BP Oil Spill Promotes Green Jobs Through Oil Cleanup Effort

The April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion killed 11 workers and resulted in a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst spill in United States history. Millions of gallons of oil have leaked into the Gulf, and over 78,000 square miles of fishing area have been closed. One bright spot amidst this tragedy is the increase in green jobs needed to clean up the oil and to figure out how to stop the leak. Environmental activists are hoping that the push for renewable energy as a result of the spill may create longer term green collar jobs.

Green Jobs Available in Several States

Since the spill, BP has hired over 25,000 workers to assist with oil clean up efforts. States such as Florida, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi have set up specific websites for residents looking for spill response work. Approximately 400 positions have become available in Florida’s Walton and Okaloosa counties alone.

Job positions include anything from marine scientists, to field technicians, to coastal modelers. Employers include state and federal agencies, but also private engineering and construction firms, oil and gas companies, and emergency response firms. Some universities are also starting to expand research opportunities to study the impacts of the spill on wildlife and the economy.

Florida’s Monroe County is preparing for any spill impact on the Florida Keys by recruiting up to 300 unemployed residents to become Qualified Community Responders (QCRs). Coming from all parts of the Keys, these workers will receive paid QCR training on hazardous waste management. Over 500 QCR’s are being trained in five other Florida counties.

Hazwoper Certification Needed for Many Oil Spill Cleanup Positions

Many employers are willing to train on the job. One major requirement to work on remediation sites is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazwoper certification. Hazwoper stands for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response. It corresponds to an OSHA standard that considers oil cleanup and containment an emergency response activity.

Workers that receive the Hazwoper training gain valuable skills. Topics of the training cover essentials such as toxicology, hazard recognition, medical surveillance, air monitoring, emergency procedures, and other areas. Workers who are temporarily visiting the oil spill site can do a 24 hour training; workers who will be on site everyday (considered general workers) must complete a 40 hour training.

Renewable Energy Cries Might Spur Green Collar Jobs in the Future

According to the green collar job advocates, Green for All, green collar jobs are ones that improve the environment, promote clean energy, and lift lower income individuals into the middle class. The oil spill has moved renewable energy advocates to pressure the government to address the dangers of relying on non-renewable sources and to expand the clean energy industry.

One long term goal for organizations like Green for All is to create a green economy. Currently workforce development programs exist to train youth and those currently unemployed or underemployed to work in green industries such as solar and wind energy production and energy conservation.

President Obama unveiled a plan to promote more clean energy jobs in January that would create 17,000 jobs. In his Oval Office address to the nation about the oil spill, he concluded by discussing America’s need to transition to using green energy sources and the jobs that are becoming available.

BP Oil Spill Brings Green Jobs and New Found Urgencies for a Green Economy

BP’s oil spill created a spike in job creation around the cleanup effort. Job websites post thousands of positions, many of which offer on the job training. Green energy activists are urging politicians to act now on moving towards a green economy with the hope that future employment growth can be in the green collar job sector.

Health Risks of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put together a website for residents along the Gulf coast in response to questions about their health risks and the smells they have encountered since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. Other questions have since been raised about strange respiratory illnesses among clean-up workers and exposure to dispersants and the byproducts of burning oil slicks.

General Health Risks Associated with Oil Spills

  • Respiratory issues – The oil smell can be harsh as volatile compounds are carried from the spill in the air to shore communities. Inhaling the compounds can cause the common respiratory symptoms of coughing and shortness of breath, as well as nausea and flu-like symptoms. The possibility of particulates in the air is increased when an oil slick is burned. Exposure to chemicals that affect the lungs can also irritate the eyes, nose, mouth, and throat, causing redness.
  • Anxiety and stress –Much of the reported illness surrounding an oil spill is attributed to apprehension. As residents are given information about the potential for toxic compounds being present in the air, they may complain of the symptoms. The psychological distress caused by such a disaster was studied after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Researchers found long-term negative impacts on mental health, both in those who were directly affected economically and on the concerned general public. They have also found that localized oil spills and leaks have profound psychological effects on the communities they disrupt (Picou and Gill, The Exxon Valdez oil spill and chronic psychological stress, American Fisheries Society Symposium, 1996).
  • Dehydration – Anyone working for long periods of time, especially outdoors in the heat, can be subject to dehydration due to water lost by sweating. Severe dehydration can require medical attention. Early stages of dehydration are indicated by fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and muscle weakness, but can be addressed by increasing fluid intake.
  • Chemical pneumonia – Chemical irritation of the lungs can be caused by the dispersants used to break up oil on the surface of the water. The volatile compounds in the air from an oil spill can cause dizziness, headaches, and nausea as they displace oxygen in the lungs and irritate the respiratory mucosa, leading to inflammation.
  • Skin irritation – People should not touch the oil or tar balls formed from an oil spill in the water. The dispersants used to clean up the oil on the surface can cause a rash and dry, irritated skin.
  • Nausea – The volatile chemicals released by an oil spill can cause nausea at concentrations much lower than what is needed to make a person physically ill. Swallowing any of the water containing dispersants can irritate the stomach and cause nausea and vomiting.

Reported Health Issues Along the Gulf Coast

Residents of the Louisiana coast began complaining of severe allergy-like symptoms, including scratchy eyes, sore throat, and respiratory problems, just one month after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded. Toxicologists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have monitored the levels of particulates in the air. The leaking rig was 50 miles offshore, and no particulates were being detected at that time, leading many to cite stress and apprehension. Parts of the Louisiana coast were seeing particulate levels in the moderate range.

By the end of May 2010, volunteer workers were being hospitalized for dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Dehydration and a lack of respiratory masks were cited as a cause of concern. By June 10, 2010 more than 86 workers and residents in Louisiana and Alabama had been treated for some of the minor illnesses noted above (DemocracyNow). By June 28, 2010, the number had climbed to 162 cases in Louisiana alone, 128 of which were clean-up workers (CNN). The Coast Guard also confirmed in June that two workers had died, though the causes of death were not released. Over the July 4th weekend, health officials confirmed that 400 people have become sick after swimming off the beach near Pensacola, Florida (Examiner). The exact toll may not be known for years.

 

Non-oil-related Health Risks to Volunteers

The wetlands along the Gulf of Mexico is home to a number of animals, including venomous snakes, of which there are six species volunteers along the Gulf coast could potentially encounter in their clean-up efforts (University of Florida). The bayou of Louisiana and wetlands along the Mississippi and Florida coasts are also the known habitat of the American alligator, whose sharp teeth and powerful jaws make him an unwanted guest among the workers (National Geographic). More information on the various animals and animal-related health risks are available from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Home Heating Oil Prices Set to Become Extremely Volatile

For decades, the fuel of choice for many homeowners living in cool-weather states has been heating oil. The fluctuation of heating oil prices over the past few years has caused a great deal of concern, as people worry if they can afford to keep warm this winter. Sadly, the reality is that it will probably cost more to heat your home this winter than in years past.

Which Way Will Heating Oil Prices Go?

Frankly no one truly knows. There are a lot of professional traders trying to make money betting exactly on this question. But most homeowners don’t want to bet on the price of heating oil. While they would like to pay as little as possible, more importantly they want some kind of stability in the price.

Benefits of a Fixed Heating Oil Price Plan

With so much volatility in prices, the fixed price plan has become quite popular with consumers. Essentially the consumer and supplier agree on a fixed price for the entire heating season. The consumer also agrees to purchase an estimated amount of fuel during that time. The benefit to the consumer is that they know their cost is fixed.

Plus, the company sets the client up on automatic delivery and estimates when their tank needs to get topped up. That allows the supplier to better schedule their time and ensure the client receives better service.

Generally the estimates are pretty good since their software calculates customer usage based on degree days. If it’s colder than normal the supplier knows approximately how much extra fuel will be used. Naturally, the opposite applies if it’s warmer.

Drawbacks of a Fixed Price Plan

Unfortunately there’s no such things as a free lunch. The customer pays a premium in return for the security of a locked-in price for the entire season. Exactly how much is that premium? It’s very difficult to calculate, because it’s impossible to tell how much the day-to-day (spot) price of heating oil will change in the coming season. Generally speaking, the heating oil price will need to move up a fair amount, in order to benefit from that locked-in price.

The second concern is that you are often required to purchase a certain amount of fuel. Though the amount is normally reasonable (based on prior usage), there’s no guarantee you will use that much in the coming season. What if the winter is warmer than usual?

Also remember that when you sign up for a fixed heating oil price plan, you’re entering into a binding contract. Once the contract is signed it’s usually not easy to get out, not without some kind of penalty.

Is a Fixed Plan Right for You?

Everyone’s situation is unique and there is no right answer. What’s important is to take time to objectively think things though. While it may feel comforting to lock in a fixed price for your heating oil this coming season, it’s vital that you read through any contract carefully before you sign it.

Save Money on Oil Changes: Spend Less and Protect Your Car by Choosing the Right Motor Oil

If you think you’re doing the right thing by getting your oil changed every 3,000 miles, you’re probably only helping the garage, not yourself or your car. Oil change facilities love to tell you to come in every 3,000 miles, because that’s another $25 (at least) in their pocket every time you walk through the door.

The way cars are built these days, you may only need to replace the oil every 6,000 miles. And even less if you use synthetic oil.

Synthetic Versus Regular Motor Oil

Synthetic oil costs more than non-synthetic, and your oil change will last twice as long. It consists of artificially synthesized compounds which can tolerate more extreme engine temperatures. Synthetic also promises better gas mileage, and many factories recommend it. But check with your owner’s manual to see what your manufacturer advises.

Where Should You Have Your Oil Changed?

  • Definitely not the dealer, unless it’s running a big money-saving special. Independent mechanics will do just as good a job for a lot less money.
  • Look for an ASE certified facility. You’ll be assured the facility is approved by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence.
  • Ask a lot of questions and make sure the mechanics are knowledgeable and helpful.
  • Check your Sunday paper and the internet for coupons.

When Do You Need to Change the Filter?

Every time you change your oil. The filter only costs about five dollars. And if you don’t change it with the oil, you’ll leave about 10 percent of the old oil in the engine. If the mechanic says you need a whole lot of other things, ask a lot of questions. Look under the hood yourself. Some newer cars will alert you as to when you need a transmission flush or even new wiper blades.

Should You Change the Oil Yourself?

Sure, if you know your way around cars. But if you don’t, leave it to a certified mechanic. They know what they’re doing. But if you decide to do it yourself, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Five to six quarts of oil (or whatever your car requires)
  • Oil filter
  • Funnel
  • Pan (it should be able to fit underneath the car and hold about five to six quarts of oil)
  • Oil filter wrench and socket wrench
  • Bucket with a lid

Use a socket wrench to remove the drain plug. Then take the oil filter wrench and remove the filter. After the oil drains into the pan, pour it into a bucket. Make sure the engine is not hot when you’re doing this. Then, install the new filter and put the oil plug back in the drain. Remove the engine oil cap and fill with five to six quarts of oil (or whatever your manufacturer recommends) using a funnel. Replace the cap, start the engine and make sure the filter and drain plug are not leaking.

Remember, it is illegal to discard used motor oil or transmission fluid in the trash, on the ground or into sewers. Check your state’s environmental resource agency for recycling facilities. Some oil change facilities will take the oil for you and recycle it. Or go to Earth911 where you can plug in your zip code and find a list of recycling centers near you.

Which is the Best Fuel for Home Use Propane, LPG or Oil?

Oil and propane, also known as Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) especially in the UK, are both fossil fuels. All the negative aspects of fossil fuels are, therefore, associated with both LPG and oil:

  • fuel from a non renewable resource,
  • carbon emissions,
  • a risk from carbon monoxide when fossil fuel is burned.

Domestic Fuel Delivered to Remote Locations

For those in rural location, off the main gas grid either propane gas or heating oil could be an excellent solution to meet domestic fuel requirements. Both oil or propane must be delivered to the site by a tanker and be stored on site in a suitable container. The fuel could be kept in a bulk storage container discretely hidden or buried below ground.

Is Heating Oil or Propane (LPG) a Better Residential Fuel?

There are pros and cons to either fuel. Oil smells, which can be a good thing because the strong smell can be an alert signal for a problem such as a leak. Appliances which use oil rather than gas usually enjoy a longer lifespan, such as oil boilers. The longer life may not result in savings for the consumer, however, if the old appliance is significantly less efficient and one must consider the cost of buying new appliances. A new gas furnace or boiler might be cheaper than an oil one.

 

Oil is a thick smelly liquid, propane is only liquid whilst stored under pressure. Despite its name, LPG is an invisible gas, a odour has been added to it so that leaks can easily be detected. If there is a propane gas leak it will disipate in air but it should not be stored in a basement where it will pool because it is heavier than air.

Is Propane (LPG) or Oil the Cheaper Domestic Fuel?

Comparing the price per litre, or gallon, is not useful because the fuels do not give rise to equal amounts of heat per volume. Currently, on average heating the home with propane will give rise to higher fuel bills than with reisentail heating oil, but in specific areas prices can vary greatly.

Propane has a heat value of 91,000 BTUs per gallon of liquid, oil produces 140,000 BTUs per gallon. A further factor is the efficiency of the heating appliances. A modern gas boiler will be more efficient than an an oil appliance, thereby converting more of the potential heat into actual heat. The difference could be around 10% with a gallon of porpane generating 86,000 BTUs and oil 119,000.

LPG propane needs to be about one third or 30% less than the price of oil for the two to be about the same for their potential heat value. Prices in any local area can vary greatly, official US statistics based on the average cost currently puts residential propane at $2.4 USD per gallon and residential heating oil at $3 per gallon.

Which is the Best Fuel for Residential Heating: Oli or Propane/ LPG

When choosing between the two traditional fuels for a remote location it is necessary to consider the local area, what fuel is available, what do the neighbours use for their heating requirements, when are the deliveries and what are the prices.

Heating appliances and the mix used for residential heating oil have developed and improved considerably so memories of heating systems from decades past are not useful. When planning a system for heating and hot water from scratch it may be more useful to consider how modern technologies could be used and whether systems such as solar power or wind turbines might make a useful contribution.

How to Save Money on Petrol/fuel

Car fuel, gas,petrol,juice whatever you call it, it aint cheap! But here are a few ways you can help save a little bit by remembering a few things.

Turn off your air conditioning, unless you absolutely need it. Air conditioning uses an alarming amount of fuel.

Make sure your not carrying any excess weight, if it doesn’t need to be in the car, take it out!

Try not to accelerate too fast or too often, the car uses most fuel when you accelerate, so do so slowly and only when necessary, no gunning it from one stop sign to the next!

Keep the windows as closed as possible, this creates air resistance.

Take anything like roof racks etc off the car unless you are using them, they create drag and resistancewhich will use more petrol

Try to keep an even, moderate speed such as 40-50 (where allowed!)

Make sure the air pressure in the tyres is correct and make sure they are all properly inflated.

Change your air filter every 6000 miles.

Head Lice Removal with Pure Petroleum Jelly

You have discovered that your child has head lice. Now what? There are many over- the- counter remedies and some prescriptions that you can choose. However, these are not 100% proven effective and let’s face it, you are using pesticides on your child’s head. Is that really safe? It can’t be all that healthy! Not to mention that it is quite frustrating to pay all that money, go through all the steps, only to find that the lice have survived and are laughing back at you as they lay more eggs. Thus, continuing the vicious cycle of trying to remove the lice. Your child is uncomfortable, perhaps in tears. You are at your wits end.

There is a better way. I have used this method on my daughter and I can tell you it works!! It is cost effective and less frustrating for both you and your child. In first grade, my daughter came home from school with head lice. We tried every lice removal system out there and it never failed, a week later she was re-infested. That is when I discovered the Pure Petroleum Jelly method. The lice get stuck and suffocate in the jelly and are easily combed out. Even the tiny ones that you can barely see and are often missed through traditional removal systems. The jelly also help loosen the eggs from the hair for better removal.

You will need a jar of petroleum jelly (store brand is fine), two shower caps., a metal lice removal comb, a wide bristle brush , and a few towels. Now comes the fun part. Drape a towel around your child’s neck to protect their clothing. Then start applying the petroleum jelly throughout the hair. Be sure to get it all the way down to the scalp. Be generous and apply it very thick. To lighten the mood and help make you child smile, sculpt the hair in funny designs. Once you have finished applying the jelly, push the hair as much as you can on top of the child’s head. Wrap a small hand towel or “do- rag” over the hair. Finally, place the shower cap securely on top of your child’s head. Leave this on for at least 12 hours (over night).

After the elapsed time, remove the shower cap and towel or do-rag. The hair will be knotted so gently use the wide bristled brush to straighten out the hair. Gather another towel (paper towels may be better) and the metal lice removal comb. Divide the hair into small sections. Start close to the scalp and comb out the hair. You will get large clumps of petroleum jelly in the comb. Wipe it off with the towel, or paper towels and continue. Make sure you comb the entire head thoroughly.

Due to the fact that my daughter has very thick hair, it is at this point I re-apply more petroleum jelly and have it remain on her head for one more night. This extra step may not be necessary for everyone, but I like to make sure I get the job done. That is where the second shower cap is used.

It may take several hair washings to remove the remainder of the petroleum jelly. The best way to break up the jelly is to soak the hair with olive oil. Scrub the olive oil throughout the hair with your hands. Then use manual dish washing liquid to wash the hair. Do not use dish detergents for the machine dish washer.

Your child is now lice free!

British Petroleum Has More Than One Oil Spill to Contend With

British Petroleum–BP–has its hands full these days with the major oil spill that continues to flow in the Gulf of Mexico. Another oil spill, this one in Alaska that occurred in May 2010 also involves this corporate giant.

An 800 mile stretch of pipeline happened at a pump station in Fort Greely, located approximately 100 miles south of Fairbanks, Alaska. 100,000 gallons of oil were spilled during a scheduled pipeline shutdown. Problems with a main system power failure caused the pump system to go to its back-up battery power. But the battery-powered system malfunctioned, causing a relief valve not to close.

The pipeline is owned by various oil companies, but BP holds the largest chunk at 47 percent ownership.

Workers at the site were evacuated, with no injuries occurring. A report. by an Alaskan State Department of Environmental Conservation on-site spill coordinator indicated that the spill was confined to the pump station’s containment area (Huffington Post).

In September 2009, a natural gas line owned by BP exploded, sending shrapnel flying across the landscape. The recently formed Alaskan state Petroleum Systems Integrity Office (PSIO) determined that corrosion of the pipe was the reason for the explosion. Although no one was injured or any material leaked from the pipe, there was a potential for the occurrence to have had more dramatic consequences.

The PSIO had been less than pleased with the response by BP to this explosion, and as recently as February 2010 was still seeking appropriate documentation from the oil company about the incident and preventative measures for the future. The agency’s hands are tied by-and-large because it has merely an overseer position; it cannot impose penalties or enforce laws/regulations.

BP spokesman Steve Rinehart acknowledged the September 2009 incident by stating, “This had the potential to be a more serious event, and we are taking it seriously” (Reuters). Additionally Rinehart stated, There was not a recording method in place sufficient to make sure that this spot got onto the to-do list to inspect when the snow was gone. Now there is.”

It is frightening to consider if a company as large and experienced as BP had no plan in place to inspect their lines, snow or no snow, what other details have been overlooked.

How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Storage Unit?

The following is a guest post from Nigerian real estate developer Michael Chudi Ejekam.

Cost of Renting a Storage Unit

Storage unit rental companies traditionally charge their consumers on a monthly basis. A 5×5 foot storage unit can run between $40 and $50 a month depending on the company. 10×15 foot units can cost anywhere from $75 to $140 a month. Monthly dues for a 10 x 20 foot unit can cost between $95 and $155, while 20 x 20 foot units can cost upwards of $225 a month.

Cost of Renting a Controlled Climate Storage Unit

Some rental companies offer storage units that feature climate-control. Temperature and humidity are controlled in this type of storage unit. Generally, consumers can expect to pay higher prices for climate-controlled storage units. A 10 x 15 foot climate-controlled storage unit can cost up to $150 per month. A 10 x 20 foot storage unit that is climate-controlled can cost anywhere from $170 per month to $180 per month.

POD Storage Unit

POD storage units are a mobile type of storage unit. The Acronym POD stands for “portable on-demand.” They can be delivered and picked up from a location at the consumer’s request. Companies that offer POD storage units usually have a facility where consumers can choose to store their POD if they do not want the unit on their property while they are renting them. POD storage units are very popular and convenient. For a 8 x 8 x 12 foot POD, consumers can expect to pay around $230 per month.

Additional Storage Unit Costs

Aside from monthly rent requirements, there are a couple other costs associated with storage units. Most consumers would be wise to lock up their storage spaces, while they are away. A decent lock can cost upwards of $20. Some facilities may require a deposit, which can vary from location to location. Storage unit owners have the right to charge consumers late fees for monthly dues that are not received on time. In many cases, to avoid fees, consumers can negotiate with the owner of the rental facility. Late fees can vary from location to location.

Just How Pretty Do Those Petroleum-based Cosmetics Make You?

Just how pretty do those petroleum-based cosmetics that you wear make you? It’s safe to say that you are bombarded on a daily basis by images suggesting what “pretty” or “handsome” looks like according to advertisers and product manufacturers. Insomniacs who dare to turn on the television during the wee hours of the morning are flooded with their choice of infomercials ripe with the topic. The overall suggestion seems to be a simple one; you are flawed and there is a product that can change that! There is a never-ending sea of products that offer the promise to change you for the better one way or another. It would appear that consumers have bought into this way of thinking hook, line, and sinker.

Not only do consumers crave to minimize their perceived flaws, they have become convinced that there is a simple solution to each and every one of them. Advertisers and product manufacturers take it one step further by suggesting that certain amounts of these beauty-enhancing products should be used regularly in order to achieve and maintain the results that consumers are looking for. This never-ending quest by consumers creates a tax that has to be paid by the planet and its occupants. The shiny hair, flawless complexion, smooth skin, perfectly manicured nails, intoxicating scents, and plethora of aerosolized products exact a toll on the earth as well as the people who use them. The question is, do consumers care enough to try to minimize the overall impact they are having?

Small Changes Can Have a Huge Impact On The Planet and Your Health!

It isn’t just the oil and gas that consumers put in their vehicles each and every day that contributes to this global problem. It’s also the products we put on our bodies and the packaging and containers that they come in. Where do you think all of the plastic packaging, bottles, caps, and in many cases the ingredients inside the products themselves come from? You may be surprised at the number of petroleum-based products in your home as well as the ones that are potentially on your body right now.

If consumers would make a concerted effort to educate themselves about the origins of the products they use on a regular basis and attempt to move away from those that are derived from fossil fuels, it would have a huge overall impact. It isn’t only a matter of the health of our ailing planet, it’s a matter of consumer health as well. Many of the cosmetics that dot the shelves of our grocery and drugstores are a concoction of toxic chemicals that are capable of doing everything from disrupting hormones to potentially causing cancer. Making an attempt to steer clear of these chemicals may save the planet and your life.

Educate Yourself About What’s In Your Bathroom Cabinets and Medicine Closets

The next time you purchase a cosmetic product, consider investing in its organic and sustainable counterpart. There are many plant and mineral-based products that are not derived from petroleum that are not only better for the planet-they are better for you too. Chances are, if you can’t read the list of ingredients very easily, it isn’t something that you want to be putting on your body on a regular basis. It’s not only your body that you have to worry about either. Many products that are targeted for parents to use on their children are a cause of concern as well. It’s time to take a closer look in your bathroom cabinets and medicine closets to consider what the implications are of the products you are using. Places you can begin to gather information about the products that your family uses and their safety is at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Cosmetic Safety Database.

The likelihood that you can eliminate petroleum-based products from your life is probably not a realistic one and it doesn’t have to be. Being a little bit more discerning about your consumption is a great place to start. Recycling the plastic containers that your products come in is an important piece of the big picture. We have to stop being a throwaway society and learn to re-use, reinvent, and recycle as much as we can. Our fragile and ailing planet could use some help right about now. Are you willing to take the first step and make a small commitment towards having a healthier planet and body? Because if you are – that is sexy.