Tag Archives: Oilspill

The report BP doesn’t want you to read

27 Oct

Furious Growth and Cost Cuts Led To BP Accidents Past and Present

A ProPublica and PBS FRONTLINE investigation. “The Spill [1],” a PBS FRONTLINE documentary drawn from this reporting, airs tonight. Check local listings. [2]

Jeanne Pascal turned on her TV April 21 to see a towering spindle of black smoke slithering into the sky from an oil platform on the oceanic expanse of the Gulf of Mexico. For hours she sat, transfixed on an overstuffed couch in her Seattle home, her feelings shifting from shock to anger.

Pascal, a career Environmental Protection Agency attorney only seven weeks into her retirement, knew as much as anyone in the federal government about BP, the company that owned the well. She understood in an instant what it would take others months to grasp: In BP’s 15-year quest to compete with the world’s biggest oil companies, its managers had become deaf to risk and systematically gambled with safety at hundreds of facilities and with thousands of employees’ lives.

“God, they just don’t learn,” she remembers thinking.

Just weeks before the explosion, President Obama had announced a historic expansion of deep-water drilling in the Gulf, where BP held the majority of the drilling leases. The administration considered the environmental record of drilling companies in the Gulf to be excellent. It didn’t ask questions about BP, and it didn’t consider that the company’s long record of safety violations and environmental accidents might be important, according to Carol Browner, the White House environmental adviser.

They could have asked Jeanne Pascal.

For 12 years, Pascal had wrestled with whether BP’s pattern of misconduct should disqualify it from receiving billions of dollars in government contracts and other benefits. Federal law empowers government officials to “debar”—ban from government business—companies that commit fraud or break the law too many times. Pascal was a senior EPA debarment attorney for the Northwest, and her job was to act as a sort of behind-the-scenes babysitter for companies facing debarment. She worked with their top management, reviewed records and made sure they were good corporate citizens entitled to government contracts.

At first, Pascal thought BP would be another routine assignment. Over the years she’d persuaded hundreds of troubled energy, mining and waste-disposal companies to quickly change their behavior. But BP was in its own league. On her watch she would see BP charged with four federal crimes—more than any other oil company in her experience—and demonstrate what she described as a pattern of disregard for regulations and for the EPA. By late 2009 she was warning the government and BP executives themselves that the company’s approach to safety and environmental issues made another disaster likely.

for the whole article go to ProPublica


Ocean Dead Zones Spreading in U.S. Waters

22 Sep

Article from TakePart.com

The image of an ocean dead zone is stark: a barren, underwater desert of silt, littered with the bodies of suffocated crabs and asphyxiated fish.

Caused when agricultural runoff feeds huge algae blooms that suck oxygen out of the water when they decay, so-called hypoxic zones are increasingly common in U.S. waters, a recent government study finds.

Thirty times more common, in fact.

In a report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a White House commission September 3, researchers said the 30-fold increase has occurred since 1960. At least 300 U.S. waterways now have “stressful” or hypoxic zones.

The problem is so sweeping that it now affects all of the nation’s coasts and even the Great Lakes, AOL’s David Knowles reports. Climate change is also suspected to be a factor.

The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is the largest and best known, caused mainly by runoff spewing out of the Mississippi. The zone was predicted to spread over an area up to 7,800 square miles in 2010, putting it about the size of New Jersey.

Waters off of Oregon and Washington are perhaps the most in trouble, constituting the third-largest seasonal dead zone in the world, Knowles writes.

Dead zones are also on the rise globally, according to Helium. The number of dead zones worldwide increased from 146 in 2004 to 405 in 2008.

In U.S. waters, the report mainly blames the rise in industrial agriculture for the increase in hypoxic areas. Efforts to stem the activity “have not made significant headway,” a release on the report reads.

“It is imperative that we move forward to better understand and prevent hypoxic events, which threaten all our coasts,” wrote experts in a letter accompanying the report.

The largest dead zone in the world is in the Baltic Sea, where the oxygen depleted waters stretch to the size of Denmark.

Bio-Remediation or Bio-Hazard? Dispersants, Bacteria and Illness in the Gulf

20 Sep

Upsetting News!

Ocean Springs, MS — A grandmother made me rethink all the bio-remediation hype. The “naturally-occurring oil-eating bacteria” have been newsworthy of late as they are supposedly going to come to the rescue of President Obama and BP and make good on their very premature statement that “the oil is gone.”

We were talking about subsurface oil in the Gulf when she said matter-of-factly, “The bacteria are running amok with the dispersants.” What? “Those oil-eating bacteria — I think they’re running amok and causing skin rashes.” My mind reeled. Could we all have missed something so simple?

The idea was crazy but, in the context of the Gulf situation — an outbreak of mysterious persistent rashes from southern Louisiana across to just north of Tampa, Florida, coincident with BP’s oil and chemical release, it seemed suddenly worthy of investigating.

I first heard about the rash from Sheri Allen in Mobile, Alabama. Allen wrote of red welts and blisters on her legs after “splashing and wading on the shoreline” of Mobile Bay with her two dogs on May 8. She reported that “hundreds of dead fish” washed up on the same beach over the following two days. This was much too early for the summer sun to have warmed the water to the point of oxygen depletion, but not too early for dispersants and dispersed oil to be mixed into the Gulf’s water mass. By early July, Allen’s rash had healed, leaving black bruises and scarring.

read whole article on Huffington post

Thousands More Dead Fish Turn Up in La. Waters

17 Sep

Associated Press

Thousands more dead fish have turned up in Plaquemines Parish, the second large such kill in the area in the past few days. (Sept. 17)

UNBELIEVABLE big Fish kill in Lousiana

15 Sep

Huge fish kill reported in Plaquemines Parish

15 Sep

article @ nola.com

Plaquemines Parish officials have asked state wildlife officials to investigate what they said is a massive fish kill at Bayou Chaland on the west side of the Mississippi River late Friday.

Photographs the parish distributed of the area shows an enormous amount of dead fish floating atop the water.

The fish kill was reported to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries and the cause has not yet been determined, the parish said. The fish were found in an area that has been impacted by the oil from the BP oil spill, the parish said.

The dead fish include pogies, redfish, drum, crabs, shrimp and freshwater eel, the parish said.

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said he has asked Wildlife & Fisheries for a quick determination of the cause. The parish has also requested testing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We can’t continue to see these fish kills,” Nungesser said in a news release. “We need some additional tests to find out why these fish are dying in large numbers. If it is low oxygen, we need to identify the cause.”

A recent fish kill in nearby St. Bernard Parish was attributed to low oxygen levels in the water.

Lisa Margonelli: The political chemistry of oil

28 Aug

In the Gulf oil spill’s aftermath, Lisa Margonelli says drilling moratoriums and executive ousters make for good theater, but distract from the issue at its heart: our unrestrained oil consumption. She shares her bold plan to wean America off of oil — by confronting consumers with its real cost.