April 20 marked the two
year anniversary of BP's Gulf of Mexico disaster. Until Fukushima Daiichi's
catastrophic nuclear meltdown, it was the largest ever environmental
It's devastated the lives of millions of area residents. It contaminated
America's Gulf. Nothing in it's safe to eat. The incident's been plagued
by coverup, denial, and Obama administration complicity to assure nothing
slows hazardous deep water drilling.
In 2010, as disastrous conditions unfolded, Dahr Jamail reported firsthand
from the Gulf. He's now discussing the aftermath. On April 18, he headlined,
"Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists," saying:
"Eyeless shrimp and fish with lesions are becoming common, with BP oil
pollution believed to be the likely cause."
He quoted Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and
Coastal Sciences Dr. Jim Cowan saying:
"And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between
20 and 30,000 fish, I’ve never seen anything like this either."
He's not alone. Gulf fishermen, seafood processors, and other scientists
report "disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they
believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP’s 2010 oil disaster."
"Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional
ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores,
underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp
and interviewees’ fingers point towards BP’s oil pollution disaster
as being the cause."
Jamail also cited concerns about continued Macondo well leakage. Overhead
flights show large oil sheen covered areas. Evidence confirms it's from
Macondo. What began two years ago didn't end. "Experts believe" seabed
seepage is responsible.
Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) data confirm highly toxic
BP oil still contaminates the Gulf. Affected residents experience it
Seepage is common wherever offshore drilling occurs. According to University
of California's Ira Leifer, "From what I've seen, this new oil and sheen
definitely seemed larger than typical natural (Gulf) seepages...."
BP, of course, denies it's from Macondo. Throughout 2010, the company
misreported repeatedly. Initially it said 1,000 barrels a day were leaking,
then 5,000, then larger volumes still well below actual amounts. Estimates
ranged up to 100,000 or more daily barrels.
For months, company officials grossly downplayed the severity of the
crisis. Coverup and denial continues. Contaminated areas are vast. America's
Gulf may never fully recover. Neither will millions of area residents.
On April 20, the Institute for Southern Studies (ISS) headlined, "Troubled
Waters: Gulf communities still reeling two years into BP disaster,"
BP claims recovery's on the way. Hard evidence proves otherwise. A new
ISS report's titled, "Troubled Waters: Two Years After the BP Oil Disaster,
a Struggling Gulf Coast Calls for National Leadership for Recovery,"
Area residents report oil still washing up on Gulf shores. Without help,
affected people and communities face challenges likely too great to
Gulfport, MS community leader Derrick Evans addressed BP's April 2012
shareholders meeting. "The oil is not gone," he said. "The general perception
is that BP made a mess and BP did a big cleanup and everything is all
fine. Nothing could be further from the truth."
Two years later, the reality facing Gulf residents is sobering and disturbing.
Their struggle to overcome what BP wrought continues. Economic hardships
persist. So do serious health problems.
Some communities lost their way of life entirely. Others face uncertain
futures. Many residents are sick and depressed. They've gotten precious
little help. ISS produced its report cooperatively with Bridge the Gulf
Project and the Gulf Coast Fund. They focused on three areas in
particularly hard hit communities:
(1) Making a living
Thousands of fishing boats were idled. Many over-indebted fishermen
shut down entirely. Local groups try helping best they can. They need
federal and BP help not forthcoming.
(2) Restoring the coast
Every hour, Louisiana "loses a football-field sized chunk of coast land"
from erosion and "energy industry activity." Residents need federal
help restoring their fragile coastline.
(3) Protecting public health
Residents report alarming numbers and types of illnesses. Clearly they're
toxic oil and dispersants related. Organizations like the Louisiana
Environmental Action Network try to help. It's not enough. Much more
Overall, recovery is an unfulfilled dream. Achieving it's barely begun.
BP turns a blind eye. Washington largely does the same. The suffering
of millions persists.
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) "promote(s) government accountability....protect(s)
whistleblowers, advanc(es) free speech, and empower(s) citizen activists."
Since 1977, it's been "the nation's leading whistleblower protection
and advocacy organization." It's also on the BP story. It's been investigating
it since last summer. Whistleblowers report disastrous health tragedies.
Sometime this summer, GAP will release its report on how bad. Numerous
ailments are known. Many thousands experience everything from skin irritation,
vomiting, and rectal bleeding to kidney, liver, central nervous system
and brain damage, hypertension, miscarriages, birth defects, and lesions.
Expect an eventual epidemic of cancers and other serious diseases. Expect
pathetically little federal or BP help. The oil giant's settlement provides
no healthcare. Accepting it means foregoing the right to sue.
Pursuing legal redress means years of delays, obstruction, appeals,
and other ways clever lawyers use to deny just compensation.
BP's legacy will linger for decades. Peoples' lives were irreparably
harmed. Environmental contamination is severe. Crude oil alone harms
human health. Corexit dispersants contain hazardous carcinogens like
Dangers they pose depend on length and amount of exposure. Children,
pregnant women, the elderly and infirm are most vulnerable. No one's
immune. Drinking toxic water or eating contaminated seafood assures
any number of current and future health problems.
Blame it on America's rage to drill and irresponsible oil giants like
BP. They do it recklessly with no regard for worker safety, environmental
protection, or human health.
The company's known for having the industry's worst safety and environmental
record. It's responsible for numerous willful negligence incidents.
Some cause deaths and injuries. All harm human health and are environmentally
Only profits matter, not social responsibility or legal obligations.
BP's a serial scofflaw. Regulatory laxity and political Washington complicity
let it pollute freely with impunity. Once a violator, always one, and
it goes way beyond BP. America's a scofflaw's paradise.
On April 19, investigative journalist Greg Palast headlined, "BP Covered
Up Blow-out Two Years Prior to Deadly Deepwater Horizon Spill," saying:
Eco-Watch.org "located an eyewitness with devastating new information"
about BP covering up a Caspian Sea blowout. Rig workers back the account.
At issue was cutting corners irresponsibly. Coverup let BP replicate
its shortcut in America's Gulf. In September 2008, BP's first blowout
occurred off Baku, Azerbaijan's coast.
Witnesses told Palast they were evacuated from BP's platform as it filled
with dangerous methane. They confirmed:
"(T)here was mud (drill-pipe cement) blown out all over the platform."
The cement cap couldn't hold high-pressure gases. They "engulfed the
entire platform in methane gas."
Palast learned that "BP failed to notify the International Association
of Drilling Contractors (IADC) about the failure of the cement....Notification
would have alerted Gulf cement contractor Halliburton that the process
of adding nitrogen to cement posed unforeseen dangers."
Cement casing cracked apart in the Caspian. BP promoted "Blow-Out Preventers
(BOPs) as a last line of defense in case of a blow-out. But if the casing
shatters, the BOPs could be useless."
BP went to "extraordinary lengths" to conceal the first incident. Revealing
would show replicating it in the Gulf was "not an unexpected accident
but could be considered negligent homicide."
BP buys politicians. It also intimidates employees. An atmosphere of
fear prevails. Speaking out ends careers. Few dare.
EcoWatch editor Stefanie Penn Spear said BP negligence caused the "biggest
oil spill in US history. It entirely turned the Gulf Coast economy upside
down and threatened—and continues to threaten—the health and livelihoods
of the people in the Gulf region."
How can something this major be concealed, asked Palest. He cites "pay-offs,
threats, political muscle and the connivance of the Bush Administration’s
State Department, Exxon and Chevron." Obama officials bear equal guilt.
New York Times contributor Abrahm Lustgarten's op-ed calls BP's Gulf
disaster "A Stain That Won't Wash Away," saying:
Accountability's been entirely lacking. Future incidents are assured.
Minor fines at most are imposed. Criminal prosecutions don't happen.
Warnings issued are toothless.
Scofflaws are free to pollute and harm human health. One disaster follows
another. Only profits matter. Recidivism is commonplace. A culture of
irresponsibility assures it. So doesn't bipartisan political complicity.
"What the gulf spill has taught us is that no matter how bad the disaster
(and the environmental impact), the potential consequences have never
been large enough to dissuade BP (or giants in all industries) from
placing profits ahead of prudence."
As long as Washington remains corporate occupied territory, nothing
ahead will change. Big money runs America. What it says goes. Politicians
and regulators salute and obey. It's the American way.
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