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|BP Oil Spill Update, 5/25/2010 6:06 PM
["Now that they’ve caused the worst environmental disaster in US
history, [BP's] primary concern seems to be to stop anyone from
finding out about it."
And the Feds are STILL deferring to BP in the failing effort to keep
oil out of the marshes and wetlands!? BP owns us...?]
“It’s BP’s Oil”
Running the corporate blockade at Louisiana's crude-covered beaches.
BP’s Police Protection Units
As Bob Herbert notes today in an excellent piece, BP, despite a
history of workplace accidents, was basically handed a blank slip to
drill for oil, without environmental review, without regulatory
oversight. Now that they’ve caused the worst environmental disaster in
US history, their primary concern seems to be to stop anyone from
finding out about it.
Governor Jindal Meets With Federal Officials, Calls Response Efforts Disjointed
BP's Contempt for US EPA:
BP’s Dispersant Filing Is Intellectually Dishonest
Deepwater Horizon survivors allege they were kept in seclusion after
rig explosion, coerced into signing legal waivers
Despite the thick oil, we’ve seen only two clean-up boats out of the
1,150 that the response claims to have on site: one was broken down,
the other was towing it.
Oil spill brings ‘death in the ocean from top to bottom’
May 24, 2010
It has been an hour since our sport-fishing boat started streaking
through the freshly oil-soaked marshes of Pass a Loutre, but we’re
still only halfway through the slick. Eighteen miles out and the stink
of oil is everywhere. Rashes of red-brown sludge are smeared across
vast swaths, between them a swell rendered faintly psychedelic with
Cutting the engines, we slide to a stop near Rig 313. We’re not
supposed to be in the restricted zone, but other than the
dispersant-spraying aircraft passing overhead there’s no one to see
us. Despite the thick oil, we’ve seen only two clean-up boats out of
the 1,150 that the response claims to have on site: one was broken
down, the other was towing it.
Skimming and burning are the most visible elements of the clean-up
operation, and that’s no accident. Over the past few days it’s become
clear that far more oil is gushing from the seabed than BP had
admitted. Oil has been prevented from reaching the surface by
dispersants injected into the flow some 5,000ft below, but is
spreading through the midwater in vast, dilute plumes.
Along with the marine toxicologist Susan Shaw, of the Marine
Environmental Research Institute, I’ve come to peer into the hidden
side of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Wreathed in neoprene and with
Vaseline coating the exposed skin around our faces, we slip into the
clear water in the lee of the boat. Beneath the mats of
radioactive-looking, excrement-coloured sludge are smaller gobs of
congealed oil. Taking a cautious, shallow breath through my snorkel I
head downwards. Twelve metres under, the specks of sludge are smaller,
but they are still everywhere.
Among the specks are those of a different hue. These are wisps of
drifting plankton, the eggs and larvae of fish and the microscopic
plants and animals that form the base of almost all marine food webs.
Any plankton-eating fish would now have trouble distinguishing food
from poison, let alone the larger filter-feeders.
Onshore, small landfalls of the same sludge have started to cause
panic among locals as they coat the marshes. Here, just a few feet
beneath the surface, a much bigger disaster is unfolding in slow
“This is terrible, just terrible,” says Dr Shaw, back on the boat.
“The situation in the water column is horrible all the way down.
Combined with the dispersants, the toxic effects of the oil will be
far worse for sea life. It’s death in the ocean from the top to the
Dispersants can contain particular evils. Corexit 9527 — used
extensively by BP despite it being toxic enough to be banned in
British waters — contains 2-butoxyethanol, a compound that ruptures
red blood cells in whatever eats it. Its replacement, COREXIT 9500,
contains petroleum solvents and other components that can damage
membranes, and cause chemical pneumonia if aspirated into the lungs
But what worries Dr Shaw most is the long-term potential for toxic
chemicals to build up in the food chain. “There are hundreds of
organic compounds in oil, including toxic solvents and PAHs
(polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), that can cause cancer in animals
and people. In this respect light, sweet crude is more toxic than the
heavy stuff. It’s not only the acute effects, the loss of whole niches
in the food web, it’s also the problems we will see with future
generations, especially in top predators.”
When a gap in the slick opens, I dive on one of the huge steel legs of
the rig. Swirling around it are dozens of some of the biggest fish
I’ve seen in nearly 20 years of diving. Huge cobia, amberjack,
mangrove snapper and barracuda thrive on the shelter provided by the
rig structures, creating some of the most sought-after game fishing in
the United States: our skipper claimed that he’d hosted three world
record-breaking catches last year.
“They’ll be healthy enough now, but it’s just a matter of time,” Dr
Henry Bart, a fish biologist at Louisiana’s Tulane University, told me
later. “Cobia feed on upper water-column species. The oil is going to
magnify up through the food chain.”
What happens to marine species in the dark, unseen waters below us is
less certain. In the Gulf the depths are better known than almost
anywhere in the world, for the oil industry has to show what exists on
the seabed before any drilling can begin. This, along with an on-going
Census of Marine Life, has helped to reveal that life within seabed
sediments is astoundingly varied.
A pod of sperm whales resides off New Orleans and is believed to be
dining on giant squid. These ultimately depend on the tiny specks of
life that are slowly being poisoned at the surface.
What happens next, no one can say for sure.
Governor Jindal Meets with Coastal Parish Leaders, Announces New
Strategies to Protect Coast to Fill Void
BATON ROUGE (May 23, 2010)
The Governor emphasized the requests – including the state’s dredging
plan – made to BP and federal agencies that have yet to be granted
while miles of Louisiana’s shoreline continue to be impacted by oil.
According to NOAA, more than 65 miles of Louisiana’s shoreline has now
been impacted by oil. To put this in perspective – this is more than
the total sea coastline of Delaware and Maryland combined.
Governor Jindal said, “On May 2nd – 21 days ago – we met with the
Coast Guard, the President and federal officials here in Venice. At
that time, we leaned forward and requested a large amount of resources
that our parishes would need under a worst-case scenario response to
this oil spill. In fact, the very next day, May 3rd, we announced all
of our coastal parish detailed protection plans – in the absence of
any detailed plan from BP – and I said that we had formally requested
three million feet of absorbent boom, five million feet of hard boom
and 30 ‘jack up’ barges.
Governor Jindal Stresses Importance Of Dredging Plan For Louisiana Coastline
The Governor said the state continues to move forward on a dredge plan
to build “sand booms” along the alignment of Louisiana’s historic
barrier islands in the Chandeleurs, Barataria Bay and Timbalier Bay.
Governor Jindal said, “CPRA filed for an emergency permit last week
from the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with this plan and we
just met with the Col. Lee of the Army Corps of Engineers along with
parish leaders to stress the importance of approving this plan quickly
and granting our emergency permit to get the work started. NOAA’s
report that tar balls washed up on Marsh Island – which is over 200
miles from the Horizon well explosion site – further underscores the
need for us to implement the dredge plan – or ‘sand booming’ strategy.
“We presented this plan almost two weeks ago because we expected to
need greater defenses than boom on the top of the water. We are very
concerned about reports of oil submerged under the water. This ‘sand
booming’ plan we are asking the Corps to approve will strengthen our
barrier islands and help protect our coast and critical wildlife
“Once we get approval for dredging to begin, we could start to see
land or ‘sand booms’ in place in around 10 days. We need to get this
plan moving as quickly as possible.”
U.S. Considers Gulf Dredging to Protect From Spill (Update1)
Holder didn’t say how long the process would take. Jindal, speaking at
a press conference in the coastal city of Venice, Louisiana, said the
state has responded to all inquiries from the Corps.
“We don’t want more of this heavy oil in our wetlands,” Jindal said.
“We don’t want to have to fight it anywhere, but we would much rather
fight it on these coastal barrier islands than inland.”
Frustration mounting over BP delays, lack of progress in Gulf of
Mexico oil spill
By David Hammer, The Times-Picayune
May 23, 2010, 9:50PM
View full size
MATTHEW HINTON / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Plaquemines Parish President Billy
Nungesser points to an oil-covered pelican in Barataria Bay while
talking to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal about the oil from Deepwater
Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.
VENICE -- On a Sunday of expanding coastal destruction from the Gulf
oil disaster and little progress in containing it, frustrations
bubbled to the surface from local and state leaders in Venice to
federal officials in Houston and Washington, D.C.
Parish leaders and Gov. Bobby Jindal emerged from an afternoon
strategy session at a Venice fishing harbor to complain about a lack
of urgency from federal agencies and BP to address the oil washing
into coastal marshes day after day.
Jindal said he supported a decision by local and Jefferson Parish
leaders on Grand Isle on Saturday to commandeer about 30 fishing
vessels that BP had commissioned but hadn't deployed to lay down
protective boom as the oil came ashore.
Jindal said 143,000 feet of boom sat in staging areas while oil
damaged 65 miles of Louisiana coastline. It has been 20 days since the
state asked for 5 million feet of hard boom, but only 786,185 feet of
hard boom has been delivered so far, he said.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, along with Jindal and
other parish leaders, said the White House's first priority should be
granting an emergency permit to skip federal environmental reviews and
allow coastal parishes to follow their 3-week-old plan to place
dredged sand as berms between barrier islands so oil won't get into
delicate marshes, something that wouldn't require any change in BP's
"The president has the authority to issue an emergency permit, " Jindal said.
"This is proof that the parish plans work, " he added, pointing at a
picture of sand berm in Fourchon laid by Louisiana National Guard
troops in four days that kept oil out of an estuary.
But an angry Nungesser said the Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers
and BP have been unwilling to listen.
"I am so disappointed in the agencies and BP that this continues to
happen, " he said. "We are working a plan and we are going to save our
coast, but not with the help of the agencies that are standing in the
Month after oil spill, why is BP still in charge?
But a month after the April 20 explosion, anger is growing about why
BP PLC is still in charge of the response.
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