Preventing Future Disasters: Researchers to Participate in Statewide Gulf Project

In an effort to prevent future environmental and economic disasters, Texas Tech has teamed up with other universities and state officials in the Gulf Project.

University researchers have already dedicated efforts to environmental chemistry and understanding the current oil crisis.

Throughout this project, researchers will continue their efforts to understand the environmental chemistry of oil and the ecotoxicological impact of the current Gulf crisis.

Texas Tech will join several other state universities in a collaborative and intensive research effort to help prevent deep sea drilling accidents and better prepare the state for future environmental and economic disasters, announced July 6 by Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake, Texas.

“Texas Tech appreciates the governor’s foresight with establishing this collaborative effort,” said Chancellor Kent Hance. “We appreciate the opportunity for Texas Tech to participate.”

The Gulf Project is a coalition of energy and environmental scientists, policy experts, academic researchers, private sector research scientists and state officials. In addition to Texas Tech, the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, the University of Houston, Rice University and Southern Methodist University will participate. The Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA), the Texas General Land Office and the Texas Railroad Commission also are participating in the effort.

“To keep our status as the energy capital of the nation and preserve our environment, jobs and economy, Texas must become the world leader in developing the next generation in offshore oil exploration safety and response,” Gov. Perry said. “The Gulf Project is an unprecedented collaboration of the state’s top scientists, engineers and researchers, focused on protecting our residents, environment and economy, and solving the unique challenges presented by the next generation of domestic energy exploration and production.”

At Texas Tech, more than 25 scientists at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) have dedicated themselves to understanding the science of the oil spill from an ecotoxicological standpoint. Researchers such as Todd Anderson, George Cobb and Ernest Smith are studying the environmental chemistry of the oil, while Ron Kendall, Jonathan Maul and Phil Smith are testing to discover the oil’s impact on Gulf Wildlife. Celine Godard-Codding is determining the oil’s impact on bottlenose dolphins as well as endangered sea turtles and sperm whales, while Seshadri Ramkumar and Steve Presley have discovered a remediation system using nonwoven cotton for absorbing the oil.

This research team, led by chief editor Ron Kendall, recently published a leading reference book titled Wildlife Toxicology: Emerging Contaminant and Biodiversity Issues. The book, published by CRC Press, is being heavily accessed for wildlife toxicology assessment and remediation strategies related to the Gulf oil spill.

A key challenge for the industry is the current inability to test full drilling systems to determine their safety, and to develop proven methods of responding to large-scale oil spills such as the Deepwater Horizon incident. Other nations including the United Kingdom, Norway and Brazil are competing to develop a seafloor testing facility.

Gov. Perry believes domestic oil and gas exploration remains critical to meeting the nation’s energy needs. Texas’ energy industry continues to fuel the nation, supplying 20 percent of the nation’s oil production, one-fourth of the nation’s natural gas production, a quarter of the nation’s refining capacity, and nearly 60 percent of the nation’s chemical manufacturing. Additionally, Texas’ energy industry employs 200,000 to 300,000 Texans, with $35 billion in total wages.

Crude Survival
Crude Survival

Check out what our researchers are doing in the Gulf.

Crude Survival is a journal of Texas Tech research covering the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Read more >>

TIEHH

The Institute of Environmental and Human Health was created in 1997 as a joint venture between Texas Tech and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center to assess the impact of toxic chemicals and diseases on the physical and human environments, including air, water, soil and animal life.

Researchers investigate elements in the environment, both those that are naturally occurring such as disease and those caused by humans, such as nuclear activity, pollution or chemical or bioterrorism, which negatively impact the environment. It is one of the few labs in the country dedicated to environmental toxicology.

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