Friday, July 23, 2010


Louisiana probably can’t handle the disaster if the tropical storm dumps oil from the sky on them

by Larry Geller

The first Atlantic storm headed for Louisiana is brewing. While hoping for the best, this could be big trouble.

I’ve been curious about storms since I was a little boy. I was the “weatherman” at summer camp. I would tell counselors that the afternoon canoe trip would be rained out and was thrilled when it was. Along the way, learned to respect thunderstorms and the one hurricane we experienced.

So when I read this, I was bothered:

The biggest worry, state officials said, is that winds and high tides would drive the Deepwater Horizon oil far up into Louisiana's marshes, which serve as nurseries for much of the nation's seafood. If that happens, it could also enter coastal homes and camps.

"There's a potential for winds and waves to drive oil inland," [Governor] Jindal said. With 427 miles of coast already affected, "we don't need additional oil in our marshes."

Jindal said the state Department of Environmental Quality will monitor any such occurrence and will inspect any homes that are affected to determine if it is safe for residents to move back in. He said BP wil be held accountable for any damages caused by oil intrusion.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Strain instructed cattlemen along the coast to secure their livestock to prevent any exposure to oil or consumption of oily grass.   [Shreveport Times, Jindal declares emergency preparing for storm, 7/22/2010]

Hurricanes were on my mind when I wrote on May 1 that they should be taken into consideration when Obama pondered a moratorium on offshore drilling. At the time, I found only this one story on the web that anticipated problems during hurricane season:

The strong winds in hurricanes, sweeping across the surging waves they have created, such up a considerable amount of surface water and blow it inland. This time, however, those winds could also end up picking up a considerable amount of the oil slick floating on the sea's surface, which would be deposited as rain well inland, damaging croplands and forests, too.  [, Uh-Oh: Hurricane Season and the BP Oil Rig Disaster, 4/30/2010]

Now, Jindal lives there. He knows that it would be impossible to prevent livestock from consuming oily grass unless the animals are confined and fed trucked-in food of some kind. What do they plan to do if the grass gets oily? Wash it? Come on, Governor. Aside from declaring an emergency, it’s not clear from this article what exactly Louisiana has in mind. Perhaps the details will come out in the next couple of days. I don’t know if people expect a storm to wash oil up on land or dump it from the sky. The Op Ed News article could be an understatement of the consequences if land areas are bombarded with oil from the sky.

They can’t cover acres of grass with tarps, and even if they could, tarps would blow away in a storm. So does anyone have ideas for the gov on how to avoid the potential disaster? How about a cattle run to Idaho or something? At least, please think of something better than instructing cattlemen to secure their livestock in the event a black rain comes down on the state.

Same for inspecting homes that might get covered in toxic oil. Do they even have the personnel to do it? Louisiana has demonstrated that it can’t handle a large-scale disaster. I hope they have a better plan for the people and the livestock than this newspaper article suggests.

As to the first paragraph, should much of the nation’s seafood be affected, we could all be eating more hamburger and less seafood should the storm play out badly. But maybe not hamburger originating in Louisiana.

There are reports right now of levels of air pollution near water that are higher than permitted levels. Should a storm lift oil onto land, large areas could become uninhabitable, a human disaster on a grand scale.



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