America’s Gulf: A Toxic Crime Scene – by Stephen Lendman
On August 4, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a Department of Commerce agency, reported that:
“The vast majority of the oil from the BP oil spill has either evaporated or been burned, skimmed, recovered from the wellhead or dispersed, much of which is in the process of being degraded….this is the direct result of the robust federal response efforts.”
The same day at an AFL/CIO convention, Obama hailed the news, saying “the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end.”
False. From the start, the Obama administration conspired with BP, imposing censorship and cover-up, barring the public and news media from coming within 65 feet of clean-up of “booming operations, boom, or oil spill response operations under penalty of law” without Coast Guard-authorized permission.
The agency is a virtual BP arm, now retired Admiral Thad Allen its de facto representative as National Incident Commander, doing its bidding, suppressing the disaster’s severity, including enforcing the FAA’s mid-June announced no-fly zone, not needed if there was nothing to hide. There’s plenty, why journalists and other violators faced up to five years in prison and a $40,000 fine for telling the truth, now mostly hidden, not gone.
On August 4, responding to NOAA, Kieran Suckling, executive director of Center for Biological Diversity said the following:
“The overly rosy tone of (NOAA’s) report may leave the false impression that this crisis is somehow nearing an end. But much of the oil that the government refers to has simply been broken apart and remains in the ecosystem. It’s like taking separated salad dressing and shaking up the bottle so the oil and vinegar mix. You may not be able to see (it), but it’s there.”
“That unseen oil, though, is what will foul the Gulf for years, (perhaps generations), eating away at the basic elements of the food chain that are the building blocks for fisheries, birds, sea turtles and mammal populations.”
Louisiana State University (LSU) biological oceanographer Robert Carney says scientists are finding plenty of oil, under Louisiana islands, beneath Florida beaches, and in unseen ocean reaches.
Biological oceanographers Markus Huettel and Joel Kostka discovered large oil swaths up to two feet deep on a “cleaned” Pensacola beach. With little oxygen, it’ll remain for decades. It gets trapped underground when tiny droplets penetrate porous sand or when waves wash it ashore, burying it. Huettel explained further that previous oil under beaches migrates into groundwater, causing hazards to wildlife and humans, not knowing what they’re drinking is contaminated.
He noted also that deep sea spills are “unchartered territory,” dispersants for the first time used at depths down to 5,000 feet, settling oil on the seafloor, the mixture suspended and preserved, causing long-term harm for deep-sea animals, and disrupting a large part of the food chain.
University of South Florida (USF) chemical oceanographer David Hollander is also alarmed, calling the 75% claim “ludicrous.” USF scientists and Vernon Asper, University of Southern Mississippi oceanographer, were “lambasted” by NOAA and Coast Guard officials when they reported a giant undersea plume, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco telling them to stop “speculating” when, according to Asper, “We had solid evidence, rock solid.”
Hollander said “What we learned completely changes the idea of what an oil spill is. It has gone from a two-dimensional disaster to a three-dimensional catastrophe,” NOAA and other government agencies enforcing cover-up, denial, and distorted media reports.
On August 8, Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy Director Carol Browner told NBC’s Meet the Press that “the vast majority of oil is gone.” On the same day, Thad Allen, on CBS’ Face the Nation, congratulated BP for a job well done, criticizing only its PR errors, smoothing the way to end the oil drilling moratorium, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation Director Michael Bromwich saying expect it “significantly in advance of November 30.”
Hazardous Toxins Threaten Gulf Coast Residents
Combined with millions of gallons of Corexit, a deadly dispersant, the mix is extremely toxic and dangerous, the Gulf poisoned and potentially lethal for decades, perhaps generations. Nothing in it should be ingested, nor is living close by safe, what BP, Washington and the major media won’t explain. As a result, the health and welfare of millions of residents are at risk as well as anyone eating Gulf seafood. Responsible federal and state officials would ban it. Instead the all-clear’s been given. Don’t be fooled.
Marine toxicologist Riki Ott said if she lived in the area with children, she’d leave. On July 31, she flew over affected parts of the Gulf with a documentary filmmaker and local shrimper, a man who grew up the area, fearing his livelihood was destroyed, saying:
“I’ve fished in all these waters – everywhere you can see. It’s all oiled. This is the worst I’ve seen. This is a heartbreak….”
At low altitudes, oil was visible everywhere, despite most of it submerged. “As far as we could see: Oil….The official story does not match the reality (below or what local residents report). BP has created a Frankenstein.”
Minimally, over 44,000 square miles of ocean are contaminated, an area comparable to Ohio or Pennsylvania. Some estimates say nearly 80,000, more than Florida and Massachusetts combined, the health hazard immense, the waters causing “internal bleeding and hemorrhaging in workers and dolphins alike,” according to senior EPA analyst Hugh Kaufman, a rare responsible official.
On Democracy Now, he accused BP and the administration of cover-up and deceit, including using dispersants “to hide the volume of oil that has been released,” far more than official reports, to save BP up to billions in fines. “That’s the purpose of using dispersants, not to protect the public health or environment. Quite the opposite.”
After 9/11, Kaufman was ombudsman investigator for Ground Zero, exposing EPA lies about air safety, causing widespread illnesses and death, seeing a repeat for Gulf residents, “EPA administrators saying the air is safe and the water is safe.”
False, because of “dispersants mixed with oil and air pollution.” The official lie endangers tens of thousands, maybe millions, retired toxicologist and forensic chemist John Laseter explaining that the oil-solvent mix sticks on biological tissue, wreaking havoc.
Dispersants make oil penetrate more deeply into skin, a “delivery system” into the anatomies of humans and wildlife, the combination more deadly than either alone, some observers believing far greater quantities of dispersants have been used than reported, J. Speer Williams for one in his July 22 Rense.com article titled “Who Killed The Gulf?” accessed through the following link:
Explaining the ongoing dark side of a disturbing story, Williams cites Christopher Reddy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution associate scientist of marine chemistry and geochemistry saying BP used one million BARRELS of Corexit or 42 million gallons, not the two million gallons reported, some reports claiming less. If he’s right, the toxicity and long-term threat far exceed the worst estimates of reliable scientists, a hellish nightmare for the entire Gulf coast area, Dr. Seth Forman and others comparing Corexit to Agent Orange, the deadly defoliant used in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Millions of gallons were sprayed with devastating effects, its deadly dioxin one of the most toxic known substances, a potent carcinogenic human immune system suppressant. It accumulates in adipose tissue and the liver, alters living cell structures, causes congenital disorders and birth defects, and contributes to diseases like cancer and type two diabetes. In the 1960s and 70s, it affected millions exposed, Southeast Asians and Americans alike. Expect a repeat today, what BP, the administration and media suppress.
Hugh Kaufman sees tens of thousands of Gulf coast residents at risk and anyone eating the seafood. They’ll “end up with cancer, genetic mutations, or some other mysterious unexplained illnesses (years later).”
After the Exxon Valdez disaster, most workers and others exposed to dispersants and oil died young, their average age about 50, another shocking story never reported, a window into the far greater calamity ahead, the Gulf catastrophe infinitely greater, the equivalent of three – four Exxon Valdez incidents a week, using Exxon’s 11 million gallon figure. The state of Alaska’s conservative estimate was over 30 million gallons, also unreported.
Today, independent scientists report hazardous levels of oil and dispersants in the Gulf, ashore, and in the air, including carcinogenic benzene and oil vapors (Volatile Organic Compounds – VOCs), as early as 1948, the American Petroleum Institute saying, “The only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero.”
Now it’s off the charts contaminating a wide area, one element in a deadly toxic brew, the administration and BP claiming the threat is over, the environment safe, normality fast returning – the official lie, the Obama administration fronting for BP, complicit in its crimes, contributing to a greater disaster instead of preventing it by enforcing responsible policies in the first place, ones absent, assuring other calamities from future oil drilling operations, especially offshore in deep water, where technology and safety concerns haven’t kept up with the rush to plunge deep holes in the earth, damn the hazards and millions of lives at risk.
The lives and livelihoods of Gulf residents are at risk, the entire area economically damaged, BP establishing a paltry $20 billion compensation fund for victims, containing a slim $3 billion deposit, the idea being to help BP, not them, claims czar Kenneth Feinberg appointed to assure it, a man notorious for serving wealth and power interests.
Earlier, he managed a similar account for 9/11 victims, then later was appointed pay czar for bailed out Wall Street banks and other companies. Like BP ombudsman Stanley Sporkin, he’s a notorious “fixer,” fronting for power, not people, earlier negotiating a lawsuit settlement for Agent Orange producers, benefitting them, not affected veterans, getting $1,200 not to litigate.
He later performed similar services for AH Robins, maker of the Dalkon Shield, injuring 235,000 women with potentially lethal pelvic infections, a settlement giving most of them $725 or less.
He’s now point man in charge of doing to Gulf residents what he did earlier, saving corporate criminals billions, getting victims to waive their right to sue in return for amounts too meager to matter. In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, he said:
“When I go to the Gulf, I hear a lot about the underground economy. ‘Mr. Feinberg, I got paid $5,000 a month all cash. Do I have a claim?’ Well, you have to prove your claim. There’s nothing illegal about all cash business, but do you have your tax return….Do you have documentary evidence….Will your ship captain vouch for the $5,000….I need something. I can’t be paying claims that can’t be proven. And I can tell you that this is going to be a big issue.”
Indeed it will, reports confirming Feinberg on BP’s payroll, his mandate being to deny, deny, deny, or pay minimum amounts, mostly in lump sums, victims waiving their right to litigate, even those losing livelihoods and years of lost income.
Washington is corporate-occupied territory, politicians bribed with millions of dollars, favors, and lucrative revolving door jobs out of office. As long as a government/industry cabal runs America, wealth and power interests alone will matter, letting companies like BP destroy the environment, our welfare and lives, expendable for greater profits, assured under Democrats and Republicans, two wings of the money party.
On May 4, National Geographic asked if the “Gulf Oil Spill (was) a ‘Dead Zone in the Making,’ ” saying if it can’t be contained it could happen. An early August update explained that beneath the surface lies:
“a turbid cloud of stirred-up sediment and dead sea creatures. Flaccid jellyfish floated on the flat currents of tiny corpses. On the sea bottom the waters were gray and terribly empty. No coral, no fish, no algae, nothing but the noxious oily streaks of red tides and lethal plankton blooms. Everything in this 7,000 square-mile zone (the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined) has died from lack of oxygen. It (was) if every person in a city were suddenly sucked dry of air and suffocated….”
Other researchers agree, saying the Gulf’s dead zone doubled in the last year, and may be larger than estimated. Caused by hypoxia (low oxygen levels), it stretches across the Mississippi River Delta along Louisiana’s coastline into Texas. According to the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, it’s the world’s second largest and growing, covering about 7,700 square miles, an area nearly the size of New Jersey. Marine biologists attribute it to oil and dispersants, as well as nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer runoffs, soil erosion, animal wastes, sewage, and seasonal weather, notably hurricanes and floods.
They occur globally, but the Gulf’s approaches the largest ever recorded in 1985 at just over 8,000 square miles, some scientists believing that number’s been eclipsed but not verified, most reputable ones agreeing that a vast area has been poisoned, creating alarming hazards for wildlife and millions of people. It’ll be years before the full impact is known, but it’s guaranteed to be catastrophic.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.