NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who was in charge of cleaning up BP's 2010 oil spill, will be the keynote speaker at an international scientific conference about the Gulf of Mexico.
His speech Monday in New Orleans kicks off hundreds of scientific presentations through Wednesday. They range from socioeconomic effects of the spill to developments in dispersant science and technology.
On Tuesday, a public forum is planned on the Gulf's ecosystems and prospects for recovery — with a chance to ask questions of spill investigators Donald Boesch and Steven Murawski.
Moderated by the National Science Foundation's David Conover, they'll cover topics including what has happened to the oil, impact on the food chain and effectiveness of the oil spill response.
Many of the studies were undertaken with some of the $500 million that BP provided for research.
One set of those studies "has really rewritten the book on understanding the movement of surface currents in the Gulf of Mexico," said Chuck Wilson, scientific director for the Gulf of Mexico Research Institute, which administers the 10-year BP grant and, with the federal Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology and related federal agencies, organized the conference.
Researchers dropped 300 "drifters" near the spot where the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded into flames in April 2010 and along the Louisiana coast to see where surface currents would take them, just as they'd carry pollutants. The drifters sent their locations to a satellite every five minutes for months, and scientists from several universities are studying the data. Fifteen will present early findings about different aspects during the conference.
"Hurricane Isaac came right through the middle of these drifters, and ... now we know what the surface currents do when a hurricane goes by. That's always been a big question," Wilson said.
A grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is paying for a group of sociological studies called Women and their Children's Health at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.
One, by assistant professor of public health Daniel Harrington, is both studying how the spill affected seafood consumption and collecting information about how much seafood people eat in coastal Louisiana.
Harrington said the federal risk assessment used to decide when to reopen waters to fishing was based on consumption rates lower than seen in some parts of Louisiana.
"If you underestimate consumption rates then you potentially underestimate risk," he wrote in the abstract for his presentation. Knowing how much seafood people in coastal Louisiana really eat will improve future health risk assessments for the area, he said.
After the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, more than 200 million gallons of oil flowed from BP's Macondo well about 50 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast. The blast killed 11 workers on the rig, which was under lease to BP PLC by Transocean Ltd.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.