Most who have followed the story of the BP Catastraphuk are familiar with the company’s enlisting of scientists and university research departments to
silence them with non-disclosure requirements explore what has happened to the Gulf environment, to do the research so all the Gulf States can be made whole, well, complete, fixed like a motherfucker while Dudley sails off to the shareholders meeting, to Texas, into the sunset whilst nodding humbly to the throngs of his adoring fans beach-side…
However, Christopher Reddy and Richard Camilli will not be standing on them sands.
In an op-ed for the Boston Globe, these two Massachusetts scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute had some sharp words for British Petroleum…the same company they came to help at said oil company’s request, volunteering their time for the good of the Gulf:
“We responded by leading on-site operations using robotic submersibles equipped with advanced technologies that we had developed for marine science. We applied them to measure the rate of fluid release from the well and to sample fluids from within the well. We then volunteered our professional time to scrutinize this data and published two peer-reviewed studies in a respected scientific journal. We determined an average flow rate of 57,000 barrels of oil per day and calculated a total release of approximately 4.9 million barrels. BP claimed that it needed to better understand our findings because billions of dollars in fines are potentially at stake. So we produced more than 50,000 pages of documents, raw data, reports, and algorithms used in our research — everything BP would need to analyze and confirm our findings. But BP still demanded access to our private communications.
Our concern is not simply invasion of privacy, but the erosion of the scientific deliberative process.”
And so British Petroleum goes to the judge, seeking the writings that contain much of the deliberative process, one where scientists question and challenge each other, push their colleagues to go deeper, be even more accurate, playing devil’s advocate against their colleagues and their own conclusions…you know, communications ripe with fragmented ideas.
“BP was able to use the federal courts to gain access to our private information. Although the presiding judge magistrate recognized the need to protect confidential e-mails to avoid deterring future research, she granted BP’s request.”
And now that they’ve gotten, what do you think might happen to those e-mails in court, as the topic turns to that magic flow-rate number of 57,000 barrels of oil per day? Or the total of 4.9 million barrels released into the Gulf, when that little fact comes up?
One might think a BP lawyer could obscure conclusive facts by reading off fragments from these e-mails…taking the smallest part to impugn the conclusions of the whole.
Yes, those more
realistic about the sham that is the court of law cynical could certainly think this, but personally, I hardly think it possible, what with BP’s long history of integrity, sound science, culture of openness, safety and responsibility to not only their shareholders, but to the environment both land and sea, and all the people of this earth and beyond…
However, Reddy and Camilli have a different opinion:
“Our experience highlights that virtually all of scientists’ deliberative communications, including e-mails and attached documents, can be subject to legal proceedings without limitation. Incomplete thoughts and half-finished documents attached to e-mails can be taken out of context and impugned by people who have a motive for discrediting the findings. In addition to obscuring true scientific findings, this situation casts a chill over the scientific process. In future crises, scientists may censor or avoid deliberations, and more importantly, be reluctant to volunteer valuable expertise and technology that emergency responders don’t possess.”
No way. BP overreaching on information control, gearing up to discredit the science, the very people they turned to for help, all in order to serve their own interests?
Utter insanity…and to prove this point, up to the microphone marched another BP spokesperson who said the company’s subpoena was, “in no way an attack on science.”
Well of course not, that would be ridiculous…and entirely irresponsible.
Have a nice day.