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LQD: BP, Corexit and Coverup

by Crazy Horse Sat Sep 6th, 2014 at 08:23:01 AM EST

A US judge has ruled that BP is guilty of gross negligence in the Deepwater oil catastrophe. If upheld (of course BP will appeal) it will increase the fine from $1100/barrel to $4300/barrel, totaling an estimated $18 Billion.

BP had already plead guilty to 14 felonies, with a fine of $4.5B in a plea bargain with the US Gov! (Yes, felonies.)

So how does one count the number of barrels already spilled, especially when BP publicly stated it was leaking 5000 barrels/day, while internal reports stated the leak could be between 62,000 and 146,000 barrels per day?

A colleague of mine has now reported for the first time the effects of using as "dispersant" Corexit, both on the health of some 47,000 cleanup workers, and how the amount of oil spilled was camouflaged.

Read on to discover why I continue to use the word poison in describing fossil fuels.

front-paged by afew

Environmental journalist (and in my mind Hero) Mark Hertsgaard Has published the Corexit story in Newsweek.

What BP Doesn't Want You to Know About (The Gulf Oil Disaster)

The article is brilliant and detailed, and...

Such collective amnesia may seem surprising (... Obama, the same president who early in the BP crisis blasted the "scandalously close relationship" between oil companies and government regulators two years later ran for reelection boasting about how much new oil and gas development his administration had approved...ED.), but there may be a good explanation for it: BP mounted a cover-up that concealed the full extent of its crimes from public view. This cover-up prevented the media and therefore the public from knowing--and above all, seeing--just how much oil was gushing into the gulf. The disaster appeared much less extensive and destructive than it actually was. BP declined to comment for this article.

That BP lied about the amount of oil it discharged into the gulf is already established. Lying to Congress about that was one of 14 felonies to which BP pleaded guilty last year in a legal settlement with the Justice Department that included a $4.5 billion fine, the largest fine ever levied against a corporation in the U.S.

What has not been revealed until now is how BP hid that massive amount of oil from TV cameras and the price that this "disappearing act" imposed on cleanup workers, coastal residents, and the ecosystem of the gulf. That story can now be told because an anonymous whistleblower has provided evidence that BP was warned in advance about the safety risks of attempting to cover up its leaking oil. Nevertheless, BP proceeded. Furthermore, BP appears to have withheld these safety warnings, as well as protective measures, both from the thousands of workers hired for the cleanup and from the millions of Gulf Coast residents who stood to be affected.

The financial implications are enormous.

Don't fret, it gets worse.

But BP had a problem: it had lied about how safe Corexit is, and proof of its dishonesty would eventually fall into the hands of the Government Accountability Project, the premiere whistleblower-protection group in the U.S. The proof? A technical manual BP had received from NALCO, the firm that supplied the Corexit that BP used in the gulf.

An electronic copy of that manual is included in a new report GAP has issued, "Deadly Dispersants in the Gulf." On the basis of interviews with dozens of cleanup workers, scientists, and Gulf Coast residents, GAP concludes that the health impacts endured by Griffin were visited upon many other locals as well. What's more, the combination of Corexit and crude oil also caused terrible damage to gulf wildlife and ecosystems, including an unprecedented number of seafood mutations; declines of up to 80 percent in seafood catch; and massive die-offs of the microscopic life-forms at the base of the marine food chain. GAP warns that BP and the U.S. government nevertheless appear poised to repeat the exercise after the next major oil spill: "As a result of Corexit's perceived success, Corexit ... has become the dispersant of choice in the U.S. to `clean up' oil spills."

Disperse and repeat.

And finally, the positive news.

Nor has the BP oil disaster triggered the kind of changes in law and public priorities one might have expected. "Not much has actually changed," says Mark Davis of Tulane. "It reflects just how wedded our country is to keeping the Gulf of Mexico producing oil and bringing it to our shores as cheaply as possible. Going forward, no one should assume that just because something really bad happened we're going to manage oil and gas production with greater sensitivity and wisdom. That will only happen if people get involved and compel both the industry and the government to be more diligent."

And so the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history has been whitewashed--its true dimensions obscured, its victims forgotten, its lessons ignored. Who says cover-ups never work?


Thanks for staying on the case, Mark. You can read the BBC version of the decision HERE.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Sep 4th, 2014 at 01:10:38 PM EST
Partly because, unfortunately, i'm actually angry this noontime, eye'll try to put this story in a bit wider context.

The Gulf of "Mexico" is actually touching the coasts of a host of Central and South American countries besides Amurka. And some Island Nations. There's also a "stream" which flows north along the Atlantic coast, reaching Greenland and farther, and which is a major factor in weather especially in the formerly United Kingdom and northern Yurp.

That Stream is no longer pristine.

Add in the crush of civilization moving to extract all manner of resources along the Arctic Sea. From the huge, hidden effect of the Deepwater Disaster, we can of course imagine what happens when Amurka reacts to the next Arctic catastrophe. Venezuela offshore oil?

Should we add the Russian reaction to a major spill into the equation?

Did I mention the amount of seafood already lost in the Gulf? Would anyone care to examine the fishery stats?

Notice me not mentioning Global Warming.

If we add in the smokestacks and gas flares from refineries all along the coast from Houston/Galveston to the wetlands of Louisiana... shouldn't we call this sea the Gulf of Mordor?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Sep 5th, 2014 at 06:16:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Randy for posting this. Can't wait to digest it. Big news here in Bako (the oil capital of California).

Paul Gipe
by pgipe (pgipe(at)igc.org) on Fri Sep 5th, 2014 at 09:23:59 AM EST
Good to see you here Paul, also sending the very best back to "Buckersfield."

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Sep 5th, 2014 at 12:10:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The same old depressing story. They lie, and they keep on lying.

They are still making out Corexit is just dishwashing liquid. And it will take years before a causal link to the set of symptoms is recognized, not because science can't investigate it, but because they will deny and obfuscate as long as they can and government will let them get away with it.

That's for the human health aspect. As for what they have done to the Gulf in terms of sinking massive quantities of highly toxic "dispersed" crude, only time will tell. But they'll deny everything. It seems the Gulf is "an ecosystem that is used to oil." Since more offshore drilling around the planet is in view, that's a line that has a future.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2014 at 12:59:42 PM EST
Corexit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

EPA whistleblower Hugh Kaufman gave an interview to Democracy Now during the height of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill news coverage and explained his views on the use of Corexit, saying "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."[82]

Marine toxicologist Riki Ott blamed BP for poisoning locals with Corexit, which she alleges they used to hide their responsibility.[83] In August 2010 she wrote an open letter to the Environmental Protection Agency alleging that dispersants were still being used in secret and demanding that the agency take action.[84] The letter was published in the Huffington Post. Ott told Al Jazeera, "The dispersants used in BP's draconian experiment contain solvents, such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber. It should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known."[85]

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2014 at 03:18:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sort of like the liquidators at Chernobyl.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Sep 8th, 2014 at 09:56:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If they are not using the same firms that fronted and strategized for American Tobacco regarding the health effects of tobacco it is only because subsequent firms have gotten even better at lying, distracting and generally confusing the public. The playbook goes back to the nuclear industry and the cold war - back when we had troops standing and saluting the bomb as we conducted above ground nuclear tests in Nevada.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Sep 8th, 2014 at 10:32:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An appropriate response to BP's actions would have been to claw back the last five years of bonuses for all executives in the chain of command regarding Deepwater Horizon, dissolution of the corporation, and the placing of all assets in a trust charged with fulfilling pension and health care liabilities to employees and paying for the damage caused, with any excess going to fund cleanup of other fossil fuel related environmental damage. The criminal charges should have resulted in the piercing of the corporate veil and the prosecution of individual executives for the damage their actions precipitated - in a better world.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Sep 8th, 2014 at 10:59:35 AM EST
hertsgaard has a new article acknowledging the efforts California is making, especially their Renewable Portfolio Standard. Might as well report some positive news...

The U.S. May Not Be Leading on Climate, but California Is

On Monday, Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the current and former governors of the world's eighth-largest economy, appeared together in Sacramento to assert that the path to a global accord on climate change runs through their home state--and not Washington, D.C.

"As leaders from all over the world prepare for the next UN climate talks in Lima and Paris, we in California are ready to lead by example," Schwarzenegger told attendees of a symposium, titled Global Climate Negotiations: Lessons From California, at the California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters. "While the politicians in Washington can't get anything done because they're stuck in their ideological foxholes, we here in California have governors from two different parties in the same room fighting for a better future." Brown returned the compliment: "California is a world leader in climate change because of Governor Schwarzenegger and his passage of AB 32."

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Sep 9th, 2014 at 05:08:54 PM EST

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