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Wed, 05 Oct 2022
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Earth Changes

Bad Guys

Investigation: Rule Change Helped BP Dodge Preparedness Reporting on Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico Project

containment for oil spill
© The Associated Press
The containment vessel is lowered into the Gulf of Mexico at the site of the Deepwater Horizon rig collapse, Thursday, May 6, 2010
A rule change two years ago by the federal agency that regulates offshore oil rigs allowed BP to avoid filing a plan for handling a major spill from a blowout at its Deepwater Horizon project - exactly the kind of disaster now unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil rig operators generally are required to submit a detailed "blowout scenario." But the federal Minerals Management Service issued a notice in 2008 that exempted some drilling projects in the Gulf under certain conditions.

BP met those conditions, according to MMS, and as a result, the oil company had no plan written for the Deepwater Horizon project, an Associated Press review found.

In a series of interviews, BP spokesman William Salvin insisted the company was nevertheless prepared to handle a blowout because it had a 582-page regional plan for dealing with a catastrophic spill anywhere in the central Gulf.

"We have a plan that has sufficient detail in it to deal with a blowout," Salvin said.

MMS has long been criticized as too cozy with the industry it regulates.

Bizarro Earth

Bubble of methane triggered rig blast in Gulf of Mexico

The deadly blowout of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was triggered by a bubble of methane gas that escaped from the well and shot up the drill column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals and barriers before exploding, according to interviews with rig workers conducted during BP's internal investigation.

While the cause of the explosion is still under investigation, the sequence of events described in the interviews provides the most detailed account of the April 20 blast that killed 11 workers and touched off the underwater gusher that has poured more than 3 million gallons of crude into the Gulf.

Portions of the interviews, two written and one taped, were described in detail to an Associated Press reporter by Robert Bea, a University of California Berkeley engineering professor who serves on a National Academy of Engineering panel on oil pipeline safety and worked for BP PLC as a risk assessment consultant during the 1990s. He received them from industry friends seeking his expert opinion.

A group of BP executives were on board the Deepwater Horizon rig celebrating the project's safety record, according to the transcripts. Meanwhile, far below, the rig was being converted from an exploration well to a production well.

Bad Guys

South America Gets Rattled By Quake

South American countries Peru, Bolivia and Chile were all rattled by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake early Thursday, May 6.

Hundreds of Peruvians fled for safety in Tacna, Peru, around 26 km from the epicentre. The quake struck near the border of the three countries and was even felt in La Paz, Bolivia -- where the intensity was around 3 or 4.

Buildings shook and walls cracked but there have been no reports of heavy damage or deaths,

The movement in Chile was very strong --which didn't help ease people's earthquake fears. The country has been spooked since the February earthquake killed hundreds of people north of Santiago.

Bizarro Earth

Flash Floods Kill At Least 66 People in Afghanistan

Flash floods have killed at least 66 people and destroyed hundreds of houses in Afghanistan, the Government said.

Hundreds of livestock have also been destroyed by the flooding, caused by torrential rain in northern and western Afghanistan, said the head of the National Disaster Management Authority for the region.

"Twenty-three people have died in Badghis, 21 in Ghor and another 22 in Herat province,'' said Abdul Hameed Mubariz Hameedi, referring to the three worst-hit provinces.

The Afghan government and the United Nations have sent relief teams to the affected areas, which are among the poorest in the country.

Natural disasters are common in mountainous Afghanistan, where more than 200 people lost their lives in heavy avalanches earlier this year.

Bizarro Earth

Thunderstorms Kill 43 People in India

Fierce thunderstorms have uprooted trees and destroyed hundreds of homes, crushing dozens of people to death and injuring scores of others in northern India.

At least 43 people were killed and 70 hurt in the deluge and squalls.

The powerful storms slashed a wide swath across Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states, uprooting trees and power pylons and damaging homes and crops.

In eastern Uttar Pradesh, 21 people were killed and about 50 others injured when heavy rains lashed the region, police spokesman Surendra Srivastava said.

"A majority of the victims were crushed under uprooted trees or when houses collapsed due to the squall,'' he said.

Better Earth

Ireland Earthquake shakes up record books

An earthquake has shaken the west of Ireland for the first time since records began.

Locals felt their houses shaking and heard loud bangs as the mini-quake, measuring 2.6 on the Richter scale, hit north Clare on Thursday night.

Liscannor resident Martin Doyle said: "I felt the whole roof shake. I thought the wall was collapsing. My neighbour called and he thought that the sound he heard was me falling down the stairs."

Rosemarie Buckley, who lives nearby, also said: "The house shook and we heard a loud bang."

Her husband Tom added: "We didn't know what it was. We thought it might have been a meteorite or something."

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 6.1 - Sumbawa Region, Indonesia

Sumbawa Earthquake
Earthquake Location
Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 03:22:11 UTC

Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 11:22:11 AM at epicenter

8.122°S, 118.238°E

20.1 km (12.5 miles)

65 km (40 miles) NW of Bima, Sumbawa, Indonesia

240 km (150 miles) ENE of Mataram, Lombok, Indonesia

280 km (175 miles) NW of Waingapu, Sumba, Indonesia

1275 km (790 miles) E of JAKARTA, Java, Indonesia

Life Preserver

What took US media so long to report this? Nashville Tennessee Flood 2010

Cloud Lightning

North Pole rainfall 'bizarre': climatologist

north pole
Spring showers are next to non-existent in the High Arctic, so Environment Canada's senior climatologist says he's baffled to hear that it rained near the North Pole this week.

A group of British scientists working off Ellef Ringnes Island, near the North Pole, reported being hit with a three-minute rain shower over the weekend. The group reported the rain on Tuesday.

Rain in the High Arctic in April is nothing short of bizarre, said David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada.

"My business is weird, wild and wacky weather, and this is up there among fish falling from the sky or Niagara Falls running dry," Phillips told CBC News in an interview that aired Thursday.

"I mean, it really is strange. You just don't expect it to rain in the High Arctic in April; maybe in July and August. And certainly for these scientists from Europe coming over, they must have been also mystified."

Phillips said 50 to 60 years of historical weather data show no signs of rainfall ever occurring in April in the High Arctic.

The earliest account of measurable rainfall at Canadian Forces Station Alert took place on May 21, 1988, he said.

Comment: There was another related report about freak snowing in Antarctica nearly two years ago:

Something Strange is Happening at the Coldest, Driest Place on Earth
"Everyone talks about the melting of the glaciers but having day after day of rain in Antarctica is a totally new phenomenon. As a result, penguins are literally freezing to death."

With all that ice, it might seem kind of backwards to call snow at the South Pole "freaky," but it is. The Antarctic is literally a desert of ice with an average of 1-inch of precipitation each year.

Within hours the crystals thickened and turned heavy - and soon visibility would be completely chocked off. By midnight a rare easterly rose, climaxing at to 40 knots. What began as a crystal dance now turned to a full-blown blizzard - the equivalent of torrential rain in the middle of the Sahara. What I was seeing was real, the world had indeed turned upside-down, and it would be more than a week before it could right itself.


At least 39 killed in storms in Chongqing, south China

© China Daily
A traffic policeman directs vehicles on a flooded downtown road in Xinhua county of Hunan province on Thursday. At least four people were killed there and many other roads flooded in the torrential rains.
Chongqing - Storms killed at least 39 people in the southwestern and central parts of the country from Wednesday night to Thursday, local government authorities said.

As of 4 pm on Thursday, 29 people had died in the Dianjiang and Liangping counties as well as Fuling district of Chongqing municipality, with one other person missing, local government sources said.

Similarly, torrential rain that started at 2 am on Thursday in Xinhua county of Hunan province also killed four people and left one other person missing, authorities said.

The rains also triggered massive landslides and mudslides.

The extreme weather that started on Wednesday night in Chongqing had left 190 people injured as of 3:45 pm on Thursday.

The storms hit seven counties in Chongqing, with Hanjia and Pengshui reporting rainfall of up to 157 mm in the 24 hours to noon on Thursday, while wind speeds of up to 112 km per hour lashed worst-hit Dianjiang and Liangping.

"The trees in front of my house were uprooted or broke into half. My house roof, which was made of steel boards, was also ripped apart," said Liangping resident Huang Hongzhi.

"I have never seen it this bad before," he told China Daily.