Showing posts with label oil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oil. Show all posts

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Eyeless shrimp, mutant crabs, oozing fish


If you live on the Gulf Coast -- and if you care to know how screwed you are -- you might want to listen more to Al Jazeera and less to local ostriches who can't see the blind shrimp for the sandy tar balls in their eyes.

Short version of the Arab TV network's report from Louisiana: BP did a real number on the Gulf, the marshes and every form of sea life out there. Longer version: The feds say Gulf seafood is safe to eat -- that is, while there still
is Gulf seafood . . . and if you don't mind eyeless shrimp, mutant crabs that rot from the inside before they're dead and seafood with sores and lesions all over it.

That's not what people want to hear, however, which is making life really easy (not) for the researchers bearing the bad news, being that facts are a bitch.

Here's an excerpt from the print version of the story:

"The fishermen have never seen anything like this," Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. "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."

Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University's Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.

Cowan's findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP's oil and dispersants.

Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding 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.

Tracy Kuhns and her husband Mike Roberts, commercial fishers from Barataria, Louisiana, are finding eyeless shrimp.

"At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these," Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.

According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP's oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: "Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets."

"Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico]," she added, "They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don't have their usual spikes … they look like they've been burned off by chemicals."


(snip)

Dr Andrew Whitehead, an associate professor of biology at Louisiana State University, co-authored the report Genomic and physiological footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on resident marsh fishes that was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October 2011.

Whitehead's work is of critical importance, as it shows a direct link between BP's oil and the negative impacts on the Gulf's food web evidenced by studies on killifish before, during and after the oil disaster.

"What we found is a very clear, genome-wide signal, a very clear signal of exposure to the toxic components of oil that coincided with the timing and the locations of the oil," Whitehead told Al Jazeera during an interview in his lab.

According to Whitehead, the killifish is an important indicator species because they are the most abundant fish in the marshes, and are known to be the most important forage animal in their communities.

"That means that most of the large fish that we like to eat and that these are important fisheries for, actually feed on the killifish," he explained. "So if there were to be a big impact on those animals, then there would probably be a cascading effect throughout the food web. I can't think of a worse animal to knock out of the food chain than the killifish."

But we may well be witnessing the beginnings of this worst-case scenario.

Whitehead is predicting that there could be reproductive impacts on the fish, and since the killifish is a "keystone" species in the food web of the marsh, "Impacts on those species are more than likely going to propagate out and effect other species. What this shows is a very direct link from exposure to DWH oil and a clear biological effect. And a clear biological effect that could translate to population level long-term consequences."

Back on shore, troubled by what he had been seeing, Keath Ladner met with officials from the US Food and Drug Administration and asked them to promise that the government would protect him from litigation if someone was made sick from eating his seafood.

"They wouldn't do it," he said.

"I'm worried about the entire seafood industry of the Gulf being on the way out," he added grimly.
WE NOW return you to our previously scheduled BP propaganda spots and "Remain calm. All is well!" platitudes from state and federal officials.



HAT TIP: Rod Dreher.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A confederacy of dunces


Getting between the oil industry's posterior and Louisiana politicians' lips is a tight spot only Rhett Butler could love -- "I've always had a weakness for lost causes once they're really lost."


Odd that it was a Yankee academic and not Capt. Butler embarking on such a quixotic scheme Monday before a joint meeting of state House and Senate natural-resources committees. Either he was making the kind of profit the fictional Butler did from running guns to the Confederates, or the man just had no idea what he was walking into.

The Oregon economics professor's first mistake, sad to say, was in going to Louisiana in the first place. Nothing good could come of it.

His second mistake was in telling Louisianians --
politicians, no less -- what he took to be the truth, instead of what they wanted to hear.

THE THIRD mistake, as reported by The Advocate in Baton Rouge, was a doozy. He told the legislators that an LSU professor was dead wrong (and guilty of sloppy research) in his report arguing that the state was losing beaucoup revenue and jobs by not throttling lawsuits over environmental damage from old oilfields.

W. Ed Whitelaw, a professor of economics at the University of Oregon, said the widely quoted analysis omitted relevant facts, including any mention of two hurricanes.

David Dismukes, an LSU professor who works for the LSU Center for Energy Studies, released an analysis in February that found that during the past eight years, Louisiana missed out on more than 30,000 oil and gas jobs and support positions because of what
are called “legacy lawsuits.”

The lawsuits are over the extent of cleanup of environmental damage caused by oil producers’ drilling practices years ago.

A joint hearing of the Louisiana House and state Senate committees on Natural Resources met Monday to “informally discuss the issues” involving legislation that would change the procedures leading to lawsuits over the environmental damage.

“Legacy lawsuits are strongly and negatively correlated with Louisiana drilling activity,” Dismukes’ report says. “Increases in legacy lawsuits are correlated with reductions in conventional Louisiana oil and gas drilling.”

Whitelaw, founder of ECONorthwest, a Portland, Ore., company that provides financial
analysis for businesses and governments, said Dismukes’ widely quoted analysis has several major flaws.

“Understand that these errors, and there are three or four big ones, any one of which is enough to render his analysis nonsense,” Whitelaw said. “These are rookie errors.”
OOOOOOOOOH. Bad move.

In the Gret Stet, legislators reserve the right to starve Louisiana universities to death, but they'll be damned if some damn Yankee is gonna come down and tell 'em they're getting what they pay for. Or not getting what they refuse to pay for.

At any rate, ancestral hatred, a raging inferiority complex, a genuine lack of intelligence and good old bayou buffoonery combined for a quite predictable display of pique and posturing. Like I said, I hope Whitelaw's making obscene money for his expert testimony.
In the joint committee hearing, state Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, came to Dismukes’ defense, asking former U.S. Rep. Chris John, who now heads the Baton Rouge-based industry group Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, how he felt about Whitelaw’s testimony.

“It always chaps my hide when folks come in here from out of state and degrade our universities and our faculty,” Chabert said.

John agreed, saying the oil and gas industry works closely with LSU, his alma mater.

“It is something that we should consider when a person from the Oregon Ducks would actually sit at this table; we’ve had our issues with the Oregon Ducks,” Johns said.
WHAT (expletive deleted) morons. What clowns.

It says nothing good about Louisiana that it's occurred to no one that so many of the state's political maladies could be solved by no longer reminding its politicians to breathe.

It also says nothing good about the place that it's occurred to so few there that the rest of America isn't laughing
with Louisiana, but instead at Louisiana.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

To shrimp, or not to shrimp


You don't need to pick up Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet to partake of a good Shakespearean tragedy.

All you have to do is head down to Louisiana.

The New York Times' Amy Harmon, I am sure, knew she had herself a good story when she started trekking down to Delacroix to chronicle the struggles of a shrimping family in the wake of the BPocalypse. What I wonder, though, is whether she knew she was committing Shakespeare -- albeit a Shakespearean tragedy that trails off before everybody's dead or bereft.


IF YOU'RE NOT from the state of my birth, you'll start to get what I mean pretty quickly:

While Americans were debating their reliance on fossil fuel in the wake of the worst offshore oil spill in United States history, Aaron Greco was trying to decide what to do with his life. His story illuminates the singular appeal and hardships of a livelihood in jeopardy.

And as the Obama administration paves the way for deepwater drilling to resume in the gulf, it is young men like Aaron who will shoulder the direct impact of the nation’s decisions about what energy to consume and what seafood to eat in the years to come.

Few of his friends born into the Gulf Coast’s fishing communities were following their own fathers and grandfathers in the pursuit of wild seafood. Long before the oil rig exploded, rising fuel prices and competition from Asia’s cheap farmed shrimp had made a risky and physically punishing profession far less profitable: only a few thousand Louisianans now make their living fishing, down from more than 20,000 in the late 1980s.

Yet Aaron was among those of his generation still drawn to an elemental way of life. He wanted to be his own boss, to spend his days on the teeming marshes outside his door, 30 miles south of New Orleans and a world away. He wanted to pace himself to the rhythm of the oysters, crabs, and his favorite quarry since childhood, the shrimp.

“I want to chase the shrimp more than anything,” he told his girlfriend. “But I’m stuck.”

When the spill closed the waters around St. Bernard Parish, Aaron bounced between doubt and determination. His sisters pushed him to go on to college; his uncles warned of the lingering effects of dispersants used to clean up the oil. Even after the well was capped, Aaron questioned his own abilities.
IF YOU ARE from Louisiana, and if "it was good enough for my daddy" is your motteaux, you probably think the damn Yankees are making fun of you. Read on anyway.

Better yet, go to the
Times website and read the whole thing. Not that it'll do any damned good.

For Buddy, who had dropped out of school in 10th grade without ever learning to read, there had been no choice: like almost everyone else in Delacroix, descendants of Spanish-speaking Canary Islanders, he never considered anything other than fishing.

The time he did spend in school he used to advantage, singing “Sweet Caroline” to the pretty blonde in front of him on the bus, whom he soon prevailed on to marry him. But like many who grew up on the banks of the Bayou Terre aux Boeufs, he felt looked down on at the high school “up the road” — a designation that denoted social class as much as geography.

Others may have regarded them as poor, but the truth was teenagers could make good money in those days on the brackish waters that flowed into the gulf. In 1986, the year Buddy and Carolyn’s first child, Brittany, arrived, wild-caught gulf shrimp still accounted for nearly a quarter of the shrimp Americans ate, commanding the equivalent of nearly $2 per pound dockside.

And when Aaron was born, in 1990, Buddy covered the hospital bill with a few hundred sacks of oysters at $27 each.

“I paid for your stinky behind in that bayou,” he liked to remind his son, and it didn’t take long for the lesson to stick. Aaron spent his childhood catching minnows with a scoop net in the ditch near their home, his shrimper boots reaching up to his shorts. On fishing trips with his father, he lined up the little fish that dropped from the netting and stuffed them in his pockets.

“You take those out of there,” his mother commanded when she caught him. “They get in my washer and dryer, I’m going to have a smell out of this world.”

By the time Aaron was 13, he was lobbying to leave school himself. “Let me come on the boat,” he pleaded.

But Buddy wanted his middle child, and only boy, to have other options. The money in fishing was unpredictable, the work was dangerous, and there was no retirement plan. Carolyn’s father, a shrimper all his life, had had his hand ripped off in an accident with his rigging. Buddy’s father, stricken with lung cancer, hauled his oxygen tank with him onto the boat until a few days before he died in 2001.

“You finish school, Aaron,” he told his son. “You take after your mother — you smart enough to go to college.”

LARGE SWATHS of my home state -- millions of its citizens -- are the last of the Mohicans . . . or the Sioux in an eternal Wounded Knee. The world has fundamentally changed around them; they stay the same.

The economy upon which they have staked -- continue to stake -- their all is sinking as fast as what's left of the marshland under their feet. The only question is what will slip beneath the Gulf swells first, the land or the people who have populated it for generations.

Tradition is a fine thing. But it can turn deadly when it leads to ossification -- to turning one's back on education and new ideas. Holding fast to a way of life is a noble thing, except when it is untenable.

Louisiana is fast becoming untenable. All the things crucial to its survival are all the things in which it so desperately lags.

Ay, there's the rub . . . to adapt and forswear a way of life, doomed though it may be, or to follow in thy father's footsteps, yea, though they lead to, and over, a precipice.
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. . . .
TO BE, or not to be -- that is the question. I dread the forthcoming answer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bobby good. Feds stoopid. College godless.


I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

It's because this went down wrong. Of course, "this" is enough to challenge even the strongest stomach -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, proclaiming the wonderfulness of Himself to the perennially wacky Pat Robertson on The 700 Club as he ripped the federal government's inaction in the Gulf oil disaster.

"We kept tellin' them, lead or get out of the way," Jindal said while promoting his new book, "and the bottom line was we saw some of the same bureaucracy, the same red tape."

Urp. There I go again.

Listen, I know the gub'na likes to tell everyone what a strong Christian he is, so I know that he knows there's an old Hebrew proverb -- one quoted in the Good Book itself -- that says
"Physician, heal thyself." Or something like that.

I think it's
somewhere toward the back.

Anyway, you'd think that would be on his mind -- being such a fine and godly man and all -- when he's out on the road telling the world what a colossal screw-up Barack Obama is. Never mind that the headlines from Jindal's Louisiana don't exactly suggest administrative competence on the part of its absentee governor.


FOR EXAMPLE, higher education has been gutted because of an ongoing budget crisis. It will be gutted much, much more in the coming budget. This is Jindal's response to that:
Graduating only 38 percent of higher education students is unacceptable. My message to college administrators and everyone else is that we must find ways to live within our means and deliver more value. Budget cuts may result in fewer sabbaticals and may force professors to spend more time in the classroom teaching and interacting with students. But that is a good thing and will result in a better education for our students.
YOU'RE DOING a lousy job -- you'll do much better with far less funding. That's what he's saying.

When LSU leaders publicly fret over the disaster that awaits with further massive cuts next year, all the Jindal Administration can muster are straight-from-the-script red herrings about ending sabbaticals and increasing class loads as a cure for a looming cut of perhaps $60 million. No, really:

Jindal’s chief budget architect, Paul Rainwater, said Wednesday that universities must focus more resources on the classroom and make better use of taxpayer funds.

“We need to make sure the course load is maxed out and people aren’t taking sabbaticals,” said Rainwater, the state’s commissioner of administration, adding that LSU’s flagship campus has 19 faculty on sabbaticals. “That happens nowhere else in the real world.”

BOBBY JINDAL criticizes the president -- rightly -- for the federal government's lame response to BP's oily plague upon his state. Back home, the problem certainly isn't that Jindal has mustered a BP-type response to his state's myriad woes, most notably surrounding higher ed, public health . . . or just plain old fiscal responsibility.

No, back in the Gret Stet -- that place where the little lord Jindal has seldom laid down his sweet head -- the problem is that the gub'na is BP. And it's gonna be a hell of a blowout.

But that's OK. Whatever suffering . . . or surging ignorance . . . or mayhem . . . or sickness and death results from dismantling the concept of commonwealth is OK because when one asks "What would Jesus do?" -- that's it.

Obviously.

All because college professors are politically correct atheists, and the best way to fix a government that doesn't work is to destroy it altogether.

I'm sure the Deepwater Horizon never would have blown up if the feds' incompetent regulation had just given way to no regulation at all. Jesus said.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The importance of being Bobby

The only thing that surpasses politicians' rank hypocrisy amid our never-ending Left-Right food fight is politicians' capacity for self-aggrandizement and lack of capacity for introspection.

This is how a ditwad governor of a failed Southern state manages to write a memoir at age 39, throwing in chapters about how to better run America while his own state sinks into a Third Worldish fever swamp and another complaining that President Obama was mean to him and Rahm Emanuel cursed his chief of staff.

(In Emanuel's defense, when dealing with a governor who named himself after Bobby Brady, and whose chief of staff is named Timmy Teepell, tamping down one's junior-high PTSD might be too much to ask of a man.)


AND, OF COURSE, Politico is on the story:

On Obama’s first trip to Louisiana after the disaster, the governor describes how the president took him aside on the tarmac after arriving to complain about a letter that Jindal had sent to the administration requesting authorization for food stamps for those who had lost their jobs because of the spill.

As Jindal describes it, the letter was entirely routine, yet Obama was angry and concerned about looking bad.

"Careful," he quotes the president as warning him, "this is going to get bad for everyone."

Nearby on the tarmac, Jindal recalls, then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was chewing out his own chief of staff, Timmy Teepell.

“If you have a problem pick up the f——n’ phone,” Jindal quotes Emanuel telling Teepell.

The governor asserts that the White House had tipped off reporters to watch the exchange on the New Orleans tarmac that Sunday in May and deemed it a “press stunt” that symbolized what’s wrong with Washington.

“Political posturing becomes more important than reality,” he writes.

What might explain why Obama and Emanuel were so angry at Jindal is that the governor released his food stamp request the previous day to the media and indicated that he wanted a response by the close of business Monday.
AND PEOPLE wonder why reporters drink.

Probably because vast quantities of hard liquor is the only thing that will stop the voices of politicians in your head. Especially if the politician is the anthropomorphized cognitive dissonance that is Bobby Jindal.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The chains 'businessmen' forge in life. . . .

Halliburton and BP knew weeks before the fatal explosion of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable but still went ahead with the job, the presidential commission investigating the accident said on Thursday.

In the first official finding of responsibility for the blowout, which killed 11 workers and led to the largest offshore oil spill in American history, the commission staff determined that Halliburton had conducted three laboratory tests that indicated that the cement mixture did not meet industry standards.

The result of at least one of those tests was given on March 8 to BP, which failed to act upon it, the panel’s lead investigator, Fred H. Bartlit Jr., said in a letter delivered to the commissioners on Thursday.

Another Halliburton cement test, carried out about a week before the blowout of the well on April 20, also found the mixture to be unstable, yet those findings were never sent to BP, Mr. Bartlit found.

Although Mr. Bartlit does not specifically identify the cement failure as the sole or even primary cause of the blowout, he makes clear in his letter that if the cement had done its job and kept the highly pressured oil and gas out of the well bore, there would not have been an accident.

“We have known for some time that the cement used to secure the production casing and isolate the hydrocarbon zone at the bottom of the Macondo well must have failed in some manner,” he said in his letter to the seven members of the presidential commission. “The cement should have prevented hydrocarbons from entering the well.”

The failure of the cement set off a complex and ultimately deadly cascade of events as oil and gas exploded upward from the 18,000-foot-deep well. The blowout preventer, which sits on the ocean floor atop the well and is supposed to contain a well bore blowout, also failed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Louisiana: The state it's in


Here's some good ol' Cajun cooking for you.

It's a popular dish where I come from, and it's taken from the perennial cookbook,
Louisiana: Recipe for Disaster. And here's how you make Endemic Toxic Stew:
-- Take 300 years of a deviant civic culture out of the bayous of Louisiana. Check to make sure the tolerance of corruption and the get-rich-quick scheme has ripened sufficiently.

-- Add a significantly uneducated and compliant population.

-- Make a roux with BP crude oil and contaminated sediments.

-- Simmer in a cracked pot for many generations in befouled water over tropical heat.

-- Add oil- and dispersant-contaminated seafood.
(If you desire, add a number of Louisiana state deadheads for a more robust flavor.)

-- Season to taste with complacency, corrupt politicians, waste, incompetent government and a Gallic shrug.

-- Serve with dirty rice, cancer sticks and too much booze.

(Makes enough to serve as many legislators' brothers-in-law as possible. Serves fewer "unconnected" citizens every year. Eat at your own risk.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Répétez après moi: The oil is gone


Move along. Nothing to see here on the Gulf Coast.

Everything's fine. The oil is gone.

Pay no attention to all the dead birds in Louisiana, or to the men in black fatigues spraying Corexit -- the most toxic variant of Corexit the feds and BP say hasn't been used in months -- all along the Alabama shoreline.

Really, remain calm.
All is well.


THE FOLKS at the Louisiana Environmental Action Network are just troublemakers. Yeah, that's the ticket:
We continued our sampling efforts last week in Terrebonne Bay with Chief Chuckie Verdin of the Pointe Au Chien indian community.

LEAN's relationship with Pointe Au Chien began after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita when we delivered relief supplies there at the request of Chief Chuckie. LEAN was again contacted by the Pointe Au Chien community in recent days with concerns about impacts from the BP oil spill disaster on the bays and estuaries that they depend on. On Thursday, August 19, 2010 LEAN/LMRK sampling team (Technical Advisor Wilma Subra, Michael Orr, Jeffrey Dubinsky and myself) went on a sampling trip into Terrebonne Bay led by Chief Chuckie and Kurt Dardar.

We were also accompanied by Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau and environmentalist and filmmaker in her own right, and her crew. Last year Alexandra and the crew traveled to Louisiana to learn about the impacts of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone on locals from Wilma. This year they returned to document Wilma's work on the BP oil spill disaster so we took them out with us on a sampling mission.

In "Julia," the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper Boston Whaler and a local fishing vessel we made our way south from Pointe Au Chien across Lake Chien and Lake Felicity to Modoto Island. What we encountered there stunned us all. The ground was littered with dead birds. So many dead birds that we aren't sure how many were out there, many dozens of dead birds just in the small area which we surveyed on the island. The dead appeared to included mostly seagulls and terns though some were badly decayed and identification was difficult. It was clear to me by the various states of decay, from scattered bones to a tern that couldn't have been dead for more than a day and everything in between, that this is an ongoing situation.


OH . . . pay no attention to this video, either. It's the "lamestream media," and those troublemakers at WKRG in Mobile are just trying to get folks agitated.

They're almost as bad at the extremists over at Washington's Blog. We pass this scurrilous tidbit of alarmist bloggage along just so you'll know what kind of stuff to ignore:
A few days ago, Naman was sent a sample of water from Cotton Bayou, Alabama.

Naman found 13.3 parts per million of the dispersant Corexit in the sample:More imporantly, Naman told me that he found 2-butoxyethanol in the sample.

BP and Nalco - the manufacturer of Corexit - have said that dispersant containing 2-butoxyethanol is no longer being sprayed in the Gulf. As the New York Times noted in June:
Corexit 9527, used in lesser quantities during the earlier days of the spill response, is designated a chronic and acute health hazard by EPA. The 9527 formula contains 2-butoxyethanol, pinpointed as the cause of lingering health problems experienced by cleanup workers after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, and propylene glycol, a commonly used solvent.

Corexit 9500, described by [Nalco's spokesman] as the "sole product" Nalco has manufactured for the Gulf since late April, contains propylene glycol and light petroleum distillates, a type of chemical refined from crude oil.
Moreover, Naman said that he searched for the main ingredient in the less toxic 9500 version - propylene glycol - but there was none present. In other words, Naman found the most toxic ingredient in 9527 and did not find the chemical marker for 9500.

Since BP and Nalco say that no dispersant containing 2-butoxyethanol has been sprayed in the Gulf for many months, that either means:

(1) BP has been lying, and it is still using 2-butoxyethanol. In other words, BP is still Corexit 9527 in the Gulf

or

(2) The dispersant isn't breaking down nearly as quickly as hoped, and the more toxic form of Corexit used long ago is still present in the Gulf.

Naman told me he used EPA-approved methods for testing the sample, but that a toxicologist working for BP is questioning everything he is doing, and trying to intimidate Naman by saying that he's been asked to look into who Naman is working with.

I asked Naman if he could rule out the second possibility: that the 2-butoxyethanol he found was from a months-old applications of the more toxic version of Corexit. I assumed that he would say that, as a chemist, he could not rule out that possibility.

However, Naman told me that he went to Dauphin Island, Alabama, last night. He said that he personally saw huge 250-500 gallon barrels all over the place with labels which said:

Corexit 9527


(snip)

Naman further said he saw mercenaries dressed in all black fatigues, using gps coordinates, applying Corexit 9527 at Dauphin Island and at Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The mercenaries were "Blackwater"-type mercenaries, and Naman assumed they must have been hired either by BP or the government.

Naman also confirmed - as previously reported - that the Corexit 9527 is being sprayed at night, and that it is being applied in such a haphazard manner that undiluted 9527 is running onto beach sand.
PLEASE. Pay no attention to the irresponsible elements challenging the New Corporate Order.

Or else.

And remember, boys and girls, greed is good!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

If you can't dazzle 'em with cleanup. . . .


Some say the government is in complete disarray when it comes to dealing with the BPocalypse in the Gulf of Mexico.

I disagree.

The accusations of disarray and incompetence only stick if you assume the aim of the federal response is to protect the public and the environment. As this whole corporate catastrophe drags on and on, the less this assumption actually holds water.

From the start, though, BP's game plan has been clear -- cover up anything that will cost the oil giant money. But what one would think is the government's game plan only exists in some old textbook from high-school civics.

Instead, what we have is a federal government totally compromised by Big Oil and the political cash and Washington lobbyists in which it invests, as opposed to . . . safety measures. This means the top federal priority doesn't involve the American public or resources, but instead has everything to do with covering up its own complicity in the catastrophe.

BASICALLY, it's like this: If you can't dazzle 'em with effective regulation and governance, baffle 'em with bullshit.

Thus, the feds' whole
"Oil? What oil?" act as fishermen keep finding gobs of the stuff and researchers begin to laugh at the government's latest "science."

And now, from
The Daily Beast, comes the latest installment in our ongoing series, a little something we call If BP and the Feds Say It, You Know It's Not True:
While officials claim most of the oil from America's worst-ever spill has disappeared, fishermen hired by BP are still finding tar balls—and being instructed to hide their discoveries.

Two weeks ago, as federal officials prepared to declare that some three-quarters of the estimated 5 million barrels of oil released into the Gulf over three months had disappeared, Mark Williams, a fishing boat captain hired by BP to help with the spill cleanup, encountered tar balls as large as three inches wide floating off the Florida coast.

Reporting his findings to his supervisor, a private consulting company hired by BP, the reply, according to his logbook came back: "Told—no reporting of oil or tar balls anymore. Don't put on report. We're here for boom removal only," referring to the miles of yellow and orange containment barriers placed throughout the Gulf.

Williams' logbook account, which I inspected, and a similar account told to me by a boat captain in Mississippi, raises serious concerns about whether the toll from the spill is being accurately measured. Many institutions have an interest in minimizing accounts of the damage inflicted. The federal and local governments, under withering criticism all summer, certainly want to move on to other subjects. BP, of course, has a financial incentive.

The miraculous disappearance of the oil and the pending transfer of $20 billion to Ken Feinberg, who is independently overseeing the claims fund, have resulted in the oil giant cutting back its response operations. With a recent halving of the Vessels of Opportunity program, which hired fallow charter and commercial fishing boats, captains and deckhands are now less reticent to describe their experiences.

This includes Mark Williams, who worked in the program until he was deactivated last week. Williams' saga is typical. In May, he arrived in Alabama from Atlantic Beach, Florida, to captain a charter boat. He got one day of red snapper season before Roy Crabtree, NOAA Fisheries Southeast regional administrator, shut down the Alabama waters for fishing.

"That morning [June 1], we took a charter out to the 'Nipple' and saw what looked like a lot of grass," said Williams, referring to the part of the Gulf where the continental shelf gets very deep, a favored habitat for large fish. "When we got closer, we saw it was mattes of oil in solid slicks. By that afternoon, oil was getting in our reels. Crabtree shut down fishing the next day."

For the rest of June and much of July, Williams worked off and on as a deckhand on boats enlisted in the Vessels of Opportunity program, including a boat called Downtime that in early June first sighted tar balls and oil sheen in the Pensacola Pass.

Williams was also part of the skimming operations at Orange Beach when miles-long mattes of oil washed on to its shores the following weekend. Untrained, Williams remembers putting more than 100 pounds of oil-soaked absorbent boom in debris disposal bags that he was later told should have held no more than 20.

Subsequently, Williams saw seven large shrimp boats, with two Coast Guard vessels accompanying them, five miles off shore. "Plumes were everywhere," says Williams, referring to thin layers of crude oil floating on the water's surface. "Every time another boat would approach the shrimp boats, the Coast Guard would get on the radio and tell the boat to veer back to shore." Williams says he believes the boats were putting dispersant on the oil, even though the Coast Guard has denied using dispersant off the Florida and Alabama shores. "The plumes were gone the next day," Williams says.

Back in Florida on July 27, his boat, Mudbug, was activated into Vessels of Opportunity. While the media, BP, and the Coast Guard were reporting no more oil, Williams and other boat captains were assigned to find it.

Three days later, Williams found remnants of dispersant in a canal in Santa Rosa Sound north of Pensacola Beach. He reported it to his supervisor, who worked for a company that BP hired to help with cleanup, O'Brien's Response Management.

Williams wrote in his logbook, "Returned p.m. for check-out. [Supervisor] said, 'Oh, they sent someone out there and it was algae'—No fucking way—Idiots."

O'Brien's was founded in 1982 by Jim O'Brien, a retired Coast Guard officer, who originally called his firm O'Brien Oil Pollution Service, ironically known in the industry as "OOPS." Over the years the company has been acquired and merged with other response companies; it was hired by BP and Transocean prior to the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig as an emergency-response consultant.

On Saturday, July 31, Williams found a "tea-type" stain on the water and followed it toward Fort Pickens, which is the western tip of Pensacola Beach. He wrote in his logbook, "We found massive tar balls—both in quantity and size, in small gulley. They ranged from ping-pong ball to coconut in size not 3' from beach line."

After that, Williams was taken off spill and tar ball watch and put on boom removal. In an inlet north of Pensacola Beach, his crew sighted more tar balls. He wrote in his logbook: "Middle of Sound to off-load boom. 1" to 3" tar balls—floating—must be old—told [supervisor] at end of the day." That's when he was told not to make the report, but rather to simply gather up the boom.

“We found massive tar balls–both in quantity and size, in small gulley.”
Williams was deactivated from Vessels of Opportunity last week. Last Tuesday, the day before he was dropped, the boat captain wrote, "Coming back p.m. from Ono Island. Counted 12 oil plumes small in comparison to offshore between range marker and decon barge." This was a week after Carol Browner, a top energy adviser to President Barack Obama, announced 75 percent of the oil had been contained, evaporated, or dispersed.
I HAVE long said the last casualty of the BPocalypse will be whatever legitimacy the U.S. government has. That day draws nearer with every official lie -- with every public-relations obfuscation aimed at a public Washington desperately hopes is otherwise occupied with the misadventures of Snooki. Or cable-TV cage matches. Whatever.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln, during his unsuccessful Senate campaign against Stephen A. Douglas, famously quoted the book of Matthew when he prophesied that "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Today, I'd like to think he would say the same about a nation buried in bullshit, because it's true.

You know the saying "You are what you eat"? Well, while we might well avoid consuming BP's finest Corexit-petroleum soup du jour, it's not so easy abstaining from the fragrant entrée every segment of our society -- most notably our leaders -- put before us daily.

And that's as deadly as anything BP can spew into the Gulf of Mexico.

Monday, August 09, 2010

What we don't know won't hurt BP


We don't know what we don't know about what BP has done to the Gulf of Mexico . . . and all the fish in the sea.

And the Angel of Oily Death is happy to keep it that way.

When you're suspected of criminal acts, and surely liable for God knows how much civilly, you'd just as soon the Almighty be the only one Who knows the full extent of what you've done.

I suspect that's why BP . . . British Petroleum . . . the Angel of Oily Death . . . Those Lousy Rotten Capitalist-Pig Bastards -- whatever the hell you wish to call that destroyer of worlds -- is balking at paying for long-term testing of Gulf seafood.


THIS LITTLE THING is merely crucial in determining whether or not your oyster po-boy is going to send you to an early grave, or whether you're getting a heapin' helpin' of petroleum and Corexit with that shrimp etoufée or crab au gratin. New Orleans' WWL television reports:
State Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham says so far, BP is refusing to commit the dollars.

"BP has been slower and slower in responding to us and seems to be dragging their feet in making a commitment to fund the studies that we're going to need to ensure that this multi-billion dollar industry is viable in Louisiana," said Barham.

BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles says the company is still considering the seafood testing plan.

"Some of those requests went quite far out in time," said Suttles. "They were looking at up to 20 years. At this point in the response, it just isn't appropriate to actually look that far out."

Suttles suggests that the state look at paying for the program with money BP has already pledged to the oil spill recovery effort.

"The gulf research initiative, the $500 million we have made available to do long term impact assessments here in the gulf," said Suttles.

Secretary Barham says if BP doesn't voluntarily agree to the long term seafood testing plan, there are both criminal and civil remedies the state can use in an attempt to force BP to pay up.

It may be more and more difficult to talk to BP," said Barham. "It may be their attorneys that we're talking to."
IT'S ALL ABOUT confidence. It's about whether people are confident that Gulf seafood won't hurt them. It's about whether the Gulf fishing industry will survive or not.

But, hey! The well's no longer gushing! BP figures it's not their problem -- at least not until the law tells them it is.

And the "small people," fishermen and consumers alike, get drilled again.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Life in these United States: Shores apart

On the Jersey shore

"I'm the best thing in this town," she arrogantly declared after cops busted her for being a drunk nuisance Friday, according to an insider.


"She was bad-mouthing everyone who walked by her [in the police stationhouse]. She was saying 'I'm a star, you can't do this to me.'"

Snooki unleashed a boozed-up, expletive-filled rant after being arrested for disorderly conduct, and attempted to use her new-found fame as a "get-out-of-jail-free" card.

"You can't tell me what to do - I'm Snooki," she yelled at officers, according to witnesses. "Do you know who I am? I'm f------ Snooki. You can't do this to me. I'm f------ Snooki. You guys are going to be sorry for this. Release me!"

Not surprisingly, her harsh language didn't do the trick.

The pint-sized reality TV star was hauled away from the Jersey shore boardwalk in cuffs Friday as her oversized shades slid down her nose. A photo of her looking dishevelled with mascara running down her face while in custody also surfaced yesterday, as locals took stock of her unruly behavior and lashed out at the reality show cast.



On the Louisiana shore

"My world's been turned upside down," says Chris Wilson, a charter boat captain in Venice, La. "Our life as fishing guides and marina owners — and everybody down here. We used to fish every day. Now we ride around and look for oil, or ride people around, you know. They say we're working, they say they're paying us, but nobody's got paid yet ... I guess it's coming."

This quotation comes from photographer David Zimmerman's latest series, "Gulf Coast." A fine-art photographer based in New York and Taos, N.M., Zimmerman relocated to Louisiana just after BP's April oil spill and, for the past few months, has been using a large-format view camera to put faces to the oil spill. "For all the devastation I saw offshore," Zimmerman writes in his artist statement, "the worst of what I saw was onshore; in the faces and voices of the people who call this place home."


Monday, August 02, 2010

They died for your sins



Never has there been a more appropriately named place than Delacroix, La.

Delacroix. De la croix.

Of the cross.

Two millennia ago, civilized society hung the Son of God on a cross and killed him due to practical concerns, as recounted in John 11:
47
So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, "What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs.
48
If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation."
49
But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You
know nothing,
50

nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish."
51
He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
52
and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.
53
So from that day on they planned to kill him.
TWO MILLENNIA LATER, modern, industrial society hung Delacroix, its people and their way of life on a modern, industrial cross and killed it due to practical concerns, as recounted in The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune:
On a blustery spring day, Delacroix native Lloyd Serigne stands on the banks of Bayou Terre aux Boeufs, 30 miles south of New Orleans, talking about the village that raised him in the 1950s. Reaching into a deep well of memories, he paints an idyllic picture: A community of several hundred fishers, farmers and trappers whose homes were surrounded by a wetlands paradise of high ridges, marshes and swamps. The outside world -- unwanted, unneeded -- seemed a thousand miles away.

But the scene surrounding him only mocks that vision.

Naked slabs and raw pilings that once supported homes stand like tombstones in open, soggy ground. Bare tree trunks rise from a salt marsh that used to be a vegetable field. Battered home appliances, ice chests and derelict boats litter the bank while a high tide moves through the remains of a hardwood forest. And a steady stream of heavy equipment heads down the road to fight the invasion of BP's oil.

None of it matches memories that seem as sharp as yesterday's news.

"Really, what we had here was a paradise -- a natural paradise," Serigne, 70, says with a smile of fond remembrance. He pauses to shake his head, a gesture half of wonder, half of despair.

"But when I try to tell the young people about this, they just stare at me like I'm crazy. They just can't imagine what was here such a short time ago.

"And now it's gone. Just gone."
DELACROIX. It died for your sins -- or, more specifically, for your SUV and all your stuff. A people, a culture and a now-gone landscape have born a cross of our society's making.

And the blood of people, cultures and whole places that are no more is upon us and our children . . . and our avarice.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not safe for work . . . or most places


This is what social activism has come to in a country with the manners of Attila and the mind of Forrest Gump.

Where every single person is on the make.

And, no, this online ad
(as you no doubt can tell from the title) is not safe for work. Or for in front of the kids. Or for most places where people might be offended by a 5-year-old dropping the F-bomb.

I MEAN, that is just so fu . . . well, you know.

But, hey! A whopping five bucks out of the $13 price of every T-shirt goes to a charity devoted to "unf***ing the Gulf." And people get to go online and vote on what charities to fund.

They'll probably end up funding free prostitutes for oil-spill cleanup workers. Somehow, that would be fitting . . . or at least in character for this fine example of Social Activism for Loutish Dummies.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Un cri du coeur en Louisiane


God bless her heart, but the Rush Limbaughs of the world are going to savage poor Cherri Foytlin of Rayne, La.


For that matter, the "progressive" Democrats are, too, because her husband is politically incorrect enough to make his living -- scratch that . . . to have made his living -- as an ordinary working stiff in the oil industry.

In America 2.0, people are supposed to
like it when they get screwed over and, as a result, face financial ruin. Because they're taking one for the great god capitalism and "rugged individualism" . . . or environmentalism . . . or something like that. I forget.

What I think is this: If Obama is going to dither and jaw, foul up the oil cleanup, then -- to top it off -- try to kill the domestic oil industry in the Gulf, he damned well ought to have to face the consequences of his actions like a man. And then do something about it.

Poor Cherri, she believed in the system. Cynicism is something best eased into, as opposed to having it foisted upon you all at once.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The cleanup worker is a WHAT?


I imagine many of us figured this would be coming down the pike at some point in Oil Spill Nation.

The scene: Our intrepid MSNBC.com reporter makes her way to Grand Isle, La., where, amid the oil, she finds cleanup workers. Most of them black. Plopped down amid seething, resentful locals in a small town in the Deep South.

Can you imagine what happens?


ACTUALLY, it doesn't take much imagination at all:

To hear it from permanent residents of this tiny town at the southernmost edge of the bayou, the community is under siege. Not only did the massive oil spill in the Gulf force an abrupt halt to age-old routines dictated mainly by fishing, but the cleanup up effort has brought an army of workers from "outside."

"It’s a drastic change for us, especially in our marinas. It’s all workers," said Sheriff Euris DuBois. "The biggest change is we don’t know them. They are a different nature."

Grand Isle has only about 1,500 permanent residents, most born here, said DuBois. They are accustomed to a large influx of families who own the cottages – or "camps" that line the beachfront. But this year, with the beaches off limits and fishing shut down, most of these perennial tourists have stayed away.

Instead there are an estimated 5,000 cleanup workers – from Texas, New Jersey, Alabama and elsewhere. The workers are all male, and the vast majority are black.

That alone is a shock here. The town has only one black permanent resident, said DuBois, and no black tourists that he can recall.

"And they congregate!" a waitress named Jane told diners from out of town as she described the situation, repeating rumors that there was also a rash of theft and violence. "It’s bad to where our pastor on Sunday warned the congregation to lock their doors."

Some black workers report they have had a cool reception.

"I don’t go out here. I am not welcome," said a worker from Houston who only gave his first name, John. Asked why he felt unwelcome, he said wryly, "uh, just a teeny bit of racism."

A co-worker chimed in: "They gouge us (on rent). They don’t want us here," he said. "But we just do the work cleaning up their environment."
IT WOULD SEEM that Tony Hayward isn't the only one around with no public-relations sense. Then again, the BP chief isn't the one with his hand out here.
"They don’t like any of us," said a captain from New Jersey who is running a boat in the cleanup.

"It's not just blacks. It’s Yankees, and everybody who is not from Grand Isle," he said, giving only his first name, Mike.
SMALL TOWNS can be something else. Small towns in the recesses of the Gret Stet of Loosiana can be something else even by "something else" standards.

And
In the Heat of the Night is always playing somewhere. Well, that or Blazing Saddles.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A foundation of . . . sand


Oh, what a tangled web he weaves when Bobby Jindal first practices to deceive.


Here's a good one, from an op-ed piece the Louisiana governor had today
in The (Shreveport) Times:

When booms did begin to arrive, it was too little and too late in many areas, so we proposed a 24-segment sand berm plan to protect our shoreline by using the natural framework of our barrier islands to help block and trap oil for collection before it gets into our marshes. Even after we demonstrated the effectiveness of sand berms, it took us weeks to convince the Coast Guard to approve even six segments from this plan, and then longer for us to force BP to fund the work.

In what has now become a pattern, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife shut down our dredging operations on the northern Chandeleurs
[sic] Islands recently where we had already created 4,000 feet of land to protect our interior wetlands from oil impact, and indeed it has already worked to stop oil. A U.S. Department of Interior official said they were worried that our dredging operations would hurt a bird habitat nearby. The only problem with that is we were dredging in a permitted area in open water and there isn't a place for a bird to land for a mile.
IN THE PHOTO above, you can see all the earth-moving equipment several feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico, atop one of the governor's "effective" sand berms.

The trouble with building sand berms in the middle of the ocean, however, is that the waves wash them away absent something to hold them together -- riprap, or grasses and other vegetation, for example. Obviously, nothing's holding these berms together.


ABOVE is one of the berms off the Chandeleur Islands on June 25. Next is that same berm July 2, photographed from a higher altitude.


AND THEN . . . last week. Even accounting for the possibility of a really high tide, that doesn't look like engineering success -- or an effective oil-spill barrier.


YOU UNDERSTAND the need to try even iffy propositions, given the urgency here and the consequences of doing absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, the chance of doing anything useful on the Louisiana coast is diminished by the Mexican standoff between the dithering, incompetent Obama Administration and the hyperventilating, mau-mauing (and clueless) tag team of Jindal and the perpetually apoplectic president of Plaquemines Parish, Billy Nungesser.

I had wanted to think the best of folks like Nungesser and Jindal in this, even though I see Jindal as, alas, an even bigger disaster as governor than Kathleen Blanco. In short, I've been away from Louisiana long enough that my Spidey senses have atrophied some.

In other words, I f***ed up. I trusted that a collection of Louisiana politicians couldn't be that stupid or --
alternatively -- cynical.

READ for yourself what Discovery.com had to say Monday about what a boondoggle this is, a news item based on a retired professor's blog post. And reflect now that this crew is all about building giant rock jetties across an inlet by Grand Isle.
A dramatic series of of aerial images show that plans to build artificial islands to block oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill from reaching Louisiana's sensitive marshland appear to be crumbling. Literally.

Two months ago, against the advice of many coastal scientists, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal began furiously campaigning for the construction of six artificial islands to hold back the advancing oil. The federal government quickly granted Jindal his wish, and construction on the islands has been continuing apace.

But images taken of one construction site near the northern edge of the Chandeleur islands appear to show the sea washing away a giant sand berm over the course of about two weeks.

The first image . . . was taken on June 25. The second and third . . . were taken from roughly the same vantage point on July 2 and 7. All three images were first published yesterday by coastal scientist Leonard Bahr on his blog, LACoastPost.

Bahr, a former researcher at Louisiana State University, spent 18 years in the governor's office, advising five administrations on their coastal policy.

"There have been a number of plans over 20 years to save the coast," he said. "But after Katrina, it morphed into 'coastal protection,' which gives me pause."

The crucial difference is that within the Jindal administration, coastal policy has been cast as a war between man and the sea. Plans have been devised to build massive levees and other earthworks to defend the Mississippi River delta and its marshes from the Gulf of Mexico.

(snip)

"Building what they call 'the Louisiana wall' makes sense at first, but the science doesn't support it," Bahr said. "The science should be leading this issue, but it isn't. It never has."

Unfortunately, the berms project has charged ahead in this vein, seeking to build (and spend hundreds of millions of dollars) first, and ask questions later.

LET ME say again: I was wrong. And CNN and Anderson Cooper are just as wrong -- probably more so -- for giving mau-mauers like Jindal and Nungesser a nightly pass to swamp unsuspecting viewers with pure propaganda when they no more know their ass from a hole in the ground than do Obama's nincompoop bureaucrats.

Then again, these Yankees can be forgiven, I suppose, for not knowing the score. I should have known better, that Louisianians -- particularly their elected officials -- have an almost limitless capacity for losing their s*** in a crisis. This almost always results in people running around, wild-eyed, saying crazy things and doing things even crazier.

Remember Ray Nagin's and police chief Eddie Compass' blood-curdling-yet-utterly-false reports about all the rapes and murders in the Superdome after Katrina? And the FBI is still cleaning up the aftermath of New Orleans cops killing innocent civilians in Algiers and on the Danziger Bridge.

God knows what fresh hell will come out of this one-two punch of federal deadheads and Louisiana pieces o' work.