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Disaster in Gulf - The Aftermath

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Disaster in the Gulf-5-18-2011

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A House Divided

Louisianans, One Year After the Spill

Following the news about the Gulf of Mexico one year after the Deepwater Horizon disaster can be like reading “A Tale of Two Places.” The ocean, the wetlands, the fish, and the birds are recovering, according to some people. Others say the mess left at the bottom of the sea by the BP blowout threatens to wreak havoc on the ocean food web for years to come. Most people, we hear, are all right. Or, we are told, some are getting sick.

Which tale is true? For many Gulf residents, especially those from Louisiana, the state hardest hit by the spill, the answer might be Both.

The choice of what to say about the BP spill reveals a tension between the private narratives Louisianans tell themselves and their families and the public narratives they share with the rest of the world. Many Louisianans express frustration at the national media’s habit of showing images of oiled birds and dead dolphins; it only depresses tourist bookings and seafood sales, they complain. Other Louisianans say the pictures of destruction are necessary, a way to hold BP accountable for its actions; there’s no use jumping on what one local wit dubbed “The Streetcar Named Denial.”

The tough decisions about how to describe the spill reflect Louisianans’ split loyalties, which are divided between the fishing culture – the heart of the state’s identity – and the oil industry, the backbone of its economy. Since the 1930s, the two have been intimately connected: Many fishermen work the rigs in the off-season, and some of the best fishing spots are found near abandoned platforms, where sea life flourishes. In Louisiana, there’s nothing odd about celebrating the annual Shrimp and Petroleum Festival.

The tension is exacerbated by the widespread resentment over BP’s settlement process. Out of the $20 billion set aside for damage claims, only $3.4 billion has been disbursed by settlement czar Kenneth Feinberg. Some fishermen have been made whole. Others have received nothing. In New Orleans, dishwashers at restaurants unaffected by the spill have received $10,000 checks. Louisianans say the system is opaque, arbitrary, and just plain unfair. There are complaints about the sudden appearance of “Spillionaires.”

Then there’s the issue of the spill’s impact on the health of shoreline communities. Residents whisper darkly about a “Gulf Plague” – odd ailments and illnesses, especially among those involved in the cleanup effort. On YouTube, there are legions of videos featuring fishermen and cleanup workers describing their health problems. Yet not until this March did federal officials decide to launch a long-range study of Gulf residents’ health. While some Louisianans warn of a coverup, others snicker at the conspiracy theories of those they’ve branded “Gulf Truthers.” The pendulum of public opinion swings between paranoia and the glib assurances of the Pollyannas. One local calls it “analysis paralysis.”

The swirl of rumors, the logjam of lawsuits, the annoyance with national reporters who parachuted into the area on April 20 and left the very next day – all of it has cooked into a gumbo of cynicism. If the feelings of Louisianans a year after BP’s disaster seem contradictory, that’s because they are. They are contradictory just like the pain of life, the pain of a place and a people that are wounded. The stories of those wounds can be hard to convey to outsiders. Which is why it’s best to let Louisianans speak for themselves.

photo of a man speaking on a dock near fishing gear

The Sportsman

As the editor of a hunting and fishing magazine called Louisiana Sportsman, Todd Masson hears often from friends, relatives, and readers who are concerned about eating Gulf seafood in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. There’s no need to worry, he tells them. “Our fish, crabs, and oysters are no less safe to eat today than they were two years ago,” he wrote recently. As for those who might have made a killing in the BP settlement process? “If you actually came out ahead, then my hat’s off to you.”

Sport fishing is an essential thread in the fabric of Louisiana’s culture. We have 40 percent of the nation’s coastal wetlands, built over millennia by the Mississippi River, and as such we are the nursery grounds for the Gulf. Our fishing is spectacular, and most weekend family gatherings involve something from our local marshes – fried, boiled, baked, or broiled. When commercial and recreational fishing was outlawed last summer in the wake of the spill, it isn’t overstating things to say that people grieved. It was like a pillar of our society had been severed.

Business is certainly down. The media presented so many misleading stories during the days of the spill that everyone in the country now has the perception that the lower fringes of Louisiana’s marsh are just dripping with crude oil. That’s obviously not the case. I had some national writers down in October, and for three days we fished the marshes all around the mouth of the Mississippi River – ground zero for spill impact – and they were absolutely astounded that we didn’t see one drop of oil.

The BP oil spill had absolutely no impact on the health of current-day seafood or the prospects for its progeny. Unrefined crude oil is a natural substance that is broken down, weathered and absorbed by nature remarkably quickly in a warm, dynamic system like that of the northern Gulf. To wit, there have been literally thousands of studies of Gulf seafood, and not one single sample has come back contaminated. After conducting these studies, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals determined a diner would have to consume nine pounds of fish, five pounds of oysters, or 63 pounds of shrimp every day for five years to reach any level of concern.

The Activist

Linda Leavitt’s Cajun roots go back to the 1700s, and though her family’s tradition of news reporting may not be as long, to Leavitt, whose parents both worked for NBC News, it feels equally strong. “My mother would say, ‘You go on down there, Linda, you get the story.’” Which she has, working as a citizen-journalist to gather photographs and video of the spill’s consequence, coordinating campaigns on Facebook, and watchdogging BP on Twitter. “You got to get the word out,” she says.

It was so sad, when you saw the oil coming over the boom, that we were so helpless engineering-wise to keep this out. That sediment can wash up with the tide, and the sad part is they know there are submerged tar mats. Hurricane season is 45 days away. That tar mat is going to wash ashore.

photo of a woman in a cypress woodland, holding an umbrella with 'save the gulf' written on it
Linda Leavitt

You can rage against the machine all you want, but the reality is you have a corporation that is incredibly negligent from a safety perspective. I’m a great believer in the truth. I’m a great believer in giving people the information so they can make the honest judgments. The more you cover it up, hide it, and whitewash it, then you get crazy-assed conspiracy theorists, everybody out there thinking the worst. That’s what happens in a closed society with closed information. That’s not the America I grew up in. I grew up in an America where information should be made public for public safety.

The dynamic with a lot of people who may be afraid to come forward and talk is fear that other people’s livelihoods are based on the oil companies and they don’t want to rock that boat, or shrimping is their livelihood, so they don’t want to rock the boat. There is a lot of that in small communities, fear of being the first one to come out and say something on the record.

Here’s the crux: There’s always been this unspoken acknowledgement between the oil industry and the fishermen, the Cajuns and other people who made their livelihoods on the water, that if something goes down, if something happens, we’ll take care of you. And that’s not happening. It’s a big disappointment.

The Philanthropist

When BP began spraying Corexit, Joannie Hughes, a single mom from Plaquemines Parish, started worrying about the rain. Could the chemical oil dispersant evaporate and return via precipitation? She had tests run, garnered some local news, then someone posted a sign on her front yard that read, “It’s not the rain water that’s going to kill you.” Frightened for her family, she decided the best she could do was to start a nonprofit, Coastal Heritage Society of Louisiana, to assist out-of-work families. “I backed off, right or wrong, and continued the humanitarian part of the work, because that’s where I felt I could at least make some difference.”

Murky Waters

“A deathtrap of mucus gashing through the water like flypaper.” That’s how Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia, describes the effect of the oil and gas from last summer’s disaster on the delicate marine organisms that inhabit the depths of the Gulf of Mexico.

When BP’s Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig exploded on April 20, 2010, Joye’s research team was among the earliest on the scene and the first to report huge underwater plumes …more…

It’s been an interesting road. We knew we couldn’t clean up the oil. We knew we couldn’t stop people from drilling. What we could do is feed some families that were suffering who had not been paid. Because legitimate claims have been denied.

We’re a bunch of moms, not a million-dollar organization. We delivered to one family and she asked if another family got a box of food. She immediately called the other family to come over and split the food, so instead of one family eating for five days, two families ate for two and a half days. That’s the kind of community it is. No one can ever say people here don’t help themselves, because they do. So far CHSL has given food box deliveries to over 300 families. We’re very good shoppers.

With saltwater intrusion, we’re losing the cypress at a phenomenal rate, and that’s pre-spill. So if we don’t start restoring by planting new ones, it’s going to be gone before my grandchildren are ever out there in a pirogue.

We are planting seedlings of cypress trees complete with nutria-resistant wire. You can plant a tree in someone’s honor, we send you a picture, GPS coordinates, and long term it helps fight erosion in our wetlands. We’re doing it all the way down in the marsh. We’re literally down there with our waders planting the trees and we love for volunteers to come down and help us plant them too.

I try to explain that we are part of that ecosystem. We haven’t been the best stewards, but we do count at least as much as the grass shrimp.

The Fisherman

Jason Adams has known only shrimping or working for the oil industry. He started fishing with his parents, he says, when “I was in diapers.” When the Macondo well blew out, Adams, a native of the bayou town of Galliano, worked briefly for BP doing cleanup work, but soon became resentful of how many jobs were going to guys from Houston. Today, he’s working as a tugboat captain. But, he says, “I’d rather fish.”

I worked it with my boat and let me tell you, I got into some of that oil with the Corexit. I thought I was going to die. Sick, can’t breathe. And the other side effect, I’m mentally sick because there’s such uncertainty. The postlarva of the white shrimp and the brown shrimp [are in danger] – once that contamination reaches the estuaries and all that, it’s a done deal. You know my little boy, sometimes he cries. He said, ‘Dad, what if I won’t be able to go shrimping anymore?’

photo of a man, thoughtful

It’s fine right now way up in the estuaries. But what’s it going to be like five years from now? The bottom line is that they sunk the oil. I don’t know how many millions of gallons of the Corexit they put in there.

I’m going to tell you what’s going to make that catastrophe – that first tropical depression. The first real southeast wind we had the other day, that’s when the oil came up on the beach.

A lot of the fishermen, it messed up their livelihoods. They can’t work, they’re sick. Their backs are against the wall right now. They tell me, ‘I won’t be able to work, but yet they want to come offer me $300,000, not for my livelihood, they’re offering me that for my life.’ The people that were in it, that got sprayed, that worked in that oil – they’re just buying their life.

Ninety percent of the people would rather be doing what they love to do. Fishermen are resilient people. You think a fisherman wants to collect money from BP and sit in his house? He’d go stir crazy. When it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood. You’re doing what you want to do.

Karen Dalton Beninato is a freelance writer from New Orleans who has covered the BP oil spill for The Huffington Post. Her website is KarenDaltonBeninato.com. A resident of New Orleans and a Bayou Lacombe Choctaw Indian, Stacy Revere’s photography can be viewed at slrevere.photoshelter.com.

This story was partially funded through micro-donations via Spot.Us


NAD metabolism in Vibrio cholerae.

NAD metabolism in Vibrio cholerae. J W Foster and C Brestel Abstract Extracts of Vibrio cholerae were assayed for various enzymatic activities associated with pyridine nucleotide cycle metabolism. The activities measured include NAD glycohydrolase, nicotinamide deamidase, nicotinamide mononucleotide deamidase, and nicotinic acid phosphoribosyltransferase. The results obtained demonstrate the existence in V. cholerae of the five-membered pyridine nucleotide cycle and the potential for a four-membered pyridine nucleotide cycle. The data presented also suggest that most of the NAD glycohydrolase in V. cholerae extracts is not directly related to cholera toxin. Full text Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (619K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

The Mississippi Coast as photographed by me on Oct. 7, 2010

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Friday, July 15, 2011

On the Bayou, BP oil spill hasn’t gone away » peoplesworld

On the Bayou, BP oil spill hasn’t gone away

crabbing2
HOPEDALE, La. - Eric Guzman carries himself like any healthy 35-year-old, but his eyes tell you he's been through what only someone much older would normally have experienced.
Guzman is captain of a Bayou shrimp boat that he takes out now only on weekends. During the week he is a union electrician at the Folger's coffee plant here. He has also worked for Lazy Boy Seafood, an outfit that buys shrimp right off the boats.
"I'm glad I have this job," he said, when our reporters caught up with him during a break outside his plant gate. "You can't support a family without a good job, and now, after the oil spill, the shrimp and oyster businesses are hurting."
Guzman, like many of the fishermen in Louisiana, started out on the water as a kid and, like many others, when they got older, fished a big part of the year and worked in the building trades the rest of the year. He is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 130.
He says he looks forward to the weekends when he can get out on his boat, the Captain Rusty. "I've been doing it since I was 12 years old," he said.
When Hurricane Katrina hit, destroying everything he and thousands of other families had, he went to Portland, Ore., where he could continue his apprenticeship as an electrical worker.
"I didn't want to drop that," he said, "because when you get through a union apprenticeship program you have top-notch skills that you can be proud of and that you can use for the rest of your life."
But he came back to Hopedale where, together with his wife, he re-started a life "in the place that me and all my friends and family love so much."
The BP oil spill intruded on that process a little over a year ago, and Guzman had to switch from shrimper to clean-up captain for the oil giant, skimming the oil off the waters of the Gulf. He and a crew of three worked a boat that belonged to someone else. They laid booms and skimmed the oil from the surface of the water.
"BP likes for people to think that the skimming got rid of all the oil," he said. "They don't want you to think about how most of the oil went down to the bottom. We were dead set against them using those dispersants but they didn't listen and they did it anyway." He recalled the "lack of concern they had for us out there doing the dirty work on the Gulf. No one knows how we've been affected by breathing in those vapors. People don't realize that they sent planes out over the Gulf spraying dispersants, not caring about whether those of us down in the boats were getting hit."
Guzman said the shrimp business has been hurt because, even though there are shrimp that have not been contaminated by the oil, people are afraid to take the chance on buying them. Prices have dropped, despite the smaller supplies, and people are going out of business.
A bait shop operated by a shrimp boat captain interviewed by the People's World right after the spill is going out of business.
The oyster farmers, Guzman said, are really suffering. "Only now are we seeing a few signs that oysters might come back," he said. He said the oyster business was hurt by the BP spill even in areas where the water was not actually poisoned. He explained how fresh water from the Mississippi was allowed to flow into the marshes to create an outflow to keep the advancing oil offshore. "The fresh water killed a lot of life forms that require salinity to survive," he said, "including the oysters."
The recent floods in the Midwest contributed to the destruction of the oyster beds also because river water had to be diverted again into the marshes to avoid flooding downstream in New Orleans. "Just as some things were coming back, there was a new setback," he said. "As a result of those Midwest floods we actually lost oyster beds to the west, even ones that had survived the BP spill."
Guzman said he was angry with BP because "even today they have not really made people whole for their losses. Some got back percentages of their losses and some have gotten nothing."
"I see crabs with sores on the bottom of them that are not supposed to be there. I see turtles and porpoises washing up on the beech and I wonder why. I worry about the long-term effects of those vapors, but I will never give up shrimping and crabbing" said Guzman. "It's in my blood."
Photo: Brad and Johnny Held, Louisiana IBEW members out crabbing in the Gulf recently. Blake Deppe/PW

Friday, May 6, 2011

Gulf Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Creates Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Releases Restoration Priorities EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, joined by CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley, other task force members, hold official meeting today in Mobile, Ala.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson convened an official meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force today in Mobile, Alabama. During the meeting, the task force created a citizens’ advisory committee to help guide the group’s efforts and released a strategy background document outlining the priorities of the ongoing gulf restoration. The meeting in Alabama furthered the task force’s ongoing commitment to supporting the conservation and restoration of resilient and healthy ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico.

Jackson proposed to establish and support a 25-member Gulf of Mexico Citizen Advisory Committee during the meeting, acknowledging the need to ensure residents and local organizations have a formal process to offer input and guidance on the work of the task force and to voice environmental concerns. The newly formed committee will hold its first official meeting later this summer.

“Since President Obama first formed this task force, our focus has been on collecting the ideas and input of gulf residents,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. “We’ve made clear that restoration plans should come from the gulf to Washington, and we’re counting on the people who know these areas best to shape our work through public meetings like this one, through the Citizens’ Advisory Committee and other efforts.”

During the meeting, the task force also identified four key priorities for the ongoing restoration of the gulf, including enhancing community resilience, restoring and conserving habitat, restoring water quality, and replenishing and protecting living coastal and marine resources. The priorities were developed based upon input from the general public and key stakeholder groups throughout the region. The task force plans for the priorities to serve as the main restorations goals and will identify specific actions to help to achieve these goals.

The Mobile meeting was the latest in a series of meetings that the task force is holding throughout the five gulf states. Previous meetings were held in New Orleans and Pensacola. President Obama issued an executive order in October to create the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, continuing the administration’s ongoing commitment to the gulf region. The task force works to integrate federal restoration efforts with those of local stakeholders and state and tribal governments, and to facilitate accountability and support throughout the restoration process.

More information on the task force: 
http://www.epa.gov/gulfcoasttaskforce

Thursday, May 5, 2011

La. seeks larger share than other Gulf states of eventual oil spill liability reward

BATON ROUGE, La. — State officials say Louisiana was hurt more than other states by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and so should get more money than other states from companies responsible for the disaster.
Garret Graves, who leads the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, told state lawmakers Wednesday that the state opposes such funds going to the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, given that 60-90 percent of the oil spills impacts have occurred on coastal Louisiana.
"This would be the federal government literally profiting from the injury that was experienced in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast," Graves said.
Rep. Joe Harrison, a Republican from Houma, agreed.
"We incurred the majority of the damage by far," he said. "And that's why I would hope that, and I know that our Congressional delegation and also the governor and the executive committees that are involved would present the type of information that supports our position to get the largest portion of that potential fine to assist us in what I think is going to be something we're going to deal with for years to come."
Graves said that recommendations in reports by Navy Sec. Ray Mabus and the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, established by President Barack Obama, as well as legislation by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., would divert up to 80 percent of fines to the coastal states.
But Graves said there is well-established precedent for a second alternative: directly negotiating a settlement between local authorities and responsible parties.
In that case, up to 80 percent of fines would be spent on supplemental environmental projects to restore the environment, coast and fisheries. Graves has asked federal authorities to begin negotiations for such a settlement.
He said Louisiana would fare better by negotiating a settlement with federal agencies rather than reaching a political solution in Congress.
"One of the challenges in going through Congress is that Sen. Landrieu, Sen. Vitter, our House delegation will have to negotiate with the delegations from those other states," Graves said. "Texas has a large delegation. Florida has a large delegation."
He said a Congressional solution would also require a budget offset from the diversion to the states, which he said would be very difficult in this budget climate.
Negotiating with the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and responsible parties directly "would be a better venue for Louisiana to negotiate based on true impacts and merit, versus based upon political considerations and who has a larger delegation."
Graves says federal liability may rise to $70 billion across the responsible parties.
Alberta spill
This handout photo shows some of the spill area where about 28,000 barrels of oil leaked out of a pipeline near Peace River. The pipeline is owned by Plains All American Pipeline. (Plains All American American Pipeline photo)


         Natives say spill making kids sick 



EDMONTON - More than 28,000 barrels of leaked crude oil near Peace River is making residents in the area sick, says a First Nations chief.
Steve Noskey, Chief of the Lubicon Cree Nation, says his town of about 300 people is being enveloped by a sickening odour he believes is coming from the spill, the biggest in the province since 1975.
"When the wind shifts, the odours are carried into the community," says Noskey.
The Lubicon Cree Nation is located about 10 km east of the Plains Midstream Canada pipeline leak.
The Little Buffalo school has been closed since Friday, after students became ill with nausea, burning eyes and headaches.
Environment Minister Rob Renner says he only recently became aware that residents in the town were affected.
"We immediately installed air monitoring equipment that was on site, and I'm advised our mobile unit has additional capacity for more minute forms of air quality (and) is on route and should arrive later today," said Renner Wednesday.
He can't say for sure if the odour that's believe to be making residents sick was in fact coming from the spill, but Noskey disagrees.
"I challenge anyone from Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), Plains or even the minister to come up to our community and have a smell for themselves," he says.
The K-12 school services about 130 students and was still closed as of Wednesday.
Noskey says he has not heard from the government or the ERCB, and isn't confident they'll do much to help his small town.
"I never do expect anything from the provincial government with respect for the native issues.  We're an aboriginal community and that's all we are," says Noskey.
The Plains pipeline is nearly half a century old and has had minor leaks in the past.
Despite the major spill, Renner says Alberta still has a good record compared to how many pipelines there are in the province.
"Our safety record is one that we should be proud of.  Sure there are incidences from time to time but I would put our record up against any others," says Renner.
NDP environment critic Rachel Notley and Liberal environment critic Laurie Blakeman both feel the spill is merely another example of an un-watchful government eye.
"It's more indication that Albertans cannot trust this government to protect the health safety and environment of Albertans," says Notley.
Blakeman goes further, saying, "This kind of an oil spill is what really frightens people about transporting oil across land or across water because this is the nightmare scenario."
Renner decided not to venture out to the spill site or the Lubicon First Nation, saying he would not have "any significant added value" if he did.
tanara.mclean@sunmedia.ca

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More Questions Than Answers on Dispersants a Year After Gulf Spill - NYTimes.com

More Questions Than Answers on Dispersants a Year After Gulf Spill - NYTimes.com

Is oil spill responsible for illness?


Abby Tabor/Staff
Dr. Mike Robichaux talks to his patient Brandon Casanova at Ochsner St. Anne General Hospital in Raceland.
Published: Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 12:06 a.m.
RACELAND — Lying in a local hospital bed this week, Brandon Casanova still can’t figure out how he got there.
Nobody knows for sure what is causing the frightening catalog of symptoms that have plagued him over the last several months: seizures, abdominal pains, extreme forgetfulness, racing heartbeat and high blood sugar.
But to Dr. Mike Robichaux of Raceland, his primary-care physician since birth, Casanova’s problems are a close match to a bizarre cluster of ailments among people who say they were exposed to dispersant chemicals and other potential toxins in the oil spill last year.
His greatest fear: They’re getting worse.
Casanova, an avid saltwater fisherman, thinks he may have gotten a dose of the chemicals during a weekend at Grand Isle last September when he and his buddies fished for crabs and ate tuna. All he knows for sure is that he’s sick of being sick, and just wants to provide for his wife and young baby.
“I don’t get down and out,” said Casanova, 28, a Luling native, who was hospitalized this time with severe abdominal pain. “This has me to my breaking point.”
PLEA FOR HELP
Robichaux is an ear, nose and throat doctor based in Raceland. A former state senator and longtime activist when it comes to locals’ exposure to pollution, he contends the patterns that he’s seeing are too similar to be coincidental. continue reading here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The outage today occurred about 6 a.m at the BP chemical plant

Ref.no.: PW-20110426-30476-USA

Situation Update No. 2
On 2011-04-27 at 17:58:46 [UTC]

Event: Power Outage
Location: USA State of Texas BP, Marathon, Valero Texas plants Texas City
Situation: A day after power failed at several refineries in Texas City, a chemical plant in the city lost electricity this morning, officials said. The outage today occurred about 6 a.m at the BP chemical plant, said Bruce Clawson, director of Texas City Emergency Management. Clawson said power was restored at the plant about two and half hours later. No shelter-in-place orders were issued during the outage, and no injuries were reported, Clawson added. BP officials could not be reached for comment. Clawson said he did not know what caused the power failure. However, he added, no explosion or fire was reported. The outage occurred about the same time a power failure hit portions of Galveston Island. About 12,000 customers reportedly lost power beginning at about 5:30 a.m., according to CenterPoint Energy. Crews were working to restore power several hours later. Today's power failures come on the heels of outages at several refineries in Texas City Tuesday. Power was lost at the BP, Valero and Marathon refineries for several hours. Utility officials have said salty residue build-up on wires and power equipment is to blame for the power losses in Galveston and Tuesday in Texas City.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

BP anniversary: Toxicity, suffering and death - Features - Al Jazeera English

BP anniversary: Toxicity, suffering and death - Features - Al Jazeera English

THE BEST >>> BP's criminal negligence exposed - Features - Al Jazeera English

BP's criminal negligence exposed - Features - Al Jazeera English

Please email your members of Congress today.

Urge Your Members of Congress to Get Serious About Gulf Coast Restoration

One year after the BP oil blowout, Congress still has not passed legislation to direct BP's Clean Water Act penalties to restore the Gulf Coast and help the people, ecosystem, and economies harmed by the disaster.
Without Congressional action, these funds will simply end up in the Treasury, and the federal government will profit at the expense of Gulf Coast residents and wildlife who need support.
It's time to get serious about Gulf Coast restoration, and we need your help to make sure the BP fines are directed where they're needed most: to the Gulf Coast.
Please email your members of Congress today.

click here to take action

Just released: 30k pages of BP oil spill documents. Help us find out what we've got! | Inspiring action for a green and peaceful future

Just released: 30k pages of BP oil spill documents. Help us find out what we've got! | Inspiring action for a green and peaceful future

Deepwater Horizon victims' families

mark first anniversary of oil spill

Relatives of the 11 workers killed when BP's rig burst into flames overfly the site by helicopter while oil still washes up on beaches
Deepwater Horizon: first anniversary protest performance at Tate 
Britain
Deepwater Horizon: a protest performance called Human Cost took place at Tate Britain in London on the first anniversary of the oil spill. Photograph: Jeff Blackler/Rex Features
Relatives of some of the 11 men who died aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig are to fly over the Gulf of Mexico to mark the first anniversary of the worst offshore oil spill in US history.
On land, vigils were scheduled in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida to mark the moment on the night of 20 April last year when the rig, owned by Transocean Ltd, burst into flames while drilling a well for BP.
The explosion killed 11 workers on or near the drilling floor and the rest of the crew were evacuated before, two days later, the rig sank to the seabed. The bodies of the dead were never recovered.
Over the next 85 days, 206m gallons (5m barrels) of oil – almost 20 times more than was spilled in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster – leaked from the well. In response, the US commandeered a fleet of vessels in an effort to contain the spill, and BP spent billions of dollars to cap the well and clean up.
"I can't believe tomorrow has been one year, because it seems like everything just happened," Courtney Kemp, whose husband Roy Wyatt Kemp was killed on the rig, wrote on her Facebook page on Tuesday. "I have learned a lot of things through all of this but the most important is to live each day as if it were your last … what matters is if you truly live."
In a statement, President Barack Obama paid tribute to those killed in the blast and thanked the thousands of workers and volunteers who "worked tirelessly to mitigate the worst impacts" of the spill.
"But we also keep a watchful eye on the continuing and important work required to ensure that the Gulf coast recovers stronger than before," Obama said in the statement.
Transocean invited up to three members of each family to attend the flyover. They were expected to circle the site a few times in a helicopter, though there is no visible marker identifying where their loved ones perished. On the seabed 11 stars were imprinted on the cap of the well.
While ceremonies mark the disaster, oil is still occasionally washed up on beaches in the form of tar balls, and fishermen face an uncertain future.
Louis and Audrey Neal of Pass Christian, Mississippi, who make their living from crabbing, said it had got so bad since the spill that they face foreclosure as the bills keep piling up.
"I don't see any daylight at the end of this tunnel. I don't see any hope at all. We thought we'd see hope after a year, but there's nothing," Audrey Neal said, adding that financial difficulties were only part of the problem. "Our lives are forever changed," she said. "Our marriage, our children, it's all gotten 100% worse."
She said the couple received a $53,000 (£32,000) payment from BP early in the crisis, but that was just enough money to cover three months of debt. They have as yet received nothing from the $20bn compensation fund set up by BP, they said.
The outlook is, however, not all bleak. Traffic jams on the narrow coastal roads of Alabama, crowded seafood restaurants in Florida and families taking their holidays along the Louisiana coast attest to the fact that familiar routines are returning, albeit slowly.
"We used to fuss about that," said Ike Williams, referring to the heavy traffic heading towards Gulf Shores, Alabama, where he rents chairs and umbrellas to beachgoers. "But it was such a welcome sight."
"It seems like it is all gone," said Tyler Priest, an oil historian at the University of Houston. "People have turned their attention elsewhere. But it will play out like Exxon Valdez did. There will be 20 years of litigation."
Most scientists agree the effects "were not as severe as many had predicted", said Christopher D'Elia, dean at the school of the coast and environment at Louisiana State University. "People had said this was an ecological Armageddon, and that did not come to pass."
Biologists, however, are concerned about the spill's long-term effect on marine life.
"There are these cascading effects," D'Elia said. "It could be accumulation of toxins in the foodchain, or changes in the food web. Some species might dominate."
Accumulated oil is believed to lie on the Gulf seabed, and it still shows up as a thick black crust along miles of Louisiana's marshy shoreline. Scientists have begun to notice that the land in many places is eroding.
Confidence in Louisiana's seafood is eroding, too. "Where I'm fishing it all looks pretty much the same," said Glen Swift, a 62-year-old fisherman in Buras who works the lower Mississippi river again. But he cannot sell his fish. "The market's no good," he said.
But the BP spill has faded from the headlines, overtaken by the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, unrest in the Middle East and political clashes in Washington.
"Nationally, BP seems like a dim and distant memory," said Douglas Brinkley, a Rice University historian. But the accident will have long-lasting influence on environmental history, he said.

AJ video

For all of us living along the Gulf Coast, did you have the worse "sinus infection" of your life this past winter? I sure did. My ears still hurt. Doctor looks at them and sees nothing there causing my ear pain. WHOA, then I came across this video. I am adding a comments box right below this. Please add how you are feeling if you are in any of the Gulf Coast area affected by the BP OILSPILL. Thank you! Leesa