Sunday, September 05, 2010

Slippery science in the Gulf of Mexico

Researchers locked out of Gulf of Mexico research sites? Seriously? I can't believe this is happening when when we need all the information we can get about oil and dispersant impacts on the Gulf of Mexico.

What else is going on? How about seafood that is being approved for sale, even though some studies suggest that harmful contamination is present in some Gulf animals. Are people being adequately protected from contaminated seafood?

First, on the authorities stopping researchers from doing their work...I don't have the whole picture, but it's hard to imagine why researchers are being locked out of Gulf research sites. It seems unbelievable, crazy, and foolish:

Since the gulf oil spill first began gushing on April 20, Linda Hooper-Bui’s research group has repeatedly run up against the authorities. In May, a Fish and Wildlife Service officer confiscated insect samples that one of Hooper-Bui’s students had been collecting on a publicly accessible beach in southern Alabama. On research trips in Louisiana, her students have been stopped by sheriff’s deputies—one time after driving 150 miles—simply for attempting to study the ecological impact of oil and dispersants. Time and again, they were told that they couldn’t access their normal research sites unless they were working for BP or the government.

On the seafood contamination concern, here's a description of part of the FDA's seafood contamination test:

In order for an area to be considered acceptable for re-opening from a sensory standpoint a minimum of seventy percent (70%) of the expert assessors must find NO detectable petroleum or dispersant odor or flavor from each sample.

Is this real, 70%? I don't think I want to eat seafood that 30% of assessors think is oily. Yuck.

I'm not yet persuaded that everything's fine. It may be fine, but this stuff isn't reassuring.

No comments: