Methane in Gulf of Mexico disaster spells more danger
Chemical destroys all oxygen in water
While oil continues to spill into the ocean after the sinking of the deepwater Horizon oil rig in April, in the United States worst ever ecological disaster, scientists have made an even more alarming discovery. There are heavy amounts of methane in the oil being leaked, and the chemical has a great potential for destroying oxygen in the water.
Methane is a colorless, odorless and flammable substance that is a major component in the natural gas used to heat people's homes.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It's estimated that the oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer says.
That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, potentially suffocating marine life and creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives.
"This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history," Kessler says.
Methane is a colorless, odorless and flammable substance that is a major component in the natural gas used to heat people's homes. Petroleum engineers typically burn off excess gas attached to crude before the oil is shipped off to the refinery.
BP, the owners of the rig have been doing that as it has captured more than 7.5 million gallons of crude from the breached well. A BP spokesman said the company was burning about 30 million cubic feet of natural gas daily from the source of the leak, adding up to about 450 million cubic feet since the containment effort started 15 days ago.
That's enough gas to heat about 450,000 homes for four days -- but that figure does not account for gas that eluded containment efforts and wound up in the water, leaving behind huge amounts of methane.
BP CEO Tony Hayward apologized for the spill, saying "I am so devastated with this accident," "deeply sorry" and "so distraught."
The comments have not mollified members of Congress. "BP blew it," said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the House investigations panel that held the hearing. "You cut corners to save money and time."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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