Dr. Susan Shaw, Director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute talks about oilspill

BP Slick

Disaster in Gulf - The Aftermath

Latest News

Disaster in the Gulf-5-18-2011

This post is from the Great Blog of Earth Island Journal

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

Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil Gulf oil spill,oil spill,Gulf Coast,wildlife,oil

CNN Political Ticker


Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Manslaughter Charges?: Federal Prosecutors Tighten Screws on BP Execs

  • March 29, 2011 12:07 pm
How fitting that a law rooted in steamboat-era marine regulation is being used to consider criminal charges against not only BP oil rig managers, but top company executives as well. And make no mistake – the “seaman’s manslaughter” laws may go way back in history, but in recent years they have been used to prosecute everything from human trafficking to ferry crashes.
The original law dates back to a time when thousands of people were dying on steamships, often due to negligence of crew members or owners ignoring routine safety procedures. In the 1850s, a series of reforms were passed that some argue became the foundation for the Coast Guard’s current marine regulation. In legal circles, the law has become an integral part of efforts to “criminalize negligence.” Think about the laws creating “vehicular manslaughter” for negligent operators of cars or trucks.
The law is simple: If your negligence leads to somebody’s death, you’ve committed manslaughter.
The BP story is going viral and being picked up by national media, but note that most reports are still not naming sources. If you’re a prosecutor, the threat of individual criminal prosecution is a powerful bargaining chip for potential plea bargains. Even if a potential defendant does not fear conviction, he has to fear the cost of mounting a robust defense. In many cases, a company can’t pay for defense attorneys. Even the possibility of criminal charges – and seaman’s manslaughter can carry a 10-year prison term – is enough to sever corporate ties.
The feds are tightening the screws, and we’ll keep an eye out to see if anything breaks.
For those of us who practice marine law, there’s a bit of an ironic twist to this legal strategy. Remember that Transocean led an effort to seek liability limits by citing Civil War-era marine laws. The company argued, in effect, that the Deepwater Horizon was actually a ship at sea. We’ll see how that plays out, but it will be interesting to see how company executives respond now that a similar argument has them facing prison terms.
Here’s a Bloomberg report on the development: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-29/bp-managers-said-to-face-u-s-review-for-manslaughter-charges.html
© Smith Stag, LLC 2011 – All Rights Reserved

BP refuses to put figure on how much oil was leaked in Gulf oil disaster - Yahoo! News

BP refuses to put figure on how much oil was leaked in Gulf oil disaster - Yahoo! News

Missing BP laptop had personal data of claimants

News from The Associated Press

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Obama administration issues fourth new deepwater drilling permit | NOLA.com

Obama administration issues fourth new deepwater drilling permit | NOLA.com

Shallow Gulf well is source of mysterious oil sheen near Grand Isle, state official says | NOLA.com

Shallow Gulf well is source of mysterious oil sheen near Grand Isle, state official says | NOLA.com

BP Slick: Louisiana doctor suspects patients' ill health caused by spill

BP Slick: Louisiana doctor suspects patients' ill health caused by spill

Oil or Sediment in the Gulf Waters? « Weather-Or-Not

Oil or Sediment in the Gulf Waters? « Weather-Or-Not

Shell Wins Approval To Drill New Gulf Of Mexico Deepwater Wells

  • March 22, 2011 11:21 am
U.S. authorities have given the green light to the Anglo-Dutch company’s plan to drill three wells at a depth of about 2,950 feet in a field 130 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
Shell will still be required to apply for specific permits for each well it drills.
The award is significant because the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has so far only handed out a small number of deepwater permits to resume work on wells on which work had started before last April’s explosion at BP’s Macondo well.
The authorities said on Monday that under new regulations brought in since the spill, Shell had been required to assess the environmental impact of each new well, rather than just the whole field.
The decision to approve the plan “unmistakably demonstrates that oil and gas exploration can continue responsibly in deep water,” insisted Michael Bromwich, the director of BOEMRE.
The White House has faced intense pressure to allow the resumption of deepwater drilling in the Gulf from the oil and gas industry, which claims thousands of jobs have already been lost. A moratorium on deepwater drilling, which was imposed in the weeks after the fatal explosion, was lifted a month early. A sharp rise in the oil price in the wake of upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East has only added to those calls for a resumption of drilling.
Shell said that the decision by authorities reflects “Shell’s robust and comprehensive approach to responsible offshore development.”
There are currently 13 exploration other plans that the BOEMRE is reviewing. However, the decision by authorities is likely to cause unease among critics who claim that BP’s spill showed that containing and cleaning up a spill quickly is beyond the ability of the industry.

Fishermen: ‘Pay our fair claims' - WLOX-TV and WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Fishermen: ‘Pay our fair claims' - WLOX-TV and WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Reader comment: Oil industry has done irreparable harm to Louisiana; poor conservatives like it that way | NOLA.com

Reader comment: Oil industry has done irreparable harm to Louisiana; poor conservatives like it that way | NOLA.com

Searching for a new ally for oil spills: An editorial | NOLA.com

Searching for a new ally for oil spills: An editorial | NOLA.com

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rocky Kistner: Oil Spill Reported Near Deepwater Drilling Site in Gulf

Rocky Kistner: Oil Spill Reported Near Deepwater Drilling Site in Gulf

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange urges BP claims czar to "quit dragging your feet" | al.com

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange urges BP claims czar to "quit dragging your feet" | al.com

Coast Guard: Gulf Sheen Likely Came From River

  • March 21, 2011 6:45 am
Oil washes ashore at Elmer’s Island Sunday afternoon. The Coast Guard is investigating at least two pollution incidents in waters south of Grand Isle.
GRAND ISLE — Coast Guard officials are investigating at least two pollution incidents in Gulf of Mexico waters south of Grand Isle.
Officials confirmed Sunday that a large sheen was covering as much as 100 miles by six miles of water. Neither is believed related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, officials said.
The sheen is believed caused by “a tremendous amount of sediment being carried down the Mississippi River due to high water,” some of it related to recent heavy rains in the Midwest and “possibly further agitated by dredging operations,” Coast Guard officials said. Reports of a sheen in Timbalier Bay, near Grand Isle, Fourchon Beach and Elmer’s Island, are also being investigated and some areas have been boomed off.
Jefferson Parish said Sunday that well south of Grand Isle had released oil for 4-6 hours before being plugged. However, no well fires were reported around Grand Isle, and no injuries were reported.
After completing an aerial survey of the spill with Jefferson Parish President John F. Young Jr. Sunday afternoon, Grand Isle Fire Chief Aubrey Chiasson said they saw patches of “light- to moderate-weathered oil” starting about three miles from the Caminada Pass in the Gulf and stretching out at least five miles.
Lafourche spokesman Brennan Matherne said the parish’s Office of Emergency Preparedness was working with the Coast Guard to track the oil coming to Fourchon Beach.
“It’s not the heavy brown and black oil, it’s just the sheen that hit Fourchon Beach,” Matherne said.
ES&H is handling cleanup on the shorelines.
The Coast Guard said Saturday night that there was a spill of some substance in the Gulf. A sample was taken on Saturday, when their vessel reached the scene, Ranel said.
The National Response Center first received a report of oil at 9:34 a.m. Saturday. The report indicated a two-mile-long rainbow sheen on the surface, according to the NRC’s website. Records show five other reports of oil near Grand Isle followed on Saturday.
Ranel said crews are standing by to clean up the substance once it is identified.
Chiasson said he first heard of the substance Saturday afternoon, after officials started calling him.
“We had a report from a crabber that it’s black oil,” Chiasson said.
The Coast Guard would have gotten to the spill earlier on Saturday, but they were called to a search and rescue case in Lake Borgne, officials said.
Staff Writer Eric Heisig can be reached at 857-2202 or eric.heisig@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @TerrebonneCrime.

Oily Matter Washing Ashore in Louisiana - WSJ.com

Oily Matter Washing Ashore in Louisiana - WSJ.com

BP Slick: New Gulf Problems. More oil in the fishing grounds!

BP Slick: New Gulf Problems. More oil in the fishing grounds!

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