tagged w/ corporate negligence
On March 3 Nicole Maurer learned of the proposed settlement between BP and hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast businesses and residents harmed by its 2010 oil spill, the largest in US history.
In her cramped but immaculate trailer on a muddy back road in the small town of Buras, Louisiana, Nicole tells me that the two years since the tragedy began on April 20, 2010, have been “a total nightmare” for her family. Not only has her husband William’s fishing income all but vanished along with the shrimp he used to catch but the entire family is plagued by persistent health problems.
For months following the onset of the disaster, she says, there was an oil smell outside their home and “a constant cloudiness, like a haze, but it wasn’t fog.” Her 6-year-old daughter Brooklyn’s asthma got worse, and she now has constant upper respiratory infections. “Once it goes away, it comes right back,” Nicole explains.
Before the spill, Elizabeth, 9, was her “well kid.” But now Elizabeth constantly suffers from rashes, allergies, inflamed sinuses, sore throat and an upset stomach.
Nicole stares at me and catches her breath; she apologizes for the tears that flow down her face. “It’s a touchy subject,” she says. “They are just tired. Tired of being sick.”
William worked from June to October 2010 as part of the Vessels of Opportunity program that paid the fishermen BP put out of business to use their boats to clean up its oil. William transported giant bags, called bladders, used to collect oil, to the shore. When he came home at night, says Nicole, his clothes “smelled oily.” Not only were his clothes blackened; so was William.
William’s symptoms began with coughing, then headaches and skin rashes, followed by vomiting and diarrhea. About three to six months later, he started bleeding from his ears and nose and suffering from a heavy cough.
“I ain’t got no money for a doctor,” William quietly tells me, staring down at his hands in his lap. Medicaid covers the kids, but Nicole and William do not have health insurance. “We didn’t know we were gonna get sick. Now I get sick, I stay sick. I don’t sleep. I stay stressed out more than anything. I got bags under my eyes I never had before. I just don’t know if I wanna show people who I am.”
Nicole is fairly confident that the settlement is not going to bring justice. So she wants just one thing: enough money to get her entire family out of the Gulf Coast for good.
On February 27, US District Court Judge Carl Barbier was to hear opening arguments against BP, Transocean, Halliburton and all the companies involved in the disaster. The case consolidates virtually every civil charge brought against the companies by individuals, business and property owners, and the federal and state governments. It is the most complex and significant environmental litigation in history. As this article goes to press it seems unlikely that the plaintiffs will ever get their day in court. Instead, the judge has issued continuances to allow more time for a series of settlement deals to be negotiated.
As information about the settlement negotiations comes to light, several critical issues are not being adequately addressed—including the human health crisis brought on by the disaster.
Many people whose health was adversely affected by the spill would be excluded. The Medical Benefits Settlement covers about 90,000 people who are qualifying cleanup workers (out of an estimated 140,000) and 110,000 coastal residents living within one-half to one mile of the coast (out of a coastal population of 21 million). Although it would cover “certain respiratory, gastrointestinal, eye, skin and neurophysiological” conditions, it excludes mental health and a host of physical ailments, including cancers, birth defects, developmental disorders and neurological disorders including dementia.
The proposed settlement provides a health outreach program and twenty-one years of health monitoring—but not healthcare. If “nonspecified” ailments occur in this time frame, the patient must sue BP and prove causality to receive a settlement. Accepting the settlement also means forgoing the right to sue BP for punitive damages. BP estimates its total remaining liability for individuals and businesses at $7.8 billion—a lowball figure for many reasons, and much less than would be necessary if large numbers of people do suffer cancers and other chronic diseases as a result of the spill.
Also excluded from any settlement are 194,000 individuals and businesses who accepted one-time final payments from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), which was established by BP on June 16, 2010, to comply with the Oil Pollution Act’s mandate that it fully compensate victims of the spill. Unable to afford to wait out a legal process, 95,000 people accepted payments of $5,000, and 45,000 accepted payments averaging $15,000, agreeing to give up their right to sue BP or any of the companies for any reason, including any harmful health effects. GCCF administrator Kenneth Feinberg was “dubious” about health complaints, as he told the Times-Picayune in September. He went on to question whether cleanup workers suffering from respiratory conditions “are going to be able to provide any support medically or occupationally for the proposition that they’re entitled to get paid. We’ll see.” In the end, except for claims from those injured on the Deepwater Horizon, the GCCF did not honor a single request for compensation related to health concerns.
* * *
Witnesses reported a host of ailments, including eye, nose and throat irritation; respiratory problems; blood in urine, vomit and rectal bleeding; seizures; nausea and violent vomiting episodes that last for hours; skin irritation, burning and lesions; short-term memory loss and confusion; liver and kidney damage; central nervous system effects and nervous system damage; hypertension; and miscarriages.
Cleanup workers reported being threatened with termination when they requested respirators, because it would “look bad in media coverage,” or they were told that respirators were not necessary because the chemical dispersant Corexit was “as safe as Dawn dishwashing soap.” Cleanup workers and residents reported being directly sprayed with Corexit, resulting in skin lesions and blurred eyesight. Many noted that when they left the Gulf, their symptoms subsided, only to recur when they returned.
More at the linkOn March 3 Nicole Maurer learned of the proposed settlement between BP and hundreds of... more
Dow Chemical acquired Union Carbide as a wholly owned subsidiary in 2001. They are therefore responsible for the clean up of the former Union Carbide Factory site in Bhopal, India. The area around the factory is densely populated and continues to be heavily contaminated by chemicals and toxins produced by the factory which Dow, despite their evident responsibility, have thus far refused to clean up.
The situation in Bhopal is a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe that continues to affect tens of thousands of people today. For further information see www.bhopal.org
The organisers of the Olympic Games claim that they are committed to organising a sustainable and environmentally friendly event. It is therefore completely unacceptable for Dow Chemical to be sold rights to print their logo all over the the fabric wrapping of the olympic stadium.
More at the link
Please sign this petition for all who have been victims of these environmental crimes.Dow Chemical acquired Union Carbide as a wholly owned subsidiary in 2001. They are... more
For 25 years, Ford Motor Company dumped toxic waste from a nearby factory into New Jersey's Ringwood State Park.
Members of the Ramapough tribe, who've lived on the land for generations, routinely fell ill from various poisons. Their children suffered nosebleeds any time they played outside.
Cancer rates in the area are elevated, and the Bergen Record found arsenic and lead one hundred times above safe levels in the nearby Wanaque Watershed, which supplies water to millions.
But instead of working to clean up the area, the Environmental Protection Agency is actually considering giving the land back to Ford to use it as a toxic waste dump.
There's not much time left to protect the park -- the EPA is announcing its plan in less than two weeks.
Edison Wetlands Association started a petition on Change.org asking the EPA to keep the park public and make Ford clean up the park for the public's use.
Right now, Ford is secretly lobbying both state and federal officials to gain the right to resume toxic dumping in the park. But a national outcry can outdo them.
Please sign Edison Wetlands' petition to stop Ford from polluting before the EPA's deadline in less than two weeks:
http://www.change.org/petitions/save-ringwood-state-park-dont-let-ford-motor-company-use-it-as-a-toxic-landfillFor 25 years, Ford Motor Company dumped toxic waste from a nearby factory into New... more
Like many villages in China’s industrial heartland, Qiugang — a hamlet of nearly 1,900 people in Anhui province — has long suffered from runaway pollution from nearby factories. In Qiugang’s case, three major enterprises with little or no pollution controls churned out chemicals, pesticides, and dyes, turning the local river black, killing fish and wildlife, and filling the air with foul fumes that burned residents’ eyes and throats and sickened children.
The pollution from the Jiucailuo Chemical plant became so egregious that in 2007, Qiugang’s residents — working with a fledgling environmental group, Green Anhui — began to try to do something about it. Their efforts soon attracted the attention of Chinese-American filmmaker Ruby Yang, who with cinematographer Guan Xin and longtime collaborator Thomas Lennon, spent the ensuing three years chronicling the struggle of Qiugang’s increasingly emboldened population to curb the pollution that was poisoning them in their homes, schools, and fields.
This exclusive e360 video report, “The Warriors of Qiugang” — co-produced by Yale Environment 360 — tells the story of how the villagers fought to transform their environment, and, in the process, found themselves transformed as well
end of excerpt
How can any human being watch stories like this and not weep for what we are doing to the future? And this is one of many stories of corporate abuse of our environment at the expense of human health and the species that share in these ecosystems with us. However, this film is also inspiring in that it relays a fighting spirit amongst those who through necessity fought to preserve their lives and recover balance.
And as we see, this type of blatant moral abandonment is not endemic to one race or creed. It is a fallacy of our species as a whole as a result of a world too tied to monetary value as opposed to the intrinsic natural value of our Earth. We are but an extension of that Earth. We are all a part of a wonderful, beautiful, mystical, empowering all inclusive experience. One we have yet to fully realize. May we all reach deep inside of ourselves to find that place within us where what is important translates to the preservation of this beautiful world around us as we seek to fight the powerful forces that would see that day of knowing never come. That is my wish.Like many villages in China’s industrial heartland, Qiugang — a hamlet of... more
Plenty of people have heard of the recent oil spill on the Yellowstone River in Montana. Few are aware, however, that three weeks ago another leak formed a creek of crude running down to Cut Bank River just miles from Glacier National Park.
Cowardly local papers, perhaps for fear of hurting tourism or stepping in front of juggernaut corporations, have completely ignored reports from environmental officials and concerned citizens. They have often repeated the drilling company’s press releases verbatim.
We were on site and documented it. (Video at bottom)
The corporation’s reports are false. How can 420 gallons of oil travel a mile through a wheat field into a wetland, down a winding ravine and into a river? It was much much larger. We also do not know when it began, but we know it was three weeks ago was when it was first reported.
A break in an oil collection pipeline on the eastern prairie of the Blackfeet Reservation approximately 5 miles from the town of Cutbank has led to a flood of crude that has been flowing approximately one mile over land and into the Cutbank river. Tribal officials received word of the spill on Tuesday, but it remains unclear when, or why, the pipeline — which is managed by FX Drilling — actually began leaking oil.
Tribal officials confirmed that oil was spotted in the river at least two weeks ago by a kayaker who reported to 911 that he was paddling through oil. According to a preliminary investigation by the Blackfoot Environmental Department, FX Drilling attempted to fix the pipeline after the 911 call, but left the break unmended for over a week, claiming they were unable to access the site. Also, according to the investigation, FX failed to initiate cleanup on the site after fixing the pipeline.
On Wednesday, nearly three weeks after the initial discovery of the spill, absorbent booms were finally placed by Indian Country Environmental Associates (ICEA) on the shore of the Cutbank where the oil merges with the river. ICEA is a company contracted by the tribe to handle cleanup of oil spills on the reservation.
FX Drilling Corporation has claimed that the leak released “two barrels” of oil, or 84 gallons. However, officials with the Blackfeet Environmental Department have estimated the spill to be “several thousand gallons.” The volume of oil observed at the site was large enough to seep through a wheat field and down a coulee for approximately one mile where it entered the Cutbank River. It is the second significant release of oil into Montana rivers during the last month.
More at the link.Plenty of people have heard of the recent oil spill on the Yellowstone River in... more
BP reported yet another pipeline leak at its Alaskan oilfields, frustrating the oil giant's attempts to rebuild its reputation after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
BP said on Monday that a pipeline at its 30,000 barrel per day Lisburne field, which is currently closed for maintenance, ruptured during testing and spilled a mixture of methanol and oily water onto the tundra.
The London-based company has a long history of oil spills at its Alaskan pipelines - accidents which have hurt its public image in the U.S., where around 40 percent of its assets are based.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said the spill occurred on Saturday and amounted to 2,100 to 4,200 gallons.
A BP spokesman said the cleanup was under way and the company would determine the cause "in due course."
Lisburne, which is managed as part of the Greater Prudhoe Bay Unit, has produced no oil since June 18, according to Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission records, suggesting maintenance work requiring a prolonged shutdown.
The spokesman said the field had been undergoing "its annual maintenance."
BP's blown out Macondo well caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, spewing almost 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf and putting BP's future in the U.S. at risk.
Previous problems including leaks from corroded pipelines in Alaska and the fatal Texas City refinery blast in 2005 had already earned the company a poor reputation for safety, something analysts say it needs to address if it is to continue to grow in North America.
BP shares were down 1.089 percent at 454 pence at 0919 GMT.
Production from the entire Lisburne field remains shut off while the spill is addressed, Alaska officials said.
Immediate efforts are focused on containment and cleanup, said Tom DeRuyter, state on-scene coordinator for the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The methanol-produced water mix has spread into wet tundra as well as onto a gravel pad, bringing risks to slow-growing vegetation, DeRuyter said.
"You have actively growing plants and they're very susceptible to the contaminants," he said.
The pipeline will also have to be dug up to allow for an investigation into why it failed, he said.
More at the linkBP reported yet another pipeline leak at its Alaskan oilfields, frustrating the oil... more
More than 3,200 oil and gas wells classified as active lie abandoned beneath the Gulf of Mexico, with no cement plugging to help prevent leaks that could threaten the same waters fouled by last year’s BP spill, The Associated Press has learned.
These wells likely pose an even greater environmental threat than the 27,000 wells in the Gulf that have been plugged and classified officially as “permanently abandoned” or “temporarily abandoned.” Those sealed wells were first tallied and reported as a major leaking threat in an investigative report by the AP in July.
The unplugged wells haven’t been used for at least five years, and there are no plans to restore production on them, according to the federal government. Operators have not been required to plug the wells because their leases have not expired.
As a result, there is little to prevent powerful leaks from pushing to the surface. Even depleted wells can repressurize from work on nearby wells or shifts in oil or gas layers beneath the surface, petroleum engineers say. But no one is watching to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The addition of the unused but officially active wells, as documented in a list provided to the AP by federal officials under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, means at least three-fifths of the 50,000 wells ever drilled in the Gulf have been left behind with no routine monitoring for leaks.
The 27,000 decommissioned wells were drilled mostly on federal leases that have now expired. Government rules for expired leases on the sea floor require operators to plug the wells or make plans to reuse them within a year. In its original report, the AP documented how oil and gas companies regularly flouted the rules regarding temporary abandonment, with some wells “temporarily abandoned” since the 1950s.
Rules for unexpired leases are different, and have allowed operators to simply walk away from idle wells. Some of the roughly 3,200 unsealed wells contained in the latest list were drilled 60 years ago, and most are more than 10 years old.
Federal regulators described idle wells on active leases as a “potential threat” to the environment in a September letter to operators announcing a new program, dubbed “Idle Iron,” to plug them within three years. The letter said the program would cover more than 3,000 idle wells but didn’t say what kind of wells would be included or whether the wells already contained at least some cement plugging.
The list of specific wells covered by the Idle Iron initiative was provided to the AP by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, which regulates oil and gas leases on federal lands on the sea floor.
BOEMRE refused to provide the list when the AP first requested it in September. The agency said at the time that it first wanted to verify with gas and oil companies that the wells were correctly classified. The AP argued that the FOIA provides access to records as they exist at the time of the request, but the agency still refused to release the material.
In finally providing the list last month, BOEMRE said the wells had been “verified.” But several weeks later, a representative of the agency, Eileen Angelico, contacted the AP and said it had mistakenly released the original unverified list.
cont.More than 3,200 oil and gas wells classified as active lie abandoned beneath the Gulf... more
WA government hides GM canola test results
Wednesday, 23 December, 2010: A West Australian organic farmer is in limbo, awaiting state government test results and facing genetic manipulation giant Monsanto's legal wrath. Steve Marsh's organic farm has been decertified over GM canola contamination from a neighbour's farm.
Monsanto revealed today that it would give legal support to the GM grower if Mr Marsh sought redress for his losses through the courts.
"For years we called for Farmer Protection laws because GM contamination was inevitable once the Gene Technology Regulator issued unrestricted and unconditional commercial licences," says Gene Ethics Executive Director, Bob Phelps.
"And just this week, the regulator has licensed Monsanto trials of GM canola designed to survive even more repeated sprayings of Roundup herbicide. This will add to the burden of unmanageable herbicide tolerant weeds that already cost Australian land managers over $4 billion per year.
"The West Australian Government sampled the GM canola contaminating 60% of Steve Marsh's land weeks ago but Agriculture Minister Terry Redman is keeping the test results secret until Christmas eve at the earliest.
"Yet Steve's own strip tests found GM canola on his land and last week his organic certifier NASAA [National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia] confirmed GM and suspended his certification for at least a year. Steve has lost the premiums that come from marketing his organic produce that has zero tolerance for anything GM, as Organic Standard AS6000 requires.
"That's typical of how the minister treats farmers. Redman has not kept one promise on GM canola segregation and handling, despite claiming 'GM and non-GM canola can be segregated and marketed separately,' when he lifted the GM ban this year. He also welshed on his promise to publish the sites of GM canola farms so that non-GM growers could take evasive action.
"Monsanto's Tony May was present when Redman lifted the GM canola ban and he also sold 20% of the state's public plant breeding company intergrain to Monsanto for a song. They immediately announced that GM wheat is their joint research priority.
"Minister Redman has a responsibility to pass Farmer Protection laws early in 2011 to compensate organic farmer Steve Marsh and all the other growers who will be GM contaminated.
"Minister Redman must give Steve Marsh the Christmas present he needs, by announcing the GM test results today and promising a Farmer Protection law. He must give all farmers the non-GM crop choices that he promised, without economic loss or decertification from GM canola contamination," Mr Phelps concludes.
NOTES TO EDITORS
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/industry-sectors/gm-strain-blows-organic-status-away/story-e6frg95o-1225975191363, The Australian, December 23.
More background and media reports at www.geneethics.orgWA government hides GM canola test results
Wednesday, 23 December, 2010: A West... more
Chevron thinks they can get away with changing their image in light of their abuses in Ecuador. This site beats them to the punch, and now you can too.Chevron thinks they can get away with changing their image in light of their abuses in... more
The Hungarian village of Kolontar has been evacuated after new damage was discovered at a burst reservoir that spilled toxic sludge on Monday.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said it was "very likely" that an entire wall of the reservoir would collapse, releasing a fresh wave of chemical effluent.
Mr Orban also said there would be "very severe" consequences for those to blame for the disaster.
At least seven people have died as a result of the accident.
Around 150 people were injured by the spill of up to 700,000 cubic metres (24.7m cu ft) of red toxic sludge - many receiving burns.
Most of those killed were drowned or swept away in Kolontar as the sludge hit on Monday. The village is the closest to the reservoir, and would be expected to bear the brunt if there were a second spill.
On Saturday morning, about 800 residents were taken to a sports hall and two schools in Ajka, 8km (five miles) away.
Rescue team spokesperson Gyorgyi Tottos said the new damage to the northern wall of the reservoir was relatively minor, but villagers were evacuated as a precaution.
However the prime minister, in a press conference at the scene, painted a more serious picture.
Hungarian PM Viktor Orban: "The wall is in very bad shape"
"It's in very bad shape and our estimation is that the wall could fall down," he said. "It's very likely that it will happen... One consequence is that human lives could be in danger."
"Behind this tragedy some human errors and mistakes must exist. We will reveal all of that and the consequences will be very severe, tough, as much you can imagine," he added.
Mr Orban said another 500,000 cubic metres of waste could escape if the reservoir wall were breached again.
This would be heavier and thicker than the first spill, and would move slower - but would be even more toxic, says the BBC's Duncan Kennedy at the scene.
Besides those evacuated from Kolontar, police were also telling residents of the neighbouring village of Devecser to pack a single suitcase so they could leave quickly if necessary.
In the last few days, residents and emergency workers have worked round-the-clock to remove the worst of the sludge which damaged houses, streets and farmland, and polluted waterways.
All life in the Marcal river, which feeds the Danube, is said to have been extinguished.
The sludge reached the Danube on Thursday, but Hungarian officials said on Friday that the pH level in the river was "normal", easing fears that Europe's second longest river would be significantly polluted.
Emergency crews have been working to dilute the alkaline content of the spill, adding huge quantities of gypsum and chemical fertilisers to the waters of the Marcal and Raba rivers.
The disaster's confirmed death toll rose to seven on Friday, after an 81-year-old man died from injuries sustained in the torrent and two bodies were found on the outskirts of the village of Devecser.
The victims were likely to be two of three Kolontar residents still missing, disaster unit chief Tibor Dobson said.
The company responsible for the alumina plant, MAL Hungarian Aluminium Production and Trade Company, has offered its condolences to the families of the bereaved but insists it did nothing wrong.
cont.The Hungarian village of Kolontar has been evacuated after new damage was discovered... more
Creative video remembering the ecocide that still goes on in the Gulf now being hidden by BP to avoid fines and a larger hit to their already oil soaked criminal reputation. Regardless of how much the media wishes to now hide this or spin it, the absolute lack of morality BP has shown and still exhibits must never be forgotten.Creative video remembering the ecocide that still goes on in the Gulf now being hidden... more
Argentine people whose lives have been affected by glyphosate (Roundup®) herbicide spraying on genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready soy have told their stories in a series of interviews.
One interviewee is Viviana Peralta, a housewife from San Jorge, Santa Fe, Argentina. Peralta had to rush her newborn baby daughter, Ailen, to hospital after Roundup and other agrochemicals were sprayed on GM soy from planes flying near her home. The baby had turned blue and Peralta herself suffered respiratory problems.
Peralta and other residents won a lawsuit against soy producers that resulted in a landmark ruling banning the spraying of Roundup and other agrochemicals near houses.
Peralta said, “I do not understand chemistry, I did not go to university, but I know what my family suffered. To people who are not familiar with this agricultural model, I say, ‘Do not believe the companies. Reject agrochemicals. Do it for the life of your children.’”
As well as being widely used in agriculture, Roundup is marketed to home gardeners across Europe as environmentally friendly and safe to use around children and pets.
The interviews challenge commercial claims that GM soy cultivation is sustainable and that the glyphosate herbicide it is sprayed with is safe. In 2011 the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), a multi-stakeholder forum on sustainable soy production, will launch a voluntary label for “responsible” soy that will reassure ethically-minded traders and consumers that the soy was produced with consideration for people and the environment. It will label GM soy sprayed with glyphosate as responsible.
The interviews are released with a new report by a group of international scientists detailing serious health and environmental hazards from the cultivation of GM Roundup Ready soy and the use of glyphosate (Roundup®) herbicide.
The new report, “GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible?” highlights new research by Argentine government scientist, Professor Andrés Carrasco, which found that Roundup causes malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural spraying. Other studies collected in the report link the herbicide to premature births, miscarriages, cancer, and damage to DNA and reproductive organs.
Carrasco believes his research is less important than the experiences of residents who have reported birth defects and other health problems from glyphosate spraying for years. He said, “The origin of my work is my contact with the communities victimized by agrochemical use. They are the irrefutable proof of my research.”
Other interviews in the series:
Interview links from: http://bit.ly/9D9J2kArgentine people whose lives have been affected by glyphosate (Roundup®) herbicide... more
BP has shrugged off a potential public relations hit when the energy giant said it may drill a new well in the Gulf of Mexico reservoir which fed one of the world's worst oil spills.
BP is on the hook for tens of billions of dollars in fines and clean-up and compensation costs, so tapping into the rich field deep under the seabed might well be worth it.
"Clearly there's lots of oil and gas there and we'll have to think about what to do with that at some point," Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer, told reporters.
Asked whether BP would consider donating the proceeds from the sale of any oil from the reservoir or selling the rights to another oil company, Suttles said "we just haven't thought about that."
"What we've been focused on is the response right now. We haven't even thought about what we'd do with this reservoir and this field someday."
He declined, however, to say that BP would leave the rich reservoir alone out of sensitivity to those affected by the spill, prompted by a deadly August 20 explosion on an offshore drilling rig that killed 11 workers.
"What we've stated is the original well that had the blowout and the relief wells will be abandoned," Suttles explained.
BP later released a statement appearing to try to downplay his remarks, saying "BP's present focus is entirely on the response effort in the Gulf of Mexico and the future use of the reservoir is not currently under consideration."
Yet it too failed to say whether the Macondo reservoir would be a source of any further BP development.
With the runaway well finally plugged and work underway to "kill" it by injecting mud and cement in through a relief well, public attention is shifting away from the months-long disaster.
But officials cautioned there is still a huge clean-up job and experts warned that the impact of the spill could be felt for years, or even decades, to come.
More than 11 million feet (3.3 million meters) of protective boom is set to be collected and either disposed of or cleaned and stored for future use.
But fears about the effects of the oil remain, particularly as figures show that only eight percent of the crude that gushed into the sea was removed through burning and skimming.
While the massive slick which once spread for hundreds of miles has mostly dissolved or dispersed, according to the US government and BP, tiny droplets of oil are still toxic to the marine life which once supported a multi-billion-dollar commercial and recreational fishing industry.
The good news is that the oil appears to be biodegrading rapidly. The problem is there is simply so much out there.
At 4.9 million barrels -- or enough oil to fill 311 Olympic-sized swimming pools -- the disaster is the biggest maritime spill on record.
"It's a race between the microbes eating it and everything else being exposed to it," said Larry McKinney, executive director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.
"Microbial action comes at a cost. They're organisms. They use oxygen."
The Gulf was already under stress from coastal erosion and a massive "dead zone" created by agricultural runoff from the Mississippi River that feeds algae, which sucks oxygen out of the water.
"We will likely have a pretty severe impact," McKinney told AFP, adding that the real concern is that the spill could be the final tipping point for an already stressed ecosystem.
"You can only be knocked down so many times before you can't get back up again."BP has shrugged off a potential public relations hit when the energy giant said it may... more
Marcellus Shale gas drillers in Pennsylvania commit an average of 1.5 regulatory violations per day, according to a report from the Pennsylvania Land Trust, based on Right To Know requests to the Department of Environmental Protection.
In the last two and a half years, drilling companies were cited for 1,435 violations -- 952 of which were considered most likely to harm the environment, according to the report.
Share Land Trust spokeswoman Alana Richman said DEP provided a computer spreadsheet with information about each violation.
“We simply wanted to know what was going on with the drilling and put it out there as a statement of fact,”Richman said.
Nearly half of the violations were related to improper erosion and sedimentation plans and improper construction of wastewater impoundments that contain fracking water. These impoundments were improperly lined or not structurally sound.
In one instance, the Department of Agriculture quarantined a Tioga County farmer’s cattle because they could have ingested the frack water that leaked from the impoundment.
There were 155 citations for discharging industrial waste onto the ground or into commonwealth waters.
There were 100 violations of the state Clean Streams Law.
East Resources Inc. of Warrendale had the highest number of violations with 138, followed by Chesapeake Appalachia LLC, a subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy, with 118, and Chief Oil & Gas LLC of Dallas with 109.
Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas, the company responsible for contaminated drinking water wells in Dimock, was fourth with 94 violations.
The list of companies with the worst performance records in terms of the number of violations per well drilled was topped by J-W Operating Co., of Dallas, which drilled only one well and racked up 11 violations. Citrus Energy Corp. of Castle Rock, Colo., averaged seven violations per well, and Penn Virginia Oil & Gas Corp. of Radnor averaged four violations per well.
The numbers in the report might reflect only a fraction of the violations, according to Jeff Schmidt, director of Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter.
“There’s likely to be lots more violations out there that haven’t been identified,” Schmidt said. “Many people feel this is the tip of the iceberg.”
The Sierra Club and Clean Water Action said the report was evidence Pennsylvania needs to enact legislation and make environmental inspection of Marcellus wells mandatory.
“DEP already has a policy that requires inspections,” Schmidt said. “This policy is not followed.”
The latest chapter in the media's ongoing struggle to cover the Gulf Oil Spill comes courtesy of PBS Newshour's Bridget Desimone, who has been working with her colleague, Betty Ann Bowser, in "reporting the health impact of the oil spill in Plaquemines Parish." Desimone reports that on the ground, officials are generally doing a better job answering inquiries and granting access to the clean-up efforts.
But Desimone and Bowser have encountered one "roadblock" that they've struggled to overcome: access to a "federal mobile medical unit" in Venice, Louisiana: "The glorified double-wide trailer sits on a spit of newly graveled land known to some as the "BP compound." Ringed with barbed wire-topped chain link fencing, it's tightly restricted by police and private security guards."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set up the facility on May 31. According to a press release, the medical unit is staffed by "a medical team from the HHS National Disaster Medical System -- a doctor, two nurses, two emergency medical technician paramedics (EMT-P) and a pharmacist."
For over two weeks, my NewsHour colleagues and I reached out to media contacts at HHS, the U.S. Coast Guard and everyone listed as a possible media contact for BP, in an attempt to visit the unit and get a general sense of how many people were being treated there , who they were and what illnesses they had. We got nowhere. It was either "access denied," or no response at all. It was something that none of us had ever encountered while covering a disaster. We're usually at some point provided access to the health services being offered by the federal government.
From there, Desimone describes the runaround she and Bowser were treated to, in terms with which you are no doubt familiar with by now. When Desimone finally got to speak with Ron Burger, the "Medical Unit Operations Chief for HHS's National Disaster Medical System," she was told that the facility had been treating responders and could not or would not confirm or deny that any area residents had been treated there or turned away.
Concerns over public health in the Gulf region run high. Experts in the field have called for a "coordinated approach to monitoring and researching affected populations." And residents of the region continue to worry about the near-term effects of the clean-up effort and the long-term health impact the oil spill will have on the seafood. They have good reason to be concerned:
One of the first things BP did after oil started gushing into the Gulf was to spray more than 1.1 million gallons of a dispersant with the optimistic name "Corexit" onto the oil. Then BP hired Louisiana fishermen and others to help with cleanup and containment operations. About two weeks later, over seventy workers fell sick, complaining of irritated throats, coughing, shortness of breath and nausea. Seven workers were hospitalized on May 26. Workers were engaged in a variety of different tasks in different places when they got sick: breaking up oil sheen, doing offshore work, burning oil and deploying boom. BP officials speculated that their illnesses were due to food poisoning or other, unrelated reasons, but others pointed out how unlikely these other causes were, since the sick workers were assigned to different locations.
Burger also told Desimone that the facility was being run under the auspices of the "national contingency plan." I'll remind you for the eleventy billionth time that National Incident Commander Thad Allen specifically directed officials on the ground to grant access to the media, in what appears to be the most widely unheard or ignored set of orders in the world.The latest chapter in the media's ongoing struggle to cover the Gulf Oil Spill... more
Chief executive Tony Hayward hands responsibility for clean-up to American as new containment cap is placed on top of leak
BP is to hive off its Gulf of Mexico oil spill operation to a separate in-house business to be run by an American in a bid to isolate the "toxic" side of the company and dilute some of the anti-British feeling aimed at chief executive Tony Hayward, the company said today.
The surprise announcement was made during a teleconference with City and Wall Street analysts in which Hayward attempted to shrug off the personal criticism saying words "could not break his bones".
BP has faced mounting anger in the US over the accident on 20 April when the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up and sank with the loss of 11 oil workers' lives.
The Macondo well continues to spew out oil although a containment cap was placed on top of the leak today. Hayward said it would take a further 48 hours to know whether it was successful.
Responsibility for the leaking well and the clean-up strategy will placed in the hands of Bob Dudley, one of the company's most able directors.
Dudley, a US citizen, has been looking for a suitable role in the company since he was thrown out of Moscow in a battle with the Russian shareholders of the TNK-BP joint venture in the middle of 2008.
Hayward said the clean-up business would be run separately by Dudley with his own staff but the finances and budget would come from the main BP group. The BP chief executive said the purpose of the split was to allow Dudley to concentrate on the Gulf problem while he and other directors were not distracted from keeping the main business on track.
Hayward stressed, however, that his priority was sorting out all the wider fallout from the rig disaster and he apologised repeatedly for the loss of lives and ongoing damage to the beaches of the southern United States.
"Everyone at BP is heartbroken by this event, by the loss of life and by the damage to the environment and to the livelihoods of the people of the Gulf coast," he said.
continuedChief executive Tony Hayward hands responsibility for clean-up to American as new... more
Nick Pozzi, a former oil pipeline engineering and operations project manager is puzzled why BP did not salvage perfectly good crude oil for later sale, and to thereby protect marine and wildlife.
What Mr. Pozzi does not know is the oil companies are owned by the world’s only legal counterfeiters – the International Monetary/Banking Cartel – who can “print” all the money they want, so making money on Gulf oil was not important to them. Killing the Gulf of Mexico, apparently, is important to them, for their own cryptic and esoteric reasons.
If the Cartel had wanted to save marine life, any oil they had not vacuumed up could have been mulched with any number of non-toxic materials, such as “Oil Sponge,” a name trademarked by Phase III, Inc.
Rated as the “best performing” absorbent by the US Army Corp of Engineers, Oil Sponge is 100% organic, and is made from renewable resources.
Oil Sponge is built using a microbial and nutrient package, capable of transforming oil hydrocarbons into a safe bi-product of carbon dioxide and water.
But, the governmental bureaucrats of the Obama administration, and the Cartel’s oil executives, had no interest in using an environmentally friendly product to clean up what is the greatest man-made environmental disaster of all time … they seemed intent on making this unbelievable cataclysm far, far worse, and one that could never be cleaned up.
It cannot yet be proven that the Monetary Cartel purposely blew up their own wellhead, but the crimes they have committed in their so-called “clean-up” efforts are well documented, in spite of no corporate media outrage. Well, of course not, the Cartel that owns the oil companies also own their corporate media.
After the Exxon Valdez incident of March 1989, Mycelx of Georgia developed what looks like a paper towel to soak up to 50 times its weight in oil. And while this product is used from the Middle East to Europe to Canada it was of no interest to the parties Obama charged with cleaning up the Gulf of the floating oil those very same parties caused.
Then there is the AmeriHaz Petroleum Solidifier that encapsulates environmental contaminants, making crude oil and other oil like substances easy to retrieve, which also proved to be of no interest to the Cartel.
Even hair naturally separates oil from water, leaving large tar globs, in which mushrooms can then be seeded. And as the mushrooms grow, they digest the oil, leaving non-toxic organics, which can then be composed into soil, great for growing healthy vegetables.
Anyone who has ever had a bad hair day knows how well hair will retain oil. In fact, Lisa Gautier, president of Matter of Fact (website for hair salons) has collected 400,000 pounds of hair, and stuffed it all into nylons to be used as booms near Gulf shores.
This idea could have been a shot in the arm of our dying economy, by creating organic compose for the millions of nutrient depleted farm acres in the world. Also there could have been a viable cottage industry of collecting hair from salons.
And, hair is certainly a renewable resource, with most of us contributing. But neither Obama or the Cartel has done anything for our dying US and world economy, but ensure it dies, while feebly pretending to resuscitate it.
And now that they’ve probably destroyed the tourist, shrimping, and fishing industries along the Gulf Coast, we’ll be hearing about more “stimulus packages” that will make what money we do have even more worthless as it enriches the Cartel’s Wall Street.
But in the world of what could have been, there’s hay, sawdust, crushed volcanic rock, sheep’s wool, and even kitty litter that could have mulched with the oil on the surface of the Gulf waters, making for easy pick-up.
But, oil industry executives and their confederates in the Obama administration quickly made sure that all spewing oil would either sink well below the surface, or never rise to it, with over half a million gallons of their dispersants. Now the oil that’s been gushing for weeks can never be vacuumed up or safely neutralized.
continued.Nick Pozzi, a former oil pipeline engineering and operations project manager is... more
The deadly blowout of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was triggered by a bubble of methane gas that escaped from the well and shot up the drill column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals and barriers before exploding, according to interviews with rig workers conducted during BP's internal investigation.
While the cause of the explosion is still under investigation, the sequence of events described in the interviews provides the most detailed account of the April 20 blast that killed 11 workers and touched off the underwater gusher that has poured more than 3 million gallons of crude into the Gulf.
Portions of the interviews, two written and one taped, were described in detail to an Associated Press reporter by Robert Bea, a University of California Berkeley engineering professor who serves on a National Academy of Engineering panel on oil pipeline safety and worked for BP PLC as a risk assessment consultant during the 1990s. He received them from industry friends seeking his expert opinion.
A group of BP executives were on board the Deepwater Horizon rig celebrating the project's safety record, according to the transcripts. Meanwhile, far below, the rig was being converted from an exploration well to a production well.
Based on the interviews, Bea believes that the workers set and then tested a cement seal at the bottom of the well. Then they reduced the pressure in the drill column and attempted to set a second seal below the sea floor. A chemical reaction caused by the setting cement created heat and a gas bubble which destroyed the seal.
Deep beneath the seafloor, methane is in a slushy, crystalline form. Deep sea oil drillers often encounter pockets of methane crystals as they dig into the earth.
As the bubble rose up the drill column from the high-pressure environs of the deep to the less pressurized shallows, it intensified and grew, breaking through various safety barriers, Bea said.
"A small bubble becomes a really big bubble," Bea said. "So the expanding bubble becomes like a cannon shooting the gas into your face."
Up on the rig, the first thing workers noticed was the sea water in the drill column suddenly shooting back at them, rocketing 240 feet in the air, he said. Then, gas surfaced. Then oil.
"What we had learned when I worked as a drill rig laborer was swoosh, boom, run," Bea said. "The swoosh is the gas, boom is the explosion and run is what you better be doing."
The gas flooded into an adjoining room with exposed ignition sources, he said.
"That's where the first explosion happened," said Bea, who worked for Shell Oil in the 1960s during the last big northern Gulf of Mexico oil well blowout. "The mud room was next to the quarters where the party was. Then there was a series of explosions that subsequently ignited the oil that was coming from below."
According to one interview transcript, a gas cloud covered the rig, causing giant engines on the drill floor to run too fast and explode. The engines blew off the rig and set "everything on fire," the account said. Another explosion below blew more equipment overboard.
BP spokesman John Curry would not comment Friday night on whether methane gas or the series of events described in the internal documents caused the accident.
"Clearly, what happened on the Deepwater Horizon was a tragic accident," said Curry, who is based at an oil spill command center in Robert, La. "We anticipate all the facts will come out in a full investigation."
Looks like plan cover your ass has been put into motion.The deadly blowout of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was triggered by a bubble of... more
I agree. We need to start putting people in jail who represent companies that do this. We need a corporate death penalty that shuts down operations of corporations that deliberately commit environmental crimes and economic fraud. The reason why this spill is continuing to be allowed to get worse is because they know they can do it and get away with it! And as you listen to this, listen to what BP lawyers are now doing to mom and pop shrimpers to take away their rights to justice to save their own asses. That isn't even considering what this is doing to marinelife and wildlife. I agree with Mr Papantonio here, Transocean will fall on their sword to save BP, and they will get away with this while screwing the planet. BOYCOTT BP.I agree. We need to start putting people in jail who represent companies that do this.... more