So, let’s take a look at a few recent headlines, shall we?
From the Tri-Parish Times, tar balls are again seen coming ashore on Elmer’s Island. The Louisiana Bucket Brigade’s Peter Brabeck, an environmental monitor, spotted the new oil deposits and called them “the worst instance of oil contamination since the BP oil spill.”
From the newsstar.com, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries expert said the states fisheries and coast could feel the impact of the Gulf oil Spill for generations, “The dispersant worked in fragmenting the oil, but LSU scientists tell us there will be traceable quantities of oil longer than anyone here will be alive.”
From ABC WEAR, the Southern Environmental Law Center states Alabama’s coastline is the most environmentally threatened place in the South East United States and is facing immediate and potentially irreversible damage because of the continued threat of oil.
Sounds pretty bad, sounds like they should be doing as many studies as possible, you know, to determine the extent of the damage, to limit it as much as possible and find the best way to fight it, to make sure the fish are safe to eat, to determine for sure as the oil continues to come ashore in the future, years into the future, you know, whose oil it is that’s still screwing things up…I mean, everyone will assume it’s all a result of BP, but can ya prove it in court? After all, it ain’t what we think is right, it’s what we can prove.
So, let the studies and the analysis commence!
The more we understand, the better we can fight, the more we work together, the better our analysis, the more we can prove, the better we can get the financing from those so culpable to pay for fixing this whole mess. Information is good, information is necessary…all together everybody, let’s get to work, let’s do this, let’s…wait a minute…what?
Gulf-oil studies stalled by scarce samples…frustration of independent researchers spills out over suspended distribution by British Petroleum/US Government.
Oh yeah…right…I forgot myself for a moment…this is the Gulf of Mexico.
Turns out that ever since the Macondo Well was capped back in July, oil samples necessary for the exploration of ecological effects and to develop a better response have become increasingly scarce and currently, distribution has stopped.
So, who has the oil? Who’s gumming up the necessary environmental analysis?
1. British Petroleum
“At least as far back as September, BP began issuing a standard letter to independent researchers who requested samples, stating “Requests for source oil will be delayed…” pending development of protocols for dealing with available oil collected after the blowout. The impetus for ending distribution, BP says, was a general preservation order issued by a federal judge soon after the well was capped, which prohibited any evidence destruction. Although the order does not specifically address the oil samples, BP spokeswoman Hejdi Feick says that the company took a conservative approach in its response.
The standard letter promises that the company will develop protocols “over the next several weeks” to allow resumption of sample distribution — but no date for this has been set, according to Feick. “Our best estimate at the time we stopped providing samples did not account for all of the activity that has been necessary to ensure that BP could meet its legal obligations and resume providing material for researchers,” she says.”
2. The NOAA and the NRDC
US government agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and companies they contract also collected substantial quantities of oil for use in the official Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process, which is being used to determine BP’s liability. Although NRDA trustees filled some sample requests for small quantities, Greg Baker, an environmental scientist at NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration in Seattle, Washington, says that they too had to suspend distribution to be sure that there would be enough oil to support the legal case.
Andrew Zimmerman, a biogeochemist at the University of Florida began requesting samples back in July and was bounced back and forth between various factions of BP until he received the denial letter on September 23rd. Andrew Whitehead, a biologist at LSU, also requested samples and was turned down by BP, “I think the lack of samples will prevent important research from getting done,” says Whitehead. Ira Leifer, an oil spill expert at UC-Santa Barbara, who was part of the US government led task force that produced the official flow-rate estimate was also turned down.
And what were these three scientists attempting to study? The effects of the oil spill on marsh plants and possible clean up methods, the effects of the oil spill on fish, and a way to improve the remote sensing of surface oil. Leifer eventually gave up and went out to the Gulf to collect samples of his own and also obtained dispersant samples by what he described as “unofficial means.” He couldn’t get the dispersant from Nalco, because in order to do so he would have had to sign nondisclosure agreements.
It would seem only rational for the common-sense individual to see all this maneuvering as a way for the US government to control the information that runs against their official narrative and for BP, a strategy to minimize the information available to the public about the extent of damage.
British Petroleum, of course, says nothing could be further from the truth, “BP has no intention of withholding samples of the variety of source oils we have collected,” says BP spokesperson, Hejdi Feick, “except as is essential to ensure that BP retains adequate quantities of each type of oil to satisfy its legal requirements.”
Yeah, because if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past nine months, it’s that British Petroleum is always concerned about their legal requirements, just as concerned as the US government’s is in keeping the public informed with the truth, about the Gulf of Mexico and their response.
Ah, another beautiful morning in the Gulf…
Have a nice day.