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America's Gulf: Ongoing Coverup and Denial


By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 27 October 2010

America's Gulf: Ongoing Coverup and Denial - by Stephen Lendman

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 for disaster.

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 harm."

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 Salazar declaring:

"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 September 19.

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 negligence.

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," adding:

"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 tied together;

-- 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 mess;"

-- 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 beaches;

-- 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 crime.

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 be damned.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 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.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

"Massive stretches of weathered oil spotted in Gulf of Mexico"

by Bob Marshall, Times-Picayune, Oct. 23rd, 2010

www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/10/massive_stretches_of_...

I got the above link from the following copy.

http://oilspillaction.com/massive-stretches-of-weathered-oil-spotted-in-...

Video: "Riki Ott: ‘People Now Dropping Dead’ In the Gulf" (9:28)

by Shepard Ambellas, Oct. 24th, 2010

http://theintelhub.com/2010/10/24/riki-ott-people-now-dropping-dead-in-t...

Video: "Dr. Riki Ott Speaks Out at Orange Beach Public Health Forum" (9:10)

posted by Hurricane Creekkeeper, Oct. 12th, 2010

http://bpoilslick.blogspot.com/2010/10/dr-riki-ott-speaks-out-at-orange-...

"Interview: Dahr Jamail" (3:21)
AlJazeeraEnglish, Oct. 27th, 2010

www.youtube.com/watch?v=xA8Vk-ykmGE

That video report is short but nevertheless very good. His following article provides considerably more information, but if people are to both view the video and read the article, then I'd recommend viewing the video report, first.

"BP dispersants 'causing sickness'
Investigation by Al Jazeera online correspondent finds toxic illnesses linked to BP oil dispersants along Gulf coast"

by Dahr Jamail, last updated Oct. 28th, 2010

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2010/10/201010271321362203...

Dr. Ott, according to this article, is "a toxicologist, marine biologist, and Exxon Valdez survivor".

Two-year-old Gavin Tillman of Pass Christian, Mississippi, has been diagnosed with severe upper respiratory, sinus, and viral infections. His temperature has reached more than 39 degrees since September 15, yet his sicknesses continue to worsen.

His parents, some doctors, and environmental consultants believe the child's ailments are linked to exposure to chemicals spilt by BP during its Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

Gavin's father, mother, and cousin, Shayleigh, are also facing serious health problems. Their symptoms are being experienced by many others living along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Widely banned toxic dispersants

(snip)

Naman, who works at the Analytical Chemical Testing Lab in Mobile, Alabama, has been carrying out studies to search for the chemical markers of the dispersants BP used to both sink and break up its oil.

According to Naman, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from this toxic mix are making people sick. PAHs contain compounds that have been identified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic.

(snip)

"The dispersants are being added to the water and are causing chemical compounds to become water soluble, which is then given off into the air, so it is coming down as rain, in addition to being in the water and beaches of these areas of the Gulf," Naman added.

"I’m scared of what I'm finding. These cyclic compounds intermingle with the Corexit [dispersants] and generate other cyclic compounds that aren’t good. Many have double bonds, and many are on the EPA's danger list. This is an unprecedented environmental catastrophe."

(snip)

Gruesome symptoms

"I started to vomit brown, and my pee was brown also," Matsler, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Dauphin Island, said. "I kept that up all day. Then I had a night of sweating and non-stop diarrhea unlike anything I’ve ever experienced."

He was also suffering from skin rashes, nausea, and a sore throat.

(snip)

As for Matsler's physical reaction to his exposure, Hugh Kaufman, an EPA whistleblower and analyst, has reported this of the effects of the toxic dispersants:

"We have dolphins that are hemorrhaging. People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that’s what dispersants are supposed to do..."

(snip)

"The dispersants used in BP's draconian experiment contain solvents such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol," Dr. Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist, and Exxon Valdez survivor, told Al Jazeera.

(snip)

"Given this evidence, it should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known," Dr. Ott added.

(snip)

Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitization, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, genetic mutations, cardiac arrhythmia, and cardiovascular damage.

Even the federal government has taken precautions for its employees. US military officials decided to reroute training flights in the Gulf region in order to avoid oil and dispersant tainted-areas.

Growing number of cases

And Al Jazeera is finding a growing number of illnesses across the Gulf Coast.

(snip)

Lorrie Williams of Ocean Springs says her son's asthma has "gotten exponentially worse since BP released all their oil and dispersants into the Gulf."

"A plane flew over our house recently and sprayed what I believe are dispersants. A fine mist covered everything, and it smelled like pool chemicals. Noah is waking up unable to breath, and my husband has head and chest congestion and burning eyes," Williams said.

Like others, when Lorrie's family left the area for a vacation, they immediately felt better. But upon coming home, their symptoms returned.

Wilma Subra, a chemist in New Iberia, Louisiana, recently tested the blood of eight BP cleanup workers and residents in Alabama and Florida. ...

"The blood of all three females and five males had chemicals that are found in the BP Crude Oil. ..."

Indications of exposure

Subra explained that there has been long enough exposure so as to create chronic impacts, that include "liver damage, kidney damage, and damage to the nervous system. So the presence of these chemicals in the blood indicates exposure."

Testing by Subra has also revealed PAHs present "in coastal soil sediment, wetlands, and in crab, oyster and mussel tissues."

Trisha Springstead, is a registered nurse of 36 years who lives and works in Brooksville, Florida.

"What I'm seeing are toxified people who have been chemically poisoned," she said, "... These people have been poisoned and they are dying. Drugs aren’t going to help these people. They need to be detoxed."

(snip)

Dr Ott said: "People are already dying from this… I’m dealing with three autopsies' right now. I don’t think we’ll have to wait years to see the effects like we did in Alaska, people are dropping dead now. ..."

Either most, or else all, of what I omitted from the above excerpt is important.

I got the following link based on a copy of the piece at GlobalResearch.ca. And this has excellent photos, btw.

"Fishermen Report Louisiana Bays Filled With Oil"

by Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenthal, Oct. 27th, 2010

www.truth-out.org/fishermen-report-louisiana-bays-filled-with-oil64564

On Saturday, October 23, Truthout spotted what appeared to be massive areas of weathered oil floating near Louisiana's fragile marshlands in both East and West Bays along the Mississippi River Delta. In addition, at least two more oil leaks were spotted near oil and gas platforms along Louisiana's embattled coastline.

Four days prior, federal on-scene cleanup coordinator for the BP oil disaster, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft, declared there was little recoverable surface oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

Both Bays cover an area of roughly 70 square miles of open water that surround Southwest Pass, the main shipping channel of the Mississippi River. While East Bay remains closed for fishing, West Bay was currently open for fishing when Truthout spotted the substance on October 23, despite the fact that the day before a BP oil cleanup crew had reported oil in West Bay to a local newspaper.

"They are literally shrimping in oil," Jonathan Henderson, the coastal resiliency organizer of the environmental group the Gulf Restoration Network, who was with Truthout on the flight, exclaimed while our plane flew near the fishermen.

The day before Truthout's oil sighting, NOAA had reopened more of the previously closed fishing areas, bringing to 96 percent the federal waters now deemed safe for fishing.

The waters in East and West Bay are under the jurisdiction of Louisiana's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) , while waters further from the coast are under federal jurisdiction. LDWF does receive input, however, from NOAA.

Earlier in the same day, Truthout spotted the substance. A spotter pilot for LDWF had flown over the same area and told Southern Seaplanes there was no oil.

(snip)

When Truthout called the LDWF requesting to talk with the LDWF oil spotter, Truthout was told, "that person is not available to comment."

The LDWF web site has a number to call in order to report oil sightings. When Truthout called that number, the call was answered by a BP response call center.

(snip)

On October 23, the Coast Guard claimed that the substance floating in the miles-wide areas of West Bay appeared to be "an algal bloom."

(snip)

Fishermen who have traveled through and fished in the area over the weekend, however, refute these Coast Guard claims.

(snip)

Last Friday, the boat captains said they were frustrated by a lack of response from the Coast Guard, after they had been reporting the sightings for a week.

(snip)

Tupes was discussing his experience flying over large areas of the Gulf that had been oiled while BP's well continued to gush, yet he remains alarmed at what he sees in the water.

(snip)

While flying out to East and West Bays, Truthout spotted a platform with what appeared to be an oil leak, as sheen streaked the water. The GPS coordinates at this spotting were 2925.66N, 8929.54W.

"I've seen quite a few of these," Tupes told Truthout, referring to the leaking platform.

(snip)

Disturbingly, Henderson has recently revealed how long this leak has been in existence.

"I found out from the Coast Guard that not only has this leak been going on since last week, but that the first report they ever received about this leak was on August 31st," Henderson wrote for the Gulf Restoration Network on Monday. "It gets worse. ..."

Another oil leak was spotted near a platform just east of Southwest Pass. A long streak of sheen was visible in East Bay at this area at GPS coordinates 2859.77N, 8917.61W.

(snip)

On October 21, scientists from NOAA, the LDWF and the Audubon Nature Institute joined with Coast Guard Rear Adm. Roy A. Nash to return 33 sea turtles to Gulf of Mexico waters offshore of Louisiana.

NOAA reports claimed, "the area is clean and a safe habitat for the turtles."

While flying over West Bay, the amount of what is likely weathered oil and sheen visible on the surface was staggering. Looking west, it covered the surface as far as the horizon into the open Gulf.

(snip)

That's a wholly and very important article.

The first article, below, has many linked headlines from Oct. 24th to 28th ("last 4 days") on the Gulf crisis. One article is about confirmed fish kills, large kills, and is for "EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS", but I didn't see any fish in the photos. The article about a "Valdez toxicologist" saying that "people are dying" is the article by Dahr Jamail for AlJazeera linked and excepted in my first post, above. The same is true for the article about a chemist who says, "I'm scared of what I'm finding". And the article, "Fishermen Report Louisiana Bays Filled With Oil", is the one at truth-out.org linked and excepted in my above post, as well.

There might be some additional articles the following one provides links for that are the same as one of the pieces linked in my first post, above, but there certainly seem to be several additional ones.

"Coverup of an Environmental Catastrophe: Reappearance of Huge Plumes of Oil"

by Washington's Blog, Oct. 28th, 2010

www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21657

The link for the following article was obtained from links at FloridaOilSpillLaw.com.

"Fort McRae oil very toxic to humans
Lab results confirm that oil discovered in Pensacola Bay last month has extreme toxicity levels"

by Scott Page, Oct. 28th, 2010

www.gulfbreezenews.com/news/2010-10-28/Front_Page/Fort_McRae_oil_very_to...

Test results are in for oil material found in Pensacola Bay late last month, and the numbers are frightening.

A lab experienced in testing petroleum products determined that the oil’s toxicity levels are sky-high.

“In its natural state, the numbers are off the chart,” said Heather Reed, the environmental expert for the City of Gulf Breeze who made the discovery. “It’s extremely toxic to human health.”

Lab workers had to dilute the sample 20 times just to get a reading. Reed said samples are usually diluted only once.

“The oil is very well preserved,” Reed added. “It smells very strong when pulled out of the water. It made me nauseated.” Reed in late September discovered a significant amount of oil buried in submerged sediment near Fort McRae in Escambia County while conducting independent research.

“The oil was in about 3 feet of water and was buried pretty deep in the sediment,” Reed recalled. “The mats where between 6 inches and a foot in diameter, but some were more than 2 feet in diameter. I kept digging and finding more and more."

(snip)

Reed on Sept. 30 revisited the site and another near Barrancas Beach with BP and Coast Guard officials to inform responders of her discovery. She also discovered oil present at Johnson Beach, Fort Pickens and Orange Beach through research she conducted in September.

(snip)

“I would not recommend going into the water.”

(snip)

The whole of the above article is definitely worth reading.

Some oil spill article indexes:

GR's index,
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=newsHighlights&newsId=49

www.projectGulfImpact.org

http://theintelhub.com/category/gulfoilspill

www.floridaOilSpillLaw.com/tag/oilspill

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