tagged w/ BP Catastrophe
Members of the public renewed questions about the safety of seafood in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill Tuesday night during a public hearing at a gathering of scientists to discuss ongoing research about the effects of the spill.Members of the public renewed questions about the safety of seafood in the aftermath... more
Oil is washing up along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, confirming concerns that the storm could churn up oil in the Gulf of Mexico. A Greenpeace research team took samples from beaches along the Alabama coast on September 2, including from an area with hundreds of tar balls in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.
Hundreds of tar balls on the beach at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama on September 2, 2012
According to the US Coast Guard, oiled pelicans and other wildlife have been found in Louisiana marshes as well. As people struggle with flooding, wind damage, and power outages in the wake of the hurricane, officials have expressed concerns that on top of that disaster, Hurricane Isaac may stir up oil from the BP spill:
“This is another disaster on top of the hurricane that we’re going to have to deal with,” Garret Graves, chairman of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, told The Huffington Post. “The threat is not insignificant.”
Up to 1 million barrels of oil are estimated to remain in the Gulf of Mexico. That oil remains, Graves said, because BP has failed to clean it all up in the more than two years since the tragedy. “That’s four to five times the oil that was spilled with the Exxon Valdez,” he added.
One of the tar balls on the beach at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Meanwhile, officials in Washington DC are calling on federal agencies to provide an update on their oil spill cleanup efforts in the wake of Hurricane Isaac:
More at the linkOil is washing up along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, confirming... more
9 months ago
Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists
Eyeless shrimp and fish with lesions are becoming common, with BP oil pollution believed to be the likely cause.
Dahr Jamail Last Modified: 20 Apr 2012 15:57
New Orleans, LA -
"The fishermen have never seen anything like this," Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. "And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I've never seen anything like this either."
Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University's Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.
Cowan's findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP's oil and dispersants.
Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP's 2010 oil disaster.
Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp - and interviewees' fingers point towards BP's oil pollution disaster as being the cause.
Tracy Kuhns and her husband Mike Roberts, commercial fishers from Barataria, Louisiana, are finding eyeless shrimp.
"At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these," Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.
According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP's oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: "Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets."
"Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico]," she added, "They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don't have their usual spikes … they look like they've been burned off by chemicals."
On April 20, 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, and began the release of at least 4.9 million barrels of oil. BP then used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersants to sink the oil.
Keath Ladner, a third generation seafood processor in Hancock County, Mississippi, is also disturbed by what he is seeing.
"I've seen the brown shrimp catch drop by two-thirds, and so far the white shrimp have been wiped out," Ladner told Al Jazeera. "The shrimp are immune compromised. We are finding shrimp with tumors on their heads, and are seeing this everyday."
While on a shrimp boat in Mobile Bay with Sidney Schwartz, the fourth-generation fisherman said that he had seen shrimp with defects on their gills, and "their shells missing around their gills and head".
"We've fished here all our lives and have never seen anything like this," he added.
Ladner has also seen crates of blue crabs, all of which were lacking at least one of their claws.
Darla Rooks, a lifelong fisherperson from Port Sulfur, Louisiana, told Al Jazeera she is finding crabs "with holes in their shells, shells with all the points burned off so all the spikes on their shells and claws are gone, misshapen shells, and crabs that are dying from within … they are still alive, but you open them up and they smell like they've been dead for a week".
Rooks is also finding eyeless shrimp, shrimp with abnormal growths, female shrimp with their babies still attached to them, and shrimp with oiled gills.
"We also seeing eyeless fish, and fish lacking even eye-sockets, and fish with lesions, fish without covers over their gills, and others with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills."
Rooks, who grew up fishing with her parents, said she had never seen such things in these waters, and her seafood catch last year was "ten per cent what it normally is".
"I've never seen this," he said, a statement Al Jazeera heard from every scientist, fisherman, and seafood processor we spoke with about the seafood deformities.
Given that the Gulf of Mexico provides more than 40 per cent of all the seafood caught in the continental US, this phenomenon does not bode well for the region, or the country.
Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists
By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, June 15, 2012 15:01 EDT
BP is still in the Gulf of Mexico, and they want… cookies, according to satirist Andy Cobb and his team of political comedians.
In a spoof of the oil giant’s public service ads that attempt to reassure Gulf residents that BP actually cares about them, Cobb and “The Partisans” skewer the company for inadvertently producing mutated, eyeless shrimp, fish with malformed hearts, crabs that don’t properly mature and other frightening byproducts of the largest accidental oil spill in human history.
“I don’t want anything looking at me when I’m eating it!” Cobb says, next to the title “BP food experience consultant.”
“BP: We’re still slathered all over the Gulf, and now we’d like a fucking cookie or something,” a tagline declares at the end of the ad.
This video was published to YouTube on Friday, June 15, 2012.
"Damned straight, where's my F***ing Cookie???!!!!????"By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, June 15, 2012 15:01 EDT
BP is still in the Gulf of... more
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
Dolphins in Barataria Bay off Louisiana, which was hit hard by the BP oil spill in 2010, are seriously ill, and their ailments are probably related to toxic substances in the petroleum, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggested on Friday.
As part of an ongoing assessment of damages caused by the three-month spill, which began with an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, NOAA scientists performed comprehensive physicals last summer on 32 dolphins from the bay. They found problems like drastically low weight, low blood sugar and, in some cases, cancer of the liver and lungs.
Yet the most common symptom among the dolphins, found in about half the group, was an abnormally low level of stress hormones like cortisol. Such hormones regulate many functions in the animal, including the immune system and responses to threats. Scientists said the dearth of hormones suggested that the animals were suffering from adrenal insufficiency.
Lori Schwacke, the lead scientist for the health assessment, said the findings were preliminary and could not be conclusively linked to the oil spill at this point. But she said the exams were also conducted on control groups of dolphins that live along the Atlantic coast and in other areas that were not affected by the 2010 spill and that those dolphins did not manifest those symptoms.
“The findings we have are also consistent with other studies that have looked at the effects of oil exposure in other mammals,” Dr. Schwacke added, citing experimental studies of mink that were dosed with oil. Some of those minks developed adrenal insufficiency.
More at the linkDolphins in Barataria Bay off Louisiana, which was hit hard by the BP oil spill in... more
BP oil spill trial delayed
By James O'Toole @CNNMoney February 26, 2012: 3:41 PM ET
It's been nearly two years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, but the legal battle over the spill is just beginning, with the civil trial to determine liability set for Monday.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster claimed 11 lives.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- As settlement talks continue, the high-profile legal battle over the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that was scheduled to begin Monday has been delayed a week.
The trial, which is scheduled to take place in Louisiana federal court, is to determine civil liability for the April 2010 oil spill, the worst in U.S. history. Among the defendants are BP (BP), the well operator and majority shareholder in the venture, rig-owner Transocean (RIG), construction contractor Halliburton (HAL, Fortune 500) and other firms associated with the project. Among the thousands of plaintiffs are fishermen, hotel owners and other Gulf Coast residents.
Initially set for Monday, the trial has been postponed until March 5 in order to continue settlement talks, according to a joint statement from BP and the Plaintiff's Steering Committee.
Even with trial proceedings looming, settlement negotiations among the various parties have been proceeding "fast and furious," said Edward Sherman, a professor at Tulane Law School in Louisiana.
BP CEO Bob Dudley told CNN this month that the company was still open to settling the matter out of court, but was "vigorously preparing for the trial." BP has roughly $37 billion set aside for costs associated with the spill following its own settlement with Anadarko Petroleum Co. last year, Dudley added.
In October, Anadarko (APC, Fortune 500) agreed to pay BP $4 billion to settle claims related to the spill. Anadarko owned a 25% stake in the ill-fated well, and as such was responsible for a quarter of all associated costs.
In 2010, BP set up a fund known as the Gulf Coast Claims Facility for which it earmarked $20 billion in settlement money to be distributed to victims of the spill. The GCCF has dealt with over 570,000 claimants thus far, but has paid out just $6 billion, with many victims still holding out for the trial.
Should the case go to trial, the final payouts that BP and the other firms involved will owe in civil penalties and to the victims are still largely an open question. BP could end up paying roughly $17 billion in civil penalties alone, to go along with the tens of billions more that it will likely owe the victims, said Sherman.
"It's a very complex case, because it involves not only so much money but so many parties and so many different legal theories," said Sherman.
Hundreds of pre-trial motions have already been filed, and Judge Carl Barbier has ordered that the case be broken down into three phases.
The first phase will focus on responsibility for the accident itself, while the second will address efforts to contain the spill and the exact quantity of oil released, which plays a role in determining the civil penalties owed by the companies involved. The third phase will address the response to the disaster and the clean-up effort.
How long the case will take to resolve is anybody's guess; Pavel Molchanov, an energy analyst at Raymond James, said the case could stretch into 2014 before any appeals are taken into account.
With the sheer numbers of parties involved, Molchanov said reaching a single, over arching settlement was unlikely. No criminal charges have yet been filed, though that too could change.
"It's going to be a very long process," Molchanov said.
First Published: February 26, 2012: 8:41 AM ET
BP oil spill trial delayed
By James O'Toole @CNNMoney February... more
The New York Times...
November 30, 2011
BP Spill Fund Raises Limits for Shrimp and Crab Losses
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON
NEW ORLEANS — Under a new formula announced on Wednesday by Kenneth R. Feinberg, the administrator of the $20 billion fund set up by BP for victims of the 2010 oil spill, shrimp and crab fishermen along the Gulf Coast may be eligible for settlement payments significantly larger than what they were previously offered.
In making the changes, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which Mr. Feinberg administers, said it “recognizes the ongoing uncertainty regarding the state of the commercial harvesting of shrimp and crab in the gulf.”
Under the new rules, shrimp and crab fishermen are eligible for a final settlement equal to four times their demonstrable losses from 2010. Previously, they were eligible for twice their losses, as are claimants from other industries. Only oyster farmers, whose crop takes years to replenish, had been eligible for four times their losses.
The change came during a white shrimp season that many along the coast, particularly in Louisiana, have described as the worst in memory. The cause of the drop-off remains unclear, but at least some evidence suggests the spill could be a factor.
The claims facility also announced on Wednesday that the fund would no longer presume that losses claimed by individuals and businesses in Texas or in Florida south of the panhandle were due to the spill. It based that conclusion on a comparison of revenue from beachfront hotels and county sales taxes in those places with data from other areas of the Gulf Coast.
To date, the fund has paid out $5.74 million to around 217,000 claimants.
A BP spokesman said: “While BP respects the independence of the G.C.C.F. in setting policy, the company believes the proposed increase is not warranted given the facts. BP believes that the G.C.C.F. has already compensated commercial shrimpers and crabbers far in excess of documented, spill-related losses.”
.The New York Times...
November 30, 2011
BP Spill Fund Raises Limits for... more
Los Angeles Times...
BP wins approval for new deep-water drilling in Gulf of Mexico
October 26, 2011 | 12:05 pm
BP won approval from the Interior Department to drill its first exploratory oil well in the Gulf of Mexico since the blowout of its Macondo well a year and a half ago touched off the country’s worst offshore environmental disaster.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said that BP met more stringent safety requirements devised by the federal government in the aftermath of the disaster. The company also planned to follow even tougher voluntary standards that exceeded the government’s rules.
“This permit was approved only after thorough well design, blowout preventer, and containment capability reviews,” said bureau director Michael R. Bromwich.
At more than 6,000 feet, the proposed well would be in deeper water than the Macondo well. It is part of the company’s Kaskida prospect located in an area called the Keathley canyon about 250 miles south of Lafayette, La. The company submitted the application to drill in January.
Cleanup of gulf waters continues in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and spewed nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the sea over several months.
Last week, the Interior Department granted approval to a broader exploration plan from BP for the Kaskida prospect based on its adherence to the agency’s new rules.
Environmentalists have said that the new regulatory agency, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, is better than its predecessor, the Minerals Management Service, which had exercised uneven, sometimes lax oversight of offshore energy projects, investigations showed.
But they argue that more work needs to be done to improve offshore drilling safety, including a redesign of blowout preventers and modernization of cleanup procedures.
Photo: BP corporagte logo. Credit: Oli Scarff / Getty ImagesLos Angeles Times...
BP wins approval for new deep-water drilling in Gulf of... more
U.S. beefs up conservation efforts for endangered sea turtles
By Shelby Lin Erdman, CNN Radio
September 18, 2011 8:03 p.m. EDT
PHOTO: Loggerhead turtles will be divided into nine distinct population groups based on where they live, according to new regulations.
(CNN) -- The government has revised its rules on sea turtles to try to decrease the number killed every year and reduce the threats they face.
The new regulations place the Loggerhead turtle into nine distinct population groups, depending on where they live, instead of listing the marine animal as a single worldwide species. In all nine segments the turtles are listed as either threatened or endangered.
Officials at both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, both responsible for overseeing the turtle conservation efforts, say they can better address the challenges the turtles face with the new geographical division.
Loggerhead or marine turtles live in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. The new "distinct population segments" for the turtles are: The Northeast Atlantic Ocean group, the Mediterranean Sea, the North Indian Ocean, the North Pacific Ocean, the South Pacific Ocean, the Northwest Atlantic, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and our Atlantic Coast, the South Atlantic Ocean, the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean and the Southwest Indian Ocean.
Researchers estimate more than 4,500 loggerheads are killed every year by commercial fishing, but environmentalists believe the number is probably much higher.
Commercial fishing is one of the biggest risks for the turtles, whether they live in the Indian, Pacific or Atlantic oceans, said Jim Lecky, the fisheries director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"They all continue to be challenged by a number of threats, incidental capture in fishing gear, longlines, gill nets, trawl gear, trap and pot lines, which tangle turtles and other species, and dredges; all have incidental mortality of sea turtles in those fisheries," he said.
But Lecky says that's not the only threat for the turtles. "They are all also challenged by losses of habitat, degradation of nesting habitat. There still is direct harvest of eggs in adults ... at some level and they are all subject to vessel strikes."
The turtles are facing all those threats, but at different levels. So the new rules will allow fine-tuning of sea turtle conservation measures and regulations.
"We believe that this revised listing of the Loggerhead will help us and our partners to better focus recovery and conservation efforts by allowing us to take a more regional approach. But, again, the separation of Loggerhead into these population groups will not reduce our current conservation efforts," said Sandy MacPherson, the national sea turtle coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
MacPherson also told CNN Radio, "These new listings will help us to provide more focused recovery and conservation, as well as more focused threat analysis and evaluation of conservation successes."
The Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement that Loggerhead populations "need more protection to survive this century."
The rule revisions also included designating five regional populations as endangered species, which the group characterized as "a wake-up call that a whole host of threats, from oil spills, channel dredging and commercial trawling to longline and gillnet fisheries, continue to kill off turtles faster than the animals can possibly hope to reproduce."
CNN's Ninette Sosa and Barbara Hall both contributed to this report.CNN...
U.S. beefs up conservation efforts for endangered sea turtles
Glassy water still streaked with oil
2011 September 10, Saturday
Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi Canyon
Wings of Care: "We took a last-minute evening flight over the Gulf, to test out a repair to our electrical system and to try to show a friend visiting some whale sharks. They also wanted to see if there was still oil out there, so with little sunlight left, we headed directly for the Mississippi Canyon and the scene of last year's disaster, where we've been documenting signs of fresh oil, lots of it, for the past few weeks. We found what we were looking for!
Two whale sharks showed themselves, each feeding in his or her own large bait ball where the tuna were jumping in all directions. We learned last fall to find these gentle giants in the middle of such feeding frenzies far out in the blue water, feeding either horizontally or vertically. So it's seldom that we can pass up one of those circular shadows on the water, knowing what a sight we might find in their middles!
We also found, easily and quickly, a long streak of oil and oil 'globules', stretching for several miles from southwest to northeast but less than 100 meter wide. (See videos below.) And who was near it, but the same BP-contracted vessel we've seen several times before sailing or sampling in this area -- the Sarah Bordelon. According to marinetraffic.com, she returned to the scene of last year's BP disaster (the "MC252 block") as soon as Hurricane Lee had passed through, and for the past few days she has resumed her practice of sailing grid patterns, in the same areas where we have been videotaping and photographing oil from the air. As we approached, she executed a U-turn and proceeded in a direction that brought her closer to us. We'd love to know what BP is doing out there, and what they are finding. How can the public learn this information, and is it legal for them to withhold it from the public? Does the US Coast Guard know? Why doesn't the media ask?
The oil slicks we found today were narrower and shorter and the globules smaller than those we've been seeing the past few weeks. But they are in the same general area as the large slick we reported to you last August 30.
What happened to that large slick?
*We have heard from the US Coast Guard in recent public meetings that dispersants are still being used legally and liberally* in offshore waters, and that they apply them both from surface vessels and aircraft. We wonder if they are being applied here? Or maybe we just need to broaden our search, maybe they moved with the currents and winds. But something causing fresh oil to form linear slicks sure is persisting right here in this area, that's certain.
We can't answer these questions just by flying and photo-documenting. Scientists can tell us whether the fingerprint of the oil samples collected match those of the Macondo well, and many have attested that the look of the large slick we documented last August 30 was not that of a "natural seep." Other groups (such as Eco-Rigs) cite laboratory results that show correlations between MC252 (Macondo well) oil and negative effects on marine animals and coral in this area for many tens of miles. At this point, BP may be the only ones who can afford to keep vessels and aircraft out there monitoring the situation. That seems to us like the proverbial "fox guarding the chicken coop." But, as another old saying goes, folks, "we get what we settle for." Please, folks, do not settle for not knowing the facts about your Gulf and its life.
Our aim in documenting the existence of continued fresh oil in this area is to raise public awareness and bring scientists to the table to help provide facts about the health of the Gulf and the true risks associated with offshore oil and gas drilling. We would think it unfortunate if our finding oil has the consequence that BP or the US Coast Guard, who apparently still have authority to use dispersants such as Corexit liberally and legally in these offshore waters, were to apply still more dispersants to the area. But if the alternative is to keep these facts from the public, we don't see how that can lead to good. It is imperative that you, the public, act on all the facts that we and other groups work to provide you; and then hold our leaders and policymakers accountable to your consciences, your ethics, your true desires.
See the pre-Tropical Storm Lee footage of massive slicks taken by Wings of Care: http://www.onwingsofcare.org/protection-a-preservation/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-2010/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-2011-spring/175-whale-sharks-gulf-of-mexico-oil.htmlGlassy water still streaked with oil
2011 September 10, Saturday
Gulf of Mexico,... more
Halliburton: BP Hid info that might have prevented spill
By TOM FOWLER, HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Updated 01:04 a.m., Saturday, September 3, 2011
AT THE SITE: The Discoverer Enterprise and other vessels carry out cleanup jobs in June 2010 in the restricted area above the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: HC staff / Houston Chronicle
Halliburton sues BP over oil spill09.03.2011 12:00 a.m.
Oil field services giant Halliburton says BP hid key information about the Macondo well that could have helped prevent the deadly April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and the ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
In a pair of lawsuits filed Friday, Halliburton accuses BP of fraud and defamation, saying BP provided inaccurate information about the location of oil and gas producing zones in the well before the cementing job Halliburton performed.
The final cement job in the well is supposed to push cement at least 500 feet above the deepest formation that has hydrocarbons. Halliburton claims BP failed to inform it of several formations in an effort to save money on changes to the well design that would have been needed.
Without knowing the proper locations of the formations, Halliburton says, the company wasn't able to design a cement mix appropriate for the conditions.
Halliburton filed the lawsuits in a state court in Houston and federal court in New Orleans.
In the state court filing, Halliburton said "profit and greed" were behind the alleged misinformation.
Halliburton also claims BP has "intentionally and continually" misrepresented its role in the Macondo accident through its public statements and statements to investigators and in its own report on the root causes of the accident, known as the Bly Report.
The court filing says that in essence, the Bly Report categorized Halliburton's main cement job "as a root cause of the blowout purportedly lending support to the allegations" against Halliburton "in the hundreds of lawsuits that comprise the blowout litigation."
In a statement, BP said it believes the lawsuits are an attempt by Halliburton to "divert attention from its role in the Deepwater Horizon incident and its failure to meet its responsibilities."
"Multiple independent investigations have identified serious problems with the cementing of the well as a potential contributory factor to the Deepwater Horizon disaster - not only BP's own investigation," the BP statement said. "BP has accepted its responsibility for responding to the spill and is accordingly paying costs and compensation. In contrast, Halliburton has refused to accept any responsibility or accountability."
Halliburton said it is confident the work it performed was done in accordance with BP's specifications and that it is fully indemnified under the services contract between the companies.
The finger-pointing is no surprise considering the billions in Clean Water Act fines and civil claims the companies face, said David Uhlmann, a former head of the Justice Department's environmental-crimes section who teaches law at the University of Michigan.
"When the dust settles, however, the likelihood that Halliburton will collect from BP - or that any of the companies, including BP, will prevail in the suits they have filed - is slim," Uhlmann said.
Halliburton: BP Hid info that might have prevented spill
BP’s Macondo Well spewed sweet Louisiana crude for 87 straight, miserable days last summer. By April 30, 2010, Macondo oil choked nearly 4,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico. The gushing well surrounded itself with an 80-square-mile “kill zone,” void of any life of any kind (other than unprotected cleanup workers). It fouled more than 320 miles of coastline in Louisiana alone, much of it delicate, ecologically vital marshland. At its height, the Macondo Well was producing a spill the size of the Exxon Valdez every five days. By the time it was capped on July 15, 2010, the rogue well had pumped a colossal 205 million gallons of petroleum into the body of water that produces more than 40 percent of all the seafood caught in the continental United States.
Today, oil from the Macondo Well complex is once more polluting the Gulf of Mexico, inflicting new damage on its fragile ecosystem and the lives of tens of thousands of Gulf residents.
Fifteen months after BP’s crippled Macondo Well unleashed the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, scientific analysis has confirmed that oil is again rising from the site where the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank to the seafloor in April of last year. In an email to the Mobile Press-Register, LSU chemist and NOAA contractor Ed Overton, wrote this: “After examining the data, I think it’s a dead ringer for the MC252 [Macondo Well] oil, as good a match as I’ve seen.”
Confronted with an overwhelming body of evidence – scientific data, photos and video of oil in the water and credible reports of the “stench of oil” at the site – BP and the U.S. Coast Guard continue to deny not only that the Macondo Well is leaking but that there is any oil at all in the vicinity the Deepwater Horizon site. According to a report from Fuel Fix, a news source for the energy industry:
The Coast Guard said observations Thursday failed to confirm a report by an Alabama newspaper of oil billowing to the surface near the site where BP’s Macondo well blew out last year.
After the report in Mobile’s Press-Register, the Coast Guard deployed a boat to Mississippi Canyon 252, the federal block about 40 miles off the Louisiana coast where the well is located, and also conducted an aerial survey of the site by helicopter.
“Both observed nothing,” said Capt. Jonathan Burton, who is based in Morgan City, La.
BP, in addition, said neither a vessel it had on the scene late in the day nor a science vessel on site throughout the day reported seeing any oily sheens.
How convenient, don’t you think? I am a huge supporter of our men and women in uniform, but the reported “nonobservation” from both the Coast Guard’s boat patrol and aerial survey doesn’t instill much public confidence in that military branch’s ability to fulfill its ultimate mission of guarding our coast. The fact that a news organization and a host of environmental groups have been successful in tracking down the oil in question both by sea and by air brings into question the competence of the Coast Guard leadership on this investigation. Here (in comments below) are a few previously posted photos from the Deepwater Horizon site. How well-trained, well-equipped Coast Guard crews could have missed this expanse of highly visible surface oil in a relatively tight target area is beyond strange.
Our Aug. 17 report (see link below) that oil is rising again from the Macondo field prompted pilot Bonny Schumaker, from the California-based nonprofit On Wings of Care, to fly out to the Deepwater Horizon site to conduct aerial surveillance. Her Aug. 19 flyover with Jonathan Henderson and Tarik Zawia of the nonprofit Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) provided initial footage of large “oily globules” in the water at the Deepwater Horizon site (see links below to reports and footage). Schumaker flew over the site again late last week and again she saw oil in the water. She commented: “I don’t know why others do not find these things from the air. Maybe they’re flying too high or fast or not looking carefully. I have yet to have professional cameras or photographers on board, and we capture the stuff just fine.”
More from the Fuel Fix report:
…the British oil giant sent a remotely operated vehicle down Thursday night to inspect the Macondo wellhead a mile beneath the Gulf surface, and the oil giant found no evidence of a leak, according to a company release.
“BP confirmed through a standard visual wellhead inspection that there is no release of oil from the Macondo well,” the release said. “In addition, BP also conducted a visual inspection of the Macondo relief well confirming the same result.”
Of course, we’ve heard denials before – early and often – so we shouldn’t put any stock in this new round of refutations. We should also note that BP officials left themselves a little wiggle room (as is usually the case) by stating there was no release from the Macondo Well while saying nothing about leaks from the seafloor around the wellhead – a “scenario of interest” that we’ve been looking at for some time.
In January 2011, a prominent “geohazards specialist” wrote an urgent letter to two members of Congress – U.S. Reps. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and John Shimkus, chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and Economy – suggesting that the Macondo site is leaking oil like a sieve. Here’s an excerpt from that letter (see it in its entirety below):
There is no question that the oil seepages, gas columns, fissures and blowout craters in the seafloor around the Macondo wellhead… have been the direct result of indiscriminate drilling, grouting, injection of dispersant and other undisclosed recover activities. As the rogue well had not been successfully cemented and plugged at the base of the well by the relief wells, unknown quantities of hydrocarbons are still leaking out from the reservoir at high pressure and are seeping through multiple fault lines to the seabed. It is not possible to cap this oil leakage.
But again, we’ve heard flurries of denials and reversals from BP over the course of this disaster. So when weighing the credibility of BP’s latest denial, consider this from an Aug. 22 Huffington Post piece detailing the ongoing Justice Department investigation of the spill:
(con't in comments)http://www.stuarthsmith.com/the-second-coming-of-macondo-how-long-has-oil-been-leaking-... more
Los Angeles Times...
Polar bear killed in Arctic 'hazing' operation
August 25, 2011 | 2:23 pm
A polar bear was inadvertently shot to death by a security guard at BP's Endicott field on the North Slope of Alaska when it approached a compound where oil workers live.
The shooting earlier this month marked the first time one of the region's iconic bears -- listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act -- has died during a hazing operation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Bruce Woods said in an interview. The guard tried to "haze," or scare away the bear, but ended up shooting it.
"As far as during authorized hazing operations, there has not been a polar bear mortality, although of course anyone can kill a bear to protect a human life," Woods said.
There are about 3,500 polar bears along the Arctic coast of Alaska, but their survival is increasingly threatened by shrinking sea ice.
Federal wildlife officials have imposed strict restrictions to prevent operations on the North Slope's busy oil fields from harming the bears, who in recent years have been spotted more frequently on shore as their ice habitat diminishes.
Hazing of bears who approach oil operators is permitted, and that apparently is what the security guard, contracted to BP by Purcell Security, tried to do on the evening of Aug. 3 when a female bear was found walking toward a housing area at Endicott, near Prudhoe Bay.
The guard flashed the lights and sounded the horn and siren on his vehicle, but when the bear began acting aggressively instead of retreating, he fired what he thought was a beanbag round, intended to strike the bear's hindquarters and scare it away.
The bear did run off but was spotted in the same area for several days afterward. "It just hung around," BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said.
"People believed, I think, by the bear's demeanor and activity, just that fact that it wasn't going anywhere, that it might be injured or somehow in distress. We communicated that to Fish and Wildlife: 'This is what the bear is doing, what do you want us to do?' We followed their directions: 'Monitor the bear, keep people away,'" he said.
Several days later, the bear swam to a nearby island and by Aug. 15 had stopped moving -- dead, it turned out. It was then determined that the security guard had fired not a beanbag round but a "cracker shell," a loud explosive intended to be fired near but not at the bear to scare it away.
The bear is believed to have died of internal injuries as a result of the cracker shell penetrating her side, but a full investigation by the Fish and Wildlife Service is underway.
"I can tell you that apparently a bear was shot and injured as part of a hazing operation, and exactly what the details are of what happened are what we are not talking about yet," Woods said.
Rinehart said the company already has taken steps to require clear packaging and labeling of hazing rounds to avoid future confusion.
"We don't think we've ever had this happen on our lease before, and we're going to do everything we can to make sure this doesn't happen again," he said.
Polar bears are a common sight on the North Slope. BP had 541 sightings of the animals between 2005 and 2010 -- many of the sightings might have involved the same bear -- and employees used hazing to drive them away from oil operations in 159 cases.
Woods said the federal permits issued to oil operators under the Endangered Species Act authorize only "non-lethal disturbance" of the animals.
.Los Angeles Times...
Polar bear killed in Arctic 'hazing' operation... more
USCG probes fresh sheen at Macondo site
The US Coast Guard is examining fresh images taken by a photographer purportedly showing an oil sheen on Gulf of Mexico waters at the site of last year’s Macondo oil spill.
Steve Marshall 22 August 2011 14:52 GMT
UK supermajor BP, the operator responsible for the worst-ever oil spill in the US Gulf, has earlier issued a denial that the capped Macondo well is leaking again following a number of reports of sheens in the area.
However, the issue has resurfaced after photos taken on a flyover of the US Gulf on 19 August by non-profit watchdog Wings of Care were posted on the Internet, apparently showing an oily substance on the water in Mississippi Canyon block 252.
Photographer Johathan Henderson reported in a blog post that oil, clustered in round, rainbow-coloured formations, was spotted at the “exact location” of the Macondo spill.
“Obviously, from the air I cannot confirm that the oil is BP’s and from their Macondo well. I can only report that I spotted oil above that location. I reported this to the National Response Center and had a lengthy conversation with a Coast Guard official,” he wrote.
The report was recorded by the National Response center, which lists that an "unknown sheen" roughly a half-mile by 50 yards was spotted in the block.
A US Coast Guard spokesman told Upstream that both the Coast Guard and BP had carried out flyovers of the Macondo site in response to the earlier sheen reports, but “did not see anything”.
He said the source of such sheens could be mud and silt, as well as oil.
He said the Coast Guard would now take a look at the latest images in an effort to determine the source of the reported mystery sheen.
BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said he had nothing to add to past statements debunking rumors of a Macondo leak. Melissa Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, also had no comment.
Published: 22 August 2011 14:52 GMT | Last updated: 22 August 2011 18:53 GMT
.USCG probes fresh sheen at Macondo site
The US Coast Guard is examining fresh... more
Los Angeles Times...
Gulf to open up for oil and gas leases
The Obama administration will hold its first auction since last year's BP oil spill. More than 20 million acres in the western gulf will be offered up in December.
PHOTO: A rig and supply vessel sit in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. (Gerald Herbert, ASSOCIATED PRESS / August 20, 2011)
By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
August 19, 2011, 9:45 p.m.
The Obama administration announced Friday that it would hold its first oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico since the deadly Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.
"This sale is an important step toward a secure energy future that includes safe, environmentally sound development of our domestic energy resources," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "Since Deepwater Horizon, we have strengthened oversight at every stage of the oil and gas development process, including deep-water drilling safety, subsea blowout containment, and spill response capability."
The Interior Department plans to offer in December more than 20 million acres in the western gulf for energy leasing — despite a recent Interior report that found companies were not exploring or producing oil or gas on about two-thirds of the 34 million acres they already lease in the gulf.
The administration came under sharp criticism from the oil industry and gulf state politicians for imposing a deep-water drilling moratorium after last year's BP spill — and then for not approving new drilling quickly after the ban was lifted.
"This lease sale is an important and encouraging step toward getting the Gulf of Mexico and its hardworking people back to work," Louisiana Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, a Democrat, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the slow pace of new permits in the gulf places lingering uncertainty over this critical industry."
The conservation group Oceana condemned the move as premature. "Rushing this lease sale in the western gulf puts animals like turtles, dolphins and bluefin tuna at risk," said senior campaign director Jacqueline Savitz. "The Obama administration still hasn't addressed significant shortcomings in spill response and cleanup capabilities."
The Environmental Defense Fund was more positive. "This announcement proves that the Obama administration is serious about allowing oil companies to return to deep-water drilling in the gulf, as long as they follow essential new rules … to protect the environment, workers and the economy," said Elgie Holstein, the group's senior planning director and former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Energy.
The new lease areas are located from nine to about 250 miles offshore in both shallow and deep water, and could, Interior officials said, produce 222 million to 423 million barrels of oil and as much as 2.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Acknowledging that many existing leases were sitting idle, the Interior Department said it intended to increase the minimum bid amount for deep-water blocks to $100 per acre from $37.50 to "discourage companies from purchasing leases they are unlikely to explore in the near term."
The sale will include environmental safeguards for marine life and, "when conditions warrant," monitoring by trained observers to ensure compliance, the department added.
An Interior Department analysis released in the spring found that gulf lease auctions before the BP spill drew little interest. Of nearly 53 million acres offered in 2009 in the central and western gulf, only 2.7 million acres were leased. Last year, only 2.4 million acres were leased out of about 37 million acres offered.
.Los Angeles Times...
Gulf to open up for oil and gas leases
The Obama... more
Gulf sheen not from wells, Coast Guard says
'Natural seepage is very common,' official says after fears of another spill
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 8/18/2011 4:58:11 PM ET
The Coast Guard reported Thursday that none of the well heads or pipelines in the area of a sheen that appeared in the Gulf of Mexico were leaking and suggested the sheen was from a natural seepage.
"The sheen has dissipated," Cheri Ben-Iesau, Coast Guard commander for District 8 in New Orleans, told msnbc.com. "Samples collected returned negative for hydrocarbons."
"None of the well heads or pipelines in the area where found to be leaking," she said, adding "natural seepage is very common" in the Gulf.
The report didn't faze residents of the coast, where small spills are spotted hundreds of times a year and many people have come to see last year's BP catastrophe as a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Gulf Coast fishermen are back on the water and businesses are again packed with tourists on sandy shores since the disaster that hit last summer, when BP PLC's well blew out of control, spooking tourists away from normally packed communities when beaches were left coated in crude.
BP said Thursday that the shiny substance floating on the water's surface didn't come from its operations, and officials said it had since dissipated. Reports of sheen are common: More than 200 were called in last year in an area far from BP's well where the new sheen was reported, and 13 were reported Wednesday alone off Louisiana's coast.
Residents say they aren't afraid of a disaster like the one last summer, when millions of gallons of crude spewed into the Gulf and many scientists and fishermen wondered if the region would ever recover.
"This was probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing this spill here, the big BP oil spill," said Rocky Ditcharo, a 45-year-old shrimp dock owner in Plaquemines Parish, the finger of land south of New Orleans where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf. He looked upon the oil industry favorably, even though last year's spill threatened to ruin his way of life.
"I'm not mad at the oil industry about what happened. You can't hate them unless they went out of their way to intentionally do something. Accidents happen. Nobody wants to kill off a bunch of wildlife, shrimp and fish."
BP said Thursday tests indicated the substance near an abandoned well in the Green Canyon — an undersea area encompassing thousands of miles far from the company's blown-out Macondo well — was silt from the Gulf floor.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the sheen was not large enough to warrant a cleanup; even small amounts of oil can lead to a large sheen on the water.
Sheens are frequently reported in the Gulf, many of them small and a result of the 3,200 oil and gas drilling operations in the Gulf. Leaked fuel from ships can also create sheens, along with oil that naturally seeps from the seafloor or leaks from abandoned or plugged wells. For instance, the Coast Guard said several sheens reported in the past two weeks came from natural seepage or releases from government-approved discharge points on offshore platforms.
Many sheens are never investigated and disappear before anyone determines where they came from. In 2010, for instance, there were 210 spills or sheens reported in the Green Canyon area. About a quarter of the calls described "unknown sheens," without a known source. More than half — 112 of those reported — originated from platforms, but many of the reports are unverified.
There are thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells in the Gulf that are not monitored for leaks after they're plugged.
But, according to Kenneth Arnold, a Houston-based offshore engineering expert, a dead well will leak only if the cement job to close it in was not done properly. He said offshore regulations for closing in wells are stringent.
Yet reports of sheen get much more attention since the BP oil spill, when a drilling rig explosion killed 11 men and sent millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf in what became the worst offshore spill in U.S. history. The coastal tourism industry struggled amid images of tar-coated beaches and oil-stained birds. Many business owners had complained that people canceled vacation plans even in places where oil never washed ashore.
On Thursday, business groups affirmed the region was making a strong comeback.
"It's been a good summer," said Chris Laborde of the Gulf Coast Alliance, a regional business group set up after the BP spill to attract tourists and investors to the Gulf Coast. "From the tourism side, it's been good. Fishing has been superb. Everything is coming out clean (from the spill). It's a lot better than people anticipated."
He said Gulf Coast residents aren't worried a spill on the scale of the BP disaster would be repeated any time soon.
"This one serious accident was out of 40,000-50,000 drillings that have occurred over decades," he said.
And without evidence the BP spill ruined the Gulf's ecosystem, many people seem relaxed. Seafood sampling has found little to no contamination, and scientists have not found the kind of ecosystem-altering damage some predicted.
"All the tests are coming back that the seafood is safe, and that's blessing," said Bridgette Varone, the executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Hospitality & Restaurant Association. The bigger challenge, she said, has been overcoming consumers' perceptions.
Laborde agreed, noting the spill was similar to the aftermath of 2005's Hurricane Katrina, "when people thought New Orleans was flooded years later."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Gulf sheen not from wells, Coast Guard says
'Natural seepage is very... more
United States Senate
Thank you for writing to me in support of efforts to restore the environment and economies of the Gulf Coast following last year's disastrous oil spill. I am committed to helping the Gulf region recover, and I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.
I led a bipartisan effort along with Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) to develop legislation that dedicates Clean Water Act fines to restore the Gulf Coast. The bill was introduced as S.1400, the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies (RESTORE) of the Gulf Coast States Act, on July 21, 2011. This bipartisan bill would restore the natural resources, economy, and coastal environment of the Gulf region.
As recommended by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, S.1400 would dedicate at least 80 percent of BP penalties to the Gulf states to invest in the recovery and health of their coastal ecosystem and economies. Under the Clean Water Act, BP could be fined billions of dollars as the party responsible for the spill, and it is only right that these penalties be immediately directed to the Gulf Coast's recovery efforts.
The BP oil spill exacerbated long-standing problems faced by the Gulf Coast ecosystem, harming the Gulf Coast's natural resources - including fragile wetlands and wildlife habitat - and debilitating the region's tourism, fisheries, and other crucial industries. I believe it is our responsibility to provide support to the communities of the Gulf Coast and ensure they have the resources they need to rebuild their coastline.
The RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW). As Chairman of EPW, I will work with my colleagues to enact this vital legislation as soon as possible.
Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me about this important issue. Please feel free to write to me again about this or any other issue of concern to you.
United States Senator
United States Senate
Thank you for writing to me in support of... more