Tag Archives: Gulf Oil Spill

A Stain That Won’t Wash Away – NYTimes.com

20 Apr

The problem then (and perhaps now) is that it is the slow pileup of factors that causes an industrial disaster. Poor decisions are usually made incrementally by a range of people with differing levels of responsibility, and almost always behind a shield of plausible deniability. It makes it almost impossible to pin one clear-cut bad call on a single manager, which is partly why no BP official has ever been held criminally accountable.

Instead, the corporation is held accountable. It isn’t clear that charging the company repeatedly with misdemeanors and felonies has accomplished anything.

At more than $30 billion and climbing, the amount BP has paid out so far for reparations, lawsuits and cleanup dwarfs the roughly $8 billion that Exxon had to pay after its 1989 spill in Prince William Sound in Alaska. And BP will very likely still pay billions more before this is finished.

And yet it is not enough. Two years after analysts questioned whether the extraordinary cost and loss of confidence might drive BP out of business, it has come roaring back. It collected more than $375 billion in 2011, pocketing $26 billion in profits.

What the gulf spill has taught us is that no matter how bad the disaster (and the environmental impact), the potential consequences have never been large enough to dissuade BP from placing profits ahead of prudence. That might change if a real person was forced to take responsibility — or if the government brought down one of the biggest hammers in its arsenal and banned the company from future federal oil leases and permits altogether. Fines just don’t matter.

via A Stain That Won’t Wash Away – NYTimes.com.

Investigation: Two Years After the BP Spill, A Hidden Health Crisis Festers | The Nation

19 Apr

This article is a horror story of health problems following the Gulf oil spill. Many/most of the afflicted people will probably never be compensated.

It will take years to determine the actual number of affected people. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), with financial support from BP, is conducting several multiyear health impact studies, which are only just getting under way. I spoke with all but one of the studies’ national and Gulf Coast directors. “People were getting misdiagnosed for sure,” says Dr. Edward Trapido, director of two NIEHS studies on women’s and children’s health and associate dean for research at the Louisiana State University School of Public Health. “Most doctors simply didn’t know what questions to ask or what to look for.” There are only two board-certified occupational physicians in Louisiana, according to Trapido, and only one also board-certified as a toxicologist: Dr. James Diaz, director of the Environmental and Occupa-tional Health Sciences Program at Louisiana State University.

Diaz calls the BP spill a toxic “gumbo of chemicals” to which the people, places and wildlife of the Gulf continue to be exposed.

via Investigation: Two Years After the BP Spill, A Hidden Health Crisis Festers | The Nation.

Eyeless Shrimp and the BP Oil Spill – National – The Atlantic Wire

18 Apr

It happened almost exactly two years ago, and as much good news as you read about the return of tourism and the spending of BP’s money to help the recovery efforts, some major problems remain.

We’re most concerned about the eyeless shrimp…. In other parts of the Gulf, fisherman are finding fish covered in black lesions and even dead dolphins floating in the water. Eyeless shrimp or killifish covered in oil-colored spots serve as cringeworthy reminders of how even a small amount of leftover contaminant can do huge amounts of damage to local lifeforms.

But you don’t even have to eat mutant fish to be affected by the spill. A new report by the non-BP-funded Surfrider Foundation shows that humans swimming in the Gulf are soaking up the chemical that BP used to disperse the oil right after the spill.

via Eyeless Shrimp and the BP Oil Spill – National – The Atlantic Wire.

Gulf Dolphins Exposed to Oil Are Seriously Ill, Agency Says – NYTimes.com

24 Mar

Dolphins in Barataria Bay off Louisiana, which was hit hard by the BP oil spill in 2010, are seriously ill, and their ailments are probably related to toxic substances in the petroleum, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggested on Friday.

As part of an ongoing assessment of damages caused by the three-month spill, which began with an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, NOAA scientists performed comprehensive physicals last summer on 32 dolphins from the bay. They found problems like drastically low weight, low blood sugar and, in some cases, cancer of the liver and lungs.

Yet the most common symptom among the dolphins, found in about half the group, was an abnormally low level of stress hormones like cortisol. Such hormones regulate many functions in the animal, including the immune system and responses to threats. Scientists said the dearth of hormones suggested that the animals were suffering from adrenal insufficiency.

via Gulf Dolphins Exposed to Oil Are Seriously Ill, Agency Says – NYTimes.com.