Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
The Petronobyl worst case scenarios took a new ominous turn recently with new concerns about a potentially catastrophic methane release. Helium discusses why this might add to the list of things that should keep one up at night:
"Disturbing evidence is mounting that something frightening is happening deep under the waters of the Gulf of Mexico—something far worse than the BP oil gusher.
Warnings were raised as long as a year before the Deepwater Horizon disaster that the area of seabed chosen by the BP geologists might be unstable, or worse, inherently dangerous.
What makes the location that Transocean chose potentially far riskier than other potential oil deposits located at other regions of the Gulf? It can be summed up with two words: methane gas.
More than 12 months ago some geologists rang the warning bell that the Deepwater Horizon exploratory rig might have been erected directly over a huge underground reservoir of methane.
Documents from several years ago indicate that the subterranean geologic formation may contain the presence of a huge methane deposit.
None other than the engineer who helped lead the team to snuff the Gulf oil fires set by Saddam Hussein to slow the advance of American troops has stated that a huge underground lake of methane gas—compressed by a pressure of 100,000 pounds per square inch (psi)—could be released by BP's drilling effort to obtain the oil deposit.
Current engineering technology cannot contain gas that is pressurized to 100,000 psi.
By some geologists' estimates the methane could be a massive 15 to 20 mile toxic and explosive bubble trapped for eons under the Gulf sea floor. In their opinion, the explosive destruction of the Deepwater Horizon wellhead was an accident just waiting to happen.
Yet the disaster that followed the loss of the rig pales by comparison to the apocalyptic disaster that may come.
A cascading catastrophe
According to worried geologists, the first signs that the methane may burst its way through the bottom of the ocean would be fissures or cracks appearing on the ocean floor near the damaged well head.
Evidence of fissures opening up on the seabed have been captured by the robotic submersibles working to repair and contain the ruptured well. Smaller, independent plumes have also appeared outside the nearby radius of the bore hole itself."
mi2g goes on to document further concerns:
"Older documents indicate that the subterranean geological formation below the "Macondo" well in the Gulf of Mexico may contain the presence of a huge methane deposit. It has been a well known fact that the methane in that oil deposit was problematic. As a result, there was a much higher risk of a blow out. Macondo shares its name with the cursed town in the novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by the Nobel-prize winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
By some geologists' estimates, the methane could be a massive bubble trapped for thousands of years under the Gulf of Mexico sea floor. More than a year ago, geologists expressed alarm in regard to BP and Transocean putting their exploratory rig directly over this massive underground reservoir of methane. Warnings were raised before the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe that the area of seabed chosen might be unstable and inherently dangerous.
Methane and Poison Gas Bubble
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found high concentrations of gases in the Gulf of Mexico area. The escape of other poisonous gases associated with an underground methane bubble -- such as hydrogen sulfide, benzene and methylene chloride -- have also been found. Recently, the EPA measured hydrogen sulfide at more than 1,000 parts per billion (ppb) -- well above the normal 5 to 10 ppb. Some benzene levels were measured near the Gulf of Mexico in the range of 3,000 to 4,000 ppb -- up from the normal 0 to 4 ppb. Benzene gas is water soluble and is a carcinogen at levels of 1,000 ppb according to the EPA. Upon using a GPS and depth finder system, experts have discovered a large gas bubble, 15 to 20 miles wide and tens of feet high, under the ocean floor. These bubbles are common. Some even believe that the rapid release of similar bubbles may have caused the sinking of ships and planes in the Bermuda Triangle.
50,000 to 100,000 PSI
The intractable problem is that this methane, located deep in the bowels of the earth, is under tremendous pressure. Experts agree that the pressure that blows the oil into the Gulf waters is estimated to be between 30,000 and 70,000 pounds per square inch (psi). Some speculate that the pressure of the methane at the base of the well head, deep under the ocean floor, may be as high as 100,000 psi -- far too much for current technology to contain. The shutoff valves and safety measures were only built for thousands of psi at best. There is no known device to cap a well with such an ultra high pressure.
A methane bubble this large -- if able to escape from under the ocean floor through fissures, cracks and fault areas -- is likely to cause a gas explosion. With the emerging evidence of fissures, the tacit fear now is this: the methane bubble may rupture the seabed and may then erupt with an explosion within the Gulf of Mexico waters. The bubble is likely to explode upwards propelled by more than 50,000 psi of pressure, bursting through the cracks and fissures of the sea floor, fracturing and rupturing miles of ocean bottom with a single extreme explosion.
Cascading Catastrophe Scenarios
1. Loss of Buoyancy
Huge methane gas bubbles under a ship can cause a sudden buoyancy loss. This causes a ship to tilt adversely or worse. Every ship, drilling rig and structure within a ten mile radius of the escaping methane bubble would have to deal with a rapid change in buoyancy, causing many oil structures in its vicinity to become unstable and ships to sink. The lives of all the workers, engineers, coast guard personnel and marine biologists -- measuring and mitigating the oil plumes' advance and assisting with the clean up -- could be in some danger. Therefore, advanced safety measures should be put in place.
2. First Tsunami with Toxic Cloud
If the toxic gas bubble explodes, it might simultaneously set off a tsunami travelling at a high speed of hundreds of miles per hour. Florida might be most exposed to the fury of a tsunami wave. The entire Gulf coastline would be vulnerable, if the tsunami is manifest. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and southern region of Georgia might experience the effects of the tsunami according to some sources.
3. Second Tsunami via Vaporisation
After several billion barrels of oil and billions of cubic feet of gas have been released, the massive cavity beneath the ocean floor will begin to normalise, allowing freezing water to be forced naturally into the huge cavity where the oil and gas once were. The temperature in that cavity can be extremely hot at around 150 degrees celsius or more. The incoming water will be vaporised and turned into steam, creating an enormous force, which could actually lift the Gulf floor. According to computer models, a second massive tsunami wave might occur.
The danger of loss of buoyancy and cascading tsunamis in the Gulf of Mexico -- caused by the release of the massive methane and poisonous gas bubble -- has been a much lower probability in the early period of the crisis, which began on April 20th. However, as time goes by and the risk increases, this low probability high impact scenario ought not to be ignored, given that the safety and security of the personnel involved remains paramount. Could this be how nature eventually seals the hole created by the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher?"
Given BP's apparent inability to deal with the truth and the government's wishy-washy approach to the whole thing leads me to believe this is a credible concern which will dwarf our present problems should it come to pass.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The Af-Pak Channel had an article about a problem not well appreciated in the West, the dimensions of the Russian opiate problem. The use of drugs and the corrosive influence of corrupted law enforcement and judicial system should be familiar to any American watching our own "War on Drugs".
"Today the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released an alarming report, finding that since 2005 the number of Afghans addicted to opiate drugs like heroin and opium has doubled and that nearly million Afghans are steady users. But the problem of opiate addiction spreads far beyond Afghanistan. Last October, a UNODC report concluded that Afghanistan's poppy crop, refined into hard drugs such as heroin and opium, kills 100,000 people annually around the world. According to Russian authorities 30,000 to 40,000 of those killed are Russian citizens, a higher number than all the Russian soldiers who died during the Soviet war in Afghanistan during the 1980s. These figures make Afghan opiates the most deadly drug in the world, with Russians the leading victims."
.......The Russia government's Federal Drug Control Service estimates that more than 2 million Russians are now addicted to Afghan-supplied drugs, a higher figure than anywhere else in the world and one that continues to grow. Most of these addicts are between the ages of 18 and 39, depriving Russia of its most productive generation. And in addition to deaths from overdoses, the use of unclean needles for injecting heroin has resulted in more than 1 million Russians becoming infected with the HIV virus."
This sounds an awful lot like bio-chemical warfare as conducted by special services of various governments.
McClatchy goes further on the Russian take on this:
"The drugs usually reach Russia from Tajikistan and Kazakhstan in trucks or, in smaller amounts, tucked away in train compartments or nervous travelers' stomachs.
The trade is nothing new in Russia, but after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, it exploded. Afghan opium production climbed from 3,400 metric tons in 2002 to a record 8,200 metric tons in 2007, partly because U.S. and NATO-led troops put a low priority on curbing it. Heroin flooded into Central Asia, and on to Russia.
"When I heard the Americans were going to enter Afghanistan I thought they were going to solve the problem, to stop the drugs," said Yevgeny Roizman, who had connections with Russian organized crime before he became a member of parliament. He now runs an anti-drug organization in the city of Yekaterinburg, another big heroin-distribution hub north of Chelyabinsk.
"But in the period after they came, there was a big increase in the region . . . ," Roizman added. "It makes me think the Americans have done nothing to stop the drug trafficking."
Although it's an unintended consequence of the U.S. action in Afghanistan, some Russian officials trace the growing problem to an American plot.
Viktor Ivanov, the head of Russia's Federal Drug Control Service, the national drug enforcement agency, told parliament in May that it was reasonable to "call the flow of Afghan opiates the second edition of opium wars." He was referring to the 19th-century war between Britain and China sparked by exports of opium from British India to China.
Ivanov isn't alone.
"I can name you a lot of politicians in Russia who said that the Americans specially arranged the situation in Afghanistan so that we would receive a lot of drugs, and this is the real aim of their occupation," said Andrei Klimov, the deputy head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's lower house of parliament. "I'm not sure this is true, but who knows."
The U.S. government takes no direct responsibility for fueling Russia's drug problem."
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Amazingly the horrible situation in the gulf worsens on a daily basis. I expect at some point to hear the entire world ocean has been killed. This is a corporate crime of the first magnitude. All ready republican apologists are weighing in with ludicrous protection for these goons. In the meantime the estimates get bigger as to the actual amount of polluting hydrocarbons. McClatchy has been doing an amazing and enormous amount of reporting and it is not reassuring:
" WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Thursday doubled its minimum estimate of how much crude oil was gushing from the Deepwater Horizon oil well, saying a panel of scientists had concluded that 20,000 to 50,000 barrels, or as much as 2.1 million gallons, were pouring into the Gulf of Mexico every day before BP sheared the well's riser pipe on June 3.
That action, which BP engineers undertook to fit a "top hat" containment dome over the well, almost certainly increased the flow, and Dr. Marcia McNutt, the head of the U.S. Geological Survey, said an estimate of the flow since June 3 would be available in a few days.
"Our scientific analysis is still a work in progress," McNutt said.
The announcement that tens of thousands more barrels of oil than previously estimated have been spewing into the Gulf for weeks added to a growing sense that neither the federal government nor BP correctly assessed the size of the unfolding disaster or marshaled enough resources to meet it.
"It's hard to keep track of all the false estimates and false promises," said Jeremy Symons, a senior vice president of the National Wildlife Federation: "The BP gusher is worse than ever, and big nature is losing its battle with big oil."
Separately Thursday, BP and the Coast Guard acknowledged that their hopes of removing 28,000 barrels of crude from the water daily beginning perhaps next week depend on a largely untested plan to burn more than a third of that oil.
How much oil is flowing from the well has been the subject of heated debate for weeks. BP initially said the well was losing only 1,000 barrels a day, then increased that estimate to 5,000 barrels, a figure that both BP and the Obama administration stuck with for weeks until scientists, examining previously undisclosed video of the spewing oil, testified to Congress that the flow might be as much as 95,000 barrels a day, or nearly 4 million gallons.
Under pressure from Congress, the Obama administration assembled a group of university researchers into what it called the Flow Rate Technical Group to assess the spill. The group released its first preliminary estimate on May 27, providing two minimum estimates, 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day and 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day. The group said, however, that it didn't have sufficient data to quantify the spill's likely maximum flow. On Monday, one of the scientists told McClatchy that he thought the rate after the riser was cut might be 100,000 barrels a day.
McNutt said the new estimates came after three teams of researchers reviewed new data and video from before the June 3 shearing of the riser. One of those teams was led by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics.
One team, basing its estimate on an analysis of new high definition video, said the leak prior to June 3 was 25,000 to 40,000 barrels a day. A second team, using aerial and satellite photos of the spill, said the average flow was 12,600 to 21,500 barrels a day. A third team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts used sonar-like measuring of the flow to conclude that 25,000 to 50,000 barrels of oil have been flowing from the well.
The new estimates suggest that despite engineers' success in capturing an increasing amount of oil — BP said 15,800 barrels of oil was recovered from the well on Wednesday — there seemed to be no reduction in the volume of oil billowing from the well.
This week, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said he hoped to increase the amount recovered from the Gulf to 28,000 barrels a day by pushing the Discoverer Enterprise drill ship past its stated 15,000-barrel-a-day capacity to 18,000 barrels a day, and adding a second vessel, the Q4000, which he said would collect 10,000 barrels a day.
However, BP's vice president for operations, Kent Wells, said Thursday that all the oil recovered by the Q4000 would be flared, and Allen acknowledged that he'd misspoken Wednesday when he suggested that at least 5,000 barrels would be stored and resold.
Environmentalists and health advocates questioned the decision to burn the crude, saying the burn would produce toxic byproducts that could affect both workers aboard ships in the Deepwater Horizon area and residents in coastal areas. The Q4000, which wasn't designed to burn crude and is now being fitted with a burner, has a crew of 122, and there are scores of ships in the Deepwater Horizon vicinity, which is beyond the jurisdiction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"If the weather conditions are such that it's blowing on shore and local communities are getting that soot, there are a lot of toxic constituents in it," said Diane Bailey, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
BP spokeswoman Anne Koltun said the Environmental Protection Agency was consulted on the flaring plan. An EPA permit isn't required because the Deepwater Horizon site, 84 miles off the Louisiana coast, is outside the agency's three-mile jurisdictional limit.
Burning the oil also would reduce the amount of money that BP would earn from selling the crude, which the company has promised to donate to a fund to restore and improve wildlife habitat in the four states most damaged by the spill.
"They're essentially burning money that could be used for gulf restoration," said Christopher Mann, a marine policy and science expert at the Pew Environment Group. The price of crude oil settled Thursday at $74.39 a barrel, though BP has said it's likely to get less for the oil recovered from the Deepwater Horizon well.
Mann also questioned why 52 days into the disaster, BP and the Coast Guard still hadn't moved tankers or other ships into the area to accommodate the volume of crude oil likely to be flowing from the damaged well.
"BP has known for weeks they'd be recovering large amounts of oil, and yet they now don't have the capacity to recover it," he said. "There's a continuing failure to connect the dots."
"Can you spit without hitting a tanker in Houston?" he asked.
Koltun said burning the oil instead of loading it onto a barge and selling it was "the most efficient way" to handle the oil "and allows us to collect the greatest capacity."
EPA spokeswoman Adora Andy said the agency had encouraged BP "to come up with every technological option available to reduce the amount that is burned," but added that burning could help reduce the amount of oil in the water.
BP's Koltun said the flaring would continue until at least July, when BP hopes to have a longer-term containment plan in place. The leak will not be stanched, officials have said, until the well is intercepted by one of two relief wells that won't be completed until at least August, and perhaps later.
Koltun said the number of barrels burned would be tracked by a "multi-phase flow meter" that has been installed on the Q4000. The U.S. government is due royalties on every barrel of oil "extracted" from the well, even those that end up washing ashore in a Louisiana marsh or disappearing with a roar of flame into the air.
Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/06/10/95708/bps-gushing-well-sent-twice-the.html#ixzz0qVjqpwRQ"
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
From Russia Today:
"Before Israeli forces raided and killed nine activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, 34 US service men were killed by Israeli forces in 1967 during the the Six Day War.
The USS Liberty was a Navy research ship in international waters north of the Sinai Peninsula when Israeli air and naval forces launched an attack that lasted over two hours.
Among the tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery is a hidden chapter in American history. Survivors and family members of the USS Liberty victims gather here every year on June 8 to remember what happened to their loved ones 43 years ago.
“It’s an honor for me to get a chance to honor them at least once a year,” said USS Liberty survivor Calvin Landis.
“It’s not anger, it’s sadness – great sadness that not only a close ally deliberately attacked the ship, but the fact that the US sat by and allowed Israel to attack the ship,” said Jane Emory, whose brother was killed in the attack.
For 40 years, survivors of the USS Liberty – sworn under oath – were forbidden to tell their stories. But today, the surviving crewmen talk candidly about the dreadful day their nearly lost their lives.
“We couldn’t even open the hatch up because they were shooting at us so bad, there was no place to go, and they shot the life rafts. If we had to go into the water, there probably would have been no survivors,” said USS Liberty survivor Jack Beattle.
Jim Smith was aboard the Liberty when it was bombed for over two hours by the Israeli air force.
“The Israelis claim it was a mistaken identity, and the U.S. government brought that explanation. I’m saying a mistaken identity does not allow to sufficient time to shot all the antennas, to shoot the four gun tubs we had and the shaft the bridge, if it’s mistaken identity than you don’t know what you are looking at,” said Smith.
As the years drag on, the anniversary never gets any easier.
“There’s nothing, medicine, booze, nothing takes it away. It’s just something you have to live with,” said Landis.
The tale of the USS Liberty became a story of courage and betrayal. As another year passes by without a congressional investigation the survivors wonder if justice will ever come their way. THey hope that one day Israel will face harsh penalties for killing American citizens in an event many claimed was a cover up."
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Moscow news reports on an interesting interaction between ДДТ's Yuri Shevchuk and Vladimir Putin:
"Famous Russian rocker Yuri Shevchuk asked the PM some uncomfortable questions at a tea party with artists and musicians.
Vladimir Putin visited St. Petersburg on the weekend where he attended a charity literary-musical evening for children with cancer and leukemia, and met with its participants and organisers. In the course of the tea party an outspoken critic of Putin, rocker Yury Shevchuk, asked him some awkward questions.
At first Putin asked the Russian rock legend what his name was, even though people who go to these events claim that political leaders receive a list of all the guests, their names and occupations – and the seating plan.
After clarifying his name and occupation, Shevchuk started by saying that an aide to Putin had called him in the evening and advised him on what questions he could and could not ask. When Putin said such a thing could not happen, Shevchuk said the caller was a maverick.
However, liberal economist Andrei Illarionov, who used to work as Putin’s adviser until 2005, wrote in his blog that before such events an aide of the president or prime minister always calls participants to discuss logistics and topics of conversation.
Shevchuk then told Putin that he was concerned about freedom of the press, inequality of different social layers and the state’s attempts to cultivate an ostentatious patriotism. “We’ve done that before,” said the musician.
He also asked the prime minister if he was aware that the number of protesters was growing and if he planned “serious, sincere, honest liberalisation and democratisation of the country,” when public organisations are “not strangled" and the people are “no longer afraid of a policeman … who serves the superiors and his own pocket, and not his people.”
Shevchuk finished by asking if the opposition marches on May 31 in St Petersburg was going to be dispersed by police.
Putin replied that “the country has no future without normal democratic development.”
As to the opposition protests planned for the evening of May 31, Putin said that “there are certain rules” and that “these events are regulated by the local authorities.”
Putin said that the authorities would be right to ban marches and demonstrations where they were held somewhere that interfered with the normal life, like “next to hospitals,” but that he hoped that in St Petersburg everything would be done right, “with the citizen’s right to express their discordance with the authorities’ politics on such and such issues.”
He added that these events did not “interfere with me or other representatives of the state authorities; on the contrary, it helps.”
Illarionov in his blog commented that the law on demonstrations did not mention protests held next to hospitals.
On Sunday evening, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov clarified up his answers on Echo Moskvy radio. “There have been calls to come to demonstrations, because Putin allowed and no one will touch them. That is not the case, Putin did not allow anything, because he cannot allow, local authorities do it. Putin said that everything has to be within legal boundaries.”
Saturday, June 05, 2010
Friday, June 04, 2010
This takes me back quite a way into the past, a great job letting great music sell itself. Of course it was all on vinyl.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Russia Today presents an interview with Malik Shabazz, who gives a refreshing analysis of the American social scene. Of course it's no surprise that an organization such as the New Black Panthers hasn't received much coverage in the U.S. I actually find RT to be a welcome alternative to U.S. media and was rather dismayed to hear MSNBC/GE house liberal, Keith Olbermann, dissing RT with the usual cold-war American stereotypes that Americans reserve for any Russian media that's not funded by the CIA or its various front organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy.
My own personal opinion regarding racism in the U.S. is that this is a struggle that white Americans have to wage amongst themselves if we are to have any hope of being a non-racial society.