Archive for the ‘offshore drilling’ tag
I posted this the other day on Twitter, but really didn’t give the story the WTF?!? treatment it so clearly deserves. In fact, it took someone re-tweeting the story with the prelude “HOLY FUCKING SHIT” to remind me just how horrible it really is.
A massive fish kill has been reported in Louisiana – right around where the BP oil spill happened. The photos coming in of the dead fish are truly amazing (in the worst possible way).
Fred McCallister, a whistleblower who claims BP is using dispersants to sink oil and hide it from the pesky media’s cameras, will testify before a Senate investigative panel this week.
For quite some time, many bloggers and journalists following the BP-Corexit story, including me, have made the allegation that BP may have been experimenting by dumping over a million gallons of toxic dispersants into the ocean because they were desperately trying to prevent the oil from hitting the beaches.
(The amount of dispersants used by BP has been contested. Rep. Ed Markey has questioned the validity of BPs numbers, saying on July 31 that a new congressional report shows “BP carpet-bombed the ocean with these chemicals, and the Coast Guard allowed them to do it.”)
Everyone remembers what happened to Exxon’s public image the moment all of those adorable birds became coated in thick crude. And while BP has not been able to prevent oil from hitting all coastal birds, they have greatly diminished their PR liability by using dispersants like Corexit to coagulate the oil and sink it beneath the ocean’s surface where the media cannot photograph it, and BP won’t be fined for beach cleanup.
Former Shell president John Hofmeister rushed to Tony Hayward’s defense today on American Morning by arguing that the pandemic of populism that has swept across the US – resulting in Tony becoming Public Enemy Numero Uno – is misguided because he totally won’t walk away with as much cash as everyone thinks.
ROBERTS: What do you think he’s going to come away with in terms of a golden parachute if he’s ousted? We’re hearing certain figures, maybe a one-time payment of $1.5 million, an annual pension of $900,000 at the age of 60. I know he has a tremendous amount of money in stock as well. What do you think given the circumstances BP can give him to go out the door?
HOFMEISTER: Well, those packages are really carefully scrutinized in the U.K.. You know, I worked there for about eight years as part of Shell’s organization, and the British people, the British press, they really carefully scrutinize. And I think boards in the U.K., as well as the rest of Europe, are pretty straightforward on these separation packages. These are not as generous as what some people might see in the U.S..
The numbers are large, but remember, Tony’s running one of the major companies in the whole world. And so there is a recognition of his contributions of many, many decades and I think, you know, because of the balance with which boards take these things, the numbers I’ve seen and read about don’t surprise me at all. They’re kind of in the ballpark of what’s happened in other British companies.
Tony was born in 1957, which makes him 53. Even if he lives a relatively short life (let’s say for the sake of argument 75 years,) he’ll collect $19,800,000 from his pension, alone. That’s without counting his stock. As of December 31, he held more than 535,000 shares in BP, which would currently be worth about $327 million. If he cashed out his stock right now, and only lived until 75, he’ll ultimately collect $346,800,000 (though Tony says he’s giving up his stock option to rake in $12,394,400 under a long-term incentive plan.)
I’d love to know what kind of bet Robert Wine lost where he ended up having to explain the actions of his company to a lowly blogger.
Robert’s official title is “press officer,” and from the tone of his emails, he didn’t really appreciate a no-name busybody asking questions about the actions of the paycheck dispensary.
My favorite aspect of this exchange is how we both start off with our bestest smiles on, and adopt pristine tones of civility.
Yeah, that ends about halfway through the email convo.
Some background: I wrote BP as a follow-up to their official statement on the sand dumping allegations. BP claims the gathering and dumping of sand into piles are part of the cleaning process.
It’s possible that sand keeps washing in from the ocean and redepositing atop the oil. However, if that’s the case, then this kind of video does not bode well for BP’s overall clean-up effort.
Are they just removing some of the oil, then leaving once the sand washes back over the remaining pollution?
Like I’ve said, I contacted BP about this, and I’m still waiting to hear back from them.
Update: The ever-excellent Karen Dalton-Beninato has posted an update on the story here with a response issued today from the Coast Guard. They claim that the gathering, relocating, and dumping of sand are all part of a cleaning process that includes the temporary storing of sand in piles for “later cleaning”:
“There is a long-term treatment plan for Grand Isle which includes the collection and washing of oiled sand including buried oil. Part of this plan includes collecting and storing oiled sand in piles for later cleaning. At no time has clean sand been used by clean-up crews to cover or bury oil or oiled sand,” said Don Ballard, operations director for the Grand Isle branch.
The press release also states that, “Coast Guard crews throughout the Deepwater Horizon response branches in Louisiana are checking deployed boom and surveying for additional oil deposits after heavy weather moved through the area beginning Sunday, June 27. Heavy winds and waves have blown sand across beaches, burying oil and boom. Reports of damaged and stranded boom have been received from Plaquemines, Terrebonne, Iberia, Jefferson and Lafourche parishes. Crews are beginning a systematic effort to repair any boom that has been damaged. Heavy waves have eroded sand along beaches exposing oil that had been buried by natural sand build-up along the coasts. Beaches in Grand Isle, La., in particular, have had sand eroded away exposing buried oil.”
If this is true, it certainly would have been easier to ascertain had the infamous 65-foot rule never been implemented. The Coast Guard obviously concurs, since they lifted the “no journalists allowed” rule for a special one-day only bonanza in which the media could observe the Grand Isle team up close.
On this Independence Day, let’s remember that journalists remain crouched 65-feet away from the worst environmental tragedy in the country’s history, while the government permits a private corporation to suspend the First Amendment because it may damage its stock value.
Update 2: Today BP dropped their official explanation, which is virtually identical to the previous statement (or I should say, the Coast Guard is parroting the BP line):
There is a long-term treatment plan for Grand Isle which includes the collection and washing of oiled sand including buried oil. Part of this plan includes collecting and storing oiled sand in piles for later cleaning. At no time has clean sand been used to cover or bury oil or oiled sand.
Beaches naturally pass through a series of growth and degradation depending on the sea conditions. Storms that have passed through the area have deposited sand on the beach and eroded it again exposing oil buried by sediments brought in by the weather.
Now that the bad weather has moved through the cleanup area, crews are able to return to the water and beaches and renew the process of removing the oil.
As you might imagine, it’s impossible to secure a BP official right now for an extensive interview about this, but I keep emailing their offices with my questions. The sand in the videos don’t appear to be in piles, but rather matted down. Of course, that could very well be from the ocean washing against the piles, and flattening them, as BP says in this latest release. But in that case, how does BP discern what areas are “clean” and what areas are “contaminated?” There are no visible markers anywhere (at least that are clear in the videos).
C.S. Muncy, the photojournalist I interviewed a couple days ago about how BP has allegedly been covering beached oil with sand, posted this video of Pensacola Councilman, Larry Johnson, repeating the accusation on MSNBC.
Johnson: I really think that the federal government should be playing a bigger role. BP, you know, we’ve found them to – sometimes they tell a story, and it’s not accurate. I had a report this week that they’re bringing in sand for these photo-ops. We have the Vice-President here, we have the President here, we have the Governor here, that they’re actually bringing sand in.
I called BP about this, and they said, ‘No, that’s not true,’ but I do have some pictures that looks like new sands brought in. Chris, what happens when this oil hits our sand – you know, we’re known for beautiful, white sand, and this oil is now staining our sand. If you look behind me, you will see — not white sand — but more of a gritty-looking sand. You look all around this beach, at these dunes, and just to my left, and it’s white sand. We’re losing that right now.
I have also contacted BP, as has C.S., and I was told that BP is investigating the allegations, and someone will get back to me.
Yesterday, I contacted a friend of mine, C.S. Muncy, who is a photojournalist currently raising all kinds of hell down in southern Louisiana.
C.S.’s original goal was to gain access to some of the areas being guarded by BP contractors and deemed “off limits” to reporters, but yesterday he, along with Save Our Shores‘s Judson Parker, made an unexpected discovery.
They believe that BP has been dumping sand on the beaches in order to cover up oil. You can view some video Judson shot of the beach over here.
I called C.S. to ask him about the alleged cover-up.
AK: Is it true that BP has been covering some of the oil on the beach with sand?
CM: Yeah. Yeah, this is interesting…We went down onto the beaches, and we started inspecting them. There were tar balls, tar residue, and there was some oil on the beach. Apparently, the day before there was a lot of tar balls, and BP was working in the area pretty heavily, and we started noticing there was a different consistency in the sand.
* Updated the headline: I originally wrote that Rand Paul said the following statement. It was actually his equally oblivious father, Ron. The rest of the article is really about Rand’s previous statements that illustrated how disengaged he is from average Americans, and his sense of entitlement that probably comes from his awful dad, whose terribleness is demonstrated in the quote.
At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rand Paul turned out to be a DNC plant.
BP’s $20 billion escrow fund is a “PR stunt” that came about through a “suspicious” process, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said Tuesday night.
Though Paul didn’t go as far as fellow Texan Rep. Joe Barton (R), who called the fund a “shakedown,” he nevertheless said the “process is sort of suspicious.”
“They have agreed to this and this is sort of a PR stunt as far as I’m concerned,” Paul told Fox News. “BP had already been making a lot of payments to people who had been injured.”
He said this… on television…while the crisis is still happening.
This follows Rand’s comments about unemployed people being a bunch of lazy shit sacks, who are too “picky” and insist on passing up all kinds of sweet, sweet employment opportunities (like the jobs that don’t offer benefits or a living wage).
God, this is depressing. The industrial sector is just about extinct, corporations are fleeing the country to exploit cheap foreign labor, unions are gasping their last breaths, and 6.8 million Americans have been unemployed 27 weeks, or longer (the numbers are higher in places like Detriot, which has 30 percent unemployment, but the media doesn’t really focus on that reality).
But there is good news! Well, kind of. If your trade is oil spill clean-up, you’re experiencing a bonanza right now.
Hundreds of contractors and subcontractors are doing jobs both complex and mundane, whether it’s building the robots that BP sends 5,000 feet underwater to capture live video of the broken wellhead or providing boats to skim oil from the water’s surface. And then there is the cottage industry that has sprung up overnight to support the 24,600 cleanup workers, catering their meals, hauling away their trash and supplying portable toilets.
“There’s money flowing in the streets,” said Michael E. Hoffman, director of research at Wunderlich Securities, a Memphis-based brokerage firm.
America may be losing the race to evolve technology, and alternative fuels, but at least we still lead the way in creating horrible catastrophes that our unemployed masses can then toil to clean up.
Ever the barometer of compassionate altruism, Wall Street immediately rushed to figure out who would be the winners of the BP disaster. The financial sector doesn’t price superfluous biological waste like sea turtles, or oceans because things like endangered pelicans don’t make the right people money. However, Wall Street does know how to price stuff like hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic dispersants.
Within two weeks of the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion, the stock price of Clean Harbors, a Boston-based hazardous-waste management company, shot up more than 20 percent. During the same period, Nalco Holding Co., which makes the chemical dispersant Corexit, rose to nearly a year high.
Sure, Nalco, made a killing during the disaster. It helps that one of its board members, Rodney F. Chase, is a former BP board member. That cozy relationship provides Nalco with unique access to the big business of oil spill cleanup. The Wapost article doesn’t mention that stuff (why get messy?) but it does include this nugget:
The other day, I was discussing the “branding” of the BP disaster with a friend. Calling this catastrophe a “spill” seems like a laughable understatement, and my phrasing (the “oil geyser”) wasn’t really catchy. A few weeks ago, the term “oil volcano” emerged, I think because it was first used by Rachel Maddow, and I believe it captures the severity of the situation.
So this thing, the oil volcano, has been pumping thousands of barrels of oil into the ocean every single day. That much is undeniable. BP can’t approach the media and say, “Epic disaster is all over, folks!” because there are cameras (now HD video) down there, filming the whole thing.
The company attempted to use dispersants (hundreds of thousands of gallons of the toxic stuff) in order to coagulate the oil and sink it to the bottom, conveniently hiding the true toll of the oil volcano from the world. Except, that didn’t work entirely, and some endangered birds got snagged in the sludge.
Literally, there is nothing BP can now do in order to mend its public image except lie. And lie they have. Tony Hayward blamed workers’ illnesses on food poisoning instead of acknowledging exposure to oil fumes and dispersants tend to make individuals sick. BP denied the existence of those massive underwater oil plumes. You know, the ones NOAA just confirmed exist.