BP, Desastre Ecológico en el Golfo de México, Humedales y Mucho que Reflexionar

¿Quien contamina paga? ¿Y en base a que cálculos? ¿Quien los lleva a cabo? No he entrado a abordar este trágico tema, por cuanto Antonio Figueras, en su magnífico blog “Ciencias Marinas y Otros Asuntos”  nos lo está explicando con mayor conocimiento de causa. Cuando escribo este post, los ejecutivos de BP intentan convencer a sus accionistas para que no cunda el pánico entre sus codiciosas mentes. Dicen haber amasado dinero suficiente como para afrontar tal debacle. Lo dudo, por no decir ¡lo niego!, si se valora el daño que están causando y cuya resolución dista mucho de ver la luz. Si quien contamina paga, habrá que replantearse muy seriamente quienes son los culpables. Esta compañía por supuesto. Sin embargo, cabría preguntarse cual es la responsabilidad de los que concedieron las licencias, el sistema económico que permite los continuos desmanes que sufrimos, así como del silencio de los corderos, es decir de nosotros como ciudadanos. Porque todos formamos parte de esta sociedad globalizada, es decir bobalizada hasta decir basta.     

Humedales de Luisiana, Catástrofe natural, contaminación, petróleo. 

Los Humedales de Luisisina. Fuente: El Polvorín.com

Hoy mismo, un día después de haber escrito el post, una nueva noticia arroja una pequeña luz de esperanza, aunque habrá que esperar, ya que el incidente dista de mucho de haber sido resuelto. No obstante, este hecho no invalida nada de lo que os comentaba ayer, por lo que os dejo el post intacto.

Esperaba abordar el tema cuando el “crudo” comenzara a generar estragos en los humedades, por cuanto estos ya atesoran suelos terrestres y sumergidos. Empero este esperpéntico culebrón va camino se convertirse en un drama shakesperiano si un milagro (de los de verdad) no se cruza en su camino. Iba guardando material y hoy me he percatado que ya había almacenado más de 120 páginas, sin prestarle la debida atención, que si no (…). Obviamente, debemos hablar de este desastre humano que deviene en ambiental, económico y social. Sin embargo, al comenzar a leer alguna de las noticias que estaba compilando la cólera comenzaba a apoderarse de mí. ¡Tranqui Juanjo!: date una “paseito” y a ver si nos calmamos. Pero es difícil. Veamos:

El Golfo de México (y sus famosos humeadles aledaños) ya comenzaba a ser una pocilga a causa de la polución y contaminación que  el río Misisipi vierte en su delta. Ya os hemos comentado la razón en otros post. Esta cuenca drena una buna parte de las llanuras centroamericanas tradicionalmente utilizadas para la agricultura. Su caudal es rico en fertilizantes (nitrógeno y fósforo, especialmente), así como en todo tipo de plaguicidas. Esos eutrofizar las aguas litorales, causando floraciones algales primero y puntos muertos (es decir desiertos oceánicos) después. Sus pesquerías menguaban tanto como crecía la contaminación de tales manjares. Los huracanes, también causan enormes estragos de vez en cuando. Pero ahora BP quiere dejar su impronta en la historia de la estulticia bobalizante.

Y el petróleo sigue fluyendo a toneladas diariamente mientras PB compra los dispersantes (que también son tóxicos) a una de sus empresas subsidiarias, tranquilizándonos al alegar que tarde o temprano lograrán enmendar su desaguisado. Lo que ocurre es que la naturaleza no es una cuenta bancaria. Una vez causado el impacto, los daños pueden ser irreparables desde muchos puntos de vista. Y nadie sabe que hacer. La mancha puede extenderse desde Luisiana hacia las costas atlánticas de EE.UU., bañar una de las zonas más turísticas de este país, como lo es el Estado de Florida, acariciar a la ya más que empobrecida Cuba, tomar el sol en las costas Mexicanas de Veracruz (pobre amigo Régulo), y a saber que más. Los ecólogos americanos no saben que hacer para evitar que este “oro negro” penetre en sus ricos y biodiversos humedales, mientras que sus modelizadores reconocen desconocer cual será el trayecto de la “manchita de PB”. Realmente es impredecible. Vamos que “entre todos la mataron y ella sola se murió”. Pero la cosa no acaba aquí.

Entramos en la estación de los huracanes. Si uno o varios de ellos tocan las costas por donde deambula a sus anchas esa capa negruzca, las olas gigantes arrastrarán tierra a dentro el fuel, contaminándolo todo y poniendo en riesgo la salud de los afectados. Pero no hablamos de un posible riesgo, sino de otro más que probable. Y PB no sabe que hacer más que engañar a sus inversores y calamar las iras del “Tio Sam”. Pero claro, a base de fracaso tras fracaso, al amigo americano la sangre se le acumula en las sienes (…).

Ya sabréis que la explotación se realizaba a más de mil metros de profundidad. Responsables en Europa alegan que tal problema no ocurriría en este continente, por cuanto las explotaciones de BP y otras multinacionales petrolíferas en el Mar del Norte no profundizan más de 100 o 200. Debemos pues repreguntarnos, ¿Se disponía de la tecnología adecuada para hacer frente a este “pequeño contratiempo”? ¿Se había testado su eficacia? Trabajar bajo la presión de una  columna de agua a cien metros de profundidad no acarrea los problemas de hacerlo a más de mil, por cuanto en las últimas la presión es enorme. ¿Nadie se había percatado de tan insignificante detalle? ¡Imposible! Por tanto, debemos preguntarnos una vez más ¿Qué estudios de impacto ambiental se presentaron? ¿Qué organismo concedió las licencias? La respuesta la tiene el Tio Sam. Ellos también son responsables.

Obama amenaza con adoptar medidas que van más allá de las financieras, es decir penales. ¿Es que no es de justicia, encarcelar a los causantes de este problema de ámbito regional? ¿Qué harán los países vecinos, susceptibles de ser afectados? ¿Se conformarán con una pequeña limosna? Hablamos de perdida de biodiversidad y destrucción da hábitats naturales protegidos, pero también de gravísimas pérdidas económicas que pueden alcanzar a países y ciudadanos que sufren las consecuencias de vivir al desamparo de economías muy precarias.

 Los atláteres de la globalización económica defendían la autorregulación de los mercados. Ya vemos las consecuencias: una crisis mundial galopante bajo el imperio de la rapiña de tramposos, estafadores y corruptos. ¿Quién gobierna este mundo?: ¿Los Estados o las multinacionales? Estas campan a sus anchas como el caballo de Atila (por que si habláramos de África…). Y ahí tenemos una y otra vez los resultados.

 No se trata tan solo de juzgar por lo civil y lo criminal a BP, ya que bien podría haber sido otra empresa la causante del desatino. Lo que realmente debemos plantearnos es si debemos poner ante un tribunal de justicia a todo un sistema capitalista que nos lleva hacia el abismo. Si, hablo de esos mismos que nos torturan con vocablos de la guisa de economía sustentable, puestos de trabajo verde, brotes verdes, energía verde y ¡verde que te quiero verde! Hoy, los ciudadanos de los países ricos son menos ricos, mientras que los de los países pobres, más pobres, con la salvedad de unos cuantos afortunados.

 Mientras en Luisiana hoy los pescadores alegan que no se trata ya de dinero, sino de sus pesquerías, tierras y forma de vida, los de Florida tiemblan si sus playas se pintan de oro negro. ¿Pero y en México, Cuba, etc.?.

 ¡Sí!, todos somos culpables. Cuando en una sociedad los rotativos hablan mucho más de los iPads y los iPods (más residuos electrónicos que irán a parar a África o el SE asiático para que los desheredados enfermen intentando reciclar residuos altamente contaminantes, so pena de no poderse llevar un trozo de pan a la boca!), la globalización continua su impenitente empresa de demoler la biosfera y convertirnos a todos en esclavos de unas empresas cuyos accionistas mayoritarios debieran pasar por los tribunales de la justicia, por no decir otra cosa. Todos somos culpables por perpetuar el silencio de los corderos.

 Al final, las dimensiones de la tragedia dependerán, tanto de la diosa fortuna, es decir de los impredecibles devenires de las circulaciones oceánicas y atmosféricas, como de que a los sesudos técnicos de BP se les enciendan las neuronas. No se cuales son menos peligrosos.

 A bajo os dejo retazos, un tanto inconexos pero ilustrativos, de noticias sobre el tema, extraídas del boletín Terradaily, eso sí, en suahili, el idioma del imperio (excepto un enlace que nos ha proporcionado Régulo León Arteta en español) . Sinceramente como siga escribiendo terminaré subiéndome por las paredes. Mejor ingerir de un trago, una cervecita, o dos, si son pequeñas. Si, ¡Yo si puedo!, otros ni eso. Lamentable no sería ni un vocablo afortunado.          

Juan José Ibáñez 

Así se ve el problema desde México  (gracias Régulo)

At Pass a Loutre oil seeps deep into Louisiana marshlands

by Staff Writers: 0Pass A Loutre, Louisiana (AFP) May 29, 2010

Thick black oil hung in the water and stained the bases of the roseau cane at Pass a Loutre, a shrinking patch of Louisiana’s fragile wetlands where crude from the BP spill first hit land and began seeping deep into the fragile marshes.

 Louisiana’s wetlands make up some 40 percent of all the marshlands in the United States. Oil in the marshes can suffocate plants and animals or poison them with the toxic chemicals found in hydrocarbons. “If the roseau cane do end up dying, they have a really intricate root mass and if that goes they won’t hold in the sediment any more. That can really enhance erosion. And we are already having a serious problem with erosion,” said Freeman. Freeman dipped another jar into water closer to the lighthouse, which once stood in the midst of marshland flora but was left isolated after the passage of hurricane Katrina in 2005 with its deadly winds and rain.

 British oil giant BP has sprayed hundreds of thousands of gallons of dispersant on the surface and tens of thousands of gallons underwater to try to mitigate the massive spill caused by the accident on its Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20. The dispersant, a low-level hazardous chemical, is meant to break down the oil so that, over time, the slick is reduced to smaller particles that biodegrade instead of being left as chunky, thick globs that can choke both wildlife and vegetation.

 Another peril facing the marshes was the approach of hurricane season, which begins next week and is expected to bring more than a dozen powerful storms this year. A hurricane could push the oil in the Gulf into wetlands far upstream on the Mississippi, where teeming wildlife belie the tragedy being played out a half-hour boat ride away at Pass a Loutre and in the waters of the Gulf.

With oil spill, Louisiana fishermen’s way of life threatened
Galliano, Louisiana (AFP) May 28, 2010

In the more than half a century that Oliver Danos has been fishing the waters where Louisiana’s Lafourche bayou opens to the Gulf, he’s never seen anything like it: perfect fishing weather and not a boat on the water but his. Danos, 59, piloted the “Miss Amy” shrimping boat along the narrow bayou and out onto the sea Thursday, past the sheds of immigrants from Vietnam and Croatia and descend … read more

BP defends use of dispersant but seeks alternatives

by Staff Writers: Robert, Louisiana (AFP) May 27, 2010
Top officials with BP and the US Coast Guard on Thursday sought to calm public fears over use of a chemical dispersant on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, after seven cleanup workers fell ill.  The cause of the workers’ illnesses is under investigation, BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said Thursday. All seven workers were aboard spill response boats off the Louisiana coast Wednesday when they were exposed to spilled oil, the chemical dispersant, and searing midday heat. Much public attention has focused on Corexit, which BP selected for the Gulf spill from a US government-approved list of oil chemical dispersants. “As I’ve stated many times, if there is a less toxic, more effective. Environmental groups have expressed concerns over Corexit, which is manufactured for BP by NALCO Energy Services of Sugar Land, Texas.

The dispersant itself is a low-level hazardous chemical, posing risks for eye and skin irritations and “chemical pneumonia” but not cancers, according to NALCO data posted on the web site for the Gulf’s Deepwater Horizon rig accident.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen on Thursday approved plans to build a six-foot (1.82 meters) high sand berm at Scofield Island, around 10 miles (16 kilometers) southwest of the port of Venice. Louisiana officials to build a string of sand barriers along the coastline to keep the oil away will actually work.

But environmentalists have issues with berms, fearing the solution officials are proposing to hold back the oil from Louisiana’s unique marshlands, if not done right, could do more harm than good to the Mississippi Delta, and might not do the job at all.

 ”Mud is not good for making berms because it’s very fine, and fine material won’t stack,” said Lopez. Even if it were possible to build a berm with mud, “any kind of tidal action would make it disperse,” said Freeman. Oil could easily become trapped in and absorbed by the mud, which would prevent it from weathering and breaking down, the scientists said. Berms have to be built in such as way as to not block off tidal inlets, because narrower inlets would increase the velocity at which water is channeled into the delta area, which could mean that the oil is driven even further into the fragile marshlands than without the berms. Berms can also alter water salinity which would affect the fragile marshlands.

 The plan approved Thursday would work with the natural system of the delta region by putting berms in places where barrier islands have been broken down naturally, and was “an option we can live with,” the experts said.
Environmental groups welcome Obama oil freeze

Los Angeles (AFP) May 27, 2010
Environmental activists campaigning for a halt on Arctic oil exploration welcomed President Barack Obama’s decision to halt planned drilling in two regions off the coast of Alaska. A coalition of groups led by the Alaska Wilderness League had been lobbying for the suspension of Shell Oil’s proposed exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, due to begin off the coast of Alaska in … read more

 Gulf oil spill threatens Atlantic coast: study

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 3, 2010

Oil from the devastating Gulf of Mexico spill could reach thousands of miles of Atlantic coastline and ocean within months, a study showed Thursday.

 Computer simulations produced by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) suggested that ocean currents could send oil surging beyond the Gulf of Mexico and along the United States’ eastern seaboard. “I’ve had a lot of people ask me, ‘Will the oil reach Florida?’” NCAR scientist Synte Peacock said in a statement.

 The NCAR, a Colorado-based facility supported by the National Science Foundation that works with university scientists, emphasized however that the simulations were not a forecast because it was impossible to accurately predict the exact location of the oil in several weeks or months time. However all six simulations released Thursday suggested oil would work its way into the Loop Current and along the Atlantic coastline. Spill threatens Florida’s beaches, and tourism livelihood

Miami (AFP) June 3, 2010 – The Gulf of Mexico oil spill approached the sandy white beaches of Pensacola Thursday, threatening Florida’s tourist industry just ahead of the prime summer season.

 ”The phones are not ringing for reservations,” lamented Laura Lee, spokeswoman for Visit Florida in the beachside town, adding that the tourism industry is “very anxious about summer business.” The area’s crystal clear waters and famously bright beaches are open and not yet impacted by oil, Lee told AFP, saying “right now we are just taking it day by day.” Having already contaminated the Louisiana coast, the United States’ worst environmental catastrophe is now being driven toward Florida by winds blowing from the south and west.

 That spells disaster for a state that is one of the world’s top destination for tourists, with more than 80 million visitors a year. At a time of high unemployment in other sectors, tourism generates more than a million jobs and in 2008 brought the state 65 billion dollars in revenues.

 The US Coast Guard said Thursday it was investigating reports of oily substances and tar balls reaching the hit the state’s idyllic Keys on its southern tip. Officials said the reports would require sampling and testing to determine if any pollution is related to the Gulf spill. The Gulf spill also had confirmed reports by fishermen who observed oil sheen not far from Pensacola Beach and other beaches in northwestern Florida.

 The hotel business, commercial and sport fishing and diving are mainstays of the economy, especially in the summer, and they would be seriously impacted if oil spreads into the region and onto its beaches. “Waters are clean and beaches are clean as well, but in this incident everything changes, so we are watchful, we are monitoring the situation, and we will do everything to protect our beautiful state,” said Crist.

 Florida has already received 35 million dollars in compensation from BP, the British energy giant responsible for the leak, and is using it to promote visits to the state and get the word out that its beaches and waters are clean. But if oil tars Florida beaches, the message will change, said Crist.

 Michael Sole, head of Florida’s environmental protection department, ruled out the use of dispersants to break up the spill before it reaches shore. “The product that is heading our way is largely a weathered product, tar balls, tar mats, that type of material. Dispersants are largely ineffective on this heavily weathered oil,” he said. Oceanographers have warned that the use of dispersants in Florida could have devastating effects on the coral reefs that run parallel to the Florida Keys at the southern end of the state, another tourist attraction that is now at risk.

 Dozens of fish species in danger in US oil leak: expert

 by Staff Writers: Galliano, Louisiana (AFP) May 31, 2010

Dozens of species of fish including one just discovered six months ago, could be wiped out by the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that has been spewing crude into the sea for six weeks, a scientist said Monday.  ”We may very well lose dozens of vulnerable fish species,” Prosanta Chakrabarty, a fish scientist at Louisiana State University, told AFP by email. “Currently there are no reports about massive fish kills being sighted, but I’m afraid that a lot of damage is being done below the surface where the majority of oil is,” he said. But officials from the British oil giant warned they may not be able to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil leak until August, when twin relief wells have been drilled.

 US oil spill could last for weeks, officials warn

by Staff Writers: Galliano, Louisiana (AFP) May 31, 2010
BP officials warned Monday they may not be able to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil leak until August, as Louisiana residents warned the spill could wipe out dozens of fish species and their centuries-old way of life. “Drilling relief wells is still seen as the best solution,” but they will not be onstream for at least eight weeks, BP spokesman John Currie told AFP, as US officials warned the spill is now the worst environmental disaster to ever hit the United States. “This is a scam. BP does not charge to train and hire applicants,” said Neil Chapman, a spokesman for the oil company.

Thousands of fishermen have been forced by the spill to leave their boats in port during peak fishing season, as state officials shut down prime fishing grounds.

 Currie said BP has been paying up to 3,000 dollars a day to out-of-work fishermen and others who are able to prove they have been impacted by the crisis.

 by Staff Writers

Belle Chasse, Louisiana (AFP) May 31, 2010
Louisiana residents Tuesday braced for further woe as hurricane season officially began, threatening to whip up oil-soaked waves, and dump tarry sludge far into inland areas.

 ”This year especially we have a particular challenge as we go into hurricane season, with the oil in the Gulf,” said Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish area. Five years after it was battered by Hurricane Katrina, the state braced for for more misery amid warnings the next six months may be a highly active storm season.

 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted up to 14 hurricanes, of which between three to seven will be “major” tempests, packing winds in excess of 110 miles per hour (176 kilometers per hour).

Officials say oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill has already tainted nearly 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares) of marshland since an explosion ripped through the Deepwater Horizon rig some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off Louisiana. Nungesser repeated a plea to US authorities to give the go-ahead for Plaquemines Parish officials to start building sand barriers off the coast to block the oil. “Without something out here to keep it from flowing in, there’s no way of defending ourselves — the only way we’re going to save the coastline is berms,” Nungesser told AFP.

“Everywhere oil has impacted, the marshes are going to die. If we see oil in the marshes now, next year they’ll all be gone,” he said. Oil has poured into the marshlands each time there has been a thunderstorm, said Nungesser.

A storm surge — when sea water is washed inland by high hurricane-force winds — could carry oil from the Gulf, up the Mississippi Delta and “into people’s back gardens,” Nungesser told a packed hurricane preparedness meeting.

Residents may be left dealing not only with flooding, but also with the toxic residue of the oil, he said. Scientists have said huge plumes of oil are hanging underneath the surface of the sea, and sheen has been spotted on the surface.

“If we get a hurricane in the Gulf, that oil and all that dispersant they’re putting in there is going to be right up here with us, and that just scares the heck out of me,” said 60-year-old Belle Chasse resident Harriet Hamilton. Locals have slammed BP for its handling of the crisis, accusing the British oil giant of fudging facts, of “poisoning” the Gulf waters with dispersant and of being too slow to staunch the flow of crude into the sea.

Fishermen have been unable to fish during prime season, and their economic plight is impacting other industries that depend on the multi-billion-dollar seafood business.

BP has shipped in thousands of workers to help with the oil clean-up effort in the worst environmental disaster in US history. But that poses another problem for local leaders as a major hurricane would mean thousands more people would have to be evacuated.

Scope of Gulf of Mexico oil spill still a mystery
Washington (AFP) June 3, 2010 -The spreading Gulf of Mexico slick is already the worst in US history, but its long-term effect on vulnerable ecosystems along the fragile coast remains virtually unknown, experts say. “The situation is the worst that I have known… but you don’t know what the impact will be,” said Michael Boufadel, civil and environmental engineering chair at Temple University in Philadelphia. But one

World’s ecosystems provide ‘services’ equal to global income

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Comentarios

Juanjo, al menos para mexico es un argumento, aunque indeseable, para el tesorito que iba buscar nuestro cachorro del imperio y sus corifeos en el fondo del mar. Pero aguas porque la corriente del Golfo puede salpicar a la Pérfida Albión y areas circunvecinas. Deseo que con el tiempo me digan te equivocaste y con gusto aceptaré aceptarlo.

El que espero equivocarme soy yo Régulo.

Un abrazo

Juanjo Ibáñez

[...]  Tanto en varios post del blog de Antonio Figueras, como en el nuestro titulado: “BP, Desastre Ecológico en el Golfo de México”, os hemos comentado como no existe tecnología que pueda garantizar que los accidentes [...]

Hola Juan, ese término de “codiciosas mentes” me ha gustado y creo que define bastante bien a ese grupo de inviduos que están en la sombra y que quieren dividendos a cualquier precio. No importa todo lo que esté en juego, tan sólo importa… el dinero, y cuanto más, mejor.Tampoco tiene desperdicio lo de “mentes bobalizadas” y en general todo lo que cuentas.

Desde aquí me pido a mí mismo y al resto de lectores, que cada vez que llenemos los tanques de nuestros vehículos, tan sólo por poner un ejemplo, nos acordemos de esta tragedia. Afortunada o desafortunadamente, los “humanos bobalizados” somos unos expertos en olvidar y deformar
nuestra realidad para adaptarla a nuestras propias expectativas de lo que entendemos por una vida feliz.

Un saludo.

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