Wednesday, November 07, 2018

We killed the magic microbes

Congratulations on your purchase of 770,000 gallons of Corexit.  We know you have many choices in the market for poisons to dump into the ocean for no particular purpose. But we are glad you have chosen us.  No, sorry, there are no refunds.
University of Miami-led study indicates that the massive amounts of dispersants BP applied directly at the spewing wellhead – about a mile below the Gulf of Mexico’s surface – failed to curb the oil’s spread, and may have increased the disaster’s ecological damage.

The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig released more than 200 million gallons of crude oil, making it the largest oil spill in U.S. history. About 770,000 gallons of the dispersant Corexit was applied at the wellhead. Another 1 million gallons was sprayed over the massive slick on the water’s surface. Dispersants loosen the tension between oil and water, allowing the oil to break up into smaller droplets. It was hoped that dispersants would lessen the disaster’s impact.
Yeah sorry about that. Maybe those features will work in the next version. But hey let's see what you did get.
The study is one of several in recent months that have questioned whether dispersant should be used at all. Other research cited in the UM study noted that dispersant appears to fight nature’s ability to clean-up after oil spills. A study by the University of Georgia indicates that dispersant kills or inhibits the growth of oil-eating microbes, including naturally-occurring bacteria that rapidly consume oil that dispersants only break apart.
Oohhhh man, remember the "magic microbes"? They really were celebrated as heroes back during the Summer of Spill and afterward when everyone was trying to tell us how no all that bad the whole thing was.   And that whole time we were out there murdering the little guys. What a bummer.

Oh wait. Also....

Dispersant has also been linked to illnesses in humans and several types of marine life. The Gulf’s deep sea coral were found to suffer more from a dispersant-oil mix than oil alone.
I'm sure there is a punch line somewhere about a Trump Administration directive to ease off of holding oil producers accountable for this sort of damage but I'm too depressed to look it up right now.

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