Lawyers, guns and money…now featuring the Feds!

The door to Eric Holder's office...

In the Gulf of Mexico, the government serves two fundamental roles:

1. They are the protective savior, providing certain corporations and clean-up contractors legal cover for any consequences that might arise from the manufacture and use of poisonous products.

or…

2. They are an overprotective savior, goose-stepping boogeymen who don’t know shit about marine life, and waste everyone’s time getting in the way of big oil and natural gas.

Man…it’s a damned if you do situation that’s almost enough to make one sympathetic towards the Obama administration…almost, but not quite.

Anyways…

Nalco, the makers of “safe as dish soap” Corexit, and other companies involved in cleaning up the oil filed a motion in Judge Barbier’s court asking the judge to dismiss them from liability because their product is safe they were operating on behalf of the feds, and therefore feel they are entitled to immunity from any later health claims.

You see, Nalco only manufactured the stuff, it was the government and BP who actually used it, and that is not Nalco’s fault.

And you see, the clean-up companies only didn’t provide proper protective gear to cleanup workers, it was the government and BP who actually…uh provided…who uh, what, no? Look damnit, the clean-up contractors were working for the government and therefore feel they too should be given immunity from the consequences of all their bullshit money saving, PR working tactics to score contracts and make everyone happy, well, everyone except the actual workers.

You know?

Jesus…

Thank God that Plaintiff Steering Committee is in place to put a stop to this kind of corporate dodge. I mean, after the actions of the banks in ’08, what with their causing, then benefiting from the recession at the expense of so many, you just know the attorneys aren’t going to sit still and let yet another group of companies screw the people for their own financial benef…wait, what?

“In mid-February, the plaintiffs steering committee filed a motion saying that it believed that BP would ultimately be responsible for any health issues associated with responding to the spill, so it asked the court if it could remove the clean-up, responder and dispersant defendants from its complaint so it could concentrate on BP. The plaintiffs said that such a move would dismiss the companies from the litigation, but not let them entirely off the hook.”

The PSC filed to remove Nalco and the clean-up companies because going after all these companies would be too hard? Because they just wanted to focus on BP? What, are they not getting paid enough to handle such complexities?

Okay…okay…now true, the PSC did ask for dismissal without prejudice, meaning they can re- file against these companies later, but in doing so…didn’t they just help Nalco and the cleanup companies bolster their case for getting themselves dismissed “with prejudice,” or in other words, dismissed for real? It sure would seem so…the PSC takes a half-step and Nalco sees that half-step and raises them a full, all the while arguing they were just following orders, man…it ain’t them, it was the government. We didn’t tell the Feds to dump two million gallons of this poison into the Gulf, we just brought it in on tanker trucks. They asked. We delivered. Yes, right, and the banks were just trying to turn a profit under the law, they didn’t do anything wrong either.

Recession? What recession?

Cancer cluster? What cancer cluster?

Dolphin deaths off the Louisiana coast?

Huh? What dolphin deaths?

“From February 2010, NOAA has reported 180 dolphin strandings in the three parishes that surround Barataria Bay — Jefferson, Plaquemines and Lafourche — or about 18 percent of the 1,000 estimated dolphins in the bay. Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it had found 32 dolphins in the bay underweight, anemic and showing signs of liver and lung disease. Nearly half had low levels of stress hormones that help with stress response, metabolism and immune function.

Lori Schwacke, a NOAA scientist, said the dolphins’ hormone problems could not definitely be tied to the oil spill but were “consistent with oil exposure.” Over the same period of time, NOAA says 714 dolphins and whales have been found stranded from the Florida Panhandle to the Texas state line, with 95 percent of those mammals found dead. Normally, the region sees 74 reported dolphin deaths a year.”

So then, it would appear that something is not only wrong in the courthouse, something is very wrong with the wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, especially around Louisiana where the oil spill flowed the heaviest…and in response to all this death and dying, the feds stepped in to ban the seismic equipment used by oil and natural gas companies to find geologic deposits for drilling. These seismic surveys are done with air-guns that emit pulsing sounds known to disturb marine mammals and could also disrupt mother and calf bonding for the dolphins. Okay…government being cautious…good and how long is the ban in effect for? Just until the beginning of May when calving season ends.

Again…good, so everybody’s happy, right?

Of course not…

Global Geophysical Services Inc. the company being paid to do these surveys and therefore having no conflict of interest dispute the dangers of their testing, saying, “We see no hazard to them (the dolphins) whatsoever.”

Oh, okay…well there you have it then. The company also notes that since the government has stepped in with their new unnecessary regulations, they have had to lay off thirty people…so there. Man, just give it a day until Jindal’s giving a speech somewhere to talk about what a rat bastard Obama is…

What a drag to be a fed these days.

Not only should the government provide immunity to companies that manufacture poisons or perhaps lack proper cleanup gear, thus causing health problems for untold amounts of people, but the government should stop enforcing regulations that protect marine life in the same Gulf where all those toxic poisons were dumped.

Total drag, these two roles of government in the Gulf:

You exercise a  lack of caution, companies demand you provide legal immunity.

You exercise any caution, companies demand you get out the way of big business because you’re costing money and jobs.

It’s gotta almost be enough for Obama to grab a seismic air-gun, march into Barbier’s courtroom and point it at not only the defendants, but the entire Plaintiff Steering Committee and I for one, wouldn’t mind if he did.

Hell, I might even meet him there to see if he’d let me pull the trigger.

That’s the one role I think I’d like to play.

Read the articles:

Should Gulf oil spill dispersant, clean-up companies stay in the litigation?

Feds stop oil company’s tests in Gulf amid concerns over dolphins

Have a nice day.

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Corexit, oil and seafood…oops!

What me, worry?

Did you hear the one about the dishsoap safe Corexit, so mild it wouldn’t harm your most fragile of dishes? No? Okay, well…how about that whole seafood safety, oil didn’t enter the food chain thing? No, not that one either, huh?

Well, no worries, turns out you didn’t waste your time as that was all just one tremendous line of shit.

From British Petroleum’s own safety manuals, in regards to Corexit:

Warning – Eye and skin irritant. Repeated or excessive exposure to butoxyethanl (active ingredient in Corexit) may cause injury to red blood cells, kidney or the liver…Do not get in eyes, on skin, on clothing…use with adequate ventilation, wear suitable protective clothing, flush affected area with water…”

And…

“Excessive exposure may cause central nervous system effects, nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects…”

Yes, just like any dish soap I’ve used in the past…

The Louisiana Environmental Network is of course, all over this, asking many of the right questions…such as why were cleanup workers using this crap denied ventilators? In fact, why did BP and its contractors tell cleanup workers that protective clothing and special equipment were unnecessary, despite the fact BP’s own manual specifically stated protective equipment should be worn?

And, I might add, this same chemical, all two million gallons worth is what contractors and the Coast Guard were dropping from planes, and dropping in such a way that it reportedly fell onshore at times.

Oh…and the whole seafood safety, oil not entering the food chain thing we kept hearing so much about, or kept hearing so much about how it wasn’t happening?

Yeah, well, it did…

By way of  Library Chronicles, I give you Dr. Siddhartha Mitra with East Carolina University:

“Our research helped to determine a ‘fingerprint’ of the Deepwater Horizon spill; something that other researchers interested the spill may be able to use,” Mitra told ECU Now Blog. “Furthermore, our work demonstrated that zooplankton in the Northern Gulf of Mexico accumulated toxic compounds derived from the well.”

Yeah, and all those zooplankton are of the lower rungs in the food chain which essentially means that the fish eating the zooplankton? Oiled, and the fish that eat the fish that ate the zooplankton? Oiled…and you, eating the fish that ate the fish that ate the zooplankton?

Huh…we probably need a study.

So…to sum up…

We’ve been told over and over that all’s well, all’s getting better in the Gulf when it turns out the oil, that BP catastraphuk Deepwater Horizon oil? It did enter the food chain and if you’re eating the seafood and now starting to wonder about that oil, and as a result now feeling kind of dirty or unclean…well, you can listen to BP’s spokespeople, about their “safe as dish soap” dispersant and perhaps use it to clean up a bit, much in the same way the company used it to clean up the Gulf and besides, I hear it really cuts grease and just might soften your hands too, if by softening you mean, again from the manual:

“Defat and dry the skin, leading to discomfort and dermatitis.”

That’s kind of like softening, right?

I don’t know.

Perhaps one should ask Bob Dudley, or better yet ask LEAN, I think they’re more likely to give you an honest response.

Have a nice day.

The documents are confidential because everything is fine…or not.

This was a horrible tragedy, or it wasn't, which spawned terrible human and environmental consequences...maybe.

The word is out.

The National Marine Fisheries Service have prepared a number of documents, data about Gulf fisheries and fishers to help the legal types better determine the status of fishing in the Gulf both before and after the spill. Involved lawyers will now be able to read over these documents and answer, for themselves perhaps, a number of questions: the fisheries are okay, or they’re not. The seafood is safe to eat, or it’s not. The water is clear of oil, of toxins, of dispersant residue, or it’s not…or worse yet, maybe the fisheries haven’t been okay for a long time and now they’re just a  hell of a lot worse…

Or they’re not.

Good information to have, answers to questions many of us have been waiting for – so the data from the report, it indicates what?

I don’t know.

Nope.

But what I do know is US Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan has determined this information is not for you, the public to know, not right now, maybe not ever…why? Because you are not a member of the Plaintiff Steering Committee, BP’s legal team or the Justice Department. So even though your tax dollars paid for the study…and even though that study could be a pretty good indicator of the Gulf’s health, and the health of the fish from the Gulf you’re presently eating…

You are on a need to know…

And just like way too much else in this catastraphuk, from the spill’s flow rates to the amount of dead wildlife to a real understanding of Corexit dispersant – it’s health effects and the amount that was used: you don’t need to know…

Really.

And your happiness may just depend on it.

Read the article:

Oil spill documents must stay confidential, judge rules

Have a nice day.

Feds, Coast Guard, join BP to prove they’ve learned very little…

This was very unlikely to not have happened, or not ever happen again...maybe...

In two developments this past week, British Petroleum officially welcomed the Coast Guard and the Federal Government to their party that history forgot. Behind the ivy covered walls, steel doors and security guards of BP headquarters, Bob Dudley toasted Coast Guard Captain, Julia Heim and BOEMRE head, Michael Bromwich, celebrating a rousing relapse of maritime irresponsibility and forgetfulness. Toast completed, Bob turned on the tequila fountain, shaped like a deepwater oil rig, and they all took an extra shot for luck…

Whereupon a few Gulf Coast journalists decided to go and wreck the party by writing a few editorials to ask Julia and Michael…um, what the hell, remember the whole oil spill, corporate irresponsibility thing?

Julia and Michael, you remember all that, right?

Well, apparently Julia, the Coast Guard Captain, doesn’t remember shit because while the Coast Guard signed an agreement with BP, transitioning the clean-up portion of the response towards one of coastal recovery, she seemed to forget a few very important details. Not only does the agreement allow BP to pretty much weasel their way out of any more clean-up and its accompanying costs, she forgot to specify any long-term monitoring of the Gulf Coast. Captain Hein also left out any part where BP continues to pay for aerial monitoring of the Macondo well site.

Yeah, bang-up job, Ms. Hein.

So, all this means that if/when oil comes into the Louisiana wetlands and marshes it will now be up to the public to discover and report it. Then, the state will have to prove it is actually BP oil, which as the oil degrades will become increasingly impossible to do, which in turn will leave the state on the line to pay for the clean-up. When Tropical Storm Lee hit on Labor Day and dumped tar mats, tar balls and other assorted tar products…BP’s clean-up was very slow and when the next storm hits, it will be even slower, or not come at all…thanks to the Coast Guard and their bullshit agreement. Not to mention all those oil slicks they kept discovering this fall by the Macondo Well. Remember? BP and the Coast Guard denied the slicks even existed, until they were photographed by a non-profit group. Then they denied the slicks were in the vicinity of the Macondo site, until it was shown they were, and finally, they then denied the oil actually came from the Macondo well until journalists had tests run, proving them wrong for a third time.

Now, any more monitoring is on the state dime.

Garret Graves, chairman of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said of the Coast Guard’s relationship with BP, it’s “like they’re a victim of Stockholm Syndrome,” referring to a phenomenon in which hostages become sympathetic to their captors, but I disagree. The Coast Guard never seemed like a hostage at all, more of  a willing participant or co-conspirator in this agreement, one which Louisiana representatives refused to sign, a fact Julia and the Coast Guard simply ignored, going ahead with the agreement regardless. No, that ain’t a hostage, that’s someone with an open invite to party with Bob.

Which brings us to the other party guest, Mr. Michael Bromwich…

This individual currently runs what was formerly the MMS, that lovely regulatory agency that was doing blow and hookers with the oil company reps they were supposed to be monitoring. No wonder the Deepwater Horizon blew up, hard to see a design flaw in the specs when the design prints are on a table covered with empty beer cans. Now, as we all know, the MMS is the BOEMRE, a much more catchy acronym that stands for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, and with this new moniker came a brand new seriousness about safety, or so we’ve all been told, but then they go and release to the public a draft called the “Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.” The point of the BOEMRE’S OCSOGPEIS is to analyze and weigh the “environmental implications of continued drilling in federal waters between 2012 and 2017,” also, “the economic analysis associated with the new impact statement projects the potential for future spills and the damage they might cause based on all “spills from 1964-2010 excluding the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon (DWH) event.””

Wait, what?

So, when this agency estimated environmental impacts and possibilities of a spill by analyzing data from the past, they decided to leave out the economic and environmental impacts of the biggest oil spill in United States history?

Why, because it screwed up the curve?

Believe it or not…that’s precisely why. From the report and accompanying article, “If a more recent period is chosen (1990-2009)” for the risk analysis. For instance, using only the 19 years prior to the BP spill in the environmental analysis, the report concludes, this would further “decrease the anticipated environmental costs” of continued drilling.”

You see, if we just kind of leave out the whole millions of barrels spilled, millions of gallons of Corexit dispersant dumped, eleven people dead thing from last summer, well then, deepwater drilling not only looks more economically beneficial but damnit, wouldn’t you know it is environmentally sound, too? Really, no fooling.

Course another take on it could be: “By omitting the nation’s largest environmental disaster from its calculation of the environmental costs of drilling, BOEMRE continues to bury its head in the sand and pretend that the Deepwater Horizon accident never happened,” Catherine Wannamaker, with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in an emailed statement. Wannamaker said that even low-probability events such as the Deepwater Horizon blowout must be included when looking at the economic and environmental costs of offshore drilling, “BOEMRE tries to move forward without truly accounting for these risks and costs,” Wannamaker said. “This is not a responsible course of action for a supposedly reformed agency.”

How much you wanna bet Ms. Wannamaker never gets invited to any of Bob’s parties.

Well, she wouldn’t be the only one because it sure seems these get togethers are not meant for you and I, especially if we have a vested interest in not only ensuring BOEMRE fulfills its responsibilities by monitoring the oil companies and all of these wells, but also that British Petroleum is not allowed to walk away from their responsibilities in the Gulf as they seem hell-bent on doing, with the complicity of BOEMRE, the Coast Guard and the Obama Administration.

Remember back when the oil spill first happened? Congress was truly up in arms and they promised to regulate this, enforce that, do whatever they had to do to ensure a preventable tragedy such as the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon could never happen again…so they declared, promised, wrote out in blood, but when push came to shove, Congress passed nothing. Well, the Coast Guard’s bullshit agreement and BOEMRES skewed numbers are just more of this same pattern. Both agencies like to talk about the unlikelihood of such catastrophic events. Yeah, that’s great and all, this ongoing unlikelihood…but it sure as hell don’t keep the coast safe and it didn’t keep those eleven men on the Deepwater Horizon alive.

What the Gulf Coast and this entire country needs, right now, is for the government to finally step up and proceed with true regulation and actual enforcement of industry, because if there’s one thing we know, they sure as hell aren’t going to do it themselves.

Have a nice day.

Nalco…not just following orders…

Not your momma's dish soap...

Nalco, the makers of Corexit disperant, are on the line for what could be hundreds of thousands of personal injury claims with the company’s request for immunity being quashed yesterday in a ruling by US District Court Judge Carl Barbier.

The chemical company, whose product British Petroleum execs once called safe as dish soap had requested immunity from any lawsuit because they claimed to be just following orders from President Obama in giving the chemical to BP for use.

Barbier, however, called bullshit on that.

It turns out that whole disagreement between the EPA and British Petroleum on what dispersant to use might have consequences after all.

Who knew?

For those who’ve forgotten:

Judge Barbier writes:

 “‘After the disaster, BP began implementing a disaster response plan to prevent oil from escaping the blown out well, to manually contain the oil, and to disperse oil in the water using Nalco’s chemical dispersants….”‘Upon information and belief, immediately after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, on or about April 23, 2010, BP began subsea and aerial application of chemical dispersants manufactured by Defendant Nalco to the resulting oil slicks and sheens on the surface of the Gulf.    

“‘On or about May 19, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator directed BP within 24 hours of issuance to identify and to change to chemical dispersants that are less toxic than Nalco’s Corexit® dispersants BP had been using…On May 20, 2010, BP objected to changing dispersants and notified the EPA that it would continue using Nalco’s Corexit. BP and clean-up defendants used and, upon information and belief, continue to use the dispersants Corexit® 9500 and 9527 (more than 1.8 million gallons to date) to disperse the crude oil…”

Oops.

You see, if the EPA hadn’t objected to BP’s use of Corexit, then Nalco would have automatic immunity, granted to them by legal provisions in both the government contractor defense and the Clean Water Act. But the EPA did object, ordering the company to find a less toxic alternative and British Petroleum, with financial connections to Nalco, said too bad, were using it anyway.

And whereas Nalco might be forgiven for mistaking BP for the government last summer, their role in the spray of their chemicals which, as the plaintiffs allege “may lead to serious problems, disease, and medical conditions’ and plaintiffs are at a ‘significantly increased risk of contracting serious latent disease,” is unforgivable.

And really, if your product is so safe, what the hell do you need immunity for anyway?

Read the article:

Corexit Makers May Be Liable for Use at Oil Spill

Have a nice day.

BP’s clean-up refusal: thanks for the metaphor…

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach ain't authorized enough...

When Tropical Storm Lee created a storm surge over Labor Day weekend, the surf brought in a new array of tar balls to some Gulf Coast Beaches. The Alabama communities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, still cleaning up this new oil from the Macondo Well, have requested British Petroleum bring in more beach cleaning machinery to ensure the clean-up is done right.

British Petroleum refused.

Instead, BP will increase the hours of the cleanup workers. BP spokesperson, Ray Melick, said crews would get rid of the oil on the beaches.

Which brings us to the metaphor for the entire cleanup process, actually for the entire “making people whole” line of bullshit BP has been spreading for almost a year and a half now.

Philip West, a city coastal resources manager for Orange Beach had this to say about BP’s plan: “A lot of times after storms, you clean the surface of the sand,” West said. “You pick up what you can see, run a beach cleaner through it. But in some areas — and there are various reasons for it — there could be some buried debris, so you have to run plows. You have to be very thorough and we just don’t think a SCAT guy with a shovel probe punching a few holes is that kind of thorough that we would need.”

BP, cleaning the surface of the sand…while leaving what can’t be seen where it is…just like Corexit dispersant sank the oil to the seafloor, out of sight, just like they’re quick to attack the surface of any problem in the Gulf, while leaving the cause buried deep below.

Clean enough, whole enough, cheap enough…but none of it right enough to fix the mess they created by not being safe enough.

Thanks British Petroleum, you’re the virus that keeps on infecting.

Read the article:

BP denies Gulf Shores request for beach-cleaning machinery

Have a nice day.