You are hereEnvironment
The government and university researchers confirmed Tuesday that plumes of dispersed oil were spreading far below the ocean surface from the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico, raising fresh concern about the potential impact of the spill on sea life.
The tests, the first detailed chemical analyses of water from the deep sea, show that some of the most toxic components of the oil are not necessarily rising to the surface where they can evaporate, as would be expected in a shallow oil leak. Instead, they are drifting through deep water in plumes or layers that stretch as far as 50 miles from the leaking well.
As a rule, the toxic compounds are present at exceedingly low concentrations, the tests found, as would be expected given that they are being diluted in an immense volume of seawater.
“It’s pretty clear that the oil that has been released is becoming more and more dilute,” Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in an interview. “That does not mean it’s unimportant — far from it. The total amount of oil out there is likely very large, and we have yet to understand the full impact of all that hydrocarbon on the gulf ecosystem.” Read more.
Fifty-one days after oil began gushing out of the ocean floor and into the Gulf of Mexico, Congress has extended a request that, in political parlance, is more of a demand: that Tony Hayward, the much maligned CEO of British Petroleum (BP), play question-and-answer before the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee June 17 on Capitol Hill.
The request is a terse, three-paragraph letter addressed to Hayward and signed by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-California) and Bart Stupak (D-Michigan), who chair the Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The invitation is relatively opaque, providing the time and location of the hearing and advising Hayward that the committee may have some questions of a technical nature.
This seemingly rote invitation dovetails with a similar request from the chairmen - also dated June 8 - to John Bresland, chairman of the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB), the group that investigated two previous BP incidents: a 2006 leak in a BP pipeline which poured about 200,000 gallons of oil into Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, and an explosion at the Texas City Oil Refinery in 2005, also owned by BP, in which 15 workers were killed.
Unlike the letter to Hayward, the note to the CSB's Bresland gets down to brass tacks. Among Waxman and Stupak's questions: Did BP put money before safety? Was the company invested in its safety culture? Did BP provided adequate contractor oversight? Read more.
Over a period of time highly radioactive waste from the Dimona Nuclear Facility has been dumped primarily at two locations. One being close to Hebron and the other in central Gaza. When one adds to this the dumping of human waste, domestic waste, industrial waste and hazardous waste we are looking at a very lethal cocktail of underground contamination. One can also add to this hospital waste which can be extremely dangerous to humans....Approximately 4.3 million cubic meters of wastewater are generated per year from Jewish settlements in the West Bank. A large amount is dumped, untreated, on Palestinian land, creating a health hazard for many communities....Finally we have to add to this the fact that nuclear waste from Dimona was dumped in the Palestinian Hebron area and also in the Gaza Strip east of the Al Bareij refugee camp and the town of Deir El Balah. Another crisis also looms in the future with the fact that the Dimona Reactor is living on borrowed time.
We have seen the decades of suffering by the Palestinian people at the hands of the apartheid government of Israel and yet little has been said about another unseen problem that lies buried beneath the ground.
Over a long period of time the Israeli Government has secretly been dumping highly radioactive waste from their Dimona Nuclear Facility on Palestinian land. What is ironic is the basis as to why they have dumped their waste at such locations. Read more.
Protesting Senator Murkowski's Refusal to Make BP Pay
Diane Wilson, a fourth generation shrimper from the Gulf, poured oil on herself at today’s Senate Energy Committee hearing to protest Senator Lisa Murkowski's refusal to make BP pay for the disaster that has devastating Wilson's shrimping community. Republican Lisa Murkowski, ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee, blocked the bill that would have lifted the oil companies' liability cap (the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act). Wilson was removed from the hearing and arrested.
In the wake of yet another possible oil spill in the Gulf region, the United States Coast Guard has decided to launch an investigation into the dark waters surrounding Taylor Energy Corporation's Ocean Saratoga rig, resting only 40 miles away from the Deepwater Horizon rig.
Though the rig has been leaking since at least April 30, the rig's owner, Taylor Energy Corporation, and operator, Diamond Offshore Drilling, are both declining to comment. Taylor's spokesperson Denise Fields told Huffington Post that the company would be issuing a press release this afternoon.
Mobile, Alabama's Press Register reported that a 10-mile long slick emanating from the rig is visible from space.
Earlier today, Mother Jones's Kate Sheppard reported that John Amos of West Virginia-based nonprofit SkyTruth, was the first to notice the spill, observing an oil slick eleven miles off the coast of Louisiana. After viewing satellite images of the reported second spill, Amos concluded that the Deep Water Horizon and the Saratoga spills are independent of one another, meaning the Gulf cleanup situation may be getting worse before it gets better. Read more.
The BP oil spill is still dominating headlines, 50 days after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded. But how much oil leaks into the Gulf on any other day of the year? Satillite images and photographs from the region indicate that there may be two other offshore drilling units leaking oil into the ocean. Read more.
Oil Spill Expert: BP Is 'Groping In the Dark'
Dr. Ian McDonald Says BP Could Be Sucking Up Spill More Quickly Now If It Had Allowed More Accurate Estimates Of The Spill Rate,br /> By Matthew Mosk, Avni Patel and Brian Ross | ABC News
A leading scientist following the BP oil spill said Monday that if the company or the government had made realistic estimates about the amounts flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, they could have had sufficient tanker space ready on the surface to hold the crude being pumped up through a make-shift collection device.
Instead, BP officials have acknowledged they may be constrained from pumping oil up too quickly because the surface ships there now can only receive only 15,000 barrels daily. Read more.
Apocalypse in the Gulf Now (Oil) & Next (Nukes)
By Harvey Wasserman
As BP's ghastly gusher assaults the Gulf of Mexico and so much more, a tornado has forced shut the Fermi2 atomic reactor at the site of a 1966 melt-down that nearly irradiated the entire Great Lakes region.
If the White House has a reliable plan for deploying and funding a credible response to a disaster at a reactor that's superior to the one we've seen at the Deepwater Horizon, we’d sure like to see it.
Meanwhile it wants us to fund two more reactors on the Gulf and another one 40 miles from Washington DC. And that’s just for starters.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has warned that at least one new design proposed for federal funding cannot withstand tornadoes, earthquakes or hurricanes.
But the administration has slipped $9 billion for nuclear loan guarantees into an emergency military funding bill, in addition to the $8.33 it’s already approved for two new nukes in Georgia.
TomDispatch: Bill McKibben, "If There Was Ever A Moment To Seize, Will Obama Stand Up to Big Energy In Deeds As Well As Words?"
From TomDispatch this Sunday: A major environmental writer asks the biggest question of all: Can the president act to change our world in the midst of a historic eco-disaster? -- Bill McKibben, "If There Was Ever A Moment to Seize, Will Obama Stand Up to Big Energy in Deeds as Well as Words?"
The President's words on BP's disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are ever so slowly growing stronger. Environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, now asks the tough question. Will deeds follow? Can this president step up to the moment or will he more typically nibble at the edges of our energy crisis, letting the American system fiddle while the Gulf burns?
In his latest TomDispatch post, McKibben brilliantly compares Barack Obama's BP moment to the moment when John F. Kennedy committed the U.S. to land a man on the moon -- to point out how deeds can truly follow words. He adds: "The challenge [Obama] faces is so much tougher. The Apollo mission was technically complex, but in a sense the very opposite of our energy challenge: a moon shot meant focusing all our energy on three guys and a rocket, while an energy revolution would mean, in essence, landing all of us on a different planet, one where we no longer need the fossil fuels that are currently the engine for our economy."
Still, as we lose our Heat War on a globally warming planet, he suggests just how Barack Obama could begin "turning history" in a new direction: "Obama’s barely broken a sweat on climate change: a few paragraphs in a few speeches. Now, the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf offers him the best chance he’s ever going to get to go to work. The president could stand on the Louisiana shore and say: 'Bad as this is, it’s only a small and visible symbol of the greater damage we do each day simply by burning coal and gas and oil. If that black gunk now washing up here had ended up safely in the gas tanks of our cars, it would nonetheless have done great damage. It’s all dirty, every last drop and lump.'”
This piece is a stirring call for an American president to rise to a moment that must not be missed. McKibben ends this way: "To have a chance we need a leader. We need someone to stand up and tell it the way it is, and in language so compelling and dramatic it sets us on a new path. On this planet of nearly seven billion, at this moment in history, there’s exactly one person who could play that role. And so far he hasn't decided."
Don't miss this one. It's McKibben at his best!
Many news reports about the Gulf oil catastrophe refer to it as a "spill." Wrong. A spill is a minor "oops" — one accidentally spills milks, for example, and from childhood, we're taught the old aphorism: "Don't cry over spilt milk." What's in the Gulf isn't milk and it wasn't spilt. The explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon well was the inevitable result of deliberate decisions made by avaricious corporate executives, laissez faire politicians and obsequious regulators.
As the ruinous gulf oil blowout spreads onto land, over wildlife, across the ocean floor and into people's lives, it raises a fundamental question for all of us Americans: Who the hell's in charge here? What we're witnessing is not merely a human and environmental horror, but also an appalling deterioration in our nation's governance. Just as we saw in Wall Street's devastating economic disaster and in Massey Energy's murderous explosion inside its Upper Big Branch coal mine, the nastiness in the gulf is baring an ugly truth that We the People must finally face: We are living under de facto corporate rule that has rendered our government impotent.
Thirty years of laissez-faire, ideological nonsense (pushed upon us with a vengeance in the past decade) has transformed government into a subsidiary of corporate power. Wall Street, Massey, BP and its partners — all were allowed to become their own "regulators" and officially encouraged to put their short-term profit interests over the public interest.
Let's not forget that on April 2, barely two weeks before Deepwater Horizon blew and 11 people perished on the spot, the public's No. 1 official, Barack Obama, trumpeted his support for more deepwater oil drilling, blithely regurgitating Big Oil's big lie: "Oil rigs today generally don't cause spills." He and his advisors had not bothered to check the truth of that — they simply took the industry's word. That's not governing, it's aiding and abetting profiteers, and it's a pathetic performance. Read more.
BP Buys 'Oil' Search Terms to Redirect Users to Official Company Website
BP Spokesman Acknowledges Purchase 'To Make It Easier for People to Find Out More About Our Efforts in the Gulf' and Other Ways to Help
By Emily Friedman | ABC News
Be careful where you click, especially if you're looking for news on the BP oil spill.
BP, the very company responsible for the oil spill that is already the worst in U.S. history, has purchased several phrases on search engines such as Google and Yahoo so that the first result that shows up directs information seekers to the company's official website.
A simple Google search of "oil spill" turns up several thousand news results, but the first link, highlighted at the very top of the page, is from BP. "Learn more about how BP is helping," the link's tagline reads.
A spokesman for the company confirmed to ABC News that it had, in fact, bought these search terms to make information on the spill more accessible to the public.
"We have bought search terms on search engines like Google to make it easier for people to find out more about our efforts in the Gulf and make it easier for people to find key links to information on filing claims, reporting oil on the beach and signing up to volunteer," BP spokesman Toby Odone told ABC News. Read more.
BP said today it will be sending a second advance payment during June to individuals and businesses along the Gulf Coast to compensate for the loss of income or net profit due to the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon Incident in the Gulf of Mexico.
With the second advance payments, BP estimates it will have spent about $84 million for loss of income or net profit through June, based on the claims it has received to date. This number will grow as additional claims are filed.
“We deeply regret the impact the oil spill has had on individuals and businesses, and understand the need for quick and reasonable compensation,” said Doug Suttles, chief operating officer, BP Exploration and Production. “We hope these payments will assist individuals, businesses and the communities impacted.”
About 14,000 individuals and businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have received an initial advance payment for loss of income or net profit to date. Read more.
Government Report Finds Dangerous Residues in Meat
By Martha Rosenberg | Alternet
Many food consumers worry about pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria in their meat. But according to a new government report, they should worry more about veterinary drugs, pesticides and heavy metals in their food.
A new Office of Inspector General (OIG) report released last month finds the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) fails to test for many drugs in cattle, inadequately tests for others and fails to recall meat which is clearly contaminated.
“Between July 12, 2007, and March 11, 2008, FSIS found that four carcasses were adulterated with violative levels of veterinary drugs and that the plants involved had released the meat into the food supply. Although the drugs involved could result in stomach, nerve, or skin problems for consumers, FSIS requested no recall,” says the report.
Drugs cached on the national dinner plate may include antibiotics like penicillin, florfenicol, sulfamethazine and sulfadimethoxine, the anti-parasite drug Ivermectin, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug flunixin and heavy metals says OIG, which oversees Department of Health and Human Services programs. Read more.
This proves that Cheney was willing to make the bottom 99% unwitting pawns to his desire of increasing profits for the top 1%! Also that he deserves to be put in jail for his crimes.
The article "As 'top kill' effort fails, BP must fall back on oil spill containment strategy" relating to Cheney's Energy Task Force Ruined the Gulf states "BP's three-day effort to throttle the leaking gulf oil well with multiple blasts of heavy mud has failed. The attempted "top kill" of the well was abandoned late Saturday afternoon, leaving the huge Macondo field deep beneath the sea floor once again free to pump at least half a million gallons of crude a day into the gulf...
"There's no silver bullet to stop this leak," Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said.
We are being held captive to this catastrophe as a mediocre containment strategy is all that will be currently utilized as the article states "After that, the company could place another blowout preventer on top of the existing one. Meanwhile two drilling rigs at the surface continue to drill relief wells. That's a long-term strategy that requires engineers to hit a seven-inch target, the bottom of the leaking well, 3 1/2 miles below the surface of the gulf. The first of the two relief wells to hit the target will send a massive dose of cement to seal the leaking well. Read more.
Lawsuit Seeks Full Disclosure of Dispersant Impacts on Gulf’s Endangered Wildlife
By Center for Biological Diversity | Common Dreams
The Center for Biological Diversity today filed an official notice of its intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for authorizing the use of toxic dispersants without ensuring that these chemicals would not harm endangered species and their habitats. The letter requests that the agency, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, immediately study the effects of dispersants on species such as sea turtles, sperm whales, piping plovers, and corals and incorporate this knowledge into oil-spill response efforts.
"The Gulf of Mexico has become Frankenstein's laboratory for BP's enormous, uncontrolled experiment in flooding the ocean with toxic chemicals," said Andrea Treece, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "The fact that no one in the federal government ever required that these chemicals be proven safe for this sort of use before they were set loose on the environment is inexcusable."
Dispersants are chemicals used to break oil spills into tiny droplets. In theory, this allows the oil to be eaten by microorganisms and become diluted faster than it would otherwise. However, the effects of using large quantities of dispersants and injecting them into very deep water, as BP has done in the Gulf of Mexico, have never been studied. Researchers suspect that underwater oil plumes, measuring as much as 20 miles long and extending dozens of miles from the leaking rig, are the result of dispersants keeping the oil below the surface.
On May 24, EPA Administrator Jackson expressed concern over the environmental unknowns of dispersants, which include the long-term effects on aquatic life. Nonetheless, the federal government has allowed BP to pump nearly 1 million gallons of dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico. Read more.
Feds Move to Block Transocean's Bid To Cap Damages For Gulf Oil Spill
'This It Cannot Do,' Says Justice Department, And Compares Transocean To Titanic's Owners
By Jason Ryan | ABC News
"Suffice it to say, eleven crewmembers lost their lives in the immediate disaster stemming from the explosion and fire aboard the vessel. As for the oil spill, we shall forego a cascade of words like 'catastrophic' and 'cataclysmic' as they simply do not do justice to the magnitude of economic, health, and environmental devastation wrought upon the nation's waters, across a swath of States, and upon entire communities."
Hours after Attorney General Eric Holder disclosed ongoing criminal and civil probes related to the Gulf oil spill , the Justice Department has filed motions to block Transocean from seeking to limit their liability in the unfolding disaster. The documents were filed late Tuesday night in federal court in Houston, Texas.
The motion filed by the Justice Department follows Transocean's May 13 motion to seek limited liability of just $26.7 million. The Justice Department initially signaled to Transocean that it would oppose this in a May 24 letter to Transocean's counsel. Transocean has asked for limited liability under the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, the same act invoked by the owners of the RMS Titanic when they awarded a paltry $95,000 to the survivors of the Titanic tragedy.
The May 24 letter said, "It is simply unconscionable, in the circumstances of this case, that Transocean is attempting to use this same shield of liability potentially leaving thousands of people who have been damaged by your clients' actions with no remedy."
Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon, the mobile offshore drilling platform that exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. The explosion triggered the ongoing oil spill that has become the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
In the Tuesday filing, the Justice Department said, "Transocean seeks to absolve ('exonerate') itself from liability concerning the Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire, and oil spill, or, alternatively, limit its liability to approximately $27 million. This it cannot do." Read more.
By Orpheus Reed and Larry Everest
From World Can't Wait
When you stick your finger into one of the orange-brown or black, asphalt-smelling globs of oil now washing into the wetlands where the Mississippi Delta meets the Gulf of Mexico, it just gloms on and sticks. It's hard to get off. You see it stuck to the stalks of the roso-cane reeds, which hold the wetlands in place.
Then you start thinking about what happens when a fish, a bird, or some other creature gets caught in this toxic stew. And you think about how these pools are only the first, small waves of oil from the exploded wellhead of British Petroleum's "Deepwater Horizon." And you just can't take it.
BP has hired Dick Cheney's former press flack, Anne Womack Kolton, to serve as the new "head of U.S. media relations" as the company deals with the PR disaster of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf. Kolton was Cheney's press secretary during the 2004 campaign, and then moved to a job in public affairs at the Department of Energy.
One of her tasks in her previous job was defending the administration's secret meetings with energy officials, even as courts were telling the White House to turn over documents about the task force: "We are ready to defend our principles in court. This goes to the heart of the presidency and to the ability of the president and vice president to receive candid, discreet advice."
Not a lot is known about the task force, since the administration succeeded in shielding it from the public. But it is known that BP officials were among the oil chiefs involved in the secret meetings. Read more.
I'm a fourth-generation fisherwoman from the Texas Gulf Coast, on a boat since I was eight. Over the last two decades, I've become a self-appointed watchdog of the chemical, oil, and gas corporations that are decimating the Gulf.
I hate to say it, but what I'm seeing now in the Gulf ain't nothing new. The toxic releases, the lies, the cover-ups, the skimping on safety, the nonexistent documents, the "swinging door" with regulators, the deaths. Same ole same ole.
What is new is the massive nature of the oil gusher and the fact that it can't be covered up because it's ongoing and being videoed. This elephant can't be swept under the carpet, but I'm sure if BP could, BP would.
There are politicians out there -- we've all heard them -- who say this oil spill is just one accident and one accident does not a case make. Heck, one plane crashes and you don't stop flying, do ya? Well, this isn't just one accident. This is the biggest flame among the thousands of fires set by Corporate America on its Sherman-like march across the Gulf. Read more.
By Linda Milazzo
For eight hellish years, Bush and Cheney ruled America by fear. Images of Osama Bin Laden were drawn on us like weapons. Terror. Terrorism. Terrorists. War. Fear. Warfare. This was the Bush/Cheney mantra that kept Americans in despair.
Today, because of their tactics, our nation is in tatters, with wars not jobs, bombs not books, and warfare not health care. America lacks the resources to confront immediate dangers that have nothing to do with bin Laden: hurricanes, oil spills, floods, tornadoes, unfunded education, decaying infrastructure, exorbitant health costs, corporate greed, and more. Because of partisan politics and hawks like California Congresswoman Harman, more dollars are spent on unending wars than are spent on education. Perhaps you've seen this expenditure chart based on our 2009 taxes:
It shouldn't surprise because no one gets the top job or any government position of power unless they're safe, yet, naively, most people thought Obama was different. Many still do.
As a candidate, he promised change, a new course, sweeping government reforms, addressing people needs, and "ensur(ing) that the hopes and concerns of average Americans speak louder in Washington than the hallway whispers of high-priced lobbyists" - the same ones who bought and now own him.
He promised peace and delivered war; real health and financial reform, not same old, same old; help for millions losing jobs, homes, hope and futures, not handouts to Wall Street and other industry favorites; regulatory oversight, not the usual incestuous government-industry ties, making disasters like in the Gulf possible, and when they happen conspiring with offenders in coverup, distortion, lies, and a total disregard for the environment, wildlife, and way of life for thousands - let alone permanent damage to a vital ecosystem.
At the same time, Big Oil gets billions in subsidies, special tax breaks and other financial benefits, besides operating in a regulatory-free environment.
The 1995 Outer Continental Shelf Deep Water Royalty Relief Act (DWRRA - courtesy of Bill Clinton) exempted royalties on defined amounts of deep water production. After its 2000 expiration, the law was redefined and extended to promote further deep water drilling.
US coast guards harass journalists covering BP's oil spill disaster
By Greenslade Blog | Guardian.co.UK
News photographers and TV camera crews are claiming that they are being prevented from reporting on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
They complain that US federal and local officials, including coast guards, are blocking access to beaches where the effects of the spill are most visible.
A CBS TV crew was threatened with arrest when attempting to film an oil-covered beach last week. On Saturday, reporter Mac McClelland was blocked by police from visiting an island in Louisiana.
On Tuesday, a photographer with the New Orleans Times-Picayune was prevented from flying over the ocean after the plane company was issued with a temporary flight restriction after BP officials learned that a member of the press would be on board.
The US coast guard insists that its staff and BP have gone to great lengths to accommodate journalists. A coast guard spokesman said: "Roughly 400 members of the media have been given tours of the spill on either BP-contracted aircraft or coast guard helicopters." Read more.
PROTEST BP IN CVILLE ON MEMORIAL DAY
Blow-Out Polluters, Bull Promoters, Bellowing Pigs, Beyond Prosecution?
What ever you call BP, it's destroying the Gulf of Mexico, utterly destroying it.
Think I'm kidding? See these images.
And people in Charlottesville, in addition to through their taxes, are giving money directly to BP every day at gas stations.
This has got to end!
Memorial Day- Protest BP
For $5 Friday I just gave $5 to http://savethewildup.org
As my friend (and book editor) Crystal Yakacki explains (like many websites, this worthy group's website does not explain itself to newcomers and just gives the latest developments):
"The UP is the upper peninsula of Michigan, one of the most beautiful places in the world. The native people there, and local neighborhoods, have been trying to protect a sacred site from a mine by Kennecott Eagle that will not only destroy the sacred site, but pollute the river, kill the fish, and possibly impact the Lake Superior shoreline.