- On October 22, AP reported that over 7,000 square miles
of Gulf waters off Florida's Panhandle were declared oil-free and reopened
to fishing. According the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA), 96% of Gulf waters are now safe and reopened, spokeswoman Jane
Lubchenco saying, "Our tests continue to reveal seafood from the reopened
areas is safe to eat." Others disagree. More on that below.
- The newly opened area is about 60 miles east of the Macondo
wellhead. About 9,400 square miles of fishing waters remain closed, 4%
of federal waters, down from 37% earlier.
- From the start, The New Times provided cover for BP and
the administration, at first denying the existence of a spill, then minimizing
the disaster. On May 3, writers John Broder and Tom Zeller Jr. headlined,
"Gulf Oil Spill Is Bad, but How Bad? saying "news analysis"
indicates it's really not serious after all, when evidence showed the potential
- On August 4, writer Justin Gillis headlined, "US
Finds Most Oil From Spill Poses Little Additional Risk," saying:
- "The government is expected to announce....that
three-quarters of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon leak has already evaporated,
dispersed, been captured or otherwise eliminated - and that much of the
rest is so diluted that it does not seem to pose much additional risk of
- This at a time, and later on, when independent research
showed most oil remained. Corexit dispersants increased toxicity manyfold.
Seafood was contaminated and unsafe. Vast areas of the Gulf and shorelines
were (and continue to be) hazardous, and the risk to wildlife and human
health was extreme. In other words, by downplaying the disaster, The Times
defended government and BP lies, fearing the April 20 explosion provided
"new fodder" for opponents.
- Other Times reports highlighted the vanishing oil, low
concentrations of deep sea toxic compounds, and conditions slowly returning
to normal. In an October 12 update, The Times said:
- "....evidence is increasing that through a combination
of luck (a fortunate shift in ocean currents that kept much of the oil
away from shore) and ecological circumstance (the relatively warm waters
that increased the breakdown rate of the oil), the gulf region appears
to have escaped the direst predictions of the spring."
- "And preliminary reports (suggest) the damage already
done (may) be significantly less than was feared - less, in fact, than
the destruction from the much smaller Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989."
- In fact, the truth is mirror opposite. BP and administration
officials are responsible for the greatest environmental crime in history,
an ongoing disaster, affecting vast parts of the Gulf, coastal waters from
Texas to Florida, most or perhaps all wildlife, and the health of millions
of residents, no longer safe since April.
- Drill Baby Drill
- On October 12, the May imposed moratorium was lifted,
six weeks ahead of its scheduled November 30 date, Interior Secretary Ken
- "We are open for business....We have made and continue
to make significant progress in reducing the risks associated with deepwater
drilling." (Therefore), I have decided that it is now appropriate
to lift the suspension on deepwater drilling for those operators that are
able to clear the higher bar that we have set."
- In fact, so-called "new rules" mimic old ones.
Drilling remains unregulated and unsafe, so it's just a matter of time
before the next disaster strikes, besides natural seepage and annual hundreds
of smaller, unreported spills. Cumulatively over time, their toxicity destroys
global water and human health. Moreover, according to former NOAA supervisory
researcher Jeff Short:
- "Once you have a spill, you are pretty much screwed.
That's because oil spreads on water at a rate of one-half football field
per second. Recovery can take decades," so calling the coast clear
and water safe is willfully deceptive, echoed by the dominant media, The
New York Times in the lead.
- Lies, Damn Lies, and Coverup
- The level is staggering, numerous reports countering
BP and administration claims. On September 3, Boston Chemical Data Corp.
laboratory findings, commissioned by the United Commercial Fishermen's
Association, revealed toxic Corexit levels in test samples, meaning, besides
oil contamination, Gulf seafood is extremely hazardous and unsafe.
- Moreover, though BP denies it, Corexit spraying continues,
mostly at night but some during day time. Fishermen report seeing it, in
some cases hit by its mist. Reports say BP hired out-of-state contractors
using unregistered boats, besides nightly aerial spraying. The administration's
response to the entire disaster remains firm - coverup and denial, helped
by a major media blackout after BP reported sealing the Macondo well on
- In early October, however, four working reports issued
by investigators from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon
Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling revealed systemic coverup and censorship
to suppress the disaster's magnitude, one very much ongoing.
- They explained that stonewalling began in April and continued,
one report concluding:
- "By initially underestimating the amount of oil
flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the
amount of oil remaining in the gulf, the federal government created the
impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or
not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem."
- In fact, willful misinformation was released. In contrast,
independent researchers produced accurate findings. BP, the administration,
and major media accounts suppressed them, including evidence of criminal
- Local Reports Exposing the Big Lie
- On October 23, New Orleans Times-Picayune writer Bob
Marshall headlined "Massive stretches of weathered oil spotted in
Gulf of Mexico," saying:
- "Just three days after (Coast Guard admiral Thad
Allen, BP's front man) declared little recoverable surface oil remained
in the Gulf of Mexico....Boat captains working the BP clean-up effort"
reported seeing it, confirmed by Times-Picayune photojournalist Matt Hinton
in a fly-over. In addition, "fishermen's groups....insist their members
have" spotted it all along, refuting official claims that don't explain
large fish kills, big enough to suggest widespread toxicity, affecting
humans as well as wildlife.
- On the six month anniversary of the disaster, marine
biologist Riki Ott reported "people (are) now dropping dead,"
- "I am dealing with about 3 - 4 autopsies right now....I
know of people who's esophagus' are de-solving, disintegrating....I know
of people with 4.75% of their lung capacity, with enlarged hearts....All
of these people have oil (and dispersants) in their bodies."
- She added that "4 to 5 million people in the Gulf
were exposed to oil (and dispersants) at dangerous levels that is going
to have incredible public health ramifications...and possibly force the
President out of office for lies." In fact, he should be impeached
and prosecuted for war crimes abroad and ones against humanity at home.
- Deaths continue to be reported as well as people finding
volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other toxins in their blood. According
to one observer, corruption, coverup and poisoning are occurring in plain
sight. The entire region is affected and will be for decades, the dirty
secret BP, government officials, and major media won't explain.
- Local accounts, however, are disturbing. On October 21,
New Orleans WWL-TV reported:
- "The oil is not evaporating. It's not dissipating.
It's sitting there," according to PJ Hahn, Plaquemines Parish Coastal
Zone Management Department head.
- On October 20, AP reported Byron Encalade, president
of the Louisiana Oystermen Association, saying "oyster beds are all
dead or dying....I'm very pessimistic about it."
- In early September, Mississippi Department of Marine
Resources officials found 80 - 90% of oysters dead, citing no cause. Clearly
oil and Corexit are responsible.
- On October 21, Cynthia Sarthou, Gulf Restoration Network
executive director, said:
- "There is still so much oil and dispersant in the
environment, and the Gulf has not yet begun to heal because we have yet
to determine what the injury is that it has suffered," and its extent.
For sure it's massive and destructive.
- On October 16, the Louisiana Shrimp Association's Clint
Guidry called using Corexit a "horrific mistake," adding:
- "Potential ecosystem collapse caused by toxic dispersant
use during this disaster will have immediate and long term effects on the
Gulf's fishing communities' ability to sustain our culture and heritage."
- On October 22, a pilot said he "was surprised (and
saddened) to witness a seemingly unrelenting tide of oil hammering our
beaches, bays, and estuaries."
- Other recent reports included:
- -- fishermen sprayed while sleeping in groups of boats
- -- a boat captain, Lori DeAngelis, said her vagina and
anus are bleeding, adding: "This thing is killing me;"
- -- Lorrie Williams in Ocean Springs, MS said the oil
sheen is "a lot worse" now than earlier, calling it an "absolute
- -- tides keep washing up tar balls and sheen on coastal
beaches and other areas;
- -- large deposits are found buried in sand;
- -- researchers found "vast volumes" of oil
on the seafloor, including "thick raw crude;"
- -- a massive shelf of exposed tar was found on Pensacola
- -- fishermen said "we're starving; there are no
fish in the waters" or not enough; and "any fish we would see,
we would not eat;" and
- -- various other reports were just as disturbing - clear
evidence of an ongoing disaster because of the worst ever environmental
- A Final Comment
- On June 14, as conditions worsened, AP reported that
Obama "pronounce(d) Gulf seafood safe to eat....things are going to
return to normal....I am confident that we're going to be able to leave
the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before."
- In fact, then, now, and for decades, contamination will
remain, hazardous to wildlife and human health, what he knew yet lied and
said otherwise, fronting for BP and other industry giants.
- Oil and dispersants contaminate much, perhaps the entire
Gulf. It's now poisoned and will remain potentially lethal for decades,
maybe generations. Nothing in it should be ingested. Millions in the region
are at risk. Families with small children should leave. No one should swim
in coastal waters or eat any Gulf seafood, perhaps ever again. Responsible
officials should ban it.
- Instead, Obama, the Interior Department, NOAA, the Coast
Guard, state governors, coastal mayors, regional health officials, BP,
and major media reports gave the all-clear, saying conditions are nearly
again normal, claiming the worst of the crisis was avoided.
- In fact, a silent epidemic of cancers and other diseases
will ravage coastal and inland areas for decades. The livelihoods of many
residents are lost, and southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida
may never be the same again, at least not for those now living there.
- Moreover, 4,000 Gulf oil platforms now operate, the deepest
and most hazardous by a consortium of companies, including BP. In addition,
about 50,000 old wells pockmark the seabed, thousands with temporary or
failing plugs believed to be leaking oil, gas and other toxins.
- Yet deepwater drilling continues. Oil and gas pipelines
keep compromising Gulf marshes, causing 15,000 acres to be lost annually,
eroding wetlands and other areas. According to experts, unless restorative
changes are made, the entire ecosystem will be lost in a generation.
- On November 2, consider that before voting. Remember
Obama's complicity in the greatest ever environmental crime, but don't
imagine Republicans or Tea Party extremists will fix things. They're all
beholden to power, not popular interests at a time they're being systematically
eroded to divert money for militarism, imperial wars, bankers, BP, and
other corporate favorites, ordinary people and ecological considerations
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays
at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs
are archived for easy listening.