America’s Gulf: Updating the Greatest Ever Environmental Crime

For months, US media reports distorted and lied about its severity, running cover for BP and the Obama administration, now practically avoiding the crisis altogether as it worsens. An August 20 Inter Press Service report is revealing, quoting Biloxi, MS fisherman, Danny Ross, saying hypoxia (depleted oxygen) is driving horseshoe crabs, stingrays, flounder, dolphins, and other sea life “out of the water” to escape. Another area fisherman, David Wallis, said he’s “seen crabs crawling out of the water in the middle of the day.”

Other reports cite strange marine life behavior, sighted near the surface when they normally stay well submerged. Alabama fisherman, Stan Fournier, said in 40 years of work, he’s never seen anything like it. “It looks like all the sea life is trying to get out of the water,” unable to breathe in their normal habitat, what US media reports won’t touch, instead hyping success, saying BP’s well is capped and most oil dissolved when, in fact, it won’t degrade for decades, remaining a lethal cocktail combined with dispersants, killing wildlife and poisoning anyone eating it, assuring a coming epidemic of cancers and other diseases.

On August 19, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) senior scientist, Bill Lehr, in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, retracted his earlier claim about most oil dispersed and dissolved. He now says “I would say most of that is still in the environment,” as much as 90%, only 6% burned and 4% skimmed, the rest contaminating a large part of the Gulf, spreading, and devastating wildlife.

In addition, on August 19, the journal Science published a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) study, confirming a giant oil plume floating about 1,200 meters below the surface — 35 km-long (22 miles), two km wide, and 200 meters thick. Persisting “for months without substantial biodegradation,” it poses a serious threat to sea life, one of the article’s writers, Dr. Chris Reddy, saying, “At this point, we know the plume exists, and we know more about its potential biological activity in the future” and harm it can cause. 

It’ll be years before the full extent of damage is known. However, it’s already extensive and extremely dangerous, containing 50 micrograms per liter of “a group of particularly toxic petroleum compounds,” 6-7% of it a deadly benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene cocktail — released from BP’s Macondo well, the evidence clearly showing it according to research team head Richard Camilli.

He expects the plume to spread and biodegrade very slowly in cold waters. In addition, other independent researchers discovered other even larger plumes. University of Georgia Marine Sciences Professor, Samantha (Mandy) B. Joye, said the WHOI plume “doesn’t hold a candle” to one her team found in May. Nonetheless, BP and Obama officials signaled an all-clear, denying their existence and the catastrophic disaster, out of sight and mind instead of dealing with it responsibly. 

It’s why on August 23, the Union of Concerned Scientists alerted members and supporters to “Help end America’s dangerous addiction to oil,” saying for decades it’s warned about the US’s “misguided energy and transportation policies (instead of) promoting innovative solutions to reduce our dependence on oil. (The Gulf disaster) is a painful reminder of the work” left to be done and urgency of doing it.

On August 20, Kieran Suckling, Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director headlined his press release, “Gulf of Mexico Still in Crisis Four Months After BP Explosion: Center for Biological Diversity Tour Finds Oiled Beaches, Water and Wildlife….nDrilling Policy Reforms Still Too Weak, Too Late,” saying: The Center’s team saw “firsthand how oil is still killing wildlife and fouling beaches and marshes. This crisis is far from over.” Grand Isle, LA beaches were contaminated with oil, liquid surface pools and more mixed with sand in hardened mats along the water’s edge. 

“Some beaches appear fine from a distance but are actually sitting atop massive amounts of oil, which bubbled to the surface when the team walked across the sand. Digging into (it) with rubber gloves,” oil was found six inches below the surface. Crabs and birds are covered with it as they cross beaches or marsh land. “Fish and sea turtles are forced to swim through oil on the surface and below,” looking for food. “In short, (the Gulf) is still an oily mess despite rosy assertions” by BP and Obama officials, claiming most oil is gone. They know damn well it’s there to stay, poisoning everything it touches.

The Center’s survey supports independent scientists saying most remains, fouling beaches, waters, marshes and wildlife. Working for reform and serious remediation, Center officials filed seven lawsuits against BP and government regulators, including “the largest Clean Water Act suit in history,” seeking $19 billion in fines from BP. More on their likely resolution below.

Firsthand Reports from the Gulf

Reporting from the area, investigative journalist, Dahr Jamail, calls Grand Isle, LA’s condition “post-apocalytic,” spotting “tar balls that bob lazily underwater, amidst sand ripples in the shallows…. Oil-soaked marsh abounds… the island smell(ing) like a gas station. Noxious fumes infiltrate my nose, causing me to cough. Piles of oiled oysters rest on the tide line.” 

Tar balls are everywhere. “In some places, there are literally huge mats of fresh tar…. The scene is apocalyptic…. It is one of the more disgusting, vile scenes I’ve even seen…. All we can do is take photos. The stench is overpowering. I gag. My eyes water from the burning chemicals…. I feel dizzy.” The entire Gulf Coast has been raped and destroyed. Official coverup is criminal.

Only time will assess the full damage on humans and wildlife. However, the toll already is devastating, the Obama administration complicit with BP, culpable for a crime they want suppressed, ignored and forgotten, what will affect the lives of millions perhaps forever. 

According to Florida State University ocean scientist, Ian MacDonald: “The (disaster’s) imprint will be there in the Gulf of Mexico for the rest of my life. It is not gone,” and won’t ever “go away quickly,” warning of a potential tipping point beyond which wildlife and the ecosystem won’t recover, the crossed Rubicon after which return no longer is possible, a shocking assessment perhaps already true.

 JAMA Reports Direct Threats to Human Health

In its August 16 edition, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) writers, Drs. Gina M. Solomon and Sarah Janssen, headlined, “Health Effects of the Gulf Oil Spill,” saying “it (and dispersants pose) direct threats to human health from inhalation or dermal contact,” besides harming seafood and mental health.

Solomon and Janssen explained that crude oil’s main components are “aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons.” Containing volatile organic compounds (including benezene, toluene and xylene), they “can cause respiratory irritation and central nervous system (CNS) depression.”

Benzene also causes leukemia, and toluene “is a recognized teratogen (causing embryo malformation) at high doses.” Naphthalene and other higher molecular weight chemicals are “reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans….”

Released hydrogen sulfide gas, nonvolatile polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and heavy metals from oil “can contaminate the food chain. Hydrogen sulfide gas is neurotoxic and has been linked to both acute and chronic CNS (central nervous system) effects. PAHs include mutagens and probable carcinogens. Burning oil generates particulate matter, which is associated with cardiac and respiratory symptoms and premature mortality.”

Massive dispersants use greatly exacerbates the problem. They contain toxic detergents, surfactants and petroleum distillates, including known respiratory irritants like 2-butoxyethanol, propylene glycol, and sulfonic acid salts.

As a result, area residents and cleanup workers experienced headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, coughs, respiratory distress, chest pain, and other symptoms — warning signs of potentially greater future health problems. 

Skin contact with oil and dispersants causes defatting, resulting in dermatitis and secondary skin infections. Some individuals may develop a dermal hypersensitivity reaction, erythema (injured or irritated skin), edema, burning sensations, or a follicular rash.

Potential long-term health risks are high, wildlife contamination making anyone eating Gulf seafood vulnerable. “Community residents should not fish” in oil-contaminated areas, nor should federal, state or local officials allow them.

Some Final Comments

On August 20, New York Times writer Ian Urbina headlined, “BP Settlements Likely to Shield Top Defendants,” saying:

People and businesses seeking a lump-sum settlement from BP’s $20 billion oil spill compensation fund will most likely have to waive their right to sue not only BP, but also all the other major defendants involved with the spill, according to internal documents from the lawyers handling the fund.

In other words, the fix is in, Obama and BP officials conspiring to let responsible parties off the hook, settlement terms designed to deny victims just compensation and for many, perhaps most, none at all, given the strict guidelines of eligibility required.

Claims czar, Kenneth Feinberg, is a notorious “fixer,” mandated to save BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and blowout preventer maker Cameron International potentially tens of billions in liabilities, strong-arming victims to waive their right to sue in return for amounts too meager to matter.

According to Urbina, the dilemma for those suing is deciding between “years of litigation (or) accept(ing) the (offered) settlement… before the full (extent of) damage” is known. Most important is that “those who cannot demonstrate damages caused by the direct impact of oil on beaches and fisheries will be ineligible for money.”

For example, small businesses, not located directly on affected beaches, experiencing sharp revenue drops “will not be able to receive compensation….” in violation of the federal Oil Pollution Act that excludes geographical limitations. The same holds for area residents living away from the shoreline.

Property owners who’ve seen sharp valuations drops, will also be cheated. So will cleanup workers and area residents later contracting diseases, mental illness, lost income, or other harmful effects. 

As point man, Feinberg will deny, obstruct, and let criminal defendants off the hook, then (on BP’s payroll) be handsomely paid for his services, the same ones he performed earlier for Wall Street banks, Agent Orange producers, asbestos manufacturers, and Dalkon Shield maker AH Robins as well as against 9/11 victims. 

Only corporate interests matter, not people whose lives they destroy, Obama officials doing nothing to help them — instead being complicit partners in the greatest ever environmental crime, whitewashing it by giving the all-clear, declaring “mission accomplished,” and protecting corporate criminals at all costs.

Stephen Lendman wrote How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Contact him at: Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen.

20 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Don Hawkins said on August 26th, 2010 at 10:54am #

    By giving the all-clear, declaring “mission accomplished and what planet might that be certainly not Earth, hurry hurry the Collider fire it up the answer it’s there right before our eye’s we just can’t see it yet.

  2. Don Hawkins said on August 27th, 2010 at 7:45am #

    The deciders deciding with knowledge, reason I think not. Anybody see the pictures out of Pakistan today not good and those people the poor did the least and the Capitalist system doesn’t take kindly to that embrace the system and just think you could be the last human standing. Maybe they could put that whole last human standing on the stock market make bet’s on it.

  3. mary said on August 27th, 2010 at 12:45pm #

    The subject has disappeared completely from the British media apart from this newspaper, the only socialist newspaper and one which carries no advertising.

    They write that the black people are suffering the most from the dumping of the waste from the ‘clean up’.

  4. Don Hawkins said on August 27th, 2010 at 1:37pm #

    Mary and the dumping think bigger like a planet a little slower for effect’s but not much.

  5. cruxpuppy said on August 27th, 2010 at 8:34pm #

    It is shocking to see a calculated propaganda offensive in action: officials sworn to defend the public interest boldly lying to the public in a vain attempt to create a new reality. They know that nothing like 75% of the oil has been “cleaned up”, yet as good Obama team players, they lie in the name of the greater good. There was even a television “documentary” this evening titled “The Gulf is Back!” to reinforce the preferred view of reality.

    And it is not simply the Obama/BP view. It the the Chamber of Commerce view in every municipality along the Gulf. The truth is being sacrificed. But a significant, perhaps majority, number of Gulf residents are lying to themselves and want to be lied to as well. The greater good, they believe, is served by “positive thinking”. The many stories of BP thugs preventing journalists from photographing the crime scene is not simply a corporate attempt to limit liability, it also reflects the public wish to not see the oiled birds and dead dolphins. It is painful, pure and simple, so it is best to ignore such images. Everything that can be done is being done, so accentuate the positive and the situation will improve. Don’t kill tourism and drive down property values! Declare victory and then act as though you’ve won, and you’ll be a winner!

    This is the American way, this mindless positivity. Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, and a slew of others down to the present, began the American success movement in earnest during the Great Depression, when the native can-do American spirit was greatly distressed by its failure to cope and needed reinforcement.

    With great exuberance, Americans killed off the Indians and raped their environment as they built collosus America in pursuit of personal success and national progress. When something awful happens, there is no self-examination, no reflection on motives, methods, ultimate goals. The strategy is to think positively, overcome the obstacles, and soldier on. This is just denial of reality.

    We are in conflict with reality, and the traditional coping mechanism won’t work. Nature has been very generous, but no longer. Many Gulf residents are sick and many more will get sick, particularly when the inevitable hurricane enters the Gulf, stirs up the toxic stew and broadcasts it over the land.

    But even then the denial will persist.

    And it is logical enough. We don’t know what to do. We don’t know any other way to live that does not involve the destruction of our environment. Nature has always been kind. But no any longer.

    We have to change, radically. The Great Depression is already upon us, the classical approach/avoidance conflict. What we most desire is also our source of pain and self-destruction. Very depressing. No anti-depressant drug can help. The only way out is to radically change how we think, what we do, and where we’re going.

  6. Don Hawkins said on August 28th, 2010 at 4:12am #

    We are in conflict with reality you said cruxpuppy let me have a cup of coffee I’ll give it a try.

  7. Don Hawkins said on August 28th, 2010 at 5:24am #

    Where to start ok Wladziu Valentino Liberace (May 16, 1919 – February 4, 1987), better known by only his last name Liberace was a famous American entertainer and pianist. … I forget the year many moons ago and I was watching the tube and I saw Liberace get out of a limo he was wearing one of those costumes appeared to have make-up on and the part I always’ remember was the street he was on looked like tract housing somewhere in LA he was walking into this house maybe a 2 bedroom no trees a small lawn and there were 5 or 6 people taking pictures of him. When I think of Elm street I seem to remember that well years later I was in Tallahassee, Florida for the big count Bush, Gore in front of the library selling a T-shirt that read a ballot in the hand is better than two in the Bush and we were all waiting for the supreme count ruling as I sold those T-shirts to Republicans who I guess didn’t get it. I remember the busses pulling up and all the good little Republicans got out dressed in the polo shirts with bullhorns as we on the other side watched in horror you see we were not dressed as well and were not as organized. Toward the end of the day the lawyers started to show up 5,000 dollar suits every hair in place and weak hands my first thought was these people don’t look real. The ruling came down from the highest court in the land well let’s see today how’s it going to me Michael Jackson was a good example of non reality I mean hooked up to a IV with brain medicine so as to get some rest from what? It looks like some who step into the light make it others just do commercials for reverse mortgages. Oh when I say make it differing views on that part. The crap people are made to believe is important and how we should be is amazing to watch at times. I live in a small house and have a bait shop 200 square feet and help my son with his small farm I also have these glasses that if worn to long can give you one hell of a headache and I also play this little game I call finding the truth. I still look at the Stars the Sun not for to long the moon and have these thought’s you know thought’s. Anyway I watched the Hannity show on TV last night one hour on why climate change is a hoax and a giant conspiracy from people who what to rule the World and most of the guests were from a little group called the American Enterprise Institute must be headquarters for human’s who think always’ scrunching up there face is fun. Just on the off chance the change over will not be boring.

  8. cruxpuppy said on August 28th, 2010 at 6:51am #

    I agree, Don Hawkins, the whole charade is mind boggling, and if stared at for too long, can give one a headache…..

  9. Don Hawkins said on August 28th, 2010 at 7:37am #

    The destruction brought about by the Pakistan flood which began a month ago is not about to let up. The levees meant to protect Thatta, a southern Pakistani city, were breached Saturday causing thousands of residents to flee to higher grounds.
    The Associated Press reported that the levee breach is the latest setback caused by the Pakistan flood which began about a month ago at the start of the monsoon rains. The flood started in the country’s mountainous northwest region and moved down south causing extensive damage to property and leaving more than 1,600 people dead.
    Saturday’s levee breach could leave the outskirts of Thatta, which is 125 kilometres southeast of Karachi, under water, the AP reported. More than 175,000 people have reportedly left the city, some heading for nearby towns or cities while others fleeing towards an ancient graveyard for Muslim saints which occupies higher grounds. Meanwhile, the Vancouver Sun reported that donor aid agencies appear reluctant in extending aid because of the Pakistan flood. The United Nations appealed for $500 million from the donor community as disaster relief aid. Ten days later only half of the targeted amount was pledged.
    The Sun cited several reasons for the reluctance to aid the Pakistan flood victims. It cited the mistrust of Western donors on the “corruption and apparent double-dealing” of the administration of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Gillani. It also cited the “West’s ingrained “Islamophobia”: dislike of Muslims.”
    The Sun did say that there may be many reasons why the donor community is hesitant to extend aid in the aftermath of the Pakistan flood, “starting with the nature of the catastrophe itself.” all247news

    And in an unrelated story,

    (CNN) — Paris Hilton was released from a Las Vegas, Nevada, jail Saturday morning after being arrested late the night before on suspicion of cocaine possession, police said Saturday.

    The hotel heiress was riding in a black Cadillac Escalade which was pulled over in front of the Wynn Hotel on the Vegas strip at about 11:30 p.m. after police detected the smell of marijuana coming from the SUV, Lt. Wayne Holman told CNN.

    Those glasses I don’t need them anymore.

  10. Don Hawkins said on August 28th, 2010 at 7:52am #

    Let’s see Las Vegas, cocaine, black escalade, the smell of marijuana, Paris Hilton, the Wynn Hotel on the Vegas strip now what’s wrong with this picture there is something missing. I got it a sunburned man on a four wheeler pulling a small trailer with an atomic bomb.

  11. hayate said on August 28th, 2010 at 11:19am #

    One wonders why someone like paris hilton would bother staying or visiting the usa any more, given where else she could be.

  12. Don Hawkins said on August 28th, 2010 at 4:16pm #

  13. Don Hawkins said on August 29th, 2010 at 4:29am #

    126 hours out forecast and by Wednesday know more also looks like a few more where that came from.

  14. Don Hawkins said on August 29th, 2010 at 4:42am #

    On Earth – when there had been an Earth, before it was demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass – the problem had been with cars. The disadvantages involved in pulling lots of black sticky slime from out of the ground where it had been safely hidden out of harm’s way, turning it into tar to cover the land with, smoke to fill the air with and pouring the rest into the sea, all seemed to outweigh the advantages of being able to get more quickly from one place to another – particularly when the place you arrived at had probably become, as a result of this, very similar to the place you had left, i.e. covered with tar, full of smoke and short of fish.
    — Douglas Adams

  15. teafoe2 said on August 31st, 2010 at 3:52pm #

    Climate Change: Concocting the “Consensus”

    By Andrew Gavin Marshall

    URL of this article:

    Global Research, August 21, 2010

    The debate is over! There is a consensus! The time for discussion has ended and the need for action is paramount!

    We have all heard this before.

  16. Don Hawkins said on August 31st, 2010 at 4:43pm #

    On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. Sagan


  17. cruxpuppy said on August 31st, 2010 at 6:57pm #

    The health of the planet, which is thought of in terms of “climate change” is very difficult to quantify so that it can be studied with the scientific method that lays claim to objectivity. It is very difficult to be objective about something from which we cannot be separate. We are “dissipative structures”, animated dirt, so to speak, arising from the planet and going back into it again. We are not different from any other dissipative structure, which is the nature of all animate creatures, except in one regard. We have the power to alter our environment, and those science creatures most intoxicated with science, like to dream about “terra-forming” another planet like Mars, which is the clear acknowledgment that we do have the power to change things on a planetary scale.

    So why is there debate about whether climate change is a man-made phenomenon? We have altered this planet in ways of which we are not even aware. We are more powerful than we even know.

    Andrew Marshall is an intelligent guy, but he’s got his head so far up his ass he’s never seen a sunrise. Typical numb nuts white man. Anyone honest with themselves knows we got big trouble. And no one knows what to do about it, consensus or no consensus. Cap & trade? What a joke!

    The problem is so big and so unmanageable the debate just drags on. We haven’t even identified the problem yet, so how can we act?

  18. Don Hawkins said on September 1st, 2010 at 3:46am #

    Cruxpuppy well said and this hurricane Earl climate change well yes the oceans a tad bit warm and the job of a tropical storm is to bring heat from the South to the North but the answer is still up in the air. This is a tuff one and so far when the going get’s tuff the tuff go shopping or on holiday and now we are suppose to listen to 100% pure bullshit as to why we should vote and yes it look’s like the Republicans will make a come back get some boot’s although if the other side stayed in power get some boot’s. These so called leaders are somewhat clever in a used car salesman sort of way cap and trade and was only driven to and from church once a week and for you today because I like you the low low price of a planet.

  19. Don Hawkins said on September 1st, 2010 at 4:17am #

    Take a look and the crap is now so deep we can’t even say it is what it is and that’s hot. The girl that made that famous is now out on bail that was not my coke I mean cocaine and I think what’s happening on our Southern border is just awful. What’s going to be awful it appears nobody want’s to face although I think most are now understanding how much crap we are now standing in hence more ads for the prison for the mind. Not me mates as am sure Einstein or Huxley and many more would agree. Get out the vote like so far that will do what? Well maybe it’s not perfect but the best so far, what.

  20. Daniel said on September 1st, 2010 at 6:42am #

    This is an invitation to comment (Send e-mails please) regarding my new web-site ” Stop Your Engines! ”

    Should I create a page for “deniers”? Or not?

    All ideas / input appreciated!

    Thank you.

    Daniel J. Lavigne