- 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
- 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
- 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
- "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
- 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.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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