North Sea Gas Leak

28 Mar

Yesterday the BBC ran a story putting forth the position that there is no risk from the gas leak from Total’s rig in the Elgin gas field. Most of the piece was based on Total’s own press release and was reassuring in tone and basically adopted a don’t worry leave it to the experts tone.

However Total admit that they do not know what caused the leak and that if it doesn’t stop naturally then it could take months to stop it. In the meantime tons of toxic chemicals are leaking into the surrounding sea and into the air.

The atmospheric leak is so ‘not serious’ that there is an exclusion zone of 2 miles for shipping and 3 miles for aircraft and

“The stand-by vessel had identified the sea boiling, as it were, below the installation – suggesting there was gas coming up there and there was some kind of vapour cloud sitting on the surface of the sea.”

In addition there was a

“A sheen of between two and 23 tonnes of gas condensate, and measuring six nautical miles in length, has been reported on the water nearby” (both quotes from

However at no point does the article seek to raise the question of the ecological damage such a leak will have on marine life and food change in the area.

Hydrogen Sulphide is a toxic chemical with effects similar to Hydrogen Cyanide so what effects is this spill likely to have on plankton in the area and wider North Sea? Both the ‘sheen’ and dissolving gases will deplete available oxygen levels for sea life with the potential for a ‘dead zone’ yet the BBC and other commentators are so ‘pro-oil’ that they devote no space to these considerations in their coverage.

If as Total freely admit that it could take months to seal the leak then the amount of gases spilled and subsequent ecological damage will not be inconsiderable.

So BBC and our other media outlets just what are the likely risks and outcomes and why are you ignoring the right of the citizenry to be informed in favour of a ‘trust the Oil industry and don’t worry’ ethos?


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