Oil spill roundup for Tuesday, July 6

by Mary Tutwiler

The raindrops on your windshield this morning come from a small low pressure system in the Gulf which will produce thunderstorms throughout the day.

The raindrops on your windshield this morning come from a small low pressure system in the Gulf which will produce thunderstorms throughout the day. However, according to the National Hurrincane Center, there's nearly 0 percent of the system becoming a tropical storm. There is another low pressure system off the coast of the northern Yucatan peninsula which has a moderate possibility of becoming a tropical cyclone.

The two systems combined continue to keep oil skimming efforts idled in the Gulf of Mexico, and without the fleet of boats siphoning oil, the slick has moved into coastal waters. Tar balls have washed up in Lake Pontchartrain for the first time, on the shores of Treasure Island, near Slidell. Tar balls have also been found along the Bolivar Peninsula, near Galveston, Texas.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has also reported 12-mile wide streamers of oil located 20 miles south of Marsh Island. The oil has closed fisheries from St. Bernard Parish to Vermilion Parish. To date, no oil has been reported inside Vermilion Bay.

In an effort to track the slick more closely and direct skimming boats more precisely, the U.S. Navy is sending a blimp to the Gulf. Using less fuel than helicopters, the blimp will be able to remain aloft longer and survey a wider area. Look for that big silver fish up in the sky on Tuesday.

For techies, there's a fascinating story in the New York Times about the technical feat of drilling the relief well to make a pinpoint intersection into the steel casing pipe of the gushing well. The target is a seven inch diameter pipe, three miles beneath the surface of the gulf.

Last week, I posted a link to a website, lacoastpost, run by coastal scientist Len Bahr, advisor to four Louisiana governors with 18 years of policy experience in the Governor's Office of Coastal Activities. It generated some pretty vituperative comments. Bahr is vehemently against the sand berm project. In an editorial, posted in the Times-Picayune yesterday, Bahr outlines the nine reasons he finds the sand bars to be a dubious solution to keeping the oil offshore.

The Times Picayune also has a story comparing the cleanup efforts of the Deepwater Horizon spill with the 1979 Ixtoc I oil spill in the Bay of Campeche off the coast of Mexico. The article goes on to explore the recovery of marine life in the Gulf in the years following the spill. The good news is there was a full recovery of wildlife. The tropical conditions of the Gulf of Mexico accelerated the break up of the oil slick and the rebound of wildlife. The bad news is that the shrimpers and fishermen who lived in the town of Ciudad del Carmen, the nearest community to the spill, couldn't survive the loss of work. Ciudad del Carmen is no longer a quaint fishing village. What saved the town and grew its economy? The burgeoning oil business.

"The calm fishing village that existed no longer did," Daniel Cantarell, the son and grandson of shrimpers, told the TP. "When there ceased to be shrimp, God gave us oil."