BP battles for billions in latest Gulf Oil Spill pollution trial

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HOUSTON/LONDON (Reuters) – BP will battle to hold down fines that could hit $18 billion in a new phase of the Gulf of Mexico trial that will rule on how much oil it spilled in 2010 and judge its efforts…

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>POLLUTION FINES

BP says 3.26 million barrels leaked from the well during the nearly three months it took to cap the blowout at the Deepwater Horizon rig; the U.S. government says it was 4.9 million. Both those totals include 810,000 barrels that were collected during clean-up and which Barbier has agreed to exclude.

This month, BP’s lawyers questioned the government’s figure. “United States experts employ unproven methods that require significant assumptions and extrapolations in lieu of … available data and other evidence,” they said in a filing.

They have also sought to convince Barbier that if the company is to be found guilty, it should amount to only “negligence” and not “gross negligence” – a crucial distinction since the latter carries much higher maximum penalties.

Under the Clean Water Act, negligence can be punished with a maximum fine of $1,100 for each barrel of oil spilled; a gross negligence verdict carries a potential $4,300 per barrel fine.

If the court judged the spill to have been 4.09 million barrels – the government estimate less oil recovered – the price of negligence could reach $4.5 billion. Gross negligence, in the costliest scenario, could run to $17.6 billion.<

See on www.reuters.com

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Ex-Halliburton Official Charged With Destroying Evidence In Gulf Oil Spill Disaster

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The the latest twist in an ongoing legal battle following the explosion that killed 11 people and resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement: “Halliburton and one of its managers have now been held criminally accountable for their misconduct, underscoring our continued commitment to ensuring that the victims of this tragedy obtain justice, and to safeguarding the integrity of relevant evidence.”

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo of the Eastern District of Louisiana also noted that Halliburton self-reported the misconduct and cooperated with the investigation. Badalamenti was charged with a “bill of information,” which often means that the defendant is cooperating with prosecutors.

Rig owner Transocean and BP were both criminally charged for the disaster, but Halliburton was not — these charges are just related to the post-spill review.

Even though the spill happened more than three years ago, residents in the area still feel the effects. The 170,000 workers hired to help clean up the oil spill are at an increased risk of getting cancer, leukemia, and other serious illnesses. And on Thursday, BP sued the state of Louisiana to block its order to remove abandoned anchors the company used to deploy oil spill booms during cleanup efforts.<

See on thinkprogress.org

Lockheed Martin Pioneers Ocean Thermal Energy in China – Engineers

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

A 10-megawatt ocean thermal energy conversion plant is under way

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>[…] the company has been working on OTEC since the 1970s, and the technology hasn’t changed drastically since then. OTEC systems make use of the temperature differential in tropical areas between warm surface water and cold deep water. In most systems, ammonia, which has a very low boiling point, passes through a heat exchanger containing the warm water. The ammonia is vaporized and used to turn a turbine, and then it’s cycled past the cold water to recondense. This is a renewable energy technology with the rare capacity to supply base-load power, as water temperatures are fairly stable.

The ammonia passes through a closed loop, while the water comes and goes through massive pipes. The project in China may pump cold water up from a depth of about 1000 meters, using a pipe that’s 4 meters across. Varley says that some of the infrastructure can be borrowed from the offshore drilling industry: “We showed them our requirements for the platform, and they yawned and said, ‘Is that all you got?’ ” he says. “But then we showed them the pipe.” Attaching the massive pipe to a relatively small floating platform creates unusual stresses, Varley says. Lockheed also had to find materials for the pipes and the heat exchangers that could withstand the harsh marine environment.<

See on spectrum.ieee.org

Fukushima leaks will keep fisheries closed indefinately

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Some Japanese fisheries face a long-term threat from the steady trickle of radioactive water from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Last month the plant’s owner, Tepco, finally admitted what many had suspected – that the plant was leaking. Now Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority is calling the situation an emergency, and says Tepco’s plans to stop the leak are unlikely to work.

The problem is that groundwater is entering the damaged reactor buildings, picking up radioactive elements like caesium and seeping out to sea. Tepco has spent months pumping the water to the surface and storing it in tanks, and sinking wells to lower the water table.

[…] Given that Tepco is unlikely to stem the leaks from Fukushima any time soon, the fishing ban could continue for a long time. “People ask when will it be safe, and we can’t answer that,” says Buesseler. “The only thing you can do is stop the source, and that’s a huge engineering challenge.”<

See on www.newscientist.com

Dept of Interior Holds Inaugral Lease Sale for Renewable Energy in Federal Waters

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – …Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Beaudreau today held the nation’s first-ever competitive lease sale for renewable energy in federal waters.  

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>The provisional winner of today’s lease sale, which auctioned two leases for a Wind Energy Area of 164,750 acres offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts for wind energy development, is Deepwater Wind New England, LLC. When built, these areas could generate enough combined energy to power more than one million homes.

“When you think about the enormous energy potential that Atlantic wind holds, this is a major milestone for our nation,” said Secretary Jewell. “A lot of collaboration and thoughtful planning went into getting to this point, and we’ll continue to employ that approach as we move forward up and down the coast to ensure that offshore wind energy is realized in the right way and in the right places. Offshore wind is an exciting new frontier that will help keep America competitive, and expand domestic energy production, all without increasing carbon pollution.”

The Wind Energy Area is located 9.2 nautical miles south of the Rhode Island coastline and has the potential to support 3,395 megawatts of wind generation. BOEM will hold its next competitive lease sale for offshore wind on Sept. 4, which will auction nearly 112,800 acres offshore Virginia, and is expected to announce additional auctions for Wind Energy Areas offshore Massachusetts, Maryland, and New Jersey later this year and in 2014.

Maps for these areas are available on BOEM’s website.<

See on www.doi.gov