Professors Joseph Calabrese and Loretta Dickson are joined by Ashely Colarusso in welcoming guests to a panel discussion on the Guld oil spill. Not pictured is their fellow panelist Professor Stanley Berard.
LOCK HAVEN, Pa. -On September 15th the MountainServe Center for Global Citizenship held a discussion on the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. This panel was composed of faculty members and a student who spoke about the geological, biological, and economic issues of the oil spill and shared their own experiences during recent travels to the region. The panel featured Dr. Loretta D. Dickson, assistant professor of geology in the Department of Geology and Physics; Dr. Joseph P. Calabrese, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences; Ashley Colarusso, a Lock Haven University biology student who interned on the Gulf Coast with the Fish and Wildlife Service; and Dr. Stanley P. Berard, chair of the Department of Political Science, History, Geography and Economics.Lock Haven University is a member of the Pennsylvania State
System of Higher Education (PASSHE), the largest provider of higher education in
the commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 250 degree and certificate
programs in more than 120 areas of study. Nearly 405,000 system alumni live and
work in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Dickson discussed the formation of oil and the process by which oil is converted from organic life, and the geology of the Gulf Coast region. She also explained the dynamics of oil drilling the methods used for deep-sea drilling and the equipment that is employed. Dr. Dickson discussed the official accident report released by BP, explaining the sequence of incidents that likely contributed to the oil spill disaster.
Dr. Calabrese described the chemical makeup and structure of oil and how it reacts with biological life. He explained how crude oil is used in our everyday life from gasoline in our cars to plastic bags at the grocery store. Dr. Calabrese explained the impact that oil is having on the birds, fish, mammals and plant life in the region, including respiratory problems, fin structure degradation, reproduction issues and in some cases death.
Ashley Colarusso held an internship with the Fish and Wildlife Service at Erie National Wildlife Refuge and was selected to go to the Gulf Coast to help with wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. She described her work in Louisiana as part of a rescue team and the appropriate ways to capture and treat oiled birds. Ashley said that it was “an eye opening experience, and one of the best opportunities I have ever had.”
Dr. Berard explained the political situation between state and federal authorities that is affecting the cleanup process. He also explained the economic impact the oil spill is having on the region through the decimation of the fishing and tourist industries. The Gulf Coast is a major supplier of oil with a large concentration of drilling and refineries; however it is also a major fishery for the county. Dr. Berard explained the conflict that is arising between offshore drilling and fishing.
The panel concluded with a question-and-answer session in which many students had a chance to ask questions and also voice their concerns. Many students were interested in the impact this spill will have not only on our sea food supply but on future deep-water drilling. The event was attended by over eighty students and was standing room only.