We have all had frustrations with the response to the recent Gulf oil disaster. One such frustration that we at Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper felt early on was the lack of solid data about the impacts from the disaster. This frustration prompted us to begin an environmental sampling project.
LEAN/LMRK technical advisor, award winning chemist Wilma Subra, put together the sampling protocols. We coordinated with world-class commercial laboratories who would process the samples. We prepared Julia the LMRK patrol boat and were ready to go.
On August 2, 2010 we made our first sample collection trip. Since then we have made 8 sampling trips, from the western edge of Terrebonne Parish to the Louisiana/Mississippi line, and collected over 50 samples.
Samples of water, soil, plants and animals have been collected. As the project progressed we have decided to focus on seafood species as these have the greatest impact on people.
The following list details a few of our findings to date:
|Sample:||Date:||Location:||Total Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons:||Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons:|
|Oysters||8/2/10||Terrebonne Parish||0.016 mg/kg||9,780 mg/kg|
|Blue Crab||8/2/10||Terrebonne Parish||NT||2,230 mg/kg|
|Oysters||8/3/10||Plaquemines Parish||0.063 mg/kg||12,500 mg/kg|
|Mussels||8/3/10||Plaquemines Parish||0.386 mg/kg||6,900 mg/kg|
|shrimp||8/12/10||Sr. Bernard Parish||0.017 mg/kg||8,350 mg/kg|
|Flounder and Speckled Trout||8/12/10||St. Bernard Parish||ND||21,575 mg/kg|
|Seagull Viscera||8/19/10||Terrebonne Parish||ND||23,302 mg/kg|
|Fiddler Crabs and Periwinkles (snail)||8/19/10||Terrebonne Parish||0.012 mg/kg||6,916 mg/kg|
|Blue Crab||10/26/10||Plaquemines Parish||0.078 mg/kg||147 mg/kg|
The high levels of petroleum hydrocarbons are troubling particularly since many of these species are consumed by people. It is our understanding that there should be no detectable levels of petroleum hydrocarbons in seafood.
It should be noted that none of the samples listed above were visibly contaminated nor did they have any unusual odors. The seafood species, in particular, appeared pristine. We have made an effort to test a broad sampling of areas across the coast.
Based on our sampling project we believe that the government’s pronouncement that Gulf seafood is safe is premature.
This information is particularly valuable in determining possible public health concerns related to contamination from the oil disaster. Information gathered will help us to understand what possible precautions should be taken now and what actions are necessary to fully restore the environment of the impacted areas.
We hope that the results from our sampling project will help to fill in some of the unanswered questions about the impacts of this disaster. As a small nonprofit, our scale and scope is limited greatly by budget but it is our hope that this research contributes to an accurate, independent and publicly accessible analysis of the state of the Gulf environment.We are currently waiting for the results of two more trips worth of samples which are being processed at the lab.
We will continue to collect this important data as long as we can afford to. As always we will continue to assist the communities we serve and strive to find answers to the questions vital for maintaining healthy and sustainable coastal communities.
To help continue this project go here: http://www.indiegogo.com/Gulf-Seafood-Safe