Source: The Economist
THE capital is now under siege from the waters slithering down from the north towards the Gulf of Thailand. Shops, businesses and government offices in Bangkok cower behind makeshift concrete parapets and piles of sandbags. Bridges and elevated expressways are filling up with fleets of parked cars, to spare them from the deluge below. And all the time people speculate about just how bad it might get in a city the Europeans once called the Venice of Asia.
Despite the defences, there is likely to be some flooding. The government desperately wants to divert water around the capital, to east and west, but the volume is too great. The desire to save densely populated Bangkok is understandable. But the strategy is angering those in the northern suburbs, where neighbourhoods are filling up with water as the sluice gates remain closed. An admirable steadfastness among Thai people is wearing thin.
Flood Map Of Thailand
Source: Stuart Smith - August 17, 2011
Oil from the Macondo Well site is fouling the Gulf anew – and BP is scrambling to contain both the crude and the PR nightmare that waits in the wings. Reliable sources tell us that BP has hired 40 boats from Venice to Grand Isle to lay boom around the Deepwater Horizon site – located just 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The fleet rushed to the scene late last week and worked through the weekend to contain what was becoming a massive slick at the site of the Macondo wellhead, which was officially “killed” back in September 2010.
The truly frightening part of this development, as reported in a previous post (see below), is the oil may be coming from cracks and fissures in the seafloor caused by the work BP did during its failed attempts to cap the runaway Macondo Well – and that type of leakage can’t be stopped, ever.
Catch up on how this could possibly be happening – again – by reading or re-reading my July 25 post below. Stay tuned as we will be all over this story as it continues to develop.
Is BP’s Macondo Well Site Still Leaking? Fresh Oil on the Gulf Raises Concerns and Haunting Memories
Fresh oil is surfacing all over the northern quadrant of the Gulf of Mexico. Reports of slicks that meander for miles and huge expanses of oil sheen that look like phantom islands are becoming common, again. Fresh oil, only slightly weathered, is washing ashore in areas hit hardest by last year’s massive spill, like Breton Island, Ship Island, the Chandeleurs and northern Barataria Bay. BP has reactivated its Vessels of Opportunity (VoO) program to handle cleanup. It’s a sickeningly familiar scene that has fishermen, researchers and public officials searching for answers, as haunting memories of last year’s calamity come roaring back.
The fifty-thousand-dollar question, of course, is where is all the new oil coming from?
One theory: The Macondo Well site, located just 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, is still leaking untold amounts of oil into the Gulf. Some argue that the casing on the capped well itself is leaking. Others believe oil is seeping through cracks and fissures in the seafloor caused by months of high-impact work on the site, including a range of recovery activities (some disclosed, some not) as well as the abortive “top kill” effort.
In January 2011, a prominent “geohazards specialist” wrote an urgent letter to two members of Congress – U.S. Reps. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and John Shimkus, chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and Economy – suggesting that the Macondo site is leaking oil like a sieve. Here’s an excerpt from that letter (see it in its entirety at link below):
There is no question that the oil seepages, gas columns, fissures and blowout craters in the seafloor around the Macondo wellhead… have been the direct result of indiscriminate drilling, grouting, injection of dispersant and other undisclosed recover activities. As the rogue well had not been successfully cemented and plugged at the base of the well by the relief wells, unknown quantities of hydrocarbons are still leaking out from the reservoir at high pressure and are seeping through multiple fault lines to the seabed. It is not possible to cap this oil leakage.
BK Lim, the letter’s author, has more than 30 years of experience working inside the oil and gas industry for companies like Shell, Petronas and Pearl Oil.
More from Mr. Lim’s letter:
The continuing hydrocarbon seepage would have long term, irreversible and potentially dire consequences in the GOM (Gulf of Mexico)…
The letter is dated Jan. 14, 2011 – and we’ve been seeing more and more evidence that the scenario Mr. Lim describes is indeed taking place deep below the Gulf’s surface.
For example, on March 28, 2011, Paul Orr and his team from the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper – an organization I’ve worked with frequently over the course of the last year – conducted a 50-mile boat patrol and sampling tour of Breton Sound, which lies just off the southeast coast of Louisiana. The excursion was prompted by multiple, increasingly frantic, reports of oil in the area by fishermen and others, including On Wings of Care pilot Bonny Schumaker, who has dozens of Gulf flyovers under her belt.
Mr. Orr took a sample from the southern end of Breton Island National Park – and sure enough, lab-certified tests results established a fingerprint match to BP’s Macondo Well (see link to my previous post and test results below).
The most alarming part of the finding was not simply that the Breton Island sample had BP’s fingerprint on it, but that the test results were nearly identical to those from the fresh oil seen in the early days of the BP spill – instead of the heavily weathered and degraded oil we’ve come to expect in recent weeks and months.
Those test results seem to disprove the other theory surrounding this spate of recent “fresh oil” reports. That is: All the oil BP strategically sunk to the seafloor with nearly 2 million gallons of toxic dispersant is beginning to break free and rise to the surface en masse, and in turn, blacken the coastline with fresh oil. According to civil engineer and petroleum expert, Marco Kaltofen, oil that has been lying on the seafloor for several months would be much significantly more weathered than the fresh oil we’re seeing more and more of.
As you’ll notice from the histograms, the Breton Island sample mirrors the submerged oil sampled from Pensacola Bay on Nov. 5, 2010 (see link to original post with histograms below) and a sample taken from Panama City Beach on July 14, 2010. You don’t have to be a marine biologist to see that this is the same oil with nearly identical weathering.
So we had fresh oil with BP’s signature on it coming ashore in March – more than eight months after the Macondo Well was capped. And since then, members of my team and other researchers have reported fresh oil, of the “only slightly weathered” variety from Grand Isle to Pensacola. One charter boat fishing captain, who frequents the waters around Louisiana’s barrier islands, is describing the current, hauntingly familiar situation on the Gulf as the “second wave” of the BP disaster.
Source: The Daily Mail - August 5, 2011
Electricity officials in heatwave-hit Texas have warned of impending rolling blackouts from power shortages as the U.S. state struggles to cope with the relentless scorching temperatures.
Texans have turned to air conditioners in huge numbers in a bid to beat one of the hottest summers on record in America's second most populous state.
But bosses for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) say the soaring power demand in the face of the brutal heatwave has left the state one power plant shut-down away from rolling blackouts.
Temperatures in Texas are currently topping 100F (37.8C) and have been soaring for well over a month.
Record highs have also been recorded this week in nearby states Oklahoma and Arkansas as the relentless heatwave spreads across southern America.
In Forth Smith and Little Rock, Arkansas, the mercury hit 115F on Wednesday.
ERCOT, which runs the power grid for most of Texas, cut power to some large industrial users after electricity demand hit three consecutive records this week alone.
The grid operator now faces rolling blackouts similar to those which hit Texas during a bitter cold snap in February.
Although the electricity firm have done their best to regulate power use and prevent shortages, experts admitted a further shut-down is a possibility.
Arshad Mansoor, senior vice president at the Electric Power Research Institute, said: 'You always have to expect the unexpected can happen.
'A unit can shut. The wind may not blow.'
Ice storms in February crippled dozens of power plants, forcing ERCOT to impose rolling blackouts for hours as electric power demand outstripped supply.
Power usage in ERCOT reached its highest level ever on Wednesday at 68,294 megawatts, almost four per cent over last year's peak.
The Texas grid faces at least one more day of extreme stress before temperatures cool slightly over the weekend.
Temperatures in Houston, the state's biggest city, should return to near normal levels in the upper 90s over the weekend, according to AccuWeather.com.
The state's biggest power generators, including units of Energy Future Holdings, NRG Energy, Calpine Corp and others, have been running flat out to cash in real-time prices that have hit the $3,000/MWh cap in recent days.
But the state's reserve margins have been running razor thin. On Wednesday ERCOT came within 50 megawatts of interrupting flows to industrial customers.
One megawatt powers about 200 homes in Texas during hot weather when air conditioners are running for long periods.
Kent Saathoff, ERCOT's vice president of system planning and operations, said more generation supplies would help, but added that state power generators cannot be expected to prepare for every extreme in weather.
He said: 'You have to determine if it is worth spending millions or billions to avoid a one in 10-year event.'
With record-breaking demand came record-breaking prices. Prices for Thursday power topped $400 per megawatt hour, the highest in at least a decade. Friday's power prices approached $600.
Real-time prices also hit the $3,000 market cap over the past few days.
ERCOT has about 73,000 MW of natural gas, coal, oil, nuclear and wind generating facilities, but not all of that capacity is available all the time.
Texas has the most wind power in the country, but the wind does not blow during the summer. Ercot said it got about 2,000 MW from wind during the peak hour on Wednesday.
What could go wrong?
I would be infinitely more impressed with a wind/solar hybrid ferry system - huge solar and wind powered water dwelling ferries, much safer and robust than a static structure I would think. Perhaps not as fast, but I'd rather be on a boat than on a bridge that long.
Source: CBC - June 30, 2011
China has opened the world's longest cross-sea bridge.
The Jiaozhou Bay bridge is 42 kilometres long and links China's eastern port city of Qingdao to an offshore island, Huangdao.
State-run CCTV says the 35-metre-wide bridge is the longest of its kind and cost about $1.5 billion Cdn.
CCTV says the bridge passed construction appraisals on Monday and the bridge and an undersea tunnel opened to traffic on Thursday.
It has taken four years to build the bridge, which is supported by more than 5,000 pillars.
According to the Guinness World Records book, the previous record-holder for a bridge over water is the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana. The Chinese bridge is more than four kilometres longer.
Posted by Harvest Dream on Wednesday, June 22. 2011 in Bioengineering, BioHazards, Earth Changes, Ecology, Food Security, Geology, Health , Infrastructure, Oceans, Seas and Rivers, Radiation, Technology
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