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Gulf Oil Spill And 87 Days That Changed The World
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TOPIC: Gulf Oil Spill And 87 Days That Changed The World

Gulf Oil Spill And 87 Days That Changed The World 11 years ago #578

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British Petroleum, Gulf Oil Spill And 87 Days That Changed The World

The leak has stopped but the ramifications extend far beyond the Louisiana coastline.

The Independent, 17 July 2010, by David Usborne

All should be better for David Cameron as he goes to the White House on Tuesday to see Barack Obama now that BP has killed its black plume in the Gulf of Mexico. But it won't be, because he will find a Washington in full fulmination all over again about the release of the Lockerbie conspirator Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

In a sign of the most unusual strain between the two allies, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, told the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, yesterday that when hearings into the circumstances of the release – and what involvement BP may have had behind the scenes – open on Capitol Hill on 29 July, she expects Britain to say something new. The implication is that the US isn't buying the explanations London has offered up so far.

Had it not been for the oil spill, BP may never have been in the dock over the Megrahi affair, but the anger in Washington over his release never went away. Ten days ago four US senators wrote a letter to the UK ambassador in Washington, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, voicing dismay over reports that medical reasons given for releasing him on "compassionate grounds" may have been concocted with Libya's direct encouragement. It was only a matter of days before the same senators connected the dots to BP and demanding hearings on the Hill.

Thus late on Thursday, Senator John Kerry confirmed that indeed new hearings would take place within two weeks. Above all, committee members will explore claims that BP urged the Government behind the scenes to release Megrahi.

That all this should flare up now is fantastically bad for BP, which had been bursting every artery to close the broken well in time for the Cameron visit. There is no applause in Washington. As for it happening days before the Prime Minister's first Washington foray – awful.

That Britain should find itself being squeezed in public by the US in this manner is extraordinary. On Thursday, Sir Nigel wrote an open letter to the senators saying the Government believed the release of Megrahi was a "mistake". But he sought to knock down any notion the release was linked to BP's commercial ambitions. "I am troubled by the claims made in the press that Megrahi was released because of an oil deal involving BP, and that the medical evidence supporting his release was paid for by the Libyan government," Sir Nigel wrote in a letter to Mr Kerry.

In an interview with Time magazine, Mr Cameron makes the observation that the US-UK relationship is hardly one of equals. "I think Britain is, of course, the junior partner," he says, "but I ... hope that we bring things to that relationship." That being so, the US is applying its disproportionate weight to pressure Britain to come up with better answers about Megrahi. That seemed at least to be the import of the Clinton call to Mr Hague. "The Secretary indicated that, you know, it might be appropriate for the British Government to communicate with Congress as well to make sure that they fully understand, you know, what transpired a year ago," said Mrs Clinton's spokesman, P J Crowley.


87 Days that changed the world

DAY 1: 20 April

Explosion and fire on Deepwater Horizon rig kills 11. Two days later the rig sinks and a five-mile oil slick forms. Three days after that, first attempt to plug leak fails.

DAY 10

Barack Obama says BP is responsible for the clean-up. The next day CEO Tony Hayward says firm will pay all costs and legitimate compensation claims.

DAY 13

Obama makes first of four visits to Gulf Coast, as BP starts drilling a relief well alongside the failed well.

DAY 18

Attempt to place a “top hat” over the spewing well fails.

DAY 22

Executives from BP (rig operator), Transocean (owner) and Halliburton (firm responsible for vital cement work around the wellhead) appear at congressional hearings in Washington and the blame game begins.

DAY 30

First heavy oil hits Louisiana marshes.

DAY 38

US Geological Survey says up to 25,000 barrels may be spewing into sea every day, meaning spill is already bigger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, the previous worst US oil spill.

DAY 40

Junk shot – where mud, tyres and golf balls are pumped into the hole – fails. The next day Hayward says: “I’d like my life back.”

DAY 43

Shares plunge after attempt to stem oil with robot subs fails. US Justice Department launches criminal investigation into the spill.

DAY 50

Obama demands to know “whose ass to kick”.

DAY 52

David Cameron offers to help BP deal with the spill. Shares rise more than 6 per cent in London the following day.

DAY 58

BP’s top brass head to White House and agree to set up a $20bn damages fund, suspend dividend to shareholders, and pay $100m to workers idled by the six-month moratorium on deep-sea drilling.

DAY 59

Hayward in the dock where he puts in a diffident performance. Two days later is snapped on his 52ft yacht off the Isle of Wight, sparking a new tide of American anger.

DAY 70

BP is forced to defend Hayward after Russia’s top energy official says he expects him to resign soon.

DAY 79

Tar balls washed up in Texas found to be from the spill, meaning every US Gulf state – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and now Texas – has been polluted. BP shares rise on speculation that company is looking for international investors.

DAY 84

BP installs a “capping stack” to stop the oil, but forced to delay testing because of fears the process could damage well beyond repair.

DAY 87

BP says it has stopped leak with new containment cap.

Re:Gulf Oil Spill And 87 Days That Changed The World 10 years, 11 months ago #683

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America's Gulf - Updating The Greatest Ever Environmental Crime

By Stephen Lendman 8-24-10

For months, US media reports distorted and lied about its severity, running cover for BP and the Obama administration, now practically avoiding the crisis altogether as it worsens. An August 20 Inter Press Service report is revealing, quoting Biloxi, MS fisherman Danny Ross saying hypoxia (depleted oxygen) is driving horseshoe crabs, stingrays, flounder, dolphins, and other sea life "out of the water" to escape. Another area fisherman, David Wallis said he's "seen crabs crawling out of the water in the middle of the day."

Other reports cite strange marine life behavior, sighted near the surface when they normally stay well submerged. Alabama fisherman Stan Fournier said in 40 years of work, he's never seen anything like it. "It looks like all the sea life is trying to get out of the water," unable to breathe in their normal habitat, what US media reports won't touch, instead hyping success, saying BP's well capped and most oil dissolved when, in fact, it won't degrade for decades, remaining a lethal cocktail combined with dispersants, killing wildlife and poisoning anyone eating it, assuring a coming epidemic of cancers and other diseases.

On August 19, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) senior scientist Bill Lehr, in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, retracted his earlier claim about most oil dispersed and dissolved. He now says "I would say most of that is still in the environment," as much as 90%, only 6% burned and 4% skimmed, the rest contaminating a large part of the Gulf, spreading, and devastating wildlife.

In addition, on August 19, the journal Science published a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) study, confirming a giant oil plume floating about 1,200 meters below the surface - 35 km-long (22 miles), two km wide, and 200 meters thick. Persisting "for months without substantial biodegradation," it poses a serious threat to sea life, one of the article's writers, Dr. Chris Reddy, saying, "At this point, we know the plume exists, and we know more about its potential biological activity in the future" and harm it can cause.

It'll be years before the full extent of damage is known. However, it's already extensive and extremely dangerous, containing 50 micrograms per liter of "a group of particularly toxic petroleum compounds," 6 - 7% of it a deadly benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene cocktail - released from BP's Macondo well, the evidence clearly showing it according to research team head Richard Camilli.

He expects the plume to spread and biodegrade very slowly in cold waters. In addition, other independent researchers discovered other even larger plumes. University of Georgia Marine Sciences Professor Samantha (Mandy) B. Joye said the WHOI plume "doesn't hold a candle" to one her team found in May. Nonetheless, BP and Obama officials signaled an all-clear, denying their existence and the catastrophic disaster, out of sight and mind instead of dealing with it responsibly.

It's why on August 23, the Union of Concerned Scientists alerted members and supporters to "Help end America's dangerous addiction to oil," saying for decades it's warned about the US's "misguided energy and transportation policies (instead of) promoting innovative solutions to reduce our dependence on oil. (The Gulf disaster) is a painful reminder of the work" left to be done and urgency of doing it.

On August 20, Kieran Suckling, Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director headlined his press release, "Gulf of Mexico Still in Crisis Four Months After BP Explosion: Center for Biological Diversity Tour Finds Oiled Beaches, Water and Wildlife....Drilling Policy Reforms Still Too Weak, Too Late," saying:

The Center's team saw "firsthand how oil is still killing wildlife and fouling beaches and marshes. This crisis is far from over." Grand Isle, LA beaches were contaminated with oil, liquid surface pools and more mixed with sand in hardened mats along the water's edge.

"Some beaches appear fine from a distance but are actually sitting atop massive amounts of oil, which bubbled to the surface when the team walked across the sand. Digging into (it) with rubber gloves," oil was found six inches below the surface. Crabs and birds are covered with it as they cross beaches or marsh land. "Fish and sea turtles are forced to swim through oil on the surface and below," looking for food. "In short, (the Gulf) is still an oily mess despite rosy assertions" by BP and Obama officials, claiming most oil is gone. They know damn well it's there to stay, poisoning everything it touches.

The Center's survey supports independent scientists saying most remains, fouling beaches, waters, marshes and wildlife. Working for reform and serious remediation, Center officials filed seven lawsuits against BP and government regulators, including "the largest Clean Water Act suit in history," seeking $19 billion in fines from BP. More on their likely resolution below.

Firsthand Reports from the Gulf

Reporting from the area, investigative journalist Dahr Jamail calls Grand Isle, LA's condition "post-apocalytic," spotting "tar balls that bob lazily underwater, amidst sand ripples in the shallows....Oil-soaked marsh abounds....the island smell(ing) like a gas station. Noxious fumes infiltrate my nose, causing me to cough. Piles of oiled oysters rest on the tide line."

Tar balls are everywhere. "In some places, there are literally huge mats of fresh tar....The scene is apocalyptic....It is one of the more disgusting, vile scenes I've even seen....All we can do is take photos. The stench is overpowering. I gag. My eyes water from the burning chemicals....I feel dizzy." The entire Gulf Coast has been raped and destroyed. Official coverup is criminal.

Only time will assess the full damage on humans and wildlife. However, the toll already is devastating, the Obama administration complicit with BP, culpable for a crime they want suppressed, ignored and forgotten, what will affect the lives of millions perhaps forever.

According to Florida State University ocean scientist Ian MacDonald: "The (disaster's) imprint will be there in the Gulf of Mexico for the rest of my life. It is not gone," and won't ever "go away quickly," warning of a potential tipping point beyond which wildlife and the ecosystem won't recover, the crossed Rubicon after which return no longer is possible, a shocking assessment perhaps already true.

JAMA Reports Direct Threats to Human Health

In its August 16 edition, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) writers Drs. Gina M. Solomon and Sarah Janssen headlined, "Health Effects of the Gulf Oil Spill," saying "it (and dispersants pose) direct threats to human health from inhalation or dermal contact," besides harming seafood and mental health.

Solomon and Janssen explained that crude oil's main components are "aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons." Containing volatile organic compounds (including benezene, toluene and xylene), they "can cause respiratory irritation and central nervous system (CNS) depression."

Benzene also causes leukemia, and toluene "is a recognized teratogen (causing embryo malformation) at high doses." Naphthalene and other higher molecular weight chemicals are "reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans...."

Released hydrogen sulfide gas, nonvolatile polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and heavy metals from oil "can contaminate the food chain. Hydrogen sulfide gas is neurotoxic and has been linked to both acute and chronic CNS (central nervous system) effects. PAHs include mutagens and probable carcinogens. Burning oil generates particulate matter, which is associated with cardiac and respiratory symptoms and premature mortality."

Massive dispersants use greatly exacerbates the problem. They contain toxic detergents, surfactants and petroleum distillates, including known respiratory irritants like 2-butoxyethanol, propylene glycol, and sulfonic acid salts.

As a result, area residents and cleanup workers experienced headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, coughs, respiratory distress, chest pain, and other symptoms - warning signs of potentially greater future health problems.

"Skin contact with oil and dispersants causes defatting, resulting in dermatitis and secondary skin infections. Some individuals may develop a dermal hypersensitivity reaction, erythema (injured or irritated skin), edema, burning sensations, or a follicular rash."

Potential long-term health risks are high, wildlife contamination making anyone eating Gulf seafood vulnerable. "Community residents should not fish" in oil-contaminated areas, nor should federal, state or local officials allow them.

Some Final Comments

On August 20, New York Times writer Ian Urbina headlined, "BP Settlements Likely to Shield Top Defendants," saying:

"People and businesses seeking a lump-sum settlement from BP's $20 billion oil spill compensation fund will most likely have to waive their right to sue not only BP, but also all the other major defendants involved with the spill, according to internal documents from the lawyers handling the fund."

In other words, the fix is in, Obama and BP officials conspiring to let responsible parties off the hook, settlement terms designed to deny victims just compensation and for many, perhaps most, none at all, given the strict guidelines of eligibility required.

Claims czar Kenneth Feinberg is a notorious "fixer," mandated to save BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and blowout preventer maker Cameron International potentially tens of billions in liabilities, strong-arming victims to waive their right to sue in return for amounts too meager to matter.

According to Urbina, the dilemma for those suing is deciding between "years of litigation (or) accept(ing) the (offered) settlement....before the full (extent of) damage" is known. Most important is that "those who cannot demonstrate damages caused by the direct impact of oil on beaches and fisheries will be ineligible for money."

For example, small businesses, not located directly on affected beaches, experiencing sharp revenue drops "will not be able to receive compensation...." in violation of the federal Oil Pollution Act that excludes geographical limitations. The same holds for area residents living away from the shoreline.

Property owners who've seen sharp valuations drops, will also be cheated. So will cleanup workers and area residents later contracting diseases, mental illness, lost income, or other harmful effects.

As point man, Feinberg will deny, obstruct, and let criminal defendants off the hook, then (on BP's payroll) be handsomely paid for his services, the same ones he performed earlier for Wall Street banks, Agent Orange producers, asbestos manufacturers, and Dalkon Shield maker AH Robins as well as against 9/11 victims.

Only corporate interests matter, not people whose lives they destroy, Obama officials doing nothing to help them - instead being complicit partners in the greatest ever environmental crime, whitewashing it by giving the all-clear, declaring "mission accomplished," and protecting corporate criminals at all costs.
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