaman Aug 2012 #11
Hugin Aug 2012 #12
Odin2005 Aug 2012 #13
Overseas Aug 2012 #17
wordpix Aug 2012 #27
prismpalette Aug 2012 #18
CountAllVotes Aug 2012 #23
otohara Aug 2012 #22
xchrom Aug 2012 #28
Igel Aug 2012 #30
Igel Aug 2012 #31

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 03:06 AM

1. BP...



We knew this for a while. The dispersant WAS toxic.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to sakabatou (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 10:29 AM

19. anyone who read anything about Corexit knows it was banned in GB & some reports are

that BP dumped it in the Gulf at night, indicating more dumped than stupid EPA allowed.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 03:07 AM

2. Duh, f-ing, duh. BP should be dissolved, CEO's jailed, assets seized.

They are criminals. They commit crimes.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 03:08 AM

3. I do not understand what the problem is

It just makes sense to me that one can pour toxins into an ecosystem
and expect everything to be okay

bp and government were idiots and still are

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 04:48 AM

4. Who'd have thunk chemicals that break up petrolium might be toxic to flora and fauna?

I mean really. Dropping 1.8 million gallons of some chemical that breaks up the organic hydro-carbons of which petroleum is composed couldn't possibly have any unintended side-effects on the organic plants and animals inundated with all that oil and dispersants.



I'd hate to see before and after pictures of any coral reefs. The pictures of malformed, mutant, lobsters, fish and shrimp I've seen are already scary enough.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 07:22 AM

5. What a fucking nightmare

It's heartbreaking. How anyone could have thought this would be any different than it is is mind boggling.

Yet they keep running those ads about how great the Gulf States are doing, trying to convince everyone that those States are even better off than they were before the fucking oil spew.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 07:22 AM

6. Who has 3 million gallons of dispersant lying around?

Obviously, BP was prepared for a spill and had a plan - and they didn't care what damage it did. If they had pre-published their plan to poison the Gulf they'd have caught hell, so they gave out a stupid plan that they never intended to be realistic, and had all that dispersant in the warehouse.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sancho (Reply #6)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 07:26 AM

7. Excellent point

Out of sight, out of mind.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sancho (Reply #6)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 10:31 AM

20. yes, good way to get rid of the chemical Gr. Britain banned, & get paid for the dumping!

Big Mistake on O's part with EPA in cahoots.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 07:48 AM

8. I only buy local (north atlantic) seafood now.

What happened in the gulf was inexcusable. I think it's going to take a long time for the eco system to recover.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:22 AM

9. As the subject is the dispersants

which represent 1 part / 360,000,000,000. I don't really know about such things. Is that significant ?

Above is based on 650,000,000,000,000,000 gallons of water in the Gulf / 1.8 million gallons of dispersants.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #9)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 09:06 AM

14. Sorta like the study that teeny parts per billion of Roundup

have been found to alter fish health.
Doesn't take much.

Plus...BP sprayed the "dispersants" all over the shoreline, it contaminated grass, nesting sites, waterways, and very very small life whch lives between the grains of sand on the beaches.
then it eventually sank to the bottom of the water, along with the oil, leaving a carpet of toxins.
Much of the Gulf is pretty shallow in a lot of areas out from the shoreline, and much of the food chain lives in those shallows.

That's how I undertstand it, anyhow.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #9)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 09:07 AM

15. One could safely assume that the dispersants are not evenly distributed through the gulf waters.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #9)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 09:25 AM

16. I represent fishermen up and down the Gulf coast and I can tell you that YES, it is

SIGNIFICANT! The shrimp and crabs are mostly gone from our side of the Gulf. The really sad thing is, they sunk the oil to avoid it being recovered and BP having to pay a fine on it. The really bad thing in that is our Coast Guard helped them to do it! They bought Obama off right before the mid-term elections when many were saying this would be his "Katrina." I am a Progressive and been a DU member for years so I do not say this lightly. I know that to get to the White House and keeping it requires deals we may not like, but this is a travesty. BP has plied all media along the coast with tons of ad money so they will not be willing to say anything negative. These people are still suffering and are still airing for offers on their cases, yet you hear nothing. Anderson Cooper and RChel Maddow (one of my heroes), have yet to come back for a follow up. Now BP sponsors OUR Olympic team while they have sponsored all of the Republican Govs on the coast. Our country is run by the Corps already!!!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #9)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 10:33 AM

21. and how many ppb DDT was sprayed that nearly wiped out bald eagles entirely from US?

DDT was sprayed on land, not directly in water. I think the ppb were not a large amount, either.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to wordpix (Reply #21)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 12:01 PM

24. The most toxic component

in Corexit is also used in household cleaning products including apparently some baby wipes.

To the best of my knowledge that never applied to DDT which was banned in 1972 its history of killing birds becoming acknowledged in the 50's. I don't know how much DDT in aggregate had been used in the USA, since being put into general use in 1939 , prior to its ban. I also don't know the extent to which DDT degrades.

I had simply mentioned the dilution of Corexit , assuming even distribution , down to 1 part / 360 billion.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #24)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 12:35 PM

26. my point is, even a low concentration of a toxic chemical can do great damage

to an ecosystem

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to wordpix (Reply #21)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 01:07 PM

29. DDT bio-accumulates so that it gets

concentrated the further it goes up the food chain. So predators like eagles and falcons have higher levels than small prey because they eat the prey and it doesn't leave their system.

I don't know if these dispersants bio-accumulate, but it is already a disaster as it is.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #9)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 12:24 PM

25. The Corexit wouldn't have diluted simultaneously into the entire volume of water, if ever

Depending on tides, the absorption of dispersant, evaporation and other factors, the concentration was quite high in the surrounding area and very likely never came remotely close to an even distribution into the Gulf's quadrillions of gallons of seawater.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:43 AM

10. D'oh

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:44 AM

11. In other news: water is still wet. Well, maybe a bit oiler but wet never the less. nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:59 AM

12. No kidding.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 09:05 AM

13. BP = Bastard Polluters.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 09:33 AM

17. K&R. They used poisonous chemicals to improve the optics.

Millions in oil subsidies and this is the "clean up technology" they come up with-- how to protect their image and make things look less awful in the moment.

Ditto for fracking-- instead of continuing study until finding safer ways to get oil out of shale they use toxic chemicals to make natural gas cheap now and expensive later.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Overseas (Reply #17)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 12:37 PM

27. that's it, exactly: "improve the optics" ---add "and the PR"



We STILL don't know how much BP is paying in EPA fines, 2 yrs. later.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 10:22 AM

18. it is crazy

Those Chamber ads must work about the coast because tens of thousands of people flock to the beaches and encourage their kids to play in this water. People fish from the piers and surf fish and eat their catch. Meanwhile, the natives suffer chronic respiratory ailments and a mild flu that never seems to clear up. Getting an appointment to a local Doctor's office takes about 3 weeks. The weather is still beautiful and the water gorgeous, hard to believe both hide an insidious and pervasive problem. It is frightening what the cancer statistics might look like 5+ years from now.
The biggest industry here is tourism and so it makes sense to belie people's fears to at least prop up local economies so we can keep earning our minimum wages and developers can keep building condos for those misguided enough to visit and forget the cesspool they dip their toes into.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to prismpalette (Reply #18)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 11:59 AM

23. Welcome to the DU!

and welcome and thank you for your informative post!

BP KILLS!!!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 11:54 AM

22. No Shit

I freak out around perfume, imagine being doused with gallons of it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 12:55 PM

28. Du rec. Nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink



Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 05:17 PM

31. Comments

The study was done twice, over 5 days in June '11 and 5 days in Aug. '11. Same conditions: contol, just glucose, just oil, just dispersant, oil + dispersant.

In many ways, the glucose is a better control, but they did well to have both. They looked at carbon flow over 5 days, temps are surface temps but the samples weren't free to freely mix with fresh water. They were also held at constant volume so a little new water was added each day to compensate for evaporation.

Prokaryotes liked the Corexit and mixed disp./oil in August. They were indifferent in June. They didn't much like the oil by itself, but they weren't zipped over the control. That makes their increase with the dispersant and dispersant/oil mixtures a bit more striking.

The diatoms were just pissed off. They dropped in numbers in pretty much every condition, both runs.

The dinoflagellates were where the action was. In all cases their numbers eventually plummetted. But in June the control, oil, and glucose conditions they spiked up just after the start of the test, while in the two conditions with dispersant they just dropped. I don't have an explanation for the rise in the control in June. In August, the dinoflagellate numbers just fell.

Ciliates were a big deal. The numbers look like noise. They were statistically significant, however, and are a large part of the findings. More often than not they increased in the control, glucose and oil-only samples. Small numbers, spotty. If you add the June and August numbers there's sort of a pattern that's absent in either. I think something else is going on, but don't know what it is and don't really care. I don't trust the stats, but there they are.

The "heterotrophic nanoflagellates" (think 'mini animals') in June did nothing. Small numbers, about as likely to increase with dispersant as decrease. In August they started high in the pre-test samples but then plummetted. Disp., glucose and control look roughly the same. They didn't like the disp. + oil mix, but liked the oil before dropping off to fairly high levels.

The prokaryotes liked the dispersant and oil, the paper says. But the authors are right--they might have been feeding on the other creatures' corpses. Hard to know for sure without isotope tagging them, but it's very likely.

One problem though, is the difference in just June and August. Their major findings deal with plankton that showed striking differences between the two datasets. Overall their numbers stand as an average, but they didn't have a good reason for the difference. I assume it's annual variation that everybody already knows about, but it matters, esp. since their starting samples were drawn from the water that their data is being used to make predictions about.

Another problem are the interplay of other nutrients. The dispersant and oil and varying concentrations of species altered the N and P levels. No clue what that would do, long term, esp. since in the real world that varies seasonally and also there's more mixing. The oil wasn't spread evenly, nor was the Corexit.

A third is the relative lack of light. They kept the water oxygenated and prevented statification. Good things. A lot of dinoflagellates photosynthesize. The tanks were shaded and to avoid introducing yet another variable bright lights were decided against. (Under the oil slick it's dark; light would penetrate other samples--best to exclude it.) The decline in dinoflagellates makes sense, but in the analysis this isn't a factor. This makes the effects of the other factors larger.

I wish ed research was 1/10th as rigorous (that would be orders of magnitude better than what we have). Still, a fourth problem is they can't say what the problem with the dispersant-containing samples is, on two grounds. One is an internal problem that I really don't much care about--their results don't match other results (different results but with both different dispersants and different temperatures, which is responsible). The serious issue is deciding whether the dispersant is a chemical or physical problem. Rerunning just the dispersant condition with two other samples, each containing droplets of something thought to be innocuous would clear it up.

They're dead to rights. If this pattern continues, it wouldn't lead to the oil's energy moving into the food chain. It would lead to a decrease in energy flow and the only way for the carbon to reach the surface would be through respiration. Or it could be sequestered on the Gulf floor. (That's not a bad outcome, to be honest.) But they were right in stopping at that. Did the pattern continue? (At this point it's not something that we need to set up an experiment about: It's just something we have to measure. They could have compared the microorganism level in their t = 0 samples with historical norms to answer that.)

Then again, the use that society makes of these kinds of studies is the really huge problem. Some scientists like having their studies wildly extrapolated because they like the use of the wild extarpolations without having to make them themselves. But this is essentially one drop of knowledge and we need at least a large lake: Is it the dispersion of the oil that's the problem? Chemicals in the dispersant? How could concentration of dispersant or droplets affect the results? Changes over weeks or months? Would added light matter? How does temperature matter? Starting conditions? Concentrations of other nutrients? Ignorance breeds fear.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread