Oil spill causes one of Israel’s worst environmental disasters

Oil gushed from a broken oil pipeline in an Israeli desert reserve Wednesday night, causing what officials said was one of the country’s worst environmental disasters.

The spill occurred in the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline near the Evrona reserve, on the Israel-Jordan border. Millions of liters of oil escaped in the rupture, which happened while workers were performing maintenance on the pipeline, Reuters and The Guardian reported.

Three people were hospitalized after inhaling fumes from the spill.

(Photo credit: Ran Lior, Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection)


Here’s where nearly half the oil from Gulf of Mexico spill went

About 2 million of the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil that escaped from the undersea Macondo well following the April 2010 explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig apparently came to rest on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, according to new research. It now covers an area of about 1,235 square miles, possibly migrating near deep-sea coral.

Here’s an excerpt from a story in the Houston Chronicle:

“Our findings suggest that these deposits come from Macondo oil that was first suspended in the deep ocean and then settled to the seafloor without ever reaching the ocean surface,” [UC Santa Barbara microbial geochemist David] Valentine said.

Light, freshly released oil normally is generally not expected to sink, and even dispersed oil is more likely to remain suspended in water.

Valentine described the footprint as a “shadow of the tiny oil droplets that were initially trapped” higher up, in the water above. “Some combination of chemistry, biology and physics ultimately caused those droplets to rain down another 1,000 feet to rest on the seafloor,” he added.

Politico lets environmentalist respond to BP op-ed

Earlier this week Politico, the online politics magazine, allowed an environmentalist with extensive knowledge of the British Petroleum/Deepwater Horizon disaster respond to BP’s widely criticized op-ed published on the magazine last week. Kara Lankford of Ocean Conservancy says: “The full effects of 210 million gallons of oil on the Gulf cannot be easily dismissed …”

Read the full story on Politico.

Living in Oil: the Microorganisms that Ruin our Fuel

Oil might not seem like it could be home to, well, anything. We’ve seen what oil spills can do to ecosystems, and it’s hard to imagine that anything would actually live in the black blood of industry. However, researchers have discovered tiny organisms do indeed make their home there, and they are an essential part of the reason that oil degrades over time.