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Oil Companies Are Downplaying Spills in the Gulf of Mexico, Coast Guard Data Reveals

May 5th, 2017

Seven years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 people, spilled almost 5 million barrels of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico, and demolished the reputation of an energy company and its CEO, the evidence suggests that oil companies operating in the region continue to downplay their impact on local ecosystems and communities.
Three Louisiana environmental organizations –, 350 Louisiana and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade – say there were 479 offshore oil accidents in the Gulf of Mexico last year. That amounts to about nine accidents a week. And 94 accidents were publicly reported during a particularly troublesome three-week period last fall.
The three groups worked together to cull publicly-available data from the U.S. Coast Guard. Those images were then evaluated by West Virginia-based SkyTruth, which estimated the volume of oil lost based on each spill’s sheen.
The results often revealed a huge discrepancy between what these companies reported and analysts’ assessment of the volume of oil lost to accidents and leakage.

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Scientists discover oil sands pollution significantly under-reported

In Canada, when it comes to figuring out how much pollution the oil sands emit, the government relies on industry to report their own numbers. That's how policies get made and regulations are formed, but it turns out the oil sands companies have been significantly underestimating the level of a certain type of pollution they emit.

Back in 2013, researchers gathered their own data by flying above and around four different oil sands facilities at different altitudes. Dr. Shao-Meng Li, a senior research scientist for Environment and Climate Change Canada and lead author of the study, says he found the oil sands producers were emitting two to four-and-a-half times more volatile organic compounds than they had reported. Those are gaseous organic compounds that can be toxic for human and environmental health.

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BP moves to close Alaska well leaking gas

BP Plc is working to secure an ongoing natural gas leak in a well on Alaska’s North Slope that also sprayed crude oil for three days before that release was capped. The plan is to close the well, state officials said.

The crude spray onto the well pad was discovered Friday morning, and capped on Sunday. A second leak at the well was emitting gas at a reduced rate, according to a statement Sunday by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Well pressure is being monitored and excess pressure is being bled off to keep it within a safe range.

The company is putting together a plan to plug the gas leak, the statement said. Once that occurs, “well-killing operations can take place,” according to the DEC. The well is part of the Prudhoe Bay field, which in March produced an average 315,395 barrels a day, according to data from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

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Coast Guard continues response for grounded vessel near Ludington

Coast Guard crews continue to monitor salvage operations Friday of a 76-foot recreational vessel that grounded on April 15 in the vicinity of Big Sable Point near Ludington, Michigan.

The vessel’s superstructure has broken off with debris scattered along the shoreline in the vicinity of the grounding. The deteriorating condition of the vessel was confirmed by an overflight conducted by Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Michigan.

Lightering operations were completed Thursday evening with a total of 70 gallons of oily water recovered from the starboard tank. It was determined that no fuel remained in the tank following the recovery.

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Grennan Appointed President of SCAA

Devon Grennan, CEO and President of Global Diving & Salvage, Inc., has been appointed President of the Spill Control Association of America (SCAA). SCAA is a professional association representing spill control contractors, manufacturers, distributors, government agencies, and various qualified individuals within the industry.
Grennan has served on the board of SCAA since 2012. “SCAA is a unique association that has represented our diverse membership for 44 years,” said Grennan. “It is the singular voice of the Spill Response Industry and has become the preeminent response organization working with our clients and local, state, and federal agencies.”  

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