I was in a somewhat better frame-of-mind about the gulf oil disaster before I attended Netroots Nation. The new cap was kinda-sorta holding, NOAA re-opened parts of the gulf to commercial and recreational fishing, even cute little endangered sea turtles were released into the waters off Galveston.
Then my friend from ProjectGulfImpact.org sent me the new ad that VisitPensacola.com started running last week. This is not a spoof.
Which is when I realized Pensacola is fucked. Because if you’re a town which has a new tourist ad partially-funded by BP featuring the antics of the Tom & Jerry of cleanup workers partying in Pensacola it means you’ve been had. Big time.
Turns out it gets worse. Much worse. While the release of over a hundred million gallons of crude into the gulf is an unmitigated ecological and economic disaster, the use of almost 2 million gallons of the dispersant Corexit makes it quite possibly the largest human and environmental experiment on record. EPA whistle-blower, Hugh Kaufman, explains:
Corexit is one of a number of dispersants, that are toxic, that are used to atomize the oil and force it down the water column so that it’s invisible to the eye. In this case, these dispersants were used in massive quantities, almost two million gallons so far, to hide the magnitude of the spill and save BP money. And the government—both EPA, NOAA, etc.—have been sock puppets for BP in this cover-up. Now, by hiding the amount of spill, BP is saving hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in fines, and so, from day one, there was tremendous economic incentive to use these dispersants to hide the magnitude of the gusher that’s been going on for almost three months.
Consequently, we have people, wildlife—we have dolphins that are hemorrhaging. People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that’s what dispersants are supposed to do. EPA now is taking the position that they really don’t know how dangerous it is, even though if you read the label, it tells you how dangerous it is. And, for example, in the Exxon Valdez case, people who worked with dispersants, most of them are dead now. The average death age is around fifty. It’s very dangerous, and it’s an economic—it’s an economic protector of BP, not an environmental protector of the public.
And it’s not only used on the surface:
Well, not only do you have airplanes flying and dropping them on the Gulf region, like Agent Orange in Vietnam, but a large amount of it is being shot into the water column at 5,000 feet to disperse the oil as it gushers out. And so, you have spread, according to the Associated Press, over perhaps over 44,000 square miles, an oil and dispersant mix. And what’s happened is, that makes it impossible to skim the oil out of the water. One of the things that happened is they brought this big boat, Whale, in from Japan to get rid of the oil, and it didn’t work because the majority of the oil is spread throughout the water column over thousands of square miles in the Gulf.
The rest of his DemocracyNow! interview can be found here.
According to my friend, Gavin Garrison, of ProjectGulfImpact.org, “the clear and present danger is in the corexit.” He should know as he spent most of July with Matt Smith and Heather Rally investigating and filming the real-time devastation and imminent danger to the lives of people on the ground in the gulf. Here’s a sobering interview of marine biologist/toxicologist Dr. Chris Pincetich on how Corexit actually works on cells and more on the incredibly lame EPA tests (hint: it’s a pass-fail) that are being conducted:
As thanks for this type of coverage, which the mainstream media mostly ignores, the ProjectGulfImpact.org team received death threats. Going further down the rabbit hole of a clusterfuck that is the gulf oil spill disaster, it’s cover-up and aftermath, I listened on.
Corexit is so harmful that on May 19, 2010 the EPA gave BP 24 hours to choose less toxic alternatives to Corexit. They didn’t and continue to use Corexit anyway. Charlie Crist said he won’t allow the use of dispersants in Florida, but it’s already in the water and air of the gulf. As a bonus, the chemical stew of oil, water and Corexit is creating a “corexit rain” which has been reported in Tennessee, North Carolina and as far north as Canada. It’s no wonder that BP is trying like hell to buy the silence of every gulf coast university scientist and hide data.
ProjectGulfImpact is out raising the $10,000 they need to get back to the gulf next week to continue their important investigative work. They will raise it. And The Donkey Edge is going to support them every step of the way. Find out more about their group and donate to help get them back to the gulf coast here.
This post is getting too long so we started a new post with More Updates on the Royal Mess in the Gulf here.
7/29 10:30AM UPDATE: From Law.com this morning:
The first personal injury lawsuit involving the chemical dispersant Corexit 9500 has surfaced in Alabama, where two Gulf Coast residents and property owners allege that BP PLC’s use of the product is causing people to get sick.
In Wright v. BP, filed July 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, the plaintiffs claim BP has dumped millions of gallons of toxic chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico to disperse and sink crude oil to the bottom of the ocean. The plaintiffs allege that one method by which the company has applied Corexit 9500 — spraying it from airplanes in the middle of the night — has caused Gulf Coast residents to suffer breathing and gastrointestinal problems, as well as property damage.
In the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that BP has used Corexit “to lessen the public reaction to the oil spill by forcing the oil to the bottom of the Gulf … and to hide the massive amounts of oil at the bottom of the Gulf.”
Corexit manufacturer, NALCO, is also named in the suit. More here.
7/29 9:00AM UPDATE: At least someone is profiting from this disaster. Corexit manufacturer, NALCO, had outstanding 2nd Quarter year-over-year earnings thanks to the 2 million gallons of Corexit they sold to BP. From Bloomberg Business Week:
Water treatment company Nalco Holding Co. said its role in efforts to control the Gulf of Mexico oil spill boosted its second-quarter results. Nalco, which makes the chemicals being used to disperse oil in the Gulf, reported Wednesday that it earned $57 million, or 41 cents per share, for the quarter. That’s compared with a loss of $29.2 million, or 21 cents per share, in the prior year.
Their shareholders must be proud. The Wall Street Journal sure seems to be. I love this ditty from the article:
Nalco’s oil dispersants act like dishwashing soap to generate and break apart oil so it will be more readily digested by oil-consuming microorganisms.
If by “be more readily digested by” they mean “atomize” then they’re absolutely correct.
7/29 8:00AM UPDATE: “BE THE BP SHILL”: Following up on what Digby said, Think Progress has an exclusive this morning. Sandra Bullock has severed her involvement with the organization that is fronting for a BP-backed “greenwashing” campaign which she and numerous other celebrities are featured in:
Academy Award-winning actress and New Orleans resident Sandra Bullock has severed her involvement in a campaign to call attention to the BP spill, after learning from ThinkProgress that it was a greenwashing effort by the oil industry. Bullock is prominently featured in the Restore the Gulf campaign, run by Women of the Storm and sponsored by America’s Wetland Foundation.
In an online video with other major celebrities, Bullock called for American people to “speak up” and “sign the petition” for Congress and President Obama at the campaign website, which demands that “a plan to restore America’s Gulf be fully funded and implemented for me and future generations.” The YouTube video makes her the face of the campaign:
Here’s the ad entitled “Be the One”. Who’s going to jump off the “Be the BP Shill” bandwagon next?
The entire article is here.
7/28 10:00PM UPDATE: The wheels of mainstream media move slowly: this article was just posted on CNN Health. Just as the Senate is the “cooling saucer” of democracy, CNN is the “cooling saucer” of news… but at least it’s out there.
7/28 9:00PM UPDATE: EPA whistleblower, Hugh Kaufman, on Countdown tonight:
7/28 8:20PM UPDATE: Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel: “The Dying and Birth Defects Have Only Just Begun” is here.
7/28 8:00PM UPDATE: What Digby Said
Corexit disperses oil by breaking it up into bite-sized globules, which then hang suspended underwater. The theory is that this makes the oil more easily edible for oil-eating microbes. However, because the dispersant is being sprayed at the source of the leak (more than a kilometre underwater) the dispersed oil has formed thick plumes, one more than 16 kilometres long. These plumes are enveloping and killing microbes and small shrimp and fish, says Dr Shaw. And because it’s now congealed underwater, there’s no way to collect it.
“It’s a strategy without precedent, which is admitted by our officials,” she says, “and no-one knows what the impacts will be,” she says.
In June, the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, admitted as much to the Louisiana Seafood and Marketing Promotion Board.
“They (dispersants) have never been used at this volume,” she said. “What I say to folks is that we are in unchartered waters. We have no data. None. If I had it, I would show it to you.”
7/28 PM UPDATE: The fun never stops. The EPA lies under oath… again:
It might come as some big shock but there is increasing evidence to show that the EPA has lied … yet again. Without mincing words, Federal Government agencies have literally allowed tens of thousands of Americans to be poisoned during the Exxon Valdez disaster, during 9/11, and now, history is once again repeating itself in the Gulf of Mexico, except for one change: we now have a top EPA official warning us that the Government is allowing us to be poisoned.
More on BP/NOAA/EPA Cover-Up here.
7/28 PM UPDATE: Another post of interest. “For Response Workers, Health Problems Could Persist Long After Spill is Contained” is here.
7/28 AM UPDATE: RP Seigel has a post up this morning entitled “BP Gulf Disaster Two: The Corexit Calamity” here. In May he posted on the long-term effects of Corexit on the environment:
In 1978, the oil tanker Amoco-Cadiz broke up off the coast of France, dumping 220,000 tons of heavy crude oil into the Atlantic. The spill was so large that the entire Brittany coast was impacted. Because of the tremendous costs involved, only selected sections were treated with detergents and dispersants. Ecological studies five years later showed that the untreated areas had fully recovered. But, the areas that were treated have still not recovered 32 years later.
The rest of his post “How to Clean Up the Oil: Lessons that Amoco and Exxon Didn’t Learn” is here.
7/27 PM UPDATE: Christina Mendoza explores the ecological and health consequences of the oil spill and the chemical dispersants being used here.