Environmental News Section

Friday, May 18, 2018 - 11:14am

Editor Note - Bumped by Roxy. Originally published  6/6/2008.

Acres and acres of the green stuff. Americans love turf ... front yards, back yards, golf courses, fairways, parks ... you name it, if it is more than 4 foot by 4 foot, we will cover it with grass. Scott Meyer, editor for Organic Gardening, writes in his April 2008 column (page 6):

$10 billion. That's how much homeowners in the United States spent last year on lawn care.

It boggles the mind. $10 billion! on lawns. But there is a dark side to our love of grass ... and not just grass, it has to be lush, bright green and weed free.

Turf Wars

According to an Environmental Science and Technology report from 2005 there were about forty million acres of tended lawn in the United States. At the time of the study in 2005, turf was the largest crop in this country. It has since been outpaced by corn. US corn boom threatens sea life from the Boston Globe:

That enticed American farmers - mostly in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota - to plant more than 93 million acres of corn in 2007, the most since 1933. They substituted corn for other crops, or made use of land not previously in cultivation.

The Dead Sea

All of this cultivation means literally tons of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides are being applied to more and more acres of land. Again from the Organic Gardening article cited above:

The nutrient leaching is no small environmental problem. Every summer in the Gulf of Mexico, an area roughly the size of Connecticut is choked with a vast algae and phytoplankton blooms, due in part to tons of synthetic nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer runoff from the Mississippi River. As the algae dies and decomposes, it uses up the available oxygen, making the area uninhabitable for sea life. The polluted run-off water that contributes to this "dead zone" comes from each of the 31 states between the Rocky and Appalachian mountain ranges that eventually drain into the gulf.

There are alternative ground covers that do not require the high degree of maintenance that turf does and are not as hazardous to Mother Earth. About.com has a nice list of links to lawn alternatives -- from "fake" grass to clover. The Sierra Club has the "anti-lawn movement". [/sierra/199609/hearth.asp] - Link no longer available online.

Monday, June 20, 2011 - 8:20am

Interesting project & premise. Bumped and promoted. Originally posted 2011-06-20 02:09:14 -0400. - GH

Reposted from Dailykos - there are still a number of #NN11 registrations claimable per the detail below for EPM readers.

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

Rather than attend NN11 this year (I live in Australia), last Saturday I attended an Australian, what one could describe as a progressive conference, called Gathering 11.

This was a group of about 150 individuals who’d come together to listen to keynote speakers, workshop & brainstorm ideas (an excellent format called World Café ), network & connect with one another around the big issues facing us today. Much like what Netroots Nation is all about. The statement which most resonated with me, as much of the discussion was that our existing way of doing things is not working for a lot of people, was “Ignore the Core, Scale the Edge”.

In other words, if you want something to happen, you have to make it happen.

The question for me however, (& I’m sure many others) was how?


Can Crowdsourcing Make Any Dream Come True?

When’s the last time you got something just because you asked for it? That’s the premise behind Wish Upon a Hero, an online platform that allows anyone to post — or grant — a wish.
It’s an interesting experiment in crowdsourced social good. After registering, anybody can post a wish for anything

Enough of the “Me First” Economy. It's Time for “We First”

"Consumers are guilty of the me-first mentality along with businesses. Consumers need to shift from mindless to mindful consumption." And now's the time, in large part because of technology, he argues. "There is a lot of technology at our disposal now. Like GoodGuide [no affiliation with GOOD] which lets you scan the barcodes of products to get social impact measurements, to joining groups that punish brand deviants."
"Every purchase needs to have a contributory portion," he says, as though that's easily implemented.

"We have the opportunity to build in a contribution to social change into a retail shopping aisle," which could mean something like the Product RED campaign, where products are branded as socially motivated, or it could be systemic with each transaction. The technology is there for this already, with companies like SwipeGood, which rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and donates the difference. As Google Wallet and other programs of its ilk roll out, we'll start making purchases—and contributions—with the bump of a phone.

So, Mainwairing wants us to be ready for an age in which doing good can be so easily integrated into basic consumer transactions, that the default is to help, not ignore, social problems, as a part of our everyday lives.

At least for my part, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time & would like it if you watched this very short clip below, because I think crowdsourcing, identifying & supporting solutions to social issues is the way to go.

We’ve all heard of customer loyalty programs such as credit cards rewards or Frequent Flyer programs, one of the most successful campaigns ever for attracting business by rewarding people the more often they fly. What if however, every time you make a purchase, perform a financial transaction, pay a bill, or buy an airfare, there was a rewards program where the rewards automatically went to good causes, NGO’s, or back into your account so you could spend the money again, use if for services or choose whether or not to give it to a cause that is important to you. The idea of crowd-sourcing amplified in order to ‘scale the edge’ so that collectively, good ideas, good causes can be supported, & good things can be achieved.

Automatic pledging to a cause we call embedded nano-giving, or nano-pledging, & the example service in the video above, SMS is fully functional. However it is important to think outside just this service as this concept can be applied almost anywhere. Some business groups such as Ritchies grocery chain in Australia do this, as well as US firms such as Credo & One percent for the Planet.

Also encouraged is ad-hoc nano-pledging which also has an embedded pledge attached to it.

“The world has over a trillion hours a year of free time to commit to shared projects” Clay Shirky

One of the difficulties I had with Gathering 11 was finding an opening to talk about the platform which I've been involved in building. For the idea behind it to some may come across as a conventional marketing gimmick and this is not and has not ever been the intent behind TMH. The idea behind Trymoreharder came about not from having a product and finding a way to market it, but rather knowing there were causes and socially innovative ideas out there requiring funding & support, then setting about building a structure to make this possible, finding a mechanism whereby the funding would come about via passive contributions linked to the purchase of goods or services.

The most important thing then is literally for the crowd to control where the embedded nano-pledges are directed. To that end there are 35 accounts on our system credited with $5 which can be claimed using the hashtag #NN11. This money can be ad-hoc donated to a cause or causes of your choice, or used for sending SMS online with an embedded nano-pledge each time you send a message.

Which cause? Well again, TMH members get to not only nominate causes, but also vote on their importance which elevates the cause in the nano-pledging structure & increases the number of nano-pledges which accrue to it, the more votes it gets.

I think it is a powerful, transparent example of what a crowd sourcing model looks like, but as with all crowd sourcing ideas, it needs the crowd to get involved. So I’d ask that you take a look & if you choose to sign up, experiment with the funds in your account, think about what causes are important to you, & help TMH build this from the ground up.

To sign up, go here and register for an account using the hashtag #NN11.

A link to an ad-hoc presentation of how to sign up is below.

Let me end with the statement that my presentation skills are certainly not the greatest, however, I have a great deal of faith in the progressive community, & believe that there will be attendees amongst the NN11 crowd who can see this platform how I see it, as a mechanism to support some great ideas, individuals & groups doing (or wanting to do) important work. And maybe, just maybe, people might run with it and make Trymoreharder their own. For that is what I always imagined the internet was meant to allow us to do.

People change as a result of what they notice, not just what they are told.
T Friedman

TMH embedded nano-pledging site : http://www.trymoreharder.com

A few notes :
1. No this is not my site, but a friend who I have been bouncing ideas off for well over 2 years.
2. The site should be considered beta, we have tested it, but not at scale and all bugs should be reported to the site administrator. A page exists for this : HELP
3. With regards to distribution to the causes of committed funds, a pre-determined amount will trigger an instant transfer for which the site will have proof of payment displayed.
4. The funds available to #NN11 to introduce members are real, straight from my bank account via a Paypal deposit.

Any questions you may have, I will try to answer as best I can.

Finally if you want to see some of the places where inspiration lives, and as to what this could be, please watch Katherine Fulton : You are the future of philanthropy

cameron fen
Thursday, May 26, 2011 - 12:39am

Crossposted from A Stick in The Mud. - GH

It’s 6:30 in the morning. I’m at the house of a stranger. The lights are off and I am trying to break in. Ten minutes go by, fifteen. I’m pounding on the door, circling the house, cussing at the door, peaking through the window, pleading with door, but it does not open.

I met Ellen the day before. I also work at Staples and I was helping her lift a box of paper into the trunk of her car. We got into a conversation about the non-profit she is running, The LEAH Advocacy Group (Staples calls this customer communication technique the Selling FunnelTM). Before long, she had hired me on to help support a bill set to hit the floor of the New Hampshire House the very next day.
For those of you who don’t know Ellen, she is a bit disorganized and, that morning, she was still asleep. It took some time, pleading with the door of my employer-to-be, but she finally came downstairs to open the door.
“Would you mind taking off your shoes?” And just as I was about to, she added, as if needing explanation, “I just don’t want you to track in any pesticides into my house.”
Boy, I thought, we’re not in Kansas anymore.




One hour and one green juice later, I was in the car, getting the pesticide crash course. She first talked about Pyrethroids, and 2,4-D and Dicamba and their links to cancer and asthma and endocrine dysfunction. She referred to the bill, HB495 “Healthy Kids, Healthy Lawns”, aimed at phasing out pesticides on schools lawn and playing fields in NH. Then she talked about her personal life.
Twenty years ago they started spraying at her condo complex and the surrounding area of her ski resort town, Waterville Valley, NH. Every month, in the middle of the White Mountains, when they sprayed, Ellen couldn’t breathe, her heart raced, her face felt flushed and exhaustion. After one particularly lengthy spraying, she suffered a real poisoning. She started hyperventilating and her heart started racing so fast she couldn’t lie down. She looked me in the eye and said, “I was sitting up in bed that night, praying that I would not die.”
After the first night, the symptoms morphed: muscle aches, loss of co-ordination, a persistent wheezing, memory loss, dizziness, headaches and shooting pains in her heart, rapid heart rate and exhaustion, depression for another six months. Around certain lawns breathing became labored and so she worried about going outside. She mentioned, for a moment, reproductive issues, but her voice pauses and tails off.
Ellen’s mother, Arlyne experienced some of the same symptoms, the rapid heart rate, pulse 165, hospitalization. Pesticides? Her eyes ask me to believe. “That screech that sounds like a cross between a crow and a three pack a day smoker, Camel no filters. I think pesticides…” Ellen’s mother died three years ago; it became clear that much of her money was used to fund The LEAH Advocacy Group.
We eventually reached The New Hampshire State Capitol building. Ellen stationed me by the entrance to the debate floor, to hand out “Support HB 495: Healthy Lawns, Healthy Kids” flyers to all the caucusing representatives. Duke, Kaija and Alyssa, LEAH reinforcements, all from around Middle-of-Nowhere New Hampshire arrive on the scene. People everywhere are handing out fliers. Ellen looks at the tall attractive woman and the two guys beside her with the orange “Lobbyist” emblazoned badges. “I could pay a fee and become a lobbyist, but I would still much rather be seen as a concerned citizen.” Across the hallway a middle aged woman with round glasses and a home-knit sweater hands out black and white fliers written in sensationalizing caps. Is the other end of the spectrum how she would want to be seen either?
With only 100 fewer delegates than the United States Congress, The New Hampshire General Court is the fourth largest English speaking legislative body of the world. The House of Representatives has 400 members, each representing an average of 3300 New Hampshire citizens. Although most have a genuine interest in the welfare of the state, many seem to be retired WASPs types, who can both afford the $100 annual salary and desire the exclusiveness of this whitewashed social club. One could argue that this is not the best political system for the people of New Hampshire.
This year, the house is one-third Democrat, one-third Republican, and one-third Tea Party. Highlight of the Day: ‘the bad guys aren’t registering their guns, so why punish the good guys? Let’s weaken gun laws’. House colleagues spent hours listening to a former FDA employee attempt to explain away EPA regulations. Dr. Lu’s warning, Ellen told me, that the federal government is not even halfway done compiling pesticide toxicity data on children and the elderly was quickly shut down. Dr. Lu sits on the EPA Scientific Advisory Panel.
At around one, Duke, Kaija and Alyssa left. Of course, Ellen wanted to wait around five more hours listening to gun bill after gun bill for a chance to see her bill. We heard bills disenfranchising college students; bills establishing a supermajority for future tax raises, and a bill urging Congress to drop out of the United Nations. After pointing out a particularly heinous bill which would establish a state militia, Ellen began complaining about the “tea party fanatics” that had taken over New Hampshire. Yet here we were, waiting like the nerds in their tents before the grand opening of an Apple Store. I can still hear Kaija’s ominous words, “Just give it some time. You’ll be sucked in before long.”
For awhile, it looked as if we would have to return tomorrow to see the fate of HB 495. But our bill ended up being one of the last to hit the floor. Representative Suzanne Smith, the main sponsor, went up to the podium to speak . She cited the President’s Cancer Panel report, explaining children were especially vulnerable to carcinogens. Rep. Smith laid out links to asthma, endocrine disruption, cancer, neurological defects and other diseases. She attacked the myths surrounding IPM, she clarified that the bill would not infringe on individual rights, and she provided a viable alternative to pesticide based lawn care by calling attention to the growing demand for organic turf management. Rep. Smith ended with a persuasive argument. “We in the New Hampshire legislature have erred on the side of caution where our children are concerned. We may not require adults to wear seat belts or helmets, but we do require that of our children. If we can grow good quality playing fields and grass and not put children at risk from even the possibility of short or long term health issues, what is the argument not to do something?”
“That was the best speech of the day,” Ellen enthused. And even in my unbiased opinion I had to agree. It was insightful, persuasive and well-rehearsed. It was a shame that most members of the house were twiddling with their phones or chatting through the one green bill on the floor that session. The Chair of the Environment and Agriculture Committee, Bob Haefner and our bill’s main opponent, walked to the podium. He littered his speech with “uhms” and pauses and the occasional backward glances at the invisible teleprompter by his feet. If Ellen writing this review, I would be skeptical, but you can trust me. After he finished, the speaker called for a vote, and it was voted down, as anticlimactic as that.
After a consolation dinner at a Thai Restaurant, we headed back. “Let’s not talk about pesticides anymore,” Ellen said as she turned on NPR. But the conversation invariably drifted back. “I wouldn’t be doing this,” she told me, “If I were the only person getting sick. I’ve heard so many stories…” She told me about the hundreds of studies linking pesticides to everything from childhood lymphoma to frog abnormalities. And yet she still seemed worried that she only sounded like a concerned PTA mother. A couple weeks later when I mentioned how IBT Labs fabricated data for Monsanto, she pulled aside, “look when you are giving damning evidence like that, you better cite who’s doing the investigation and how they found out, or else you’ll sound like a conspiracy theorist”.
NPR had a special on pilgrimages to Mt. Kailash. We both wanted to listen. So we listened in silence.

ePluribus Media
Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - 3:37pm

Now in liveblog mode over on Daily Kos, folks in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas are being warned of the potential for a major tornado outbreak:

The Storm Prediction Center has issued a rare high risk area across Oklahoma and Kansas for a major tornado outbreak this afternoon. The outbreak is expected to be centered across Oklahoma, extreme northern Texas, and southern Kansas, with a lower (but still elevated) risk of a major tornado outbreak across northwestern Arkansas, northern Texas (including Dallas/Ft. Worth), most of the rest of Kansas, and western Missouri this afternoon.

A PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) tornado watch has been issued for parts of Texas and Oklahoma for the threat of very large, long track, destructive tornadoes, hail larger than baseballs, and destructive wind gusts over 70 MPH.

For liveblog updates, keep checking back over on the Daily Kos diary by weatherdude, here.

If you're located in the affected area, please be safe.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - 1:22pm

Originally posted on Daily Kos. Reprinted here with permission at our request. - GH

This is a follow-up to an earlier diary about the threat posed by oil spilled by a freighter that broke up off Nightingale Island, home to approximately half of the world's endangered Northern Rockhopper penguin population.

Here is a brief recap of key events. On March 16, for reasons no one has been able to determine, a fully loaded freighter containing soybeans slammed into the rocks off Nightingale Island in the Tristan da Cunha archipelago (a World Heritage site) in the south Atlantic. The freighter broke in half and sank, dumping at least 1500 tons of fuel oil in the seas, which formed a heavy oil slick around the island, threatening marine life. The penguins attracted the most attention as they are a critically endangered. Because of the remote location, it took wildlife rescue teams nearly a week to reach the island by boat and set up operations. Wildlife biologists estimate that half of the 20,000 penguin colony have had some exposure to the oil and over 300 oiled penguins have already died.

One of thousands of Rockhopper penguins found oiled

"Unlike previous spills of this size, it didn't happen way out to sea and gradually approach such a vital conservation area. It struck right at the heart of the penguin colony and it's devastating to them."

- Sarah Sanders, Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds

Thanks to outreach and updates by marine biologist David Guggenheim, the difficult wildlife rescue operation is starting to get broader attention by NGOs and the media. CNN has finally covered the story.



This tragedy has been filled with unsung acts of heroism large and small. I want to sing their praises.

Shortly after the freighter ran aground, the cruise ship Prince Albert and fishing vessel Edinburgh responded to the distress signal and assisted in the difficult task of evacuating the 22 crew members of the MS Oliva (Valetta) before it broke apart and sank. A rescue team from the Prince Albert used small pontoon vessels to reach the stricken ship, navigating rough seas and rocks in the process. The crew members were brought to the Edinburgh, which was small enough to dock on the island.

The residents of the island and the wildlife rescue teams have been working around the clock to save the penguins and other marine animals affected by the oil. There are four major tasks required to save the penguin colony and other affected wildlife.

(1) Locate and retrieve oiled animals. This means using small boats in heavy seas to find the animals in the water, on rocks, and in remote coves. While plucking the penguins from the water is relatively easy, getting to the animals on sea-splashed and oil-covered rocks is quite another matter.

At last report, over 3000 oiled penguins have been rescued, along with sea birds and seals.

(2) Treat the affected animals as quickly as possible to reduce ingestion of oil. This requires washing the feathers with detergent to remove oil and then coaxing them to drink fluids, vitamins and charcoal to absorb ingested oil. It is a labor of love that means working every waking hour for the residents and several dozen wildlife rescue specialists. (Pictures of the treatment teams in action.)

Once treated the less severely affected penguins are taken to the island's swimming pool, which has been emptied, partially filled with fresh water, and cleaned frequently.

The more severely affected penguins and other sea birds are being taken to warehouses and specially built sheds. These animals require more care and observation. They also must be kept warm with heaters or infrared bulbs to prevent pneumonia. The freighter crew has been spending their time building the pens and rehabilitation sheds.

(3) Pen and house the rest of colony to prevent exposure to oil. With molting season ending, the penguins' instinct is to head for the seas to forage for food.

(4) Feed the entire colony of 20,000 penguins. A large fishing vessel has been working continuously since the crisis began to fish for the penguins. The seas have been particularly rough and island residents have emptied their freezers to feed the birds. By the way, fishing is the primary occupation among residents. When they donate the contents of their freezers, they are emptying their own larders and wallets.

The penguins may be hungry, but they are not used to being fed by humans. It is an exercise in building trust.

"We need help," said Katrine Herian, a spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds who is also apart of the ongoing rescue effort.

"The priority is to get food into the birds as they are very hungry," she said. "We are trying locally caught fish and some are starting to take small half-inch squares of the food."


The first salvage ship has now arrived. Removing the pieces of the partially sunken freighter will undoubtedly entail skill and a bit of courage. The wreckage lies in shallow and rocky waters.

Every single story I have read makes the same statement. The accident is still under investigation. Transport Malta, which regulates ships registered in Malta, is conducting the investigation. That means the final act of courage will be to tell the truth. Roger Cuthbert, one of the marine biologists on the scene put it best. "How a modern and fully-laden cargo vessel can sail straight into an island beggars belief."

For more information

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Ocean Foundation

The Tristan da Cunha principality website

The Ocean Foundation has set up a collection site to assist with the rescue efforts.

The Ocean Foundation has established the Nightingale Island Disaster Penguin and Seabird Rescue Fund and your tax-deductible donations will go directly to assist the teams at Nightingale Island, Tristan da Cunha and Inaccessible Island working to rescue and rehabilitate endangered penguins and other seabirds. Your help is very urgently needed!

Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 5:19pm

Via a piece from March 22 on Boston.com,1 another environmental disaster:

LONDON—Thousands of endangered penguins have been coated with oil after a cargo ship ran aground and broke up on a remote British South Atlantic territory, officials and conservationists said Tuesday.

The shipwreck also threatens the lobster fishery that provides a livelihood to one of the world's most isolated communities.

The Malta-registered MS Olivia was grounded on Nightingale Island in the Tristan da Cunha chain last week. The ship had been traveling from Brazil to Singapore and contained 1,500 metric tons (1,650 tons) of crude oil and a cargo of 60,000 metric tons (66,000 tons) of soya beans.

The ship's 22 crew members were rescued before it broke in two.

[...Read more...]

Nightingale Island is part of the Tristan da Cunha chain of islands located about halfway between South America and Africa. The article notes that the British government has expressed concern over the potential environmental/ecological and economic damage, but that it is too early to tell what the impact of the accident will be.

The image included in the Globe piece shows three oil-covered rock-hopper penguins who do not look very pleased at all with recent events.

Footnote references below the fold.





1   Article by Jill Lawless, Associated Press, 22 March 2011.

Monday, March 14, 2011 - 5:21am

Last Friday as I sat in my apartment watching Ghost Busters an earthquake started at first it seemed like any other for about 30 seconds. Suddenly that all changed as the power of the quake increased about 100 times. Because so many of my neighbors are retried I went downstairs to check on them as my feet touched the ground it was like having instant vertigo. Its amazing just how difficult it is to keep ones balance when there is no point of reference tell which way the ground was moving.

People here are used to earthquakes so it was very strange too see them fleeing their homes and apartment blocks.

As Japan is quite well prepared for these kinds of events all trains ceased operation, all students were evacuated from their schools as well all other public buildings. After making sure my neighbors were OK I rode my bike around the area while there was some damage it was nothing like that which took place in the worst effected areas.

For the last 3 days deliveries to shoppes have been very limited with all most all the shelves completely empty. Hopefully that will change soon.

The Tsunami didn't effect us and so far we are not effected by the problems in Fukushima. At least not yet as far as the radiation is concerned. Where we are effected is that TEPCO has announced rolling blackouts in the Kanto region the first of which occurred this evening staring at 5pm.

My description of what happened doesn't even do it justice. It might impossible to do just that. One of the places I visited on Friday was the local elementary school all of them were in the school yard and the shocked look on their faces was unsettling so I stayed for a while to help comfort them.

Sunday, March 13, 2011 - 10:39pm

Update: The meteorological service has said there is no second tsunami.


Another tsunami spotted off the coast of Fukushima - the site where the distressed nuclear plants are located. And an explosion occurred at Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant unit 3 ("The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says a hydrogen explosion occurred Monday morning at the No.3 reactor at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture." via news banner atop NHK World news page). Meanwhile, rescue temas from 9 countries arrive in Japan to assist in relief operations.

What a bloody mess.

For those who may want to help, Shelterbox is on the ground in Japan. Donations to them are one of many possible ways to try to help.

Sunday, March 13, 2011 - 5:12pm

Crikes - it's been one hell of week for Japan. Now, Shinmoedake volcano on the southern island of Kyushu has started erupting:

Hundreds of people were forced to flee when the Shinmoedake volcano on the southern island of Kyushu began spewing ash and boulders.

The explosion from the eruption could be heard miles away and an ash plume extended two miles into the sky.
[Read more]

Located 950 miles or so from the epicenter of the quake, experts are uncertain if the volcano's activity is tied to the recent quake.

Sorry for the short diary - but wanted folks to have something to add to if following relief and recovery efforts in Japan. There is nothing below the fold.

Side note: Something called 'volcano monitoring' was used by experts in recent weeks, who noted increased activity and lava buildup.

Saturday, July 17, 2010 - 4:34am

The efforts to fully cap the gusher continue with tests to ensure that the existing cap is holding, integrity is good and that there are no other leaks.

From CNN,


Critical test to continue Saturday in fight to contain oil spill
By the CNN Wire Staff
July 17, 2010 3:18 a.m. EDT

New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) -- BP will continue crucial testing Saturday to determine whether a new containment cap will keep stopping oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

On Friday, the containment cap left some, including President Barack Obama, cautiously optimistic after it seemed to stop the massive flow of oil.

BP officials were still analyzing tests on the containment cap Friday and were uncertain about whether there was a leak in the well.

Thad Allen, who's overseeing the government's response to the oil spill, said Friday that pressure was rising in the well. That was a sign that the well was holding and that the leak that had been spewing oil into the Gulf for nearly three months could be contained.

But pressure readings had not reached the optimal level.



So far, so good.

From Business Week:


BP Well Tests Show No Signs of Damage After Stopping Oil Flow
July 17, 2010, 12:20 AM EDT

More than 24 hours of data from pressure tests, seismic surveys and temperature gauges indicate the integrity of the well may be intact and the amount of oil in the reservoir is being depleted after three months of flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. There is no evidence of hidden leaks, Kent Wells, BP’s senior vice president for exploration and production, said on a conference call with reporters yesterday.

"The pressure buildup we're seeing is consistent with the modeling we did around reservoir depletion and full integrity," Wells said. "The longer we model these trends, the more we'll convince ourselves that that's actually the case."

Pressure inside the well rose slowly yesterday to 6,720 pounds per square inch from 6,700 pounds per square inch at the start of the day, an encouraging sign that the well may have escaped damage following an April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, Wells said.

The company planned to continue the tests for at least another six hours, and perhaps longer, Wells said. BP and a team of government officials and scientists are reviewing the data to decide whether they can keep the cap sealed until BP finishes drilling the relief wells that will be used to permanently plug the leak with mud and cement next month.