Activist, mother, and voice of the Gulf people, Kindra Arnesen sat down with the Project Gulf Impact team, Matt Smith, Heather Rally, and Gavin Garrison recently to reveal shocking new information about the BP oil disaster and why the whole world should be paying attention to the Gulf. A must watch for anyone wanting new information on the Gulf of Mexico, she reveals shocking new information sure to send waves through the country.
She describes the health problems experienced by the people exposed to the cleanup chemicals, and says the cleanup operations stopped when the camera crews went away. Heartbreaking.
Even though the owner of my favorite local bistro assures me the seafood they serve is safe, she's not sure where it's from. I know she's only repeating what her seafood purveyor tells her -- and he's only repeating what the fishermen are telling him. All I know is, I'm still not ready to eat anything from the Gulf:
A New Orleans law firm is challenging government assurances that Gulf Coast seafood is safe to eat in the wake of the BP oil spill, saying it poses “a significant danger to public health.”
It’s a high-stakes tug-of-war that will almost certainly end up in the courts, with two armies of scientists arguing over technical findings that could have real-world impact for seafood consumers and producers.
Citing what the law firm calls a state-of-the-art laboratory analysis, toxicologists, chemists and marine biologists retained by the firm of environmental attorney Stuart Smith contend that the government seafood testing program, which has focused on ensuring the seafood was free of the cancer-causing components of crude oil, has overlooked other harmful elements. And they say that their own testing — examining fewer samples but more comprehensively — shows high levels of hydrocarbons from the BP spill that are associated with liver damage.
“What we have found is that FDA simply overlooked an important aspect of safety in their protocol,” contends William Sawyer, a Florida-based toxicologist on Smith’s team. “We now have a sufficient number of samples to provide FDA with probable cause to include such testing, really. They need to go back and test some of their archived samples as well.”
Post-wellcapping reports of "missing" oil contributed to message failure by giving the impression that Obama's administration simply wanted the oil to vanish from media attention, and was therefore declaring "Mission Accomplished." The White House certainly could have done better. Steadily-climbing spill estimates should have been avoided by coming up with two or three scenarios and publicly crossing fingers. Widespread reports of BP harrassing, intimidating, and banishing reporters from beaches invited all the wrong comparisons to Katrina and Bush.
It really wasn't a fair fight. BP has practiced this scenario many times in the global south: corporate message-makers deny, minimize, and suborn state agencies. The EPA is in such a state of deep capture after three decades of anti-government governance that it lacked power to stop BP from inserting a Corexit spout directly into the flow of oil. BP also had the tools, personnel, and resources to deal with the blowout, whereas the United States government did not. Without any real way to produce results in the Gulf, White House message-men took advantage of the Beltway preference for narrative over things like fluid dynamics and chemistry. The facts?! Who cares...
And so we all wonder about missing oil instead of learning anything. See how that works? Much more after the jump and this very non-metal video:
This is disturbing news, via Florida Oil Spill Law. If toxic levels of Corexit are making people sick in Florida, that's not good:
“Our heads are still swimming,” stated Barbara Schebler of Homosassa, Florida, who received word last Friday that test results on the water from her family’s swimming pool showed 50.3 ppm of 2-butoxyethanol, a marker for
the dispersant Corexit 9527A used to break up and sink BP’s oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
The problems began for the Scheblers a few weeks after the April 20 blow-out. “Our first clue were rashes we both got early in May. Both my husband and I couldn’t get rid of the rashes and had to get cream from our doctor,” Schebler noted, “I never had a rash in my life.”Then, on “July , my husband Warren mowed the lawn. It was hot so he got in the pool to cool off afterward. That afternoon he had severe diarrhea and very dark urine. This lasted about 2 days,” she revealed.
Initially, they reasoned this was caused by the heat. The following week Mr. Schebler again mowed the lawn and went in the pool, and again he was sickened with the same severe symptoms.Suspicious that the pool may be a problem, the family set out to get the water tested. “We have a 15 year old and felt we owed it to him to live in a clean, healthy environment,” said Mrs. Schebler.
The Scheblers found Robert Naman, a Mobile, Alabama chemist who’s performed multiple tests (1, 2, 3) for WKRG Channel 5, also out of Mobile.“Warren collected a water sample from the pool filter on August 17th… packed the sample according to Mr. Naman’s instructions, and overnighted it to his Mobile, Ala. lab that same day,” she noted.
The results were delivered by Naman over the phone on August 27 at 11:00 a.m. EDT. A copy of the findings were then e-mailed to the Scheblers. To view the document, click here.“Naman [said] our pool water sample we sent him contained 50.3 ppm [parts per million] 2-butoxyethanol marker for Corexit,” according to Mrs. Schebler. Tests for arsenic came back at less than .02 ppm.
A July letter from four top scientists noted, “Corexit 9527A contains 2-BTE (2-butoxyethanol), a toxic solvent that ruptures red blood cells, causing hemolysis (bleeding) and liver and kidney damage (Johanson and Bowman, 1991, Nalco, 2010).”The safety data sheet provided by Nalco, the manufacturer of Corexit 9527A, warns, “Harmful if absorbed through skin. May be harmful if swallowed. May cause liver and kidney effects and/or damage. There may be irritation to the gastro-intestinal tract.
”Mr. Schebler’s “severe diarrhea and very dark urine” appear to indicate gastro-intestinal tract irritation.BP Press Officer Daren Beaudo released a statement on August 28 that reads, “Unified Command records indicate that the last date of use of the Corexit 9527 was May 22,” almost three months before the samples were taken from the pool.
Yet, the Schebler’s report is the second time in the last 10 days that the 2-butoxyethanol marker for Corexit 9527A has been discovered near the Gulf. It has also been found near the Florida border in Cotton Bayou, AL, at about 1/4 the level as in Homosassa, FL. A WKRG segment from August 19 featured an inland water sample that tested for 13.3 ppm of the Corexit dispersant.The question remains, how did this chemical find its way into the Schebler’s pool in such a high concentration?
“At night we would hear very low aircraft, including helicopters. We figured they were just heading to help out in the Gulf,” and Mrs. Schebler added that she was told, “The prevailing winds from the Gulf are easterly — and when they spray, it is airborne — and that we are right in the path of those winds.” It was also noted that, “We had a lot of rain here before my husband got sick, and wondered what was going on… We had been having daily downpours in July.”
That's how Phillipe Cousteau, Jr. described the situation under water in the Gulf. He and ABC reporter Sam Champion shot the footage above about 25 miles off the Louisiana coast in the center of the oil slick that has reached the surface.
One of the reasons for the dive was to see if BP's application of the dispersant Corexit was effective or more harmful. I'm not sure that question was answered, but there's no doubt left about the toxicity of the area. It's dangerously toxic to any living thing. Cousteau and Champion had to be hosed off and "degreased" before removing their hazmat suits. Lucky them. Unfortunately, marine life and birds don't have a similar option.
The Corexit website claims the dispersant works by breaking the oil into tiny droplets. From their front page:
When the COREXIT dispersants are deployed on the spilled oil, the oil is broken up into tiny bio-degradable droplets that immediately sink below the surface where they continue to disperse and bio-degrade. This quickly removes the spilled oil from surface drift…reducing direct exposure to birds, fish and sea animals in the spill environment. By keeping the oil from adhering to wildlife COREXIT dispersants effectively protect the environment.
Oil clearly adhered to Champion and Cousteau, so I'm a little confused about that claim, even though they had hazmat suits and not feathers. But even more than that, Cousteau has a point when he says that breaking up the oil into droplets means it has more points of entry into the fish and other wildlife than it might otherwise.
Nalco, the manufacturer of Corexit, has responded to claims of environmental Armaggedon with a special statement about the properties of their dispersant. In the long run, history will prove the truth of their claims, I expect.
Top Kill: Working or not?
As I write this at 4:30pm, BP has stopped their Top Kill effort because more mud is escaping along with oil than they expected.
The more I read, the less optimistic I am about this technique working.
A 2004 Texas A&M Study (PDF) commissioned by the MMS looked at the problem of a deep water blowout where oil is flowing outside of the blowout preventers. It's interesting to note that they didn't even consider a catastrophic failure of the blowout preventer itself, as is the case here. They're not very optimistic, at least in their intro:
In failure scenarios where there has been a catastrophic failure either of the surface equipment, the wellhead system or high casing, or at almost any point where influx is flowing outside of the blowout preventers, options become very rapidly non-existent. Even higher-horsepower ROVs can do little but stay outside an area of turbulence, and visibility could well be reduced anyway. Mudline mechanical intervention becomes an impossibility at this point with present tools and techniques. Specifically, there are no tools available which can hold station in a blowout with influx moving through the desired intervention area. ROVs also do not possess the horsepower required to consider some of the work tasks involved in a given scenario, particularly when affecting repairs on damaged blowout preventers.
The authors have a pretty dim view of the "Top Kill" technique, calling it the "least desirable of the blowout control alternatives (p.195). If the mixture isn't set in the right place, it won't be effective and the only solution will be to drill a relief well to relieve the pressure, which would take months.
We're all locked in a battle where fear fights to overtake hope. It's a horrible situation, and BP is looking worse than ever.
At the end of the Texas A&M report section on blowout simulation, there's a blunt reality for BP.
Causes for blowouts vary widely, however there is a constant. The majority of blowouts can be attributed to complacent, careless drilling practices.
Careless drilling practices. Outdated technologies. Drilling on the edge of the precipice of the Continental Shelf. Arrogant regulators working in a system where regulation was something to scoff at, not take seriously. As usual, the victims are many, from dolphins to the humans who lost their lives on that rig.
It is, indeed a nightmare. I just hope it's not a recurrent nightmare.