See also: Written testimony
John W. Farrington, Interim Dean and Professor, School of Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and Scientist Emeritus, Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionSeptember 24, 2010—Before the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling
Good morning Senator Graham, Administrator Reilly and Commissioners. My name is John W. Farrington. I am the Interim Dean and Professor, School of Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and Scientist Emeritus, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Thank you for the invitation to testify and to contribute to the important work of the Commission. My remarks are my own and do not represent positions of organizations with which I am employed or affiliated.I have been asked to testify on three topics and I have submitted written testimony in response. These topics are:
1) IXTOC I Oil well Blowout June 3, 1979 to March 23, 1980.
The cruise track of the research cruise involving the NOAA Ship RESEARCHER and the contract vessel G.W. PIERCE is shown in SLIDE 4. and extended from Miami to the well site in the Bay of Campeche and then along the Mexican coast to the coast of Texas and into Galveston. Texas. The next slide SLIDE 5 is an expand chart showing the sampling locations in the well site area. When we arrived at the well site, this is was the scene SLIDE 6 as recorded from the helicopter operating from the NOAA Ship RESEARCHER. The day was misty. The oil slick is extending at us as we approached from the northeast. The two platforms to the right and left of the slick were drilling relief wells that eventually were used to stop the flow of oil and gas from the ISTOC I well blow out.A closer view of the well site taken the next day SLIDE 7 shows the continuing flames from the gas bubbling to surface surrounded by a bubbling up of oil-water mixture from the vertical plume extending from the sediment water interface 50 meters below the surface of the water. The surface oil slick was then carried away by about a 0.5 to 1 knot current. We sampled below the slick for analyses of gas and oil. The result for the gas assessment are shown in the next slide SLIDE 8 which documents the concentration of methane in the water column extending away in a horizontal plume to the northeast from the well site (towards the right of the slide)until about 40 km down-current. At this point our salinity measurements indicated that the slick and plume encountered a plume of fresh water coming offshore from land as a result of extensive rains associated with a recent hurricane and tropical storm. SLIDE 9 documents the same horizontal plume for oil in the water.
There was an underwater horizontal “plume” moving with the current away from the vertical plume and under the surface slick.
2. Knowledge of Oil Pollution in the Marine Environment.The National Academies of Science 2003 report “Oil in the Sea III” is an excellent compilation of knowledge about oil pollution in the marine environment.
Farrington and McDowell (2004) in an article written in Oceanus magazine: “Mixing Oil and Water”, summarizing the National Academy of Sciences 2003 Report for the layperson wrote:“We also need to expand research on oil pollution in deep waters. Most concerns and research have traditionally focused on coastal waters. Yet new concerns arise as oil production moves offshore. We can only speculate on the impact of oil exploration and production in deeper waters until we have more detailed knowledge of the biological organisms in these habitats and the biogeochemical processes that govern their lives. “
Slides 12 AND 13
Overarching Recommendation 1
Overarching Recommendation 2.