Archive for the ‘Thad Allen’ Category
It would appear a pattern is developing in this great land of ours. Simply put, we begin with a tragedy, then we have an investigation which discovers the governmental agencies designed to prevent such tragedies either fell down on the job or didn’t care, and even worse, the fail-safe for the agency that didn’t do their job is woefully unprepared to handle the mess created. Next, we get public and government anger, utter outrage about the aforementioned tragedy and congress types propose bills, make promises and issue guarantees that a tragedy like this will never happen again, and damnit, we mean it…never.
At least until next time.
What? What happened to the guarantees, the promises and the bills?
That was so last week man, have you talked to my lobbyist?
In a recent report, it was discovered (surprise) that the US Coast Guard was not prepared for a large deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the unified response to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe was continually troubled by this lack of planning. Government and private sectors “demonstrated a serious deficiency… (in) preparedness for an uncontrolled release of oil from an offshore drilling operation.” The panel also found many of the Coast Guard staff members interviewed “acknowledged that they were unfamiliar” with the plans to combat such a spill, “even though they held prominent positions” in the command structure for the response. Much of this is blamed on the changes to the Coast Guard, post 9-11. As their responsibilities were diversified, the oil spill response plan atrophied which resulted in problems with coordination and communication. From the report: “While the response plan by BP, the well’s operator, was criticized as unrealistic in the report, the government’s plans were also found to be inadequate and incomplete.”
Okay, given…anyone paying attention to events last summer could have figured out that both BP, the Coast Guard and state officials were caught with their pants down on this one, but…what happens now? New drilling permits are being issued, ten in fact (no matter what Vitter says).
“Capt. Ron LaBrec, a Coast Guard spokesman, said the Coast Guard was reviewing the recommendations and had already begun making improvements. (The Department of Homeland Security has requested an additional $11.5 million in its 2012 budget to help bolster the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to major spills, a department official said.)”
Perhaps a complete change might be more in order? One suggestion might be to immediately discuss and begin planning how to keep politics and corporate self-interest out of the equation.
If not, one might someday read an oil spill version of the soon to be even more tragic story about developments occurring since the Massey Mine disaster, which also happened last April and killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.
If you don’t recall, there was outrage by Congress and the public that federal regulators didn’t have the power to close dozens of mines that had racked up thousands of safety and health violations (sound familiar?). At the time, both parties in Congress vowed swift action. They promised from their pulpits to fix this so no family will ever have to go through this kind of tragedy again.
A bill was proposed. It would have made it easier to shut down problem mines. It would have increased penalties for serious safety violations and offered greater protection for whistleblowers, and it took eight months for the bill to even reach the floor of Congress where two weeks ago, this bill was killed off, voted down by every single Republican and 27 Democrats.
In 2010, 48 coal miners died, the most since 55 were killed in 1992.
As retired miner, Fred Burgess said, whose stepson Ronald Mayor died in the Upper Big Branch explosion, “The miners should have a safer workplace, but the mine companies throw a lot of money around, they have lobbyists all over the place.”
Indeed, and to add insult to injury, it would appear lots of those lobbyists have been speaking to Rand Paul, who recently said in response to the MSHA’s (Mine Safety and Health Administration) new proposals which would reduce by half the amount of coal dust miner’s breathe, coal dust being the primary cause of black lung, “”Every regulation doesn’t save lives…There is a point or a balancing act between when a regulation becomes burdensome enough that our energy production is stifled.”
Or in other words, “What he’s suggesting is to keep the cost of coal down we would jeopardize the health of coal miners,” said Stephen Sanders, director of the Appalachians Citizens’ Law Center.
Oh, and speaking of guarantees and promises, anybody remember a certain town called New Orleans and this little catastrophic failure they had a few years back, you know, where over a thousand people died when the levees broke, in several places?
Yeah, remember all those promises made back in 2005, to guarantee that would never happen again?
Well, it would appear those promises were equally hollow. The Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for building and fixing the failed levees, well…they’re working on it…going on six years later. Which isn’t to say improvements haven’t been made. They have, but do those improvements match all those guarantees and promises President and Congress types threw around during the flood’s aftermath?
Anybody want to by the Crescent City Connection?
Really, I’m selling…
But, back to the Coast Guard and their report. Whereas it’s great they are working on “improvements” to their response, it might be nice to see exactly what they are working on, how they intend to coordinate federal, state and local officials, how they intend to keep financial self-interest and politics out, how their own staff will be trained on any new plans that are so coordinated to ensure each administrative and governmental level is on board, you know, so we don;t wind up with useless sand berms.
It would seem if oil companies have a right to drill out there in the Gulf, and they are…Gulf Coast residents have a right to know what will be done, and a guarantee that it will be done to respond to another spill…even after the anniversary news coverage comes and goes.
After all, coal miners still haven’t gotten protection from cost cutting mine owners.
New Orleans still hasn’t received the levees promised by Congress and the Corp of Engineers.
And now, Gulf Coast residents are waiting to see if that pattern continues or breaks, and they’d probably like to know which, before the next big spill.
Hell, I would…because if there is one thing I’d…uh…oh damn…
From the Times Picayune:
“A year after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Congress has done virtually nothing to address the issues raised by the oil spill — from industry liability limits, to regulatory reform, to coastal restoration, to broader issues of energy policy…”
Have a nice day.
The NOAA reopens 7,000 more square miles for fishing in the Gulf:
Expert trained sensory analysts for NOAA sampled 155 samples of finfish from the area, and the agency sent 156 fish samples done in 22 separate composite tests for analysis in NOAA’s labs. The smell testing indicated no oil or dispersant taint, and the chemical analysis found that no levels of hydrocarbons anywhere near the level of concern for humans.
Sounds pretty good…except:
Just three days after the U.S. Coast Guard admiral in charge of the BP oil spill cleanup declared little recoverable surface oil remained in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana fishers Friday found miles-long strings of weathered oil floating toward fragile marshes on the Mississippi River Delta. The discovery…gave ammunition to groups that have insisted the government has overstated clean-up progress, and could force reclosure of key fishing areas only recently reopened… Boat captains working the BP clean-up effort said they have been reporting large areas of surface oil off the delta for more than a week but have seen little response from BP or the Coast Guard, which is in charge of the clean-up…
And then one of the more disturbing lines of the article, something that has been echoed in the press for months:
The captains did not want to be named for fear of losing their clean-up jobs with BP.
I’m thinking that if my bosses came to me, and told me that all of my clients had to show marked improvement or I’d be fired, and if a quick survey of my community showed a complete absence of social work positions, and if I had no other way to earn a living, well…guess what? My clients might improve as quickly as the water in the Gulf of Mexico. Their mental health symptoms might possibly disappear as quickly as the oil.
In my not so scientific estimation, despite these reports being about two different, but adjacent fishing areas, if boat captains are afraid to tell the truth, if findings by independent scientists vary widely from the NOAA’s labs, how are we supposed to trust anybody? In the reopened areas, why are we supposed to assume we are getting the complete story, especially when nobody in the NOAA talks about long term exposure, ever?
And we are supposed to take it on faith why, because Jane says so? Because she has been so willing to release data and procedural information for analysis by others?
This rough climate of misinformation and agenda begs two pointed questions:
Is their any truth in the Gulf of Mexico or is their simply fear? And to Jane Lubchenco of the NOAA – if things are as safe in the Gulf as you claim, will you commit to feeding your family seafood from the Gulf of Mexico four times per week for the next year?
Check out the articles, both from the Times Picayune:
Have a nice day.
Okay, the good news: British Petroleum, in compliance with Judge Barbier has given their official decision on whether they will or will not seek to use the $75 million dollar liability cap as a way to contain the financial bleeding. They have opted to fulfill at least one promise and not use the cap. They will pay all judgments made against them in full.
The bad news: per BP’s obvious legal right, a large number of lawyers on their payroll will do everything they can to ensure those judgments are as small as possible, and take as long as possible to get to anyone’s bank account. And speaking of people in oil spill limbo, did you catch that article about how the charities are struggling to make ends meet due to the 25% sustained upkeep in need for food and housing assistance since the spill, those same charities that asked BP for help back in June and are still waiting, those same charities that wouldn’t be having this problem were it not for BP’s catastraphuk? Those same charities certainly have not been made right by any stretch, nor have the people who now depend on them, and due to Feinberg and the long legal process (that won’t have a $75 million dollar liability cap), apparently they will be waiting for a long time to come.
The good news: more waters are being opened for fishing, both sport and commercial by the NOAA.
The bad news: While these announcements by the NOAA’s Jane Lubchenco make for good, positive headlines in the newspapers, they also only tell half the story. In no small part due to the way this Gulf Coast Story has been handled, the government’s credibility is low. Between the misinformation from Thad Allen, the controversy about low-balled estimates of flow rates from the well and the pie in the sky oil chart fiasco people are understandably skeptical about government announcements on safety, which of course means people are skeptical about seafood pulled from the Gulf’s waters, which in turn means the market price for said seafood is very low. When a large percentage of the fishermen in the Gulf think the NOAA is full of shit, how is it we are supposed to have confidence in the government’s confidence?
Which brings us back to more bad news:
The people still getting screwed in the Gulf Coast are getting it from BP and the government’s slow legal proceedings – cap or no cap. They’re getting it from the still-slow rate of payout by Feinberg. The charities these people have had to rely on in ways they previously haven’t are getting screwed because BP is still not making it right, thus the charities are not as able to serve the people in need. The NOAA tries to downplay the ecological trouble by making grand pronouncements that don’t help market prices and only further erode their credibility in the eyes of most everyone who is paying attention.
And now that the six month milestone of the Deepwater Horizon explosion has come and gone, the Gulf Coast won’t get much press until Christmas when AP and CNN will do their “how are the holiday families faring” stories.
Man, this has been a negative six hundred words, even for me…
Okay, good news:
Did you read the one about the summit of conservative donors, who are getting together to figure out how to further erode any chance at doing anything about global warming, disparity between rich and poor, consolidation of resources…etc…
Check it out…it’s a hoot!
Have a nice day.
While many, myself included appreciate that the Macondo Well is “effectively dead,” considering the claims that no oil has been leaking from the site since mid-July it is a bit anti-climactic. Many bloggers, myself included have been far more focused on the cleanup activities or lack thereof, the oil still washing up on the beaches and permeating the Gulf, the dying sea life, the increasing cases of people getting sick and finally the bullshit being spewed by BP and government agencies or boards of whatever as they try to present this situation in a much sunnier light.
BP and the Obama Administration know very well that the people in the Gulf Coast understand how bad this situation still is; it is the rest of the country they are playing for and this is why last evening, while watching the Sunday night football game between teams from New York and Indianapolis from my apartment in the Midwest, I was being inundated with commercials for British Petroleum intending to show their commitment to people, to beaches, to “making things right.”
Being someone who follows closely the events on the Gulf, the ads were almost enough for me to break the television screen, but for a lot of people who once did follow the story and stopped, or never really did at all, these commercials would handily serve as reasons for them to go about their lives and just assume that the situation in the Gulf of Mexico is being handled.
And this is the problem…all these misleading signals to the country.
The well is dead. Reparations are (kind of) being made. Thad Allen will be stepping down October 1st, not coincidentally on the same day Bob Dudley officially takes over as CEO of British Petroleum from Tony Hayward: all symbols to the country outside of the Gulf Coast, all giving the impression of progress, of conditions being much better than is demonstrated by reality.
Throw in another hundred million dollars in commercials and soon enough, the country will move on, more important will be repairing the idea that the Gulf is damaged as opposed to repairing the Gulf itself. And repairing the idea, the image will be much cheaper and far more effective for everybody but those who live and work in the Gulf Coast.
There is already evidence of this occurring…specifically in regards to British Petroleum. I doubt I am the only one who has noticed the sea change in attitudes of this company. It isn’t only the reparation payments they handed over to Kenneth Feinberg, it was their humility as well, at least in regards to the way they have been working with the government. Suddenly, they infer that if they are not allowed to drill in the Gulf they will not have the money to continue payment of reparations. They continue to stonewall charities in the Gulf who are trying to provide services to residents such as rental assistance, food banks, utilities assistance and shelter. They refuse to pay state claims from the State of Alabama because of their attorney general’s lawsuit, and increasingly in the news are stories of BP’s more localized nonpayment of bills. It seems that because BP has set up this $20 billion escrow account, they feel much more comfortable about playing hardball with agencies and state governments, all the while just slapping another “make it right,” or “as long as it takes” commercial on the television to handle any potential criticism they might receive in process.
The illusion, the appearance is far more important than fact and BP and the government’s dependence on this construct is becoming much more brazen over time; it’s much like this recent story of sand castles from Florida.
A reporter with camera crew went down to the beaches of Gulf Island National Seashore where he dug a foot down underneath the sand and found oil. The top coat of sand, looked pretty good but below the surface…not so much, as the oil has inundated the beaches and Gulf seabed. While filming, the reporter and crew were approached by an officer from the US Fish and Wildlife Service where this exchange took place:
“Are you digging for oil product?” the official asked. When Thomas (the reporter) did not immediately confirm his intentions, the man threatened to call law enforcement and advised the journalist to move down the beach.
Moments later, an officer of the National Parks Service was demanding the reporter identify himself, insisting over and over, “you can’t dig.”
“So, no sand castles?” Thomas asked. “None of that, huh?”
“You’re right,” the officer replied.
The appearance that all is well with the Gulf is becoming more important than the reality that all is well with the Gulf. Rather than working together with the sharing of data, science, open-communication to solve problems we have been given chosen sides with attorneys, financial costs, political costs and bottom lines. On this beach where sand castles are considered illegal, BP has machines that will clean sand down a foot and a half but they say they are prevented from doing so by the Department of the Interior who question what else these sand cleaning machines might destroy in process. Two sides, arguing over nothing, and washing their hands of everything at the same time.
What do I mean? Simple…the oil on the beaches permeates much further than eighteen inches.
Instead of finding a solution here, we’ll just tell our officials to tell reporters that digging in the sand and making sand castles is illegal and should this story get too big, we’ll just buy up some more commercial time on national television to inject our illusions before the reality of the Gulf again gains a foothold in the country’s popular consciousness.
So guys? Yes, I’m glad you permanently killed the well, really…I am.
But at the same time, no…I’m not all that excited.
The way things are truly going, it will still be a long, long time before kids on the Gulf Coast get to make sand castles again.
Read the article,
Have a nice day.
Changing Course in the Gulf: Bad Lessons in Money and Politics Pt. 3 – The Obama Administration and Business as Usual
Over the past five months, Gulf Coast residents have been treated to a number of decisions with direct impact on their lives. They weren’t asked to give input at the time these decisions were made. They weren’t asked how they thought it might affect their future. The decisions occurred above their heads and most times, without their knowledge, but they are the ones now paying the price. This post is the third of three parts having to do with these decisions. Part one addressed British Petroleum’s use of the dispersant, Corexit while two took issue with Bobby Jindal, the Shaw Group and their sand berms. Part three will be concerned with the federal government’s response to the spill, including the amount of control ceded, and protection given to British Petroleum. All three will address the issue of the courage necessary to change course in the Gulf, the importance of doing so and who will be affected. All three decisions to be looked at had to do with money and politics, and changing course now will affect the back accounts and political standing of the people in charge, but change must happen.
What is going on in the Gulf of Mexico is not working.
On October 1st, Thad Allen, National Incident Commander will step down from his post, thus ending one of the biggest illusions of this whole oil spill, that the Obama administration was in charge of the response. For the past five months, the American public in general and Gulf Coast residents in particular have been held hostage by the dictates of a foreign corporation while the government’s two figureheads, Thad Allen and President Obama talked tough about responses and made threats against British Petroleum. We listened as the EPA gave orders that were either ignored or largely circumvented by the oil company and rubber stamped by Thad Allen. At times, the Coast Guard was even complicit in the unethical behavior of the company. We watched as the FDA declared the seafood to be safe. We watched as the NOAA released numbers indicating the oil was gone.
These actions by our government leads one to question whether they worked in the Gulf to protect the people, or to protect the oil company.
From the beginning, when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, the damage being caused was minimized. We were told that only 5000 barrels per day were leaking into the gulf when it turned out to be between 50 and 60,000. We were told that Corexit was safe as dish soap when it turns out that cleanup workers at the Exxon Valdez suffered health effects stemming from the mix of crude oil and the dispersant. In early August the NOAA released their oil spill numbers that claimed 79% of the oil was gone, trumpeted to early morning television shows when in fact, the oil report said the opposite, wasn’t supposed to be publicly released and had never been reviewed by the scientists they claimed helped to author the report. All over the Gulf Coast, British Petroleum had been denying reporters access to the Gulf, were hiring off duty police officers to keep the press away and in several occasions taking the footage shot by photographers of spilled oil and dying wildlife. Thad Allen initially denied these reports, but then released the much ballyhooed 60 yard boom rule where all reporters had to stay sixty yards from any boom due to fictional reports of the press disrupting cleanup activities. BP started buying up scientists and the government followed suit, for the stated reason of legal defense or prosecution, but with the intended purpose of silencing them and their findings. The EPA ordered BP to stop using Corexit as too toxic and ineffective. BP said no. The EPA backed down while the Coast Guard said BP could only use it when approved, and then they approved it every time they were asked. Most recently, independent scientists who are coming to radically difficult conclusions about the remaining oil, the safety of the water and seafood are being allegedly harassed by the federal oil spill commission.
All of this has led to a tremendous amount of doubt in the public, stuck trying to choose between the words of the oil company that fouled their waters, the government that has been caught repeatedly spinning information and the independent scientists who are questioned in the press by the oil company and the government.
This doubt, this confusion, it all works in favor of the parties who refuse to release their information, their data, their numbers and that would be BP and the Obama Administration, because as the independent scientists give out their facts and figures to prove why their findings are true: oil on the Gulf floor, shifting oil plumes, etc… confusion and spin is all the government has left. They need to keep the waters muddied so they can hold onto their numbers, desperately trying to maintain a claim over any sort of validity.
And all for obvious and not so obvious reasons as it will come as little surprise to anyone that good news in the Gulf of Mexico is good news for the Gulf’s politicians and this is even better news for the federal government as a whole. Like British Petroleum, the government wants to ease the Gulf and its problems from the collective American conscience or at the very least, believe that it is quickly on the mend. This is why despite the tough initial rhetoric from Barack Obama, the actions of the government continue to help the oil company.
The two are linked, financially and politically.
In fiscal year, 2009, British Petroleum was the top supplier of oil to the US military, receiving contracts in excess of $2.2 billion dollars. This year, they have received over $1.1 billion from seventeen different contracts with the DLA, (Defense Logistics Agency) and have even been awarded contracts since the Deepwater Horizon exploded. Mimi Schirmacher, a DLA spokesperson has gone on record saying the DLA has no plans to change these contracts or change the way they are awarded.
In the US, the retirement account pensions for 42 separate states hold shares in British Petroleum Stock and since the oil spill, they have been losing money, a lot of money. In June, well before BP’s stock had hit its lowest stock price mid-July, these pensions had already lost $1.4 billion dollars. This loss is in addition to the previous year’s loss which occurred due to the recession. British Petroleum’s recovery will get this money back so the federal government has a vested interest in ensuring that British Petroleum does not fail. This is why assets aren’t seized. This is why Obama’s tough rhetoric is empty. This is the oil company version of the bank’s “too big to fail.”
Blackrock corporation is the largest shareholder of British Petroleum stock and they have many links to the US government as well. During the banking crisis, they took over $130 billion dollars in toxic assets that the US government had assumed during the too big to fail banking crisis. Blackrock CEO, Larry Fink is oft considered the go-to guy for financial answers by the feds, consulted frequently and his company holds as money management clients the New York Fed, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. When British Petroleum loses money, Blackrock loses money and this cannot be considered good for the federal government.
Politically, the pressure is also on. Gulf Coast politicians like Bobby Jindal have been blasting away in the press at the Obama administration’s competency during the cleanup and his voice is only one of many across the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida…and just in case any of us forgot, elections are coming. Barack Obama needs good news. Good news means votes. Lack of progress means much criticism in states like Louisiana and Florida, states where the Democrats sometimes win elections. Open fisheries mean votes for congressional elections. FDA approval of seafood? Votes. EPA reports the air is safe, the water is safe and the people are safe? Votes. The NOAA says that 79% of the oil is gone? This progress is huge, this progress is a campaign advertisement.
Money and politics, politics and money…same – same.
And now we are finding out it isn’t just the residents in the Gulf who are paying attention to the Fed’s tricky balance.
So is British Petroleum.
If the government was as hard-lined as they want people to believe, British Petroleum would have been far less likely to demand more oil leases in the Gulf and then suggest the $20 billion escrow account for reparation would be in jeopardy without them. British Petroleum has done pretty much as it wished in the Gulf of Mexico from the beginning. They used prison labor to clean up beaches. There are many allegations cleanup workers didn’t have respirators. They used a more toxic and dangerous dispersant that helped submerge the oil, rather than remove it. They controlled the press. They controlled the story and the Obama administration let them do it all and in many occasions, assisted, thus leading to confusion, bad information and a loss of credibility.
This credibility is only one of the things that must change in the Gulf of Mexico.
As things stand now, the government’s numbers and estimates and projections have frequently been so far off base that it is difficult to readily accept much of what they say. For example, right now the US government is in possession of the damaged blow-out preventer from the Macondo Well. I find it difficult to believe that I am the only one who would question the results of their tests on the preventer, especially if it points the blame away from BP. The government has sewn this doubt over the past five months, and it is time for them to start on a new path, one that may be more painful, but at least it will be honest.
To restore this credibility, the government must release their science and explain their numbers. If they know that their number do not add up, then they need to admit that now; they need to admit their mistakes, in detail and maybe even apologize so this can all move forward. They must release the scientists to research what they wish, and have the funding of British Petroleum and the federal government to do it. Information and data right now are not the enemy; the enemies of justice and ethics in the Gulf of Mexico are those who withhold information to suit their own agendas.
The federal government must assume control of the cleanup.
British Petroleum has stated on several occasions that their company wouldn’t be using dispersants anymore, but their contractors, if they are, should stop. This is a typical loophole of the practices in the Gulf. If BP won’t guarantee their contractors have stopped, then it is time for BP to be stopped. Kick them to the sidelines and bill them for everything. The Obama administration needs to marry itself to this cleanup. No wiggle room, no fall guy, no we didn’t know’s. Own it, and then do it right.
Charge British Petroleum in criminal court.
Want to help ensure that nobody unleashes another catastraphuk like this again? Put those responsible in prison. Eleven men died out there, and many more indirectly by way of suicide, accident or what have you, put BP in prison. If all the investigations and court hearings result only in fines these companies can absorb or just pass onto the public in increased prices, no message has been learned. None. I believe that future CEO’s would be much more careful about the practices of their companies if in response to the greatest environmental disaster ever, the CEO and those responsible of said company didn’t just get transitioned to a new job in Russia that allows him to lose, nothing.
Free the information, now.
It’s okay Barack, we’re adults. We can take it. Tell us just how fucked up all this is now. Don’t spin, don’t distort, release the information and be honest, despite the political cost. It’s okay.
It’s not only the emperor who would appreciate being told about the new clothes.
So would your constituents.
Votes, or not.
Justice and dignity demand at least this much.
For five months we have watched all the events in the Gulf of Mexico: the dodges of responsibility, the fish kills, the oil, the false Feinbergian promises. We have watched the poisoning of an ecosystem and people in authority making decisions far over the heads of those affected directly by these decisions. In question is who rules the water, British Petroleum or the United States Government? The company our government does so much business with, or the officials we elect? We have watched the bullshit, we have experienced the doubt.
Obama, you ran on a campaign of hope.
So how about bringing some if it to the Gulf of Mexico, a place where it indeed is, time for change.
Have a nice day.
I thought the oil was gone.
I thought the relief wells were on target.
I thought emergency relief payments were to be issued within 48 hours, the blow out preventer was coming to the surface, British Petroleum’s internal investigation had found itself innocent, Corexit was biodegrading, the oil plumes had disappeared, the Gulf’s waters were being reopened because all was clear, nobody was really getting sick, fishermen were happily returning to work, Bob Dudley had just been appointed British Petroleum Pope of all things efficient and green, while Barack Obama was born in a manger under a shiny star, and presented gifts of crab, shrimp and oysters by horse-riding representatives of the FDA, NOAA and the EPA on the new Christmas of August 29th.
Apparently, something went wrong.
Man, you leave the news cycle for five days and the official narrative officially goes to shit.
Oil is being found in the Mississippi Sound, a place that has recently been reopened for fishing by Mississippi’s DMR in coordination with the NOAA and the FDA. Oil is also being found in Pensacola Bay, Grand Isle and any number of other areas. In Pensacola Bay last week, BP officials were denying the reports of found oil until the Pensacola News Journal was supplied with two of the company’s own reports to the county about their cleanup efforts. One of the local fisherman, working for BP was quoted in the article saying, “BP says it’s all gone, but it’s not. I’ve known it was out there for a month. We were recovering it in a boat … scooping it up out of sand and dumping it into bags. They’re just trying to keep it quiet. Out of sight, out of mind.”
And, it isn’t only the oil that refuses to go away quietly, the dispersant Corexit also staged a triumphant return and not only in the Gulf of Mexico, now its being found in swimming pools. As reported on Florida Oil Spill Law: “Our heads are still swimming,” stated Barbara Schebler of Homosassa, Florida, who received word last Friday that test results on the water from her family’s swimming pool showed 50.3 ppm of 2-butoxyethanol, a marker for the dispersant Corexit 9527A used to break up and sink BP’s oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The Scheblers report a history of rashes, diarrhea, sick pets and children, and their neighbors are complaining of similar symptoms, some of whom don’t want to go on record. Nalco, the company that produces Corexit states their product largely biodegrades in 28 days, and since British Petroleum says they have not used Corexit since July 19th and yet the water in the pool was tested on August 18th it would certainly appear that someone is being less than truthful about not only the oil in Pensacola Bay, but the use of the dispersant, let alone near the coast and/or its properties.
Speaking of illness, the Alabama Press Register is reporting that so far 197 people have been treated for oil related health issues, a number that continues to rise despite Obama’s friendly swim a few weeks back. The President, of course would seem to have outstanding health care, being president and all, while the 197 families thus far affected? Many of them, not so much. Oh yeah, and the state of Alabama recently filed suit against British Petroleum and Transocean for attempting to cover up the oil’s effects and their use of Corexit, done without fully understanding the environmental impact of two million gallons of poison being dumped into the water and not near the coast.
The wildlife apparently ain’t doing so well either; miles of dead fish were discovered in lower Plaquemines Parish at the mouth of the Mississippi River. This accompanies several other reports of similar kills throughout the Gulf. Dr. Cake, a biological oceanographer feels they are directly related to the BP catastraphuk, and the combination of oil and dispersants throughout the water column. Meanwhile, despite the Louisiana DHH releasing a seafood safety report that found no evidence of oil in the seafood, tests performed by independent scientists are coming to very different conclusions, discovering unhealthy contamination in Louisiana oyster and crab sampled in Louisiana’s Atchafayala Bay, Pass-a-Loutre and Redfish Bay. It is results like these why many fishermen are refusing to trawl for shrimp and why two of Coastal Alabama’s foremost marine experts, Dauphin Island Sea Lab Director George Crozier and Robert Shipp, chairman of the University of South Alabama’s Marine Sciences Department are saying the submerged oil is threatening organisms that form the basic building blocks of the food chain.
Oh yeah, and remember when BP reported that BP’s internal investigation of BP had found BP innocent of the Deepwater Horizon explosion? Well, not so fast according to Reuters. The news agency now reports that BP’s internal probe has placed some of the blame on mistakes made by its engineers, claiming they misread pressure data that indicated a blowout was imminent. British Petroleum has also apparently discovered the value of hiring contractors. By use of contractors, British Petroleum can maintain that when cleanup workers aren’t paid, or people charge they are still using Corexit, BP can say well, we would never do such a thing, but our contractors might.
Oh, and it isn’t only cleanup workers notbeing paid. Ken Feinberg’s much ballyhooed claim that all would receive their emergency payments within 48 hours, yeah…that didn’t happen either. Amy Weiss, Feinberg’s spokesperson acknowledged there have been some delays, “In the first few weeks…we may be short of our 48-hour goal,” Weiss said in an e-mail.
This is not the way I left things five days ago; this is a sad state of affairs.
We got sick people, dead fish, oil in the water and dispersants in swimming pools. BP’s denying, then admitting and when they can’t figure anything else out, they blame it on contractors. Oil’s everywhere, the seafood, the marshes, the beaches, the seafloor and floating through the water in the water column. The blowout preventer hasn’t been raised. Seafood safety is still in doubt. Cleanup workers aren’t getting paid. Corexit is apparently still being used. And to top it all off, Feinberg’s much heralded 48 hour payments are behind, giving Gulf Coast residents precisely what they didn’t need right now, yet another public figure in this Catastraphuk who didn’t live up to his words.
And still, no goddamned relief wells.
Is it time yet to declare the official version, that all is well and/or rapidly improving in the Gulf of Mexico officially dead?
Sure would seem so.
So, in light of all these recent events, I feel it only fair to issue a warning:
To all those in charge, or not in charge depending on the investigation, my next vacation is in two months. These last five days I’ve been away have really gone badly for you so by October 30th, you all probably want to get your story straight.
I don’t want to come back again to more bad news. I don’t want to have to start taking this personal.
Who knows, when I get back next time on November 2nd, I could be reading how Bob Dudley secretly collects Hitler propaganda while beating his wife and Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya after all, secretly brought to Hawaii under cover of night by the EPA in a Coast Guard plane that is spraying dispersant even where they don’t find oil, you know…just for fun.
So guys, if you can’t get the Gulf right, can you at least start telling the truth? About anything?
Really, is that too much to ask?
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.