Disaster in the Gulf

As more information surfaces, a potentially biblical disaster is unfolding, threatening to make vast parts of the Gulf dead zones, animals and plant species so contaminated and unsafe that Gulf communities may face “the total end of fishing,” according to Carl Safina, Blue Water Institute ocean biologist.

“I don’t see how the fish populations will be able to withstand what has happened. The basis of their livelihoods is being destroyed. This is not a temporary issue. Those things don’t come back the day the oil stops,” and no end of it so far is in sight.

On May 30, the UK Independent ‘s Emily Dugan headlined “Oil spill creates huge undersea dead zones,” according to oceanologists and toxicologists, saying:

“If experts are right, “the sea’s entire food chain could suffer years of devastation, with almost no marine life in the region escaping its effects.”

Many scientists believe what’s unseen below the surface will have the deadliest impact because of the combination of  noxious oil and toxic dispersants, combined to make a growing disaster far worse.

Over 8,300 animal and plant species are at risk. Some may face extinction, but the true toll won’t be known for years.

“In previous spills, oil rose to the surface and was dealt with there,” but hundreds of thousands of gallons of dispersants used has kept much of the it submerged, “resulting in unprecedented underwater damage to organisms in the Gulf.”

Once toxins enter the food chain, none of it escapes harm, and some may be lost forever, the result of what Marine Environmental Research Institute director Susan Shaw calls “the biggest environmental disaster of our time,” saying:

She’s been diving in damaged areas and “is horrified by the contamination caused by BP’s continued use of dispersants. They’ve been used at such a high volume that it’s unprecedented. The worst of these — Corexit 9527 — is the one (most used. It) ruptures red blood cells and causes fish to bleed.” With so much in the water over large areas, “we can only imagine the death that will be caused.”

Shaw explained that contaminated plankton and smaller shrimps will be eaten by larger fish, passing the deadly mix up the food chain, “dismantling (it), piece by piece.”

On June 8, University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science “confirmed the (large widespread) presence of distinct layers of degraded oil (in two deep water plumes) of the northern Gulf of Mexico many miles from the Deepwater Horizon explosion site” – based on research it conducted and continues to pursue. In late May, its scientists reported one plume 22 miles long and 100 feet thick.

One or more others now exist and continue getting larger. BP denies they exist, CEO Tony Hayward saying “The oil is on the surface. They’re aren’t any plumes.”

According to Harte Research Institute for the Gulf of Mexico Studies director, Larry McKinney, “At the depth that these plumes are at, (vast parts of) the sea will be toxic for God knows how long.”

Tulane University’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department Professor, Michael Blum, warns about mass extinction, saying:

“There are… hundreds of shorebirds and marine mammals that are acutely sensitive to oil. You could potentially lose whole species, have extinction events.” Other experts share that view about a disaster so huge, it’s hard imagining how bad it may get. Some fear the worst – yet the administration, BP and most major media reports conceal it, though gradually more information comes out.

It Gets Worse

Complicit with BP from day one, Obama’s Interior Department falsified results of a National Incident Command Flow Rate Technical Group estimate of the oil leaking at from 12,000-19,000 barrels daily — its low figure, not the true volume its scientists feel is “significantly higher.”

Indeed so believes University of California, Santa Barbara, Professor Ira Leifer, a noted expert at estimating flow rates, saying satellite data he’s examined shows it’s been increasing over time, especially after BP’s “top kill” method failed. Then severing the damaged riser pipe to install a “top hat” increased the rate far more than BP’s 20% estimate.

At worst, he thinks as much as 100,000 barrels daily are leaking, based on new video images showing the flow of black oil is unimpeded. He also said “BP is playing games with us, presumably under the advice of their legal team.”

Indeed so according to a May 26 Reuters report citing a US Clean Water Act clause, added in 1990 after the Exxon Valdez disaster. Unlike BP’s $75 million liability cap for economic damages, Washington can assess fines of up to $4,300 for every barrel spilled.

The basic fine is $1,100 per barrel. However, if courts rule gross negligence, much more perhaps is likely. In the past, civil fines were a modest percent of total cost, but given the size of this disaster and its unprecedented damage and outrage, stiffer penalties may result.

Given the best of reliable estimates, University of Michigan’s Environmental Law program director, Professor David Uhlmann, believes:

“These civil penalties could be staggeringly high, possibly running into the billions, (maybe) tens of billions,” including clean-up costs, economic damages, compensatory and punitive ones, and possible criminal liability.

A late April Bernstein Research estimate put BP’s liability up to $8 billion, but the figure excluded possible penalties, and didn’t consider a catastrophe this great or its likely duration — combined, having the potential to bankrupt the company and very likely get its CEO Tony Hayward fired, considered damaged goods, perhaps with other tainted officials sharing responsibility for the cost, major PR disaster, and criminal negligence, even the best PR and containment can’t conceal.

Initially, BP and the Obama administration said 1,000 daily barrels, then 5,000, and now 12,000-19,000, much of which is being recovered according Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, repeating what BP tells him, and even now can’t admit the obvious about plumes.

Early amounts captured combined oil and sea water, likely as true now despite announced company claims that always are bogus and can’t be believed.

Repeatedly up to now, Harward and other BP officials lied, suppressed the truth, and continue to control everything, including clean-up efforts. At best, they’ve done little, provided bare-bones financial compensation, and no other help to affected residents — the Obama administration letting them operate secretly and negligently, in spite of continued bungling, obstruction, and criminal negligence or worse.

A Potential Doomsday Scenario

According to University of Georgia biogeochemist, Samantha Joye, the vast underwater plumes are “unlike anything else that has ever been seen anywhere, certainly in human history, (and they) threaten to wreak havoc on marine life. (Also unprecedented are) extremely high levels of methane. It’s impossible to know what (its) impacts” will be, something that will take years to understand. Besides the enormous damage to the Gulf, Joye’s greatest fear is one or more hurricanes, pushing the oil ashore, and spreading it through torrential rains well inland, and contaminating vast crops and farmland over a vast area.

On June 8, oil expert, Matthew Simmons, on MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan show, said the enormity of the Gulf disaster has been grossly underestimated. He believes from 100,000-150,000 barrels are spewing out daily, mostly from “an open hole with no casing in it which sits about seven miles away from where BP has ben trying to fix these little tiny leaks in the drilling riser.”

After the explosion, 40,000-50,000 pounds of pressure per square inch intensified the fire and popped the blowout preventer like a cork. Then the casing came out, so “we have an open hole that’s spewing I would guess somewhere between 100-150,000 barrels a day of oil which is why you now have over a 100 mile oil lake at the bottom of the Gulf… that’s apparently 4-5,000 feet deep.”

“I think (we’ll) discover that we have an open hole with no casing in it,” so to contain the leak, BP is doing “everything wrong. (They are) trying to patch a little leak in the drilling riser” when the real problem is an open hole with no casing in it. If true, as is likely, “the only way we’ll shut it off is either let it (exhaust itself over up to) 30 years… or put a nuclear device down the hole,” blow it up, and encase it in melted rock (a “glassy plug”) – but not without the enormous risk of irradiating the Gulf and all plant and animal species in it.

According to New York University Physics Professor Michio Kaku, sealing the Gulf leak(s) with a nuclear device amounts to a “huge science experiment, with unintended consequences,” including potentially:

— releasing “dangerous, water-soluble chemicals such as radioactive iodine, strontium, and cesium, which would contaminate the food chain in the Gulf;

— the ‘seal’ created by the glassified sand is probably unstable; (and)

— it might actually make the problem worse, creating many mini leaks on the ocean floor.”

Further, eight or more hurricanes are predicted. If one or more hit the Gulf, “it means that seawater several hundred feet below the surface of the water could be churned up and then deposited over the South. This seawater, containing oils and radioactive fission products, would magnify the environmental problem” hugely. As a result, Kaku strongly opposes the nuclear option, given the enormous risks and no way to contain them.

Final Comments

Obama isn’t letting the Gulf disaster slow his offshore drilling support. After the April 20 explosion, the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) approved 27 more projects, 26 exempted from environmental review, including two for BP getting the Center for Biological Diversity’s Executive Director, Kieran Suckling, to say:

The MMS has learned absolutely nothing from this national catastrophe. It is still illegally exempting dangerous offshore drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico from all environmental review. It is outrageous and unacceptable.

Then on June 7, the Obama administration announced new safety guidelines ahead (more cosmetic than with teeth) to expedite dozens of shallow water operations, besides more deep water ones once his appointed commission completes its disaster investigation, sure to produce distortion, obstruction and whitewash — a topic this writer addressed here .

He’s also promoting the outlandish cap and trade legislation (through the House, not the Senate), promoted as a climate/clean energy bill that, in fact, will raise energy prices and enrich Wall Street through a new carbon trading scam, greater than the housing and derivatives ones combined, a topic also addressed by this writer.

With an administration and Congress supporting monied and power interests, most Americans are on their own and out of luck economically, politically, and environmentally, besides their safety, security and well-being, not important under either party in charge, so it’s for grassroots activism to bring change.

Stephen Lendman wrote How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Contact him at: lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org 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.

29 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on June 12th, 2010 at 8:38am #

    Let’s see how does that go we the people hummm. So we are the government and it does appear that look’s good on paper. If we are to try you know that enormous effort would government or this so called private sector we hear about. Now many say the private sector corporations the little God’s are now in control of the government. Just on the off chance that’s true how does it all look to you the big picture? Does voting seem to change this cozy relationship you know just on the off chance it is true. Will the tea party change this relationship well the tea party is the relationship along with the dumbest signs known to man. So how do we divorce this cozy relationship so to speak you know just on the off chance it’s true. Again just on the off chance we are all going down the drain in not such slow motion all of us 6.8 billion so far how can we get this started? Oh and Glenn Beck just on the off chance you read DV again what are your thought’s on taxing carbon and returning that tax back to we the people you know to sort of keep the chaos down to a minimum as it’s late in the game. You might need three blackboards for this one. Anyway the time is now we will not get a second chance on this one. If we are going to try no time to waste then again wasting time could be part of the answer. Nice cup of coffee game of checkers?

  2. MichaelKenny said on June 12th, 2010 at 8:44am #

    It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, they say. An odd side-effect of the spill has been to damage already-weakened British perceptions of the infamous “special relationship”. It’s not that people think that BP doesn’t deserve the rough treatment it’s getting from Obama. They do, but they keep thinking that he would never have dared go after an American oil company in the same way. They’re probably right! If BP goes bankrupt, and that seems a likely outcome, a lot of Brits will lose their pensions, held in BP shares. Unlike the rest of Europe, the Brits aped the US on that point, so if BP goes under, it will be another example of GB backing the wrong horse! And, of course, if BP’s assets are bought up for a song by American oil companies (again, a likely outcome), that will just increase the sense of being left in the lurch by their American “friends”.

  3. Don Hawkins said on June 12th, 2010 at 9:01am #

    If we are to try you know that enormous effort would government or this so called private sector we hear about be the best answer? It appears at the present time we the people don’t have a say from our government and the private sector forget about it they are one. So how do we get started as so far this story has a very bad ending. Make that four blackboards Beck can you get that cleared with the powers that be at Fox New’s?

  4. bozh said on June 12th, 2010 at 9:46am #

    Diktat is not guidance-teaching by timocrats. Democrats don’t teach-guide people; they command people. And Dems love it! True, some dogs [or is it all dogs?] and some people [or is it all people; save children?] love being commanded.
    Children can’t be commanded because they are free of the cobwebs in their tiny brains!
    So? Why am i saying this? Well, i don’t know! And u think i got a solution for this? tnx

  5. Don Hawkins said on June 12th, 2010 at 1:22pm #

    Let’s just take a calm look at what we see with our own eye’s. Climate change, global warming, the Greenhouse effect for us older folks do we need science anymore to tell us what’s happening not really. The Gulf of Mexico do we need science to tell us what’s happening well no. What has already happened to our rivers, forests the oceans do we need science to tell us not anymore. What are we doing now that we see with our own eye’s nothing. I guess we the people re lie on so called leaders and business to tell us what they are doing and just what is it they are doing, nothing feel good commercials and illusion. Does it look like a war to you in the Gulf of Mexico to try and save some of it well no. Here in the States cap and trade better known as the climate bill just another piece of crap illusion and as it stands a good chance of not passing, what. The answer to the biggest problem human’s has ever faced well one of the biggest problems there’s about three all because of something called progress is no answer at all just illusion, bullshit and they can’t even pass that because there mind’s in twenty ten it appears has turned into mush. No gut’s well yes gut’s if somebody else does the dirty work as long as they get to decide the dirty work. The whole damn thing is nut’s. How that for calm and at peace Indian talk. I have to admit Glenn Beck is on to this bullshit called cap and trade but him and many more in the quote un quote private sector don’t have an answer all they do is say it will not work. The other day Beck and his answer trust in God read the constitution and by the way sign up for my new’s letter and buy my book he did stop short of saying send in a thousand dollar seed that probably comes later down the road. I only bring up Beck because what channel is he on talking this shit Fox New;s the fair and balanced prison for the mind. Of course Fox New’s represents a few more people the darkside should cover it who on and off camera use third grade level crazy as again it appears there mind’s have turned to mush. Like Bozh and u think i got a solution for this one thing for sure it will take a lot of us same page and easy well no very hard indeed. It look’s like to tax carbon and return the money back to the people along with big time research a little slow down for about a thousand years and stop eating so much America could be a few answers. So far full speed ahead oh well.

  6. kalidas said on June 12th, 2010 at 1:38pm #

    I’m not sure everyone realizes what is happening in the gulf.
    This is not just a broken pipe which needs plugging.
    The potential for an absolute disaster beyond belief is real.
    Like something out of a sci-fi movie.
    They really gone and done it this time.

  7. Don Hawkins said on June 12th, 2010 at 1:48pm #

    Mr. President do you give the people of Earth speech or do we all just stay in dreamland as strangeness spreads through out the land? Maybe we will not make it but if you did give that speech just to see the look’s on a few people’s faces I guess would be worth it.

  8. Don Hawkins said on June 12th, 2010 at 2:04pm #

    kalidas you sure you worded that last comment properly here maybe I can help,
    They really gone and done it this time. Same page it will take a lot of us new car’s big houses the finest silver from the North of Spain probably not but boring it will not be.

  9. Don Hawkins said on June 12th, 2010 at 5:11pm #

    Did anybody see the “THE LAST DAYS OF LEHMAN BROTHERS” on CNBC? So that’s what these so called elites are like off camera. I guess the best line in the movie was I sell them nothing for something. I don’t think a few Countries are laughing at that line and that includes the States. I wonder how close these actors came to the way these people really think and still do think I guess that’s what they call style. I think nut’s is a better word and with what we now know just maybe completely and totally insane is a better way to put it. I guess they still exspect a different result doing the same thing over and that is insane. Can hardly wait to see how the Gulf of Mexico will be made to seem normal.

  10. Don Hawkins said on June 12th, 2010 at 6:22pm #

    A good example of insane is the Governors of the States on the Gulf and mayors get on TV and tell people come on down. The show must go on the system demands that we keep spending. Let’s see the system will also demand that we keep drilling in the Gulf is that right and knowing full well what coal is doing to this planet keep digging that hole is that right. Keep over fishing keep making plastics bottled water is a good one. Let’s see we need to make bigger airliners and flat screen TV’s and oh yes we want more cell phones when if the truth be known we need to do none of those things we need a new show kind of a new way of thinking is that right. The system demands it and just maybe we need a new system and what might that be well we work together or we don’t survive. It’s a tuff one alright and to give this a try boring it will not be the whole idea of style what we think that is now will have to change and that will be a good thing. Come on who would not like these ideas? Hard work, reason, imagination, and you gotta have heart.

    What’s in style this summer in old twenty ten?

  11. Don Hawkins said on June 13th, 2010 at 3:35am #

    I’ll be darned it happened it’s tomorrow. So today what do we do I know we can watch CNN and see the latest style in dress and find out what’s important to us all. Wait the Weather channel and get the golf report or Fox and friends and see how bad Obama has been the last few day’s. Here’s a colorful picture take a look.


    COUPLE OF DAYS. Hurricane center

    Quite rare is it and environmental conditions appear conducive do they. Yes the temperature of the oceans appear to be rather warm. Let’s see tomorrow maybe some progress on the climate bill a joke on the human race come on down the water is fine.

  12. Don Hawkins said on June 13th, 2010 at 5:39am #

    You know, instead of running around blaming BP, maybe everyone should just take a deep breath and remember that BP didn’t intend to cause the worst oil spill in history. As Mayor Bloomberg pointed out in his weekly radio address this morning, “The guy that runs BP didn’t exactly go down there and blow up the well.” So he says it’s a little premature that “we’re going after the heads of some of these companies… If you want him to fix it and they’re the only ones with the expertise, I think I might wait to look, assign blame. There’s got to be somebody that’s culpable in everything. C’mon.” In other words, if we all tried being a little nicer to BP, maybe they’d plug the damn leak. Gothamist

    Come on be nicer to BP and don’t go see the movie South of the border. From what I understand this movie South of the border tell’s the truth on a few levels man we sure wouldn’t want to get that started.


    Come on be nicer to BP.

  13. Don Hawkins said on June 13th, 2010 at 6:03am #


    Temperature anomalies for the oceans on planet Earth. Note the last time we see a minus sign. Seems to be getting hot in here.

  14. Don Hawkins said on June 13th, 2010 at 6:13am #

    Come on be nicer to the heads of some of these companies… not just BP but Exxon and Chevron and Massey and the companies that make plastic and aluminum all those can’s and one answer could be bring your own cup how’s that for thinking outside the can.

  15. kalidas said on June 13th, 2010 at 7:07am #

    “kalidas you sure you worded that last comment properly here maybe I can help,
    They really gone and done it this time. Same page it will take a lot of us new car’s big houses the finest silver from the North of Spain probably not but boring it will not be.”

    Don, I don’t know exactly how or if you helped, but I do know I don’t have any new cars, big houses, silver from Spain or anywhere else and that’s fine with me.
    I do, however, like a little healthy food to eat and clean water to drink and I’m wondering if these very small requirements might be endangered in the near future from a possible mega-disaster of epic proportions originating in the Gulf of Mexico.

  16. Don Hawkins said on June 13th, 2010 at 7:49am #

    Well if we stand up and fight these nut cases just maybe the mega-disaster in the Gulf will be a starting point so we have healthy food to eat and clean water to drink. It does look like we waited to long and many will not have food to eat and water. A few of course think so that just leaves more for us wrong it doesn’t work that way. We are all in this together. So far here in the States it’s just more going through the motions a side show as a few I guess make plans for themselves or not even that. One of there worst fears is to make a try real for people to find out the truth. Let’s see what the big picture look’s like in just a few month’s November comes to mind. The push is on illusion on a grand scale and oh those commercial, messages that I’ll bet are on the way. Either way boring this will not be.

  17. Don Hawkins said on June 13th, 2010 at 11:16am #


    Good idea George and like you said never happen.

  18. Don Hawkins said on June 13th, 2010 at 2:45pm #

    In a mad world, only the mad are sane. Now do we live in a mad World no we live in a mad mad mad World. Then is it true that the mad are now the sane one’s? Am with kalidas I like a little healthy food to eat and clean water to drink and coffee now and then. I do find the mad amazing at times but say we did live in a World where not mad but sane was the norm we used reason and imagination and work not to make money but to make the Earth a better place then what would I do. A little healthy food to eat and clean water to drink and coffee now and then. Idealistic well time for a cup of coffee and some healthy food and tomorrow let’s see what the mad have in store for us.

  19. Deadbeat said on June 13th, 2010 at 2:51pm #

    Good idea George and like you said never happen.

    I disagree with Monbiot’s idea. We need to break away from measuring everything by price (read: money). The environment is too immeasurable to put a price on. This includes lands (read: housing), food, air, water, etc. Monbiot mentions economist. Who cares about them. The whole profession is really about maintaining the notion that a price can be placed on human activity. The problem here is Capitalist production and the Capitalist system which needed to be totally scraped. The BP disaster is yet another example why the entire Capitalist system needed to be tossed.

  20. Don Hawkins said on June 13th, 2010 at 3:55pm #

    True with what we now know. We didn’t always know but we do now. The one problem of course is greed oooh I said greed. Somehow we must make greed not in style unfashionable that is if we wish to survive. What do you think two generations. A pot and a pan will do just fine.

  21. Don Hawkins said on June 13th, 2010 at 3:58pm #

    If advanced spacefaring aliens exploit resources like humans we’d better hope they don’t find us anytime soon. Hawking

  22. bozh said on June 13th, 2010 at 4:09pm #

    Of desirable-necessary-apsolutely certain truth, people must be ok. And only now we begin reasoning.
    Come, says the truth, let us reason from this fact-eternal verity.

    It is not we who make us, but nature or god. It had been clerico-noble class which labeled some humans as short, stupid, arrogant, vile, dirty, lazy, uneducated.

    Neither god nor nature makes junk; clerico-patrician gang of people did that millennia ago and do it today.

    So, all we have to do, is stand on street corners, and ask ‘uneducated’ or house people if they think they are lowlife or junk. Natch, no one wld admit that! They’d say: i am good as anybody.
    But one cld ask them why some people rule more than others or are richer than others. Or why ur kids don’t attend college and rich people’s kids do, etc.
    So, if ur ok; just like bush, clinton, why u let ur kids go without dental care or become pavers, fishers, miners, fallers, tillers and their kids become doctors lawyers, secretaries of state, presidents, ceos, bankers, generals, etc.

    Wld that convince them that there’s s’mthing awful bad ab US? If one cannot, well, nothing was lost by trying. And u don’t need that much money to educate people ab this fact; the fact that most people are not ok in the eyes of their ‘superiors’, but are ok in god’s eyes or nature’sd eyes. tnx

  23. Don Hawkins said on June 13th, 2010 at 4:11pm #

    Palin tweeted to her 160,000+ followers:

    Extreme Greenies:see now why we push”drill,baby,drill”of known reserves&promising finds in safe onshore places like ANWR? Now do you get it?

    Yes I do get it your mad and some tell you your sane that’s of course with what we now know in a little something called the real World so far long forgotten. Let’s see what the mad are up to tomorrow it’s only a day away. All made to seem oh so sane. BP beautiful people come on let’s be nicer to them we sure wouldn’t want to make them mad.

  24. Rehmat said on June 13th, 2010 at 4:55pm #

    Maybe these are the signs of the Doomsday – the arrival of the Anti-Christ and Jesus’ second-coming – to kill the Anti-Christ and convert Jews to Christianity – as the Evangelists believe!


  25. kalidas said on June 13th, 2010 at 5:27pm #

    I’m honestly wondering if the Gulf might produce a great big agonizing shrug enough to kick some serious mankind ass. Regardless of religion, race, creed or species.

  26. kalidas said on June 13th, 2010 at 5:28pm #

    I might add, by the way, deserve has nothing to do with it.

  27. kanomi said on June 14th, 2010 at 2:47am #

    There could be hundreds of millions of barrels of oil in that reservoir, no one but the corporate government insiders seems to have any real estimate, and they have been completely dishonest right from the start, so it’s impossible to believe a single thing these cretins say.

    But one thing that would explain the excessive amount of secrecy, lying and police state thuggery mobilized to cut off all access to the Gulf would be that this disaster is not only as bad as this article describes, but potentially, even worse.

    If the reservoir is in the range of hundreds of millions to a billion barrels, and the seabed under this massive 450-ton BOP platform collapses, we won’t be worrying about bluefin tuna and the malfeasant gutters of corrupt officialdom anymore, because such an eruption of oil could spell the death of all sea-life, a civilization-ending event.

    Here is a well-researched if depressing comment from a knowledgeable poster on the Oil Drum outlining what might be going on behind the scenes:

  28. hayate said on June 14th, 2010 at 9:19pm #


    That oil drum piece does not leave much room for optimism. It’s a far cry from what was posted there when I first checked soon after the rig went dowm. At that time some “resident expert” yahoo was claiming the oil released was only about as much as would fill an average swimming pool.

    Thanks for posting it.

  29. hayate said on June 14th, 2010 at 9:22pm #

    This piece by Lendman is an eye opener. It should be passed around.