Rice experts available to discuss oil spill environmental impact BP what went

first_imgShareCONTACT: Jessica StarkPHONE: 713-348-6777E-MAIL: [email protected] experts available to discuss oil spill: environmental impact, BP, what went wrong and conditions in the Gulf of MexicoRice University has faculty experts available to comment on the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Severe storms have hampered efforts to burn off the oil and contain it with physical structures like booms, and crews are also using biological approaches to recover from the disaster. Rice University’s Pedro Alvarez said bacteria — aided by nutrients like phosphorus, nitrogen and iron, and detergent-like chemicals that enhance contact between bacteria and oil — can be used to help break down the oil. The recovery time of impacted shorelines may be on the order of five to 10 years but bacteria can decrease this to two to five years.“Oil spills are something we’ve seen over and over,” Alvarez said. “The methods for dealing with them are understood. Residual parts of the slick will certainly reach the shore, and this will impact wildlife, particularly birds. Once the oil reaches the shore, there are very few options.”Alvarez, chair of civil and environmental engineering, can discuss the environmental impact and the cleanup of the oil spill, including the bioremedial approaches being used to break down the oil. He said boomers and skimmers are important in early efforts but typically remove only about 10 to 15 percent the total release. About 1.3 million tons of petroleum a year are released into the oceans, and about 50 percent comes from natural seeps as in this case; only about 9 percent comes from catastrophic spills like shipwrecks. Alvarez’s research focuses on the environmental applications and implications of biotechnology and nanotechnology.John Anderson, professor of Earth science and oceanography, can discuss how the oceanographic conditions — such as currents and weather — in the Gulf of Mexico could impact cleanup efforts and how, if conditions change, the oil spill could impact Texas. “We’ve been lucky in Texas that a series of fronts has pushed the oil elsewhere, but if the wind switches out, we’re in trouble,” Anderson said. “This spill can move a long way in a short time, and it’s not easy to contain it.”Ken Medlock, a fellow in energy and resource economics at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and adjunct assistant professor of economics, is available to discuss how BP PLC, the operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig, is handling the situation and the possible political and economic repercussions of the spill.Satish Nagarajaiah, professor in civil and environmental engineering, can discuss the complications of capping the oil well and what went wrong with the rig’s blowout preventer, the device on the ocean floor that connects the riser to the well far below the ocean floor into the oil reservoir. His current research includes monitoring and damage detection in deepwater risers in a project funded by Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America and the Department of Energy. He has studied semisubmersible drilling and production platforms and deepwater drilling and production risers that span the distance from the floating platform (either drilling or production) to the ocean floor. To schedule an interview with Alvarez, Anderson, Medlock or Nagarajaiah, contact Jessica Stark, assistant director of media relations, at 713-348-6777 or [email protected] FacebookTwitterPrintEmailAddThislast_img

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