Wednesday, April 20, 2011

British Petroleum Stocks Rise As Sickness of the Gulf Exponentially Rises

One Big Lesson from the Macando Well Bleed – We Are in a Culture of Systematic Lying
By Paul K. Haeder

“There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings,’’ so begins the 1962 book, Silent Spring, written by marine biologist Rachel Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964). We could have called it a fable for tomorrow. “Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change. Some evil spell had settled on the community . . . No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in the stricken world. The people had done it to themselves.’’

Could be about Japan’s current nuclear nightmare. Could be about the potentially life-killing hydrologic fracturing over water sources for tens of millions of Americans. Could be about Mountaintop Removal and a billion gallons of coal sludge spewing into the Emory River. Could be about concentrated animal feeding operations where a 100,000 cows or millions of chickens in one lot result in dead rivers and spoiled air.

We know where Rachel Carson would be if she was around this Earth Day – in the Gulf of Mexico with other women, like Diane Wilson, Terry Tempest Williams and Riki Ott.
What sort of headline shall we write today to mark this blight on our addiction to oil:

Eleven people dead, 26,000 marine mammals, 6,000 turtles, 85,000 sea birds killed

The Bioaccumulation Future of the Gulf -40 million people exposed to a neurological-killing toxic brew

It Will Happen Again Blues as the methane bleeds into sea and air, oil burns, crude oozes

This Earth Day, this one-year anniversary of the British Petroleum-Transocean-Halliburton-EPA-Obama lie, is a microcosm of how all systems failed. The drilling and oil companies cut corners and facilitated the crime of the century. The US government under Obama facilitated British Petroleum’s incompetence and continuous harm to the environment and communities in the Gulf. The major media dropped the ball and failed to grow a backbone in order to flail at the illegal and unethical no-fly zones and beach closed clamp down.

Of course, the real headline comes from people living there, on the frontlines of the battle against BP, Big Oil, Big Incompetent Government:

“This is the biggest cover-up in the history of America,” Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser has repeatedly told reporters. Nungesser has been working throughout the Gulf to bring mitigation, compensation and publicity to a complete systems failure in our country’s collusion with oil, in this case, extremely deep ocean drilling.

“It’s like you’re in bed with BP,” Nungesser tells the Coast Guard and committees supposedly investigating the disaster. “Don’t tell me I got a voice in the way you put together that crappy document,” Nungesser said in reference to the clean-up plan that surfaced in June 2010. “It ain’t worth the paper it’s printed on. That is bullshit.”

Nungesser then told one federal official, “You cover up for BP.”
BP’s stock rose a half a percent on the one-year mark of this 420-million gallon (or it might be more) disaster.

Billionaires scoff at the Southeast Asian-American fishers in Alabama who are collectively 75 percent unemployed. Laugh at the people of color throughout the Gulf Coast who are coughing up blood and watching loved ones shake and groan from the toxic brew British Petroleum unleashed for months.

Thank ProPublica (they just won some Pulitzer Prizes for their work on BP) and other non-co-opted journalists for their coverage of the BP crime of the century. Carpet bombing the Gulf with highly toxic and banned substances and drenching the gash where the Macando well spewed up to 800 million gallons of oil have created a giant biological warfare lab, and an unfolding massive chemistry experiment.

Rodney Soto, a Florida neurologist who draws blood from sick people exposed to the spill and the cancer-causing Corexit (a banned dispersant), analyzes humans for volatile compounds.

"We're not only talking about hundreds of thousands of people that are already having symptoms, but we could potentially be seeing the tip of the iceberg here and we're talking about entire population in the Gulf Coast states and maybe spreading further into the United States."

Not the sort of quotes and attributions one will see on CNN, NPR or CBS, to be sure.
There is a term called agnotology, which is something I have been studying and writing about tied to climate change and environmental justice. It applies to our world now, to this BP double think and psychological warfare:

Agnotology -- Culturally constructed ignorance, purposefully created by special interest groups working hard to create confusion and suppress the truth.

The news media (and repeated here at DTE) and BP have said that it used 1.8 million gallons of dispersant before the well was capped on July 15. But Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass), with documents from BP in hand, said, "The validity of those numbers are now in question."

These documents suggest that British Petroleum, with the rubber-stamped approval of the US Coast Guard, continued regular use of Corexit on the surface of the Gulf despite a May 25, 2010 directive by the Environmental Protection Agency that BP scale back these activities to “rare cases.”

Various formulas of Corexit used in the Gulf were banned in England, BP’s birthplace. Dispersants themselves are toxic, and while some scientists at first thought using them was better than doing nothing, Congressman Markey – along with more elegant thinking researchers – reiterated these pesticides had never been used on such a scale before.

Markey wasn’t the only one last year looking at the discrepancies between how much dispersant BP reported it was using and how much it actually applied to the Gulf’s surface and the actual gaping hole 5,000 feet down.

Here is one clue to the lie: BP told the Coast Guard on June 16. 2010 that its use of Corexit had never exceeded 3,365 gallons in any recent day. E-mails to Congress told a much different story. In fighting the Gulf oil spill on June 12 and 13, BP’s e-mails confirm it used 14,305 gallons and 36,000 gallons respectively. That’s two days’ worth of Corexit at 50,305 gallons.

The carpet bombing of the Gulf and the unending injection at the broken well head of this junk, more toxic and less effective than 12 other industry products on the market, belie the absolute misinformation campaign of the Oil Industry, media and government, as well as the disconnection the American people have when it comes to understanding the enormity of the spill – 240 to 880 million gallons – and the volume of dispersants used.

Christopher Reddy, an associate scientist of marine chemistry and geochemistry at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, stated last year that one million barrels (42 million gallons) of dispersants had been applied to the Gulf of Mexico. The Times Picayune newspaper admitted there had been an error – one million barrels of Corexit 9527-A and Corexit 9500 – had been turned into “gallons.”

Accident? Wishful thinking? Agnotologic strategy?

The mixture has resulted in Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds and petroleum/dispersant remnants, as well as degraded bi-products of the mixture. The EPA considers Corexit 9527 to be “an acute health hazard.” The substance, which is a brew of chemicals kept secret by Nalco, harms red blood cells, kidneys, and the liver. The 2-butoxyethanol in Corexit 9527 causes lasting health problems in workers who were involved in cleaning up the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

While we in the enviro community grapple with renewable energy issues, Obama’s call for more nuclear power plants and more deepwater drilling, and a gutted EPA and delisting of the wolf form the endangered species list, the facts remain clear:

The legacy of the Gulf is happening now. People’s health are now degraded. The economic impact of the Gulf Oil Spill is a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the long-lasting and unseen and unreported health affects on the people and the wildlife and fisheries.

Many of the chemicals present in oil and dispersants cause headaches; nausea; vomiting; kidney damage; altered renal functions; irritation of the digestive tract; lung damage; burning pain in the nose and throat; coughing; pulmonary edema; cancer; lack of muscle coordination; dizziness; confusion; irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat; difficulty breathing; delayed reaction time; memory difficulties; stomach discomfort; liver and kidney damage; unconsciousness; tiredness/lethargy; irritation of the upper respiratory tract; and hematological disorders.

That’s the real story one year later – communities of poverty, underrepresented, under-educated, and neighborhoods of color are facing “the biggest cover-up of the century.” The oil hasn’t disappeared. The problems with the oil drilling and refining industries have not gone away.

Hell, people far from the Macando oil well burst and bleed-out are seeing the results of a sort of “unimpeded industry chemical terrorism”:

A family from Homosassa, on the east coast of Florida, 60 miles north of Tampa, took a water sample from their pool's filter on Aug. 17, 2010, almost three months after BP stopped spraying Corexit 9527-A and one month after it stopped spraying Corexit 9500.

This is what Rachel Carson warned about 50 years ago – that pool sample, analyzed by Alabama chemist Bob Naman, contained 50.3 ppm of the Corexit 9527A ingredient and 2-butoxyethanol.

Prevailing winds are easterly, probably pushing the airborne dispersant over the Schebler family’s house and into their swimming pool. Mrs. Schebler told news reporters that her husband” twice swam in the pool after mowing the lawn and both times, he experienced severe diarrhea and very dark urine. This lasted about two days."

"2-butoxyethanol shouldn't be anywhere," Naman, the Alabama chemist and owner of ACT Laboratory, told the Tri-Parish Times. "It's a toxic substance that should not be in water, it shouldn't be in soil and it shouldn't be in people's pools. That particular person (Mr. Schebler), that guy was terribly, terribly ill - bleeding from everywhere, peeing brown, he's got kidney trouble and liver trouble. I don't know if he's going to stay alive much longer, but he did find out what the problem was and it was because he was swimming in his pool."

Diane Wilson, in an interview, said it best about how to tackle this era of misinformation and corporate agnotology:

“People have a shield that protects them from bad news. It just kind of slides off, so you have to be very creative to break through. So one of our actions was inspired by women in Nigeria, who protested pollution from oil companies by taking off their clothes. I was amazed how much they accomplished nonviolently by pushing the comfort zone. So we went to BP’s control center in Houston, nude, and demanded “the naked truth” about oil. A lot of people said, ‘Oh no, you can't do something like that in Houston. It’s the Bible Belt; the media will not come.’ But they did, and the protest got a lot of press. We also had people come dressed as fishermen, as mermaids, as BP workers. A fisherman in Sargent, Texas brought probably 100 pounds of dead fish and a pile of shrimp nets. We poured fake oil over everybody.”

For decades, Diane Wilson—a fourth-generation shrimper from Seadrift, Texas, a town roughly in the center of Texas’ Gulf coast—has been fighting to clean up the messes of the oil and petrochemical industries.

Terry Tempest Williams is a writer, environmentalist. Her books include Finding Beauty in a Broken World and The Open Space of Democracy. Her latest piece in Orion magazine, an extended reflection on the BP oil spill, called “The Gulf Between Us.”

The EXXON Valdez oil spill was the "environmental 9/11," according to marine biologist and toxicologist, Riki Ott. EXXON has effectively owned the story since then and says it's over, says Ott. But she has evidence to the contrary that indicates everyone's public health is being adversely affected by very low levels of chemicals in our environment, levels well below what is currently thought to be safe. And a major culprit, she says, is oil. She is the author of several books, including, Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

1 comment:

  1. Reading this article made me compare BP’s actions to those of a child caught in a web of lies in order to stay out of trouble. I don’t mean to stereotype children here, and obviously many children behave more mature than BP. But for the sake of comparison, imagine a child breaks his mother’s necklace, and instead of telling his mom, he hides it under the rug. The next night, the mother wastes an hour of her time looking for her necklace, and by the time she gives up her search, she is late for her anniversary dinner. In a similar fashion, BP is taking the quick way out, trying to cut corners by using toxic dispersants to clean up their mess. All of this, of course, is at the expense of our health and livelihood. Of course, by the time most children are about 8 years old, they have learned to act more mature and responsible than this. Grow up BP!
    The ultimate problem here is that these companies are so big that there actions affect every person on earth. An operation on that scale demands tremendous responsibility. Big oil companies such as BP have failed with their responsibility, and they have failed us. These operations must be heavily regulated by appropriate authorities, and not allowed to buy their way out of trouble. We need to stop screwing around and take action. We can’t allow BP to hurt us anymore.


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