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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Spill impact will be 'significant... regardless': EPA chief

US oil spill no Chernobyl, but still toxic: biologist
Ocean Springs, Mississippi (AFP) May 8, 2010 - The huge oil spill inching closer to shore in the Gulf of Mexico is no Chernobyl disaster but will have a huge impact on the key fishing industry, a marine biologist said here. A ruptured well from the sunken Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling platform has spewed out more than three million barrels of crude so far, encroaching on prized southern US coast wetlands and wildlife preserves, as well as billion-dollar fishing and tourism destinations. "There will be no Chernobyl in the Mississippi Delta," Gulf Coast Research Laboratory marine biologist Joe Griffitt told AFP Friday, referring to the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine that killed at least 4,000 people and contaminated over two million. "But my concern is that the oil -- which is a toxic substance -- could have a very negative impact on shrimps, fish, oysters and crabs in the Delta. The development of the young, the juveniles -- if exposed to oil -- could be very strongly impacted."

Swamps and marshes in the Mississippi Delta provide 40 percent of US seafood production. "One way or the other there will be consequences," Griffitt warned, noting that fish die in a high concentration of oil, such as at the rate of one part of oil for 10,000 parts of water. Even when there is a lower concentration of toxic products, organs can be damaged. "If you take a fish, and oil -- too much oil -- finds its way into his organism, the liver is not able to detoxify the oil anymore," the biologist said. "The same goes for other organs like the brain and the gonads. The development of the young can also be damaged, and that's my main concern." He noted that dispersants like Corexit used to halt the spread of the oil were also nefarious to sealife. "Those products don't make the oil go away," Griffitt said. "It just falls to the sea bottom. That's where you'll find the sediments and the larvae. So the toxic effect is double."
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 7, 2010
Even if BP manages to quickly cap the oil spill at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, the environmental impact from the massive slick will be "significant," Environmental Protection Agency director Bob Perciasepe said Friday.

"There already is going to be a significant environmental impact here, even if it stops leaking now," Perciasepe told AFP in an interview.

"Everything we are doing is to try to continue to minimize the amount of environmental damages. But regardless, there will be environmental damages whatever we do," he stressed.

British Petroleum on Friday was lowering a heavy, metal dome-like structure to the sea bottom, hoping to plug and funnel to surface barges the 200,000-gallons-a-day leak from the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers.

The broken well has so far spewed out more than three million barrels of crude that is encroaching on prized wetlands and wildlife preserves on the southern US coast, as well as on billion-dollar fishing and tourism destinations.

Perciasepe said the BP dome, if successful, "will collect a significant amount of the oil that is leaking out but not probably all of it," adding that other solutions were needed to eliminate the oil slick.

"It's fair to say... weather will have some effect, we can skim some, we can burn some and disperse some but there's undoubtedly going to be some (oil) on the shores and it's going to require a very significant cleanup operation for quite a while," he said.

"BP will pay for all the costs," the EPA chief added.

Perciasepe said the oil slick was already lapping several of the Chandeleur Islands, some 60 miles (100 kilometers) off Louisiana, forcing US officials Friday to close a wildlife refuge there to facilitate cleanup efforts.

The EPA chief said the closure of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge was also needed to minimize disturbance to nesting seabirds "that are currently in their breeding season."

The refuge, home to endangered species of brown pelican, least tern and piping plover, is one of the oldest in the country, and spreads across almost 7,000 acres (2,800 hectares).

"It would be also pretty problematic if the oil gets to the sensitive habitat where shrimps and oysters" are gathered.

"But in most places the oil seems to be outside of the boom" laid down in the water to block its advance, Perciasepe said.

"We all know that the wetlands are the most sensitive area, obviously the beaches are very sensitive for some species and also for recreation for humans," he added.



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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Swiss Re insurance profits dampened by disaster damage
Zurich (AFP) May 6, 2010
Swiss Re, one of the world's biggest reinsurers, on Thursday reported a surge in first quarter profit although its results were dampened by losses from Chile's earthquake and European storm Xynthia. Net profit rose by 21 percent to 158 million dollars (116 million euros) in the first three months of 2009 against 130 million dollars a year earlier, the company said in a statement. "In the ... read more







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