To date, 12 bottlenose dolphins, 162 sea turtles and 35 birds have been found oiled, and most have died, with the exception of four birds that have been cleaned and released and six that are still being cared for. But wildlife scientists said Tuesday that we may never know about most of the marine mammal and bird deaths from this massive oil spill because many species spend their entire lives out at sea. Rowan Gould, acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told reporters on a teleconference, "What concerns us most is what we can't see, the birds and animals that spend their lives offshore. Millions of birds migrate thru these marshes, some spend most of their lives at sea, and they are foraging in the spill area right now."
In the USA some of the blame is pointing at us, it is BRITISH petroleum. BP owns the well that continues to spill crude; Swiss company Transocean owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform; Halliburton performed cementing work on the well; and Houston-based Cameron International Corp. manufactured the blowout preventer. A 2001 report by the blowout preventer's owner, Transocean, showed up to 260 possible failings in the device!
Some discussion has broken out about gas flares. Why, they ask, is so much energy being burned for no useful purpose?
The flares primary purpose is to act as a safety device to protect vessels or pipes from over-pressuring due to unplanned upsets. This acts just like the spout on a tea kettle when it starts whistling as the water in it starts boiling. Whenever plant equipment items are over-pressured, the pressure relief valves on the equipment automatically releases gases (and sometimes liquids as well) which are routed through large piping runs calledflare headers to the flare stacks. The released gases and/or liquids are burned as they exit the flare stacks. The size and brightness of the resulting flame depends upon how much flammable material was released. Steam can be injected into the flame to reduce the formation of black smoke. In order to keep the flare system functional, a small amount of gas is continuously burned, like a pilot light, so that the system is always ready for its primary purpose as an over-pressure safety system.
While it may have been true that some flares have been used to burn flammable "waste" gases or by-products that are not economical to retain, the industry is moving to flare-gas recovery systems to decrease waste and reduce emissions.
Flaring and venting of natural gas in oil wells is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Its contribution to greenhouse gases has declined by three-quarters in absolute terms since a peak in the 1970s of approximately 110 million metric tons/year and now accounts for about 1/2 of one percent of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. The World Bank estimates that 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas are flared or vented annually, an amount equivalent to the combined annual gas consumption of Germany and France, twice the annual gas consumption of Africa, three quarters of Russian gas exports, or enough to supply the entire world with gas for 20 days. This flaring is highly concentrated: 10 countries account for 75% of emissions, and twenty for 90%. The largest flaring operations occur in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The leading contributors to gas flaring are (in declining order): Nigeria, Russia, Iran, Algeria, Mexico, Venezuela, Indonesia, and the United States.
Instead of relying on such dangerous sources, we should be investing in renewables. Wind, solar, tidal are all good examples, we have the technology, lets have some leadership ConDems. There is a danger the investment will go to nuclear power, but that isnt renewable. Future generations will see us as having used millions of years worth of fossil fuels in a century, polluting the planet. We owe it to them, invest in renewables now.