Posts Tagged ‘Dispersants’
On Wednesday, Ken Feinberg attended a meeting in Jefferson Parish where local fishermen, oystermen, shrimpers and crabbers weren’t as celebratory of his efforts with the GCCF as the law students were when he recently spoke in Ireland.
Harlon Pearce, owner of LA Fish & Seafood asked, “How do we go out and market this product, when we’re worried about having a product to market?”
This is becoming quite the valid question.
For the past couple of weeks, reports have been coming in to shore fast and furious about the lack of shrimp catch, “I am talking to the guys, I am talking to the docks, and they are telling me that they are 80 percent off,” said Clint Guidry, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, “We should have had a good year this year.” Carol Terrebonne, who runs the Seafood Shed, a seafood wholesaler in Golden Meadow, agreed, “Usually at this time of the year, we are loading trailer loads,” Terrebonne said, “It’s just not happening.”
Dean Blanchard, a third generation shrimper who owns a processing plant in Grand Isle is being forced to close because far fewer shrimp are coming into the plant this season and some of the shrimp are showing signs of contamination. Blanchard says he is seeing first hand how the oil and dispersants are causing the wildlife and people to get sick, “We’re seeing dead porpoises, we’re seeing shrimp with no eyes that’s still alive, we’re seeing fish with tumors the size of golf balls in them, we’re seeing fish with oil all over the gills…it’s hard for me to think that everything is going to be alright.”
And back in the meeting at Jefferson Parish, Ken Feinberg stated the obvious, saying that the problems on the Gulf Coast go deeper than issues with his claims process, “There are fishermen in there complaining that though they’ve heard from the GCCF, they don’t like the news they’ve heard — about deficiencies, delays, denials — and that’s what we have to deal with.”
Yes, you do…because though the problems go deeper, the environmental concerns and your claims process are linked.
The GCCF was intended to make things whole for the people of the Gulf Coast, including the fishermen. If they can’t bring product to market, the claims process must address this and fill in the financial gaps until they are again able to do so. That was the whole point of the escrow account, to financially resolve damages caused by this oil spill…well, those damages are ongoing.
Some ideas to come out of this meeting that could help are:
1) There is a proposed separation of claims coming out of the so-called oil spill “Ground Zero” in Louisiana, mainly for those involved in fisheries in Lafitte, Grand Isle and Venice.
2) The setting up of a “Claims Day” in Jefferson Parish, where payment complaints could be handled.
3) A potential change in how the claims are processed and calculated.
And number three would seem to be the most important. If the estimates and calculations for the GCCF claims process are indeed wrong as the ongoing environmental problems would indicate, then those calculations need to be changed.
Also, the interim claims process need to be expanded. Claimants, especially those who make a living from the environment, from the seafood industry who previously accepted final and quick payments and now want to re-apply should be allowed to do so, given amnesty, given another chance as the science keeps rolling in. To say tough luck, shouldn’t have signed away your rights and taken those offers, who does this serve? British Petroleum, yes, but certainly not justice. In addition, the GCCF needs to stop pressuring people into taking final claims, and that goes straight to the top, to Feinberg who has publicly stated that at some point, people need to move on.
If the fishermen have nothing to catch, how are they supposed to do that?
The worst part of all this?
For some it might already be too late, “I don’t even need [Feinberg] to pay me,” Blanchard said of his now closed processing business, “If he could just pay the fishermen, so they quit asking for credit, I would consider staying open.”
Feinberg needs to be reminded this isn’t about British Petroleum, nor is it about what’s easiest and best for the GCCF, it is about the people of the Gulf Coast and if they are still losing money due to environmental damages, if businesses are still closing down as a result of this oil spill, then the GCCF is not doing their job, which means Ken needs to go back to the drawing board and make right these problems and the people once and for all.
Supposedly, this is why he was hired.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.
Feinberg and those damned health claims…
A month ago, I wrote about the Advocates for Environmental Human Rights Report that clearly showed how Feinberg and the GCCF have made it very difficult, if not impossible for Gulf Coast claimants to receive compensation for health claims, especially when compared to previous claims funds he’s administered. When it came to both the 9-11 fund and Agent Orange compensation, all a claimant needed to show was proximity to the event and a medical diagnosis to receive compensation for health claims, but when it comes to the oil spill, proximity and diagnosis is not nearly enough. In the Gulf, a claimant must also show medical proof of causation, and that changes everything, especially when one considers:
“When asked if claimants could medically prove their illness as caused by the oil disaster, Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), answered emphatically, “No, they can not.” Birnbaum further stressed that to ask residents to provide causality between BP’s oil and chemical dispersants and their illnesses is simply not possible, and emphasized it is not because they are not sick, but because the medical and scientific communities simply do not know enough about the effects of chemical dispersants and crude oil on human health to prove such a claim.”
Regardless, Ken has stated he will be hiring “medical experts” to analyze these claims for validity. Okay, but if medical causality of the claims cannot be proven by known medical science as valid, what validity exactly is he checking on?
The validity of a health claims whitewash?
The validity of the GCCF?
No, I know…
Feinberg’s checking on the same validity he had those environmental experts checking when they said the Gulf environment would be okay by 2013. He’s checking on the validity of the unknown. But that seems just another folly, a cover, a way to perhaps throw up his hands in the future exclaiming how he did all he could, when in fact what needs to be checked here is not the validity of an individual claim’s medical causality, but the validity of Feinberg’s demands for proof.
Rather than hiring medical experts, perhaps he should instead hire more Public Relations people to check on the validity of Gulf Coast skepticism.
In any case, I hear the distinct sound of claimants slipping through the GCCF’s cracks, yet again, and this time with thousands of dollars in medical bills…
And the reality of those medical bills?
Have a nice day.
Ken Feinberg has been getting a lot of flack from people in the Gulf Coast regarding his claims process. The accusations are flying a mile a minute, some of them coming from various members of Congress, the Justice Department and the Attorneys General of Alabama and Mississippi. Apparently having had enough of this, Feinberg wrote an editorial in last Sunday’s Press Register, where he took to task his critics and specifically the various Alabama politicians, and their claims regarding his handling of the claims process…
“Both public officials have every right to their opinions but no right to distort the facts…”
Whereupon Ken begins to do precisely that.
Shall we review?
He reports the GCCF has distributed some $4 billion dollars to 200,000 individuals and businesses in the Gulf region.
He doesn’t report $16 billion dollars is remaining in the fund, nor that he has estimated he will be giving half of it back to British Petroleum when this is all said and done. He doesn’t mention getting to this point has taken over eight months…while needy families and business wait, struggling, nor does he mention that a District Court Judge has ruled he is not independent of British Petroleum, but is more of a “hybrid” entity, thus making all of his claims handling suspect…or, would you be inclined, after a doctor hits you with his car, to have that same doctor do your medical evaluation and determine if you were healthy or needed compensation and if so, how much you should get?
He reports the GCCF has not been “tight-fisted” when it comes to paying claims and cites as proof the fact that 660 people have appealed his offers to the Coast Guard who has agreed with the GCCF’s decision every time.
He doesn’t report that he wrote the rules, or methodology to determine payment of these claims, which bases the payment scheme on the Gulf being back to normal by 2013, despite the fact that Prince William Sound still isn’t back to normal as a result of the much smaller Exxon Valdez spill, even 20 years later. He doesn’t report that of the 3000 comments received during the public comment period regarding this methodology, about ten thought the methodology was good, made sense, was fair…and who knows how many of those ten were written by executives of British Petroleum. He also doesn’t report that in those appeals to the Coast Guard, they are all for claim offers under $250,000 dollars, which means the people doing the appealing maybe aren’t the most wealthy of the people involved in this process who again, are fighting against the stacked deck that is the GCCF methodology.
He continues to report the many individuals who have taken quick payments did not do so under coercion, but because they have decided the already received an adequate EAP payment or cannot document anymore damage from the spill, citing as proof there has been no groundswell of complaint from the people who have taken said payments heard by the GCCF.
He doesn’t report that, again, these people have been waiting since last August when he took over and really needed the money. Now agreed, some people go for the quick pay because they have no way to document more damage, but I would argue more people have taken the quick pay out of financial desperation, trying to pay rent one more month or clear some bills because the GCCF process is taking so damned long…intentionally? Depends on who you ask. As far as a groundswell of complaint about the quick payments…apparently Feinberg never read the public comments on his methodology because the complaints are there. He must also never read the Times Picayune, the Press Register, the New York Times or any of the comments sections on ProPublica, or this and many other blogs.
Ken, if you go out of your way to ignore the groundswell and it would appear you have, you ain’t gonna find it…
And Ken also reports on the charge of GCCF delays in making payments by saying his critics fail to mention that more than 80 percent of the 283,000 claims filed for final, interim and quick payments — including 35,753 from Alabama — have already been processed.
Processed, yes, but beyond the quick payments…
Not many at all.
Ken reports the $20 billion fund would be exhausted in a week if the GCCF paid claimants with no documentation solely because the claimant asked the GCCF: “Trust me.”
What Ken doesn’t report is due to the lack of transparency regarding these claims, “Trust me,” is precisely what Ken is asking the Gulf Coast to do, while he is being paid by British Petroleum.
Finally, Ken decides to kiss a little ass: “I join Congressman Bonner in wholeheartedly praising “Alabama’s sugar-white sandy beaches” and “world-famous seafood.”
Whereupon he decides to quickly concede the standard: “…the GCCF must be more transparent and consistent in rendering its decisions. The GCCF has been far from perfect — the inevitable result of receiving almost 1 million claims from all 50 states in less than one year of operation!”
What Ken doesn’t report while kissing a little ass is that he has been promising transparency for months to every elected official he can find, but doing very little about it. He has also promised to be more consistent for months, and isn’t, and like always, he stresses how big this job has been, huge, enormous…I mean holy shit! Who could have ever foreseen how absolutely gigantic this would be?
Which is a nice, attempted distraction from a more accurate representation:
Hey, I kind of screwed up a lot of people on this one because I didn’t accurately gauge the size of the project I decided to undertake, and rather than admit my lack of foresight, preparedness, and the fallacy of all those promises I made early on to the people of the Gulf Coast, you remember…about how fast and generous I was going to be, well I’ve just decided to keep throwing claim statistics at you while I duck out the side door, just in time for British Petroleum to give me a raise.
Now, let’s take a look at the current statistics from the GCCF website:
Total Quick Payments:
113,763 total quick pay claims filed. 109,955 claims paid. Percentage of claim paid: 96%
Total Interim Payments:
75,471 total interim claims filed. 9,112 interim claims paid. Percentage of claims paid: 12%
Total Final Claims:
105,709 total final claims filed. 21,261 final claims paid or indicated they would accept. Percentage of claims paid: 20%
So what can a reasonable person deduce from these numbers?
1. Of all the claims filed, the percentage of interim claims paid is lowest. Seeing as how the interim claims are the only claims one can accept while retaining the right to sue British Petroleum, Feinberg’s employer, this can lead a reasonable person to believe that perhaps these claims are being stalled. After all it is in British Petroleum’s interest to have those rights waived, and to get claimants into one of the categories where they don;t have to continue to pay out money.
2. Of all the claims filed, the percentage of quick pay claims paid is far, far higher than the other two types. This could certainly be because they are the easiest claims to audit, because there is no further documentation needed (although in the fine print could be a call from Guidepost Solutions, the investigative arm of the GCCF, checking you out for fraud despite the fact these claims were supposed to be paid out with no questions asked for people who previously received EAP’s). Nonetheless, at $5,000 dollars for individuals and $25,000 dollars for businesses, these claims are also the cheapest to resolve, and with a signature on a waiver, releasing your right to sue British Petroleum, resolving these claims is by far in the best interest of British Petroleum and therefore, the GCCF and Ken Feinberg.
3. When it comes to the final claims, which also requires one to waive the right to sue British Petroleum, the GCCF website states that of the 105,709 final claims filed, the GCCF has reviewed 84,767 of them, already paid 17,000 and have made offers on an additional 15,000, of which 4,000 have indicated they would accept. If only 21.000 have accepted a final payment out of over a hundred thousand claims filed, these are also moving extraordinarily slow and if they are so generous, what is the hold up for the 11,000 claimants who have received final offers and not as yet accepted?
4. It is this writer’s opinion that claimants are being stalled into filing quick payments as they are the only ones being paid with any sense of urgency. As people grow increasingly desperate, financially in the Gulf, the quick payment becomes increasingly attractive, like buying the rent-a-wreck because its your only way to work, and your running late. In the end, these payments have a far higher chance of leaving a claimant financially screwed.
Lastly, let’s take a look at the statistics from the GCCF website regarding the amounts of the claims paid out.
Everybody knows the quick payment, which is $5,000 dollars for individuals and $25,000 dollars for businesses. The interim payments made average out to $6700 dollars for an individual and $28,000 for businesses. The final payments accepted average out to $9200 dollars for individuals and $55,000 for businesses.
Keeping in mind that for the vast majority of these claims, this is meant to cover all damages from the spill in their entirety.
A year after the oil spilled, some industries are beginning their recovery, yet there is a deep skepticism on the safety of the seafood across the country and many, many people remain out of work or have been forced to leave the Gulf Coast to look for work elsewhere…all the while there are increasing sicknesses occurring that many are blaming on the toxicity of the oil and dispersants. The health of the Gulf is still very much in doubt, as is the sustainability of the sea life living there.
So, in a nutshell, what Feinberg calls generous…I call getting screwed. It would appear to me the only person British Petroleum is being generous to in the Gulf Coast is Ken Feinberg.
Nonetheless, Feinberg writes:
At the end of the day, neither Jo Bonner, Luther Strange nor Kenneth Feinberg will determine the ultimate “legacy” of the GCCF. That is a decision that will be made by the citizens of Alabama and those residing throughout the Gulf.
Ken can write whatever he likes in his editorial, glossing over certain facts and figures available on his website, but It would appear to me BP and Ken Feinberg are doing their best to write this legacy.
And from what I can tell, that legacy is awful.
Have a nice day.
Okay, so maybe they didn’t say that directly, but what else are we to assume if these two agencies, designed to protect and inform the American electorate tells us the water and air in the Gulf of Mexico are safe despite independent testing by Oregon State University that shows this dramatic elevation in PAH’s?
And yes, exposure to some of these Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons have definitive toxic effects within humans and animals…toxic effects like cancer, and these PAH’s can move into the food chain.
From the article in HuffingtonPost:
What’s worse is that the sampling device was specifically designed to measure the fraction of PAHs in the environment that could make their way through a biological membrane.
“This is a measure of what would enter into an organism,” said Kim Anderson, an OSU professor of environmental and molecular toxicology.
“There was a huge increase of PAHs that are bio-available to the organisms — and that means they can essentially be uptaken by organisms throughout the food chain.”
Also in the article, Anderson said that going by other people’s findings, it is her suspicion that the use of dispersants has made it easier for the toxins to enter the food chain, the theory being that as the dispersants break the oil into smaller and smaller particles, these particles are more easily absorbed by sea life.
These readings were taken in June by OSU, and they are currently analyzing August samples for changes. The problem is, even if the readings come back lower, how much of these toxins have already entered the food supply and the people of the Gulf Coast, especially as we read reports and testimony of people already sick and doctors being harassed when they identify these sicknesses as being caused by the poisons unleashed by both the oil spill and the response?
So yes, all of this begs a question:
If more and more scientists, as they do more and more testing and analysis, find more and more wrong with the information released by the Obama Administration, the EPA, the NOAA and British Petroleum, is it simply this company and these government agencies belief that we, as consumers will be more and more ignorant and continue to accept their conclusions and go about our lives, more and more oblivious and poisoned?
It would seem so, yes.
Read the article:
Have a nice, toxic day.
You might wonder how crabs in the Gulf have received a clean bill of health from the US Wildlife and Fisheries, especially after the 4.1 million barrels, the 2 million gallons of dispersants, the two to five-inch thick layer of oil on the sea floor, all these fish kills going on in Plaquemines Parish, the people getting sick, the dead whales, the oil yet again hitting sixteen miles of marsh on the Louisiana Coast, possible groundwater contamination…etc…
The answer is pretty simple, actually.
When harvesting a load of crab that smells strongly of oil, call US Wildlife and Fisheries to report possible contamination.
US Wildlife and Fisheries will promise to send a biologist to do testing and confirm.
Wait, while the crabs die.
US Wildlife and Fisheries recall the biologist, saying they only do testing on live crabs.
Announce yet again, that all their crab tests have proved negative for oil contamination throughout the Gulf Coast.
It is, evil genius.
Watch the video:
Have a nice day.
I remember one night many years ago, walking down Decatur Street in the Quarter as the darkness was coming on, challenging the streetlamps to do their best. It was a beautiful February evening, colder but not freezing and as I glanced in the river’s direction I smiled at the sight of a rolling fog bank, moving slow, silent and concealing. Stopping at the corner of the square, I watched it drift across Decatur, enveloping me, the statue of Andrew Jackson and I kept watching until it swallowed St. Louis Cathedral.
It was a kind of spooky, but in a pleasant way.
The fog in the Gulf of Mexico is less so.
During the hearings yesterday in Houston, set up to investigate the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, it was more of the same. British Petroleum pointed the blame at Transocean. Transocean pointed the blame at British Petroleum, and nobody learned nothing, nobody knew nothing, never.
The investigator, US Coast Guard Captain Hung Nguyen expressed his frustration with all involved, “I just don’t see how everything gets coordinated,” Nguyen said. “International regulations identify one person in charge that is accountable for and responsible for the safe operation of the vessel…especially when we go into an emergency phase, it might be difficult to have an effective response.”
Harry Thierens, a London-based BP Vice President for drilling operations was on the stand and Nguyen asked him a series of questions: Is he aware that a lot of questions are being asked about who was in charge? Can you articulate any lessons learned from previous deadly oil refining and drilling disasters? Has BP done any exercises since April 20th to see how it would respond to a future blowout?
Thierens responded, “No,” “No,” and “I don’t know.” He did recall more fluidly that it is Transocean who was in charge of maintaining and configuring the equipment on the blowout preventer which would imply the blowout preventer’s failure to clamp down and seal the well was not the fault of British Petroleum.
Meanwhile, a Halliburton technical adviser Jesse Gagliano was blaming British Petroleum, testifying he told BP officials that their well design would raise the risk for gas to reach the surface, which is ultimately what happened and lead to the explosion. BP’s lawyer challenged Gagliano, questioning why he would sign off on a plan he was so concerned about to which Gagliano responded that his signing off on the plan wasn’t meant as an endorsement.
After more exchanges of this sort with several others associated with the doomed rig, Nguyen finally said, “Somebody’s got to be in charge here, I just don’t have a clear picture in my mind of who it is here.”
Me neither, then, or now…and here we are in the Gulf Coast:
The Gulf’s waters are forever fucked. No they’re not. The seafood is unsafe except it isn’t. The oil plumes are there and they are huge except that a brand new microbe is eating them, unless the science is faulty and the plumes moved with the current. Corexit is a poison they have stopped using except it’s no more harmful than dish soap and at night, mercenaries are pouring it over the oil that isn’t there, except that the oil is. The top kill worked except it didn’t. The static kill worked, kind of. The relief wells may not be necessary except they are. The marshes are being destroyed except for where they are recovering and the government says the Gulf of Mexico is recovering well, but there is still much more to do while BP pulls back on the cleanup because the oil slicks have all but disappeared from the water’s surface; it’s now under the sand of the beaches and breaker islands, except its not there either. Bobby Jindal builds sand berms to hold back oil that isn’t contaminating seafood that isn’t dying off in mass fish kills that may or may not be caused by the spill’s effect on oxygen levels in the water, oxygen levels that might be depleted, or not. British Petroleum denies the leaks in the sea floor, calling it natural seepage from leaks they say aren’t there or if they are, certainly were not caused by anything they might or might not have done and didn’t you know, a giant methane bubble is preparing to erupt from below the sea floor that will kill us all? A study says dispersants are speeding up the bio-accumulation of oil in wildlife that according to the NOAA isn’t happening and the government oil spill numbers that have been approved by independent scientists were never actually approved by independent scientists. The EPA says the water and atmosphere are safe except for the whistleblower from the EPA who says the water and air aren’t safe, but everything is okay now because Tony Hayward is no longer CEO of British Petroleum. Transocean says they can’t complete their own internal investigations because BP won’t turn over evidence they need and British Petroleum denies this, saying they have been in in full compliance with the government’s investigations where some of their employees take the fifth amendment and in the middle of the night, whales are being secreted to Mexico so nobody can watch them die. The EPA tells BP to stop using Corexist and find alternatives while the Coast Guard say they approved it. Cleanup workers are getting sick from exposure to the oil because British Petroleum didn’t give them the respirators that British Petroleum gave them to wear so they wouldn’t get sick from the oil. The government has a methodology to explain their oil spill numbers that you can’t see: the methodology or the oil that is still washing up on the beaches. British Petroleum’s cost cutting might have caused the Deepwater Horizon to explode, if it weren’t for Transocean rigging the blowout preventer wrong and Halliburton incorrectly pouring the cement and apparently somebody was in charge of the rig but since this could get expensive, nobody is sure who is in charge and nobody knows anything about nothing, never.
And nobody will give their complete information to anybody else.
This is somewhat of a farce, and seems to work in the favor of those who have the money and are trying their best to keep it, for as long as possible, except they’re not trying to keep their money, instead being responsible for what they might or might not have done…just maybe, at some time.
Oh for fuck’s sakes.
Perhaps, a return to basics.
When it comes to the Deepwater Horizon and the aftermath across the Gulf of Mexico…
1. 11 men died in the explosion.
2. Someone at BP, Halliburton or Transocean is lying and maybe all three.
3. The water in the Gulf of Mexico ain’t as clean as it used to be.
4. People are suffering.
And back in New Orleans, that night in the fog after watching it swallow the old church, I got moving again, heading to the Hideout, a now defunct bar enjoyed for cheap drinks, dark lighting and the inevitable fight to watch. That night, I had the good fortune to know I would be meeting friends, I would be coming out of the Mississippi’s blanket to relax, talking and laughing with a few trusted people.
In the Gulf’s fog, however…there are few friends amongst both those responsible and the government entities trying to reassure that eventually, everyone will be okay.
Instead, it would seem they are the guys in the shadows up closer to Esplanade, waiting for you to get a little too drunk and a little too unaware, waiting for the NOPD to be nowhere in sight.
Read the articles,
Have a nice day.