The BP Deepwater Horizon spill is not over.
On 20 April, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig blew up, releasing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. BP admits to using almost two million gallons of chemical dispersants during the clean-up effort. We were told that the well had been capped and the leak stopped. The media seems to have a virtual black-out on the subject, unless you are deliberately seeking information in the nooks and crannies of the internet. But the oil is still leaking, and in fact, has never really stopped, although the flow has lessened. Fishermen along the Gulf claim that Corexit is still being sprayed to this day. New evidence has been presented in advance of the BP trial (scheduled to begin yesterday – although it appears that a settlement may be reached and the trial may never take place) showing that the well which was presented to the public as successfully capped was not the only well that was leaking at the Macando site and may not have been the main source of the leak at all.
A brief recap of some of the very few stories about the spill since the “well was capped”.
In June ’10, BP set up a 20 b fund to compensate those who had suffered hardship due to the spill. No objection was raised when President Obama assigned a BP lawyer, Kenneth Feinberg, to oversee the claim fund. BP has paid Feinberg’s firm $850,000 a month to administer the fund. As of June ’11, the fund has paid just 4.7 b to less than 200,000 claimants, although there have been over one million claims filed, with thousands more each week continuing to be filed.
Immediately after the spill, a moratorium on deep water drilling was put in place, but was lifted in Oct. ’10. (No new permits were actually issued until Feb. ’11.) Ironically, the first new permit issued went to a company for drilling in an area very close to the Deepwater spill.
Jan., ’11: The White House released its final report of the spill, blaming BP and its partners for cost cutting and lack of a system to ensure well safety. The spill was “not an isolated incident”, the report stated, but the “root causes are systemic, and absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, [such spills] might well recur”. This statement makes no mention of the fact that the WH had lifted the moratorium 3 months before, without its own recommended “significant reform”. (The US government issued its final report in Sept., ’11, laying the blame on BP, Halliburton, and Transocean equally.)
Feb., ’11: Research teams find oil on the seafloor which is not degrading, despite the heavy use of the dispersants. This continues to be true to this date.
May, ’11: Louisiana extends its state of emergency related to the spill, as problems are on-going.
July, ’11: It is found that 491 miles of coastline remain contaminated by BP oil.
Aug., ’11: Fresh oil is seen surfacing in the same area as the Deepwater site. This is confirmed as a chemical match for the oil from the original Macando well. BP quietly reactivates its clean-up crews, paying local fishermen to lay boom.
Sept., ’11: al jazeera article:
Sick Gulf residents continue to blame BP
from Al Jazeera Sept 2011
Many people living near the site of the BP oil spill have reported a long list of similar health problems… The smell of chemicals on the Mississippi coastline is present on many days when wind blows in from the Gulf. Presley’s list of symptoms mirrors what many people living in the areas affected by BP’s oil spill have told Al Jazeera. “I was having them then, and still have killer headaches. I’m experiencing memory loss, and when I had my blood tested for chemicals, they found m,p-Xylene, hexane, and ethylbenzene in my body.” …
Compounding the problem, BP has admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersants, which are banned by many countries, including the UK. According to many scientists, these dispersants create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil. Dr Wilma Subra, a chemist in New Iberia, Louisiana, has tested the blood of BP cleanup workers and residents. “Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP crude oil,” Subra explained to Al Jazeera. “The acute impacts of these chemicals include nose and throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, lung irritation, dizziness, light-headedness, nausea and vomiting.”
Subra explained that exposure has been long enough to create long-term effects, such as “liver damage, kidney damage, and damage to the nervous system. So the presence of these chemicals in the blood indicates exposure”. Testing by Subra has also revealed BP’s chemicals are present “in coastal soil sediment, wetlands, and in crab, oyster and mussel tissues”. Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, and skin and eye contact. Symptoms of exposure include headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, genetic mutations, cardiac arrhythmia, and cardiovascular damage. The chemicals can also cause birth defects, mutations, and cancer…
In ‘Generations at Risk’, medical doctor Ted Schettler and others warn that solvents can rapidly enter the human body,” Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist, and Exxon Valdez survivor, told Al Jazeera. ..
Dr Soto’s main concern is that most residents who are being exposed will only show symptoms later. “I’m concerned with the illnesses like cancer and brain degeneration for the future,” he told Al Jazeera. “This is very important because a lot of the population down here may not have symptoms. But people are unaware they are ingesting chemicals that are certainly toxic to humans and have significant effect on the brain and hormonal systems.” ..
Today is Thursday September 29, 2011. A friend of mine just returned from Venice, Louisiana on a fact finding mission. He spent 2 days there and talked to dozens of fishermen and BP contractors and Coast Guard personnel and there is alot of oil at the Deepwater Horizon-Macondo well site. It is not a sheen, it is several inches thick in some spots. A chemical analysis has confirmed it is Macondo oil. There is alot of activity in Venice and resources are being ramped up.
Word is that geological formation above oil deposit is unstable and oil is leaking from fissures around wellhead. All sealife on ocean bottom is dead according to Woods Hole Oceanograpic Institute in 30+ mile radius from site and Corexit dispersant is present in large amounts…
There are alot of sick people that worked on the initial oil spill cleanup and residents in many coastal towns and cities that are sick. This is the second inning of a long nightmare and anyone who signed a release to get a ‘quickpay’ from BP and their minion Fienberg should hire a lawyer asap and hope they can get their release annulled. BP top brass are sociopaths… “
Oct., ’11: NOAA reports that dolphins and whales continue to die at twice the normal rate.
BP is given permission to resume drilling in the Gulf. A news story from Oct., ’11 (this references a letter sent to Congress in January ’11, although I doubt you ever heard this evidence being mentioned in the MSM):
The Gulf of Mexico disaster has not gone away. In fact, it has grown exponentially since the main stream media stopped talking about it. According to the Gulf Rescue Alliance, an organization composed of scientists, medical professionals and seafood industry professionals, among others, the problem cannot be simplified to the damage already caused by the oil spill. It is worse, much worse…
The latest assessment performed by the Gulf Rescue Alliance reveals not only that the oil spill is still happening, but also that the Gulf of Mexico’s sea floor grew more unstable since the explosion in 2010. Additionally, analysis provided by experts like BK Lim, shows that the geohazards developed that derive from the rolling leakage of toxic matter, combined with the on-going use of the highly toxic chemical dispersant called Corexit will most likely result in the permanent decline of marine life, while posing out-of-control public health risks, just as it did after the Exxon Valdez spill ...
In a letter dated 14 January, 2011 that was sent to Congressman Fred Upton, Chairman House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Congressman John Shimkus Chairman Subcommittee on Environment and Economy, BK Lim warned the congressmen and their committees about the current state of the sub-seabed in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). In the document, an in-depth assessment of the emergency was provided. It explains why action must be taken immediately…
While BP was officially battling to kill well A, their contractors and other vessels went about with other covert underwater operations, many of which did not seem to be in sync with the urgency of killing “a third undisclosed well which was gushing even more oil”…
In fact, in early media reports animated graphics suggested 3 different leaks locations. BP admitted initially 3 leaks but conveniently reduced to only 1 later; ignoring to explain the “why, when and how”. BP had maintained from the start they had drilled only 1 well. From my analysis in early Aug 2010 I concluded BP could not have drilled only 1 well. They must have drilled 3 wells to account for all the conflicting information…
During the first few weeks of the disaster, there was a struggle within BP between thosewho wanted to come clean about the reality of the situation and another group that wanted to cover it up. Apparently the latter group managed to win the struggle and they decided to use the well with the least of the problems (the first and shallowest, Well A, which was drilled to about 5,000 feet below mudline) to be the one staged for the world media as the “show capping” of an oil spill. The third and bigger leak at Well 3, which the late Matt Simmons kept asserting was “the deepest well that reached the Macondo oil resevoir”, was kept out of the public limelight…
There is another interesting article from Oct, ’11 about Gulf Coast residents who have become activists on the spill issue being harassed, followed, and in some cases had their homes broken into and computers stolen. See:
Nov., ’11: The Coast Guard decides it is okay to wind down the oil clean-up efforts, although Gulf residents continue to see oil coming ashore and signs of serious illness in the fish catches.
BP will no longer be responsible for cleaning up oil that washes up on the Gulf Coast unless officials can prove it comes from the company’s well that blew out in 2010, causing the worst offshore spill in U.S. history, according to a plan approved by the Coast Guard and obtained by The Associated Press…
Louisiana officials wouldn’t give their approval because they were concerned about what they perceived as a lack of long-term monitoring in the document. They also complained that the Coast Guard gave them only five days to review the plan, according to a letter sent to the agency by Garret Graves, a top aide to Gov. Bobby Jindal for coastal affairs…
“Everything is just not how it used to be. When you pull a fish up, it doesn’t look like it is supposed to look, like they did before” said Ryan Johnson a fishermen on the pier. Johnson said many fish now have an unnatural brownish color.
Despite the concerns, the Coast Guard said its finalized plan would apply to Louisiana and all the Gulf states…
9 Nov., ’11:
The catastrophic oil spill caused by an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon petroleum rig in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 was a disaster of epic proportions, and according to the new documentary “The Big Fix,” the havoc it wreaked is far from over. Filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Harrell Tickell (“Fuel”) used their cameras to expose the ugly truth after a visit to Josh’s native New Orleans, when it became clear that the problems are ongoing and getting worse. “The oil appears to still be leaking. The deadly chemical dispersant Corexit 9527 is still being sprayed and humans along the Gulf Coast as well as shrimp and fish populations appear to be sick,” he said, showing photos of tumor-ridden fish and abnormal crab at a press conference for the film, where several fellow Louisianans corroborated his statements.
“Lives are devastated by this environmental crime for which no one has been indicted,” said attorney Stuart Smith, who represents more than 1,000 individuals and businesses in the Gulf and appears in the film. Citing the thousands of dolphins, turtles, shellfish and other marine creatures that have died, “The impact is bad enough, but what’s even more frightening is the oil is still leaking and bubbling up at the site where the rig once stood,” he said. “We have been lied to. It was leaking when Josh and Rebecca were filming, and it’s still leaking. BP downplayed the significance of the spill, which they’re still doing today. It’s time that the government and BP tell the American people the truth.”
Dean Blanchard, whose shrimp processing company was once the largest in the U.S., has seen his supply dwindle to “less than 1 percent of the shrimp we produced before. We get shrimp with oil in the gills and shrimp with no eyes. The fish are dead and there are no dolphins swimming around my house.” He knows five people who worked on cleanup crews who have died, and he suffers from sinus and throat problems. Former shrimper Margaret Curole’s healthy 31-year-old son worked two months on the cleanup and became so sick from dispersant exposure that he lost 52 pounds and is now unable to walk without a cane. “Most of the seafood is dead or toxic. I wouldn’t feed it to my cat,” said her husband Kevin Curole..
“The larger issue is the system is corrupt,” continued [actor Tim] Robbins, questioning why “the first license issued for offshore drilling
after the moratorium [was] granted to BP. The government has given up on its responsibility to protect the public interest and instead is allowing corporations to determine policy and environmental safety. What we’re seeing with the oil spill and the illnesses from it is what happens when we allow corporations to determine public policy. Corporations’ interest is purely profit. It’s nothing to do with our safety and interests. Why are we allowing this? It’s our responsibility as citizens of this country to keep these people in check, particularly when they threaten our environment with extinction and our lives.”…
The attorney mentioned in the above article, Stuart Smith, who is representing over 1,000 individuals and businesses in a lawsuit against BP, issued a press release in Nov. regarding the test results which prove that the oil still leaking into the Gulf comes from the Mocando site. http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/11/21/41602.htm
One reporter who has remained doggedly on the oil spill story is Deborah Dupre of examiner.com. She has written a review of the movie “The Big Fix”, which can be found here: http://www.examiner.com/human-rights-in-national/bp-government-carpet-bomb-gulf-people-world-now-knows At the bottom of that article, you will find links to many other stories she has written on the subject. The movie, by the way, is scheduled for release to the public in April.
Now we come to the present time. I went through the exercise of presenting all the above articles in an attempt to show that the BP oil spill story is on-going and a current crisis – it is not over. You will not hear about it on the nightly news or read about it in the Wash. Post or NYTimes; but that does not mean that everything is fine in the Gulf of Mexico. I doubt, though, that anyone except the sick people along the coast and the fishermen who can’t find healthy fish know anything about conditions there. The rest of us may become aware of the situation when either the entire seabed cracks apart or when some otherwise remarkably ignorant Republican candidate decides to use it as a story to smear Obama – not that the environmental issues mean a thing to Republicans. Obama certainly ought to be held responsible, but what a dismal state of apathy and ignorance we live in for the issue to have been so easily tossed aside. The Gulf is dying. Oil is still leaking. People are sick. And we are fast-tracking more drilling sites. The evidence is in: we are too stupid to survive as a species for much longer.
Yesterday was supposed to be the start of the BP trial; in advance of that, the following information was handed over to Congress and the Attorneys General of AL and LA.
Gulf Rescue Alliance (GRA) has just sent a briefing package to the Attorneys General of Alabama and Louisiana which presents evidence they believe has never seen the light of day concerning the how and why of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster and subsequent release of toxic oil into the Gulf—oil that is still gushing from various seabed fractures and fissures.
The evidence provided therein clearly indicates:
- The unmentioned existence of a 3rd Macondo well (the real source of the explosion, DWH sinking and ensuing oil spill).
- The current condition of this well being such that it can never be properly capped.
- The compromised condition of the seabed floor being such that there are multiple unnatural sources of gushers continuing to pour into the Gulf, with Corexit dispersant still suppressing its visibility.
- That the highly publicized capped well (Well A) never occurred as reported, and in fact was an abandoned well, hence it was never the source of the millions of gallons released into the Gulf….
This extraordinary report goes on to document a scenario in which it appears that BP illegally drilled more than one well at the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Furthermore, the well that was ultimately capped after 87 straight days of gushing oil and gas into the Gulf may not be the one that was licensed by the appropriate US permitting agencies.
The factual sequence of events, and especially the actual response by BP, appear to be far different from those reported in the media and by the Coast Guard. It is important to note that BP was given a lead position in the unified command structure authorized by the US Federal Government immediately following the burning and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon. This transference of authority away from the impacted state governments was unprecedented in US history and created a virtual monopoly over the flow of information from BP to the appropriate authorities, as well as to the public-at-large…
“All this is absolutely relevant to the case at hand; and particularly getting this vital information into the hands of the Attorney General of Alabama and anyone else involved in this trial. But our purpose for doing so is to gain attention to what we consider the real situation: EPA’s continued endorsement of toxic Corexit dispersants being used in the Gulf waters, as well as their enforced ban on safe, non-toxic bioremediation products such as Oil Spill Eater II-an effective EPA tested and approved product used around the world,” said GRA.
“It would seem plausible that government officials knew of the information about the 3rd Well but aided in covering it up similar to the recent PEER report revealing the fact that top White House officials manipulated scientific analyses by independent experts to seriously lowball the amount of oil leaking from the BP Deepwater Horizon.”
The PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) report mentioned above reads in part:
For Immediate Release: January 23, 2012
HIGH-LEVEL LOWBALL IN GULF DEEPWATER CRISIS — Scientific Integrity Complaint Details Official Underestimation of BP Spill Rate
Washington, DC — Top Obama officials manipulated scientific analyses of independent experts to seriously lowball the amount of oil leaking from the BP Deepwater Horizon, according to a scientific integrity complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Documents obtained by PEER through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit indicate White House pressure to present low-range estimates as best estimates. In fact, numbers presented to the public were less than half the true flow rate.
On May 19, 2010, one month after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, the White House announced creation of a group of experts from academia, industry and government to generate an accurate and independent estimate of the oil leak rate. This group was called the Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG).
Using new scientific integrity rules, PEER today filed a complaint charging that the leader of one of the FRTG Teams, Dr. William Lehr of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), manipulated the scientific results of the FRTG experts throughout the entire crisis to significantly understate the spill rate. Lehr is also the author of the now infamous “Oil Budget Calculator” and a report concluding 75% of the oil was gone from the Gulf by August 2010…
These underestimates [of the spill rate] were repeated to the public and media. When experts on the FRTG complained to Dr. Marcia McNutt, Director of the U.S. Geologic Survey, she cited pressure from the White House, saying in a May 29 email that:
“I cannot tell you what a nightmare the past two days have been dealing with the communications people at the White House, DOI, and the NIC who seem incapable of understanding the concept of a lower bound. The press release that went out on our results was misleading and was not reviewed by a scientist for accuracy.”
Throughout the Plume Team’s work it was widely thought that physical measurement of the leak was not possible and therefore it was assumed that Plume Team estimates of the leak rate would be used to assess damages in future litigation. Thus, manipulating spill rate estimates down to 25,000 bpd instead of 60,000 bpd could have reduced damages paid by BP and/or other responsible parties by tens of billions of dollars. Even more significantly, the President’s National Commission concluded that underestimates of the size of the spill hampered clean-up efforts and caused numerous attempts to cap the well to fail.
In fact, the leak rate was physically measured by an Energy Department team as the well was capped. This final official estimate set the leak rate at 62,000 bpd (decreasing to 53,000 bpd when finally closed), proving correct the suppressed estimates from dissenting Plume Team members.
“This complaint serves as a litmus test as to whether the Obama administration will apply its scientific integrity rules to its own actions,” stated PEER executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that his organization has waged an 18-month court battle to obtain approximately 100 highly redacted emails while several hundred more emails are still being withheld. “Hopefully, the investigation of this complaint will force the immediate release of the full deliberations so that the scientific record can be set straight.”