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BP Gulf Oil Spill Images

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

ZORIAH – zoriah.net blog


Posted: 06 Nov 2010 01:35 PM PDT

As with most of the topics I cover, just because the BP gulf cost oil spill is out of the headlines does not mean that the problems relating to it have just vanished.  I think a lot of people, and even a lot of photojournalists, miss important stories because they are only interested in the first couple of weeks of a major event.  These images were taken months after the the oil spill and I am quite sure one could go today and gather similar pictures.  This is why I always encourage my workshop students to cover stories that they believe in and think people need to hear and not just the stories that sell.

You can find part one of this story here.

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Clean up workers from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife survey a sand bar after fresh oil washed ashore during the previous night.

 

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A pelican soars above a white egret with feathers  smudged in oil

 

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Clumps of oil litter a beach near Venice, Louisiana

 

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A massive pile of bags filled with oil soaked clean up material after an operation to remove oil from a sand bar

 

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A dolphin swims though an area that had been heavily polluted with oil in the wake of the BP spill

 

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A volunteer offers free pet food to residents of Grand Isle, Louisiana who rely on the fishing industry to make a living and support themselves and their pets.  Those working in the fishing industry, as well as their pets, face and indefinite future.  Many have chosen to give up their pets for fears of being unable to feed them.

 

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A local wears a shirt reading “S.O.S. Save Our Seafood”

 

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A sign stands in front of a home for sale in Grand Isle, Louisiana.  Many residents fear that their property may now be worth nothing as the tourism trade in the area has been decimated.

 

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A volunteer cleans an oil soaked bird in a bird rehabilitation center

 

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Workers try to remove oil from a contaminated beach

 

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One of the tens of thousands of offshore oil drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico

 

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A cleanup boat speeds through a waterway in one of the many contaminated regions of Louisiana.  My sincere thanks to the US Coast Guard for allowing me access to their airplanes in order to capture images like the one above.

 

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A large clean up crew labors to clean up a beach after yet another batch of oil washes ashore

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Is the Gulf of Mexico safe?

November 7, 2010 Leave a comment


Experts, fishermen and residents disagree with federal agencies’ claims that the Gulf and its seafood are safe.

Gulf shrimp being offloaded at Dean Blanchard Seafood Distributors, Grand Isle, Louisiana [Erika Blumenfeld]

Gulf Coast residents, fishermen, seafood distributors, and scientists believe that living on the coast and eating seafood from the Gulf has become hazardous to their health.

In response to their oil disaster last summer that released at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of widely banned toxic Corexit dispersants (which have been banned in 19 countries) to sink the oil. The dispersants contain chemicals that many scientists and toxicologists have warned are dangerous to humans, marine life, and wildlife.

Earlier this year on May 20, the EPA told BP it had 24 hours to find a less toxic alternative, but the EPA’s request was ignored. Then on May 25, BP was given a directive by the EPA to scale back their spraying of the Gulf of Mexico with dispersants. The Coast Guard overlooked the EPA’s directive and provided BP with 74 exemptions in 48 days to use the dispersants.

A March 1987 report titled Organic Solvent Neurotoxicity, by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), states: “The acute neurotoxic effects of organic solvent exposure in workers and laboratory animals are narcosis, anesthesia, central nervous system (CNS) depression, respiratory arrest, unconsciousness, and death.”

Several chemicals and chemical compounds listed in the NIOSH report, such as styrene, toluene, and xylene, are now present in the Gulf of Mexico as the result of BP’s dispersants mixing with BP’s crude oil.

Continue reading this article here.


** Dahr Jamail‘s MidEast Dispatches **
** Visit Dahr Jamail’s website http://dahrjamailiraq.com **

 

Dahr Jamail’s new book, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now available.

Order the book here http://tinyurl.com/cnlgyu

As one of the first and few unembedded Western journalists to report the truth about how the United States has destroyed, not liberated, Iraqi society in his book Beyond the Green Zone, Jamail now investigates the under-reported but growing antiwar resistance of American GIs. Gathering the stories of these courageous men and women, Jamail shows us that far from “supporting our troops,” politicians have betrayed them at every turn. Finally, Jamail shows us that the true heroes of the criminal tragedy of the Iraq War are those brave enough to say no.

Order Beyond the Green Zone
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage

“International journalism at its best.” –Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author All the Shah’s Men

Winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism

BACK to margotbworldnews.com

Broad Coalition Rallies for BP Accountability

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Inter Press Service
By Dahr Jamail


Louisiana fishers, seafood distributors, oil-field workers, conservationists and concerned citizens rally in Baton Rouge on Oct. 30. Credit:Erika Blumenfeld/IPS

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, Nov 1, 2010 (IPS) – Gulf coast fishers, conservationists, seafood distributors and oil workers rallied here at Louisiana’s capital over the weekend to demand that oil giant BP be held accountable for the “ongoing” use of toxic dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We don’t have the open sores and blisters caused by BP’s toxic dispersants that the people in Plaquemine’s Parish have,” Karen Hopkins from Grand Isle, Louisiana told IPS. “We are being poisoned by BP’s same dispersants, but our symptoms are more lethargy and depression symptoms caused by chemical poisoning.”

Hopkins, who works for Dean Blanchard Seafood, a large and well-known seafood distributor, was a member of the Oct. 30 Rally for Gulf Change, whose organisers said they were working towards “preserving our God-given rights to clean air and water for future generations.”

Drew Landry, who describes himself as “a songwriter who works for a commercial craw-fisherman”, told IPS that he first grew concerned about BP’s mishandling of the oil disaster, which began on Apr. 20 when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, by what he saw the oil giant do the following day.

“I played a concert in New Orleans on Apr. 20, and the next morning went to take one of the classes on how to clean oil,” Landry told IPS. “I realised it was not about cleaning oil, but rather BP’s effort to get a roster of names of commercial fishermen from whom they’d have to defend themselves against in the future.”

The organisers and speakers at the rally that was held on the steps of the state capitol building on a sunny Saturday were most concerned with BP’s massive use of toxic dispersants to sink the oil. The dispersants were also injected at the wellhead to keep most of the oil from reaching the surface.

BP used Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527, both of which are banned in Britain and at least 19 other countries. Chemicals released from the combination of crude oil and dispersants can cause health problems that include central nervous system depression, respiratory problems, neurotoxic effects, genetic mutations, leukemia, birth defects, cardiac arrhythmia, and cardiovascular damage, among many others.

“I’ve had lung problems, auto-immune problems, nausea, headaches, and bronchitis because of BP’s disaster,” Beverly Armand from Grand Isle told IPS. “When I leave the area it clears up, and when I go back, I get sick again.”

Armand said her doctor has placed her on three different antibiotics, none of which has been very effective, and had her blood tested for hydrocarbons.

“My creatine level is high, and they found creosote in my blood,” she explained. “And we still have fresh oil coming in, and BP is still spraying Corexit. The stuff they are calling algae is foam caused by the dispersants.”

Protesters held signs that read “Hell No It’s Not Over”, “Ban Corexit Now”, and a drawing of a pelican with the words “I want my life back” – the last also a reference to comments by the former chief executive of BP, Tony Hayward, which were widely deemed insensitive to struggling Gulf residents.

Organisers told IPS that several people were unable to attend the rally because the interstate 10 highway from Lafayette was closed due to a chemical spill.

Susan Price, a small business owner from Chauvin, Louisiana, told IPS that she has been suffering from health problems since she was exposed in August to chemicals she believes are from the oil disaster.

“I’m worried for my grandchildren,” Price said at the rally. “The seafood is woefully under-tested for toxins, while the government and BP are patting themselves on the back for a job well done. We will not be lulled, be silenced, or stand down. We will fight to protect our people and our land.”

James Miller, a commercial fisherman from Mississippi, told onlookers that he found oil and dispersants in the water while fishing recently.

“I’ve had diarrhea, vomiting, the sweats, and been hospitalised for three days,” said Miller, who worked 73 days for BP as an oil spill responder. “I’ve seen the dead turtles, dead birds, dead dolphins and dead fish, and I’ve taken people out on my boat to show them the oil. It’s still there, and I can tell you the seafood is not safe to eat.”

Later that afternoon, the group convened a meeting at the Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge.

Rob Coulan, a businessman from Harvey, Louisiana, spoke of neuro-toxic side effects of the dispersants that have been well documented since at least 1987. “BP knew what this stuff would do long before they ever used it in the Gulf,” he said.

“BP used a world record amount of dispersants in our Gulf,” Marylee Orr, the executive director of Louisiana Environmental Action Network, said. “And we are doing petroleum hydrocarbon tests on soils, waters, and seafood and finding extremely high levels.”

“We still have oil, and all the problems associated with it,” Orr added. “And all the fishermen in this room will tell you that they [BP] are still using Corexit. The dead and dying birds and wildlife are merely a reflection of what is happening to us.”

Cherri Foytlin, whose husband works in the Gulf oil industry, announced that every Louisiana state representative and senator had been invited to both events. While she said that two had responded to her invitation by agreeing to meet with them, no one showed up at either event.

“In five to 10 years from now, people all along the Gulf Coast are going to be dropping dead from cancer, and that includes children,” Foytlin said, before directing her next comments towards BP. “I’m not your experiment. This is my life. Our Gulf is not your experiment.”


** Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches **
** Visit Dahr Jamail’s website http://dahrjamailiraq.com **

 

Dahr Jamail’s new book, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now available.

Order the book here http://tinyurl.com/cnlgyu

As one of the first and few unembedded Western journalists to report the truth about how the United States has destroyed, not liberated, Iraqi society in his book Beyond the Green Zone, Jamail now investigates the under-reported but growing antiwar resistance of American GIs. Gathering the stories of these courageous men and women, Jamail shows us that far from “supporting our troops,” politicians have betrayed them at every turn. Finally, Jamail shows us that the true heroes of the criminal tragedy of the Iraq War are those brave enough to say no.

Order Beyond the Green Zone
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage

“International journalism at its best.” –Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author All the Shah’s Men

Winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism

BACK to margotbworldnews.com

Brazil finds massive oil field

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

30 October 2010 Last updated at 13:34 ET

President Lula da Silva with his hands dirty with oil on a Petrobras platform in the Tupi field, 28 October 2010 Outgoing president Lula says oil will help Brazil eradicate poverty

A newly tapped oil field off the coast of Brazil could contain up to 15 billion barrels of oil, officials say.

Brazil’s national petroleum agency said the Libra field most probably held around 8 billion barrels.

That matches the size of the giant Tupi oil field, whose discovery in 2007 drew attention to Brazil’s potential as a major oil producer.

If the 15 billion barrel figure were confirmed it would double Brazil’s known oil reserves.

It would also be the biggest oil field discovered in the Americas since 1976, when Mexico found the giant Cantarell field in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Libra exploratory well is located 183km (114 miles) offshore from Rio de Janeiro.

“The volume of recoverable oil belonging to the nation could vary from 3.7 billion to 15 billion barrels, with the most likely estimate being 7.9 billion barrels,” the national petroleum agency (ANP) said in a statement.

Brazil has discovered billions of barrels of oil in the last few years, mostly in deep, pre salt fields off its south-eastern coast.

The discoveries should make Brazil one of the world’s top 10 oil producers.

Outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said future oil revenues will be used to eradicate poverty and invest in education and technology.

In September the Brazilian oil company Petrobras, which is partly owned by the state, raised $70bn (£44.7bn) to develop the new fields in the world’s largest ever public share offering.

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Fishermen Report Louisiana Bays Filled With Oil

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Oil creeps past protective booms
Oil creeps past protective booms

Image by lagohsep via Flickr

 

by: Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld, t r u t h o u t | Report


Oiled marsh in Bay Jimmy, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

On Saturday, October 23, Truthout spotted what appeared to be massive areas of weathered oil floating near Louisiana’s fragile marshlands in both East and West Bays along the Mississippi River Delta. In addition, at least two more oil leaks were spotted near oil and gas platforms along Louisiana’s embattled coastline.

Four days prior, federal on-scene cleanup coordinator for the BP oil disaster, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft, declared there was little recoverable surface oil in the Gulf of Mexico.


Miles-long strands of what appears to be weathered BP oil in bays near Southwest Pass, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)


Another view of miles-long strands of what appears to be weathered BP oil in bays near Southwest Pass, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

Both Bays cover an area of roughly 70 square miles of open water that surround Southwest Pass, the main shipping channel of the Mississippi River. While East Bay remains closed for fishing, West Bay was currently open for fishing when Truthout spotted the substance on October 23, despite the fact that the day before a BP oil cleanup crew had reported oil in West Bay to a local newspaper.


Shrimper trawling in what appears to be oil, in West Bay, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

“They are literally shrimping in oil,” Jonathan Henderson, the coastal resiliency organizer of the environmental group the Gulf Restoration Network, who was with Truthout on the flight, exclaimed while our plane flew near the fishermen.

“Our tests continue to reveal seafood from the reopened areas is safe to eat,” Jane Lubchenco, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administrator, told reporters while NOAA recently opened more federal waters in the Gulf.

The day before Truthout’s oil sighting, NOAA had reopened more of the previously closed fishing areas, bringing to 96 percent the federal waters now deemed safe for fishing.

The waters in East and West Bay are under the jurisdiction of Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) , while waters further from the coast are under federal jurisdiction. LDWF does receive input, however, from NOAA.

Earlier in the same day, Truthout spotted the substance. A spotter pilot for LDWF had flown over the same area and told Southern Seaplanes there was no oil.

“He is the spotter for LDWF and saw that bay, and it is still open,” Henderson told Truthout. “He should have closed the Bay for fishing. So now you can see how sophisticated they are in tracking this. Either this guy is completely incompetent, or has an agenda to keep as much of Louisiana’s waters open for fishing as he can, whether there is oil or not. I don’t see how he could have flown down there today and not seen it. It’s criminal.”

When Truthout called the LDWF requesting to talk with the LDWF oil spotter, Truthout was told, “that person is not available to comment.”

The LDWF web site has a number to call in order to report oil sightings. When Truthout called that number, the call was answered by a BP response call center.

The only federal waters of the Gulf that have yet to be reopened are a 9,444-square-mile area directly around the BP wellhead where the Deepwater Horizon exploded, burned and sank to the bottom of the Gulf.

On October 23, the Coast Guard claimed that the substance floating in the miles-wide areas of West Bay appeared to be “an algal bloom.”

Lt. Cmdr. Chris O’Neil said a pollution investigator for the Coast Guard collected samples from the area, and while they had yet to be tested, said, “based on his observation and what he sees in the sample jars, he believes that to be an algal bloom.”

Fishermen who have traveled through and fished in the area over the weekend, however, refute these Coast Guard claims.

“I scooped some up, and it feels like oil, looks like oil, is brownish red like all the dispersed oil we’ve been seeing since this whole thing started,” fisherman David Arenesen, from Venice, Louisiana, told Truthout. “It doesn’t look like algae to me. Algae doesn’t stick on your fingers, and algae isn’t oily. The area of this stuff spans an area of 30 miles, from Southwest Pass almost all the way over to Grand Isle, and runs very far off-shore too. We rode through it for over 20 miles while we were going out to fish, I dipped some up, and it’s oil.”

Arenesen saw the substance on Friday, the same day it was reported by the Times Picayune newspaper in New Orleans.

“It was at least an inch thick, and it went on for miles,” Arenesen added. “It would be easy to clean since it’s all floating on the surface.”

Truthout spoke with Gary Robinson, a hook-and-line, mackerel, commercial fisherman working out of Venice, who was also in the substance in question recently.

“I was out in West Bay on October 22nd, and I was in this thick brown foam, about five inches thick, with red swirls of oil throughout it, and there was a lot of it, at least a 10 mile patch of it,” Robinson said while speaking to Truthout on his boat. “I’ve never seen anything like that foam before; the red stuff in it was weathered oil, and there was sheen coming off my boat when I came back into harbor. I’m concerned about the safety of the fish I’m catching.”

The boat captains working in the BP oil spill response team who first reported the sightings as oil told the Times Picayune on Saturday that they were not convinced either by the Coast Guard’s initial assessment.

“I’ve never seen algae that looked orange, that was sticky, smelled like oil and that stuck to the boat and had to be cleaned off with solvent,” said one captain.

Last Friday, the boat captains said they were frustrated by a lack of response from the Coast Guard, after they had been reporting the sightings for a week.

Dean Blanchard, of Dean Blanchard Seafood Inc. in Grand Isle, Louisiana, spoke with Truthout about the Coast Guard claim that the substance was likely algae.

“Hell, we got oil coming in here everyday, it’s all around us; we know what oil is,” Blanchard said. “The Coast Guard should change the color of their uniforms, since they are working for BP. We’ve known they are working for BP from the beginning of this thing. None of us believe anything they say about this oil disaster anymore.”

Despite a consistent trend by state and federal governments to promote the Gulf of Mexico as being largely free of BP oil and dispersants, many residents remain concerned.

“Anytime you can fly 100 miles in one direction and not see a break in the oil,” Capt. Dicky Tupes of Southern Seaplanes told Truthout. “Then fly 100 miles in the other direction and not see a break in the oil: that’s a lot of oil, and it had to go somewhere.”

Tupes was discussing his experience flying over large areas of the Gulf that had been oiled while BP’s well continued to gush, yet he remains alarmed at what he sees in the water.

“Everyone, including the feds, are talking about the fact that less of the oil actually reached the surface than was below.” Tupes added. “And now we’re seeing some of that submerged oil surface here. How long will this go on?”


What appears to be weathered BP oil in bays near Southwest Pass, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)


Strands of what is likely weathered BP oil in bays near Southwest Pass, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

While flying out to East and West Bays, Truthout spotted a platform with what appeared to be an oil leak, as sheen streaked the water. The GPS coordinates at this spotting were 2925.66N, 8929.54W.


Silvery-blue oil sheen shows a leak from a facility between California Bay and Quarantine Bay, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

“I’ve seen quite a few of these,” Tupes told Truthout, referring to the leaking platform.

Henderson explained that he had spotted oil at the exact same area during a previous flyover on October 19. He reported the leak at that time to the Louisiana State Police and the National Response Center, in addition to his speaking directly with the Coast Guard National Response Command and emailing them his photos.

Clearly, no effective action had been taken.

Disturbingly, Henderson has recently revealed how long this leak has been in existence.

“I found out from the Coast Guard that not only has this leak been going on since last week, but that the first report they ever received about this leak was on August 31st,” Henderson wrote for the Gulf Restoration Network on Monday. “It gets worse. According to the Coast Guard, ‘the leak is from an abandoned underwater oil pipeline and the State Department of Natural Resources is in charge of investigating it.’ What does that even mean? Is the State only going to take action to stop the leak after they find the responsible party? Are they really actively investigating this?”


Silvery-blue oil sheen shows leak from a facility in East Bay, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

Another oil leak was spotted near a platform just east of Southwest Pass. A long streak of sheen was visible in East Bay at this area at GPS coordinates 2859.77N, 8917.61W.

The East Bay area was completely covered in miles-long strands of what was likely weathered oil of various colors. While flying approximately ten linear miles across the Bay, Truthout saw nothing but streaks of oil across the surface, as well as submerged oil. “That oil is covering just about the entire length of Southwest Pass,” Tupes said.


What is likely weathered BP oil in East Bay, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

Just across Southwest Pass where the Mississippi River ultimately drains into the Gulf, Truthout was flown over West Bay, which the previous day was reported to be covered in weathered oil by the New Orleans Times-Picayune Newspaper.

Surprisingly, the day after this report, neither state nor federal authorities had closed this area for commercial fishing.

On October 21, scientists from NOAA, the LDWF and the Audubon Nature Institute joined with Coast Guard Rear Adm. Roy A. Nash to return 33 sea turtles to Gulf of Mexico waters offshore of Louisiana.

NOAA reports claimed, “the area is clean and a safe habitat for the turtles.”

While flying over West Bay, the amount of what is likely weathered oil and sheen visible on the surface was staggering. Looking west, it covered the surface as far as the horizon into the open Gulf.

“This is unreal,” Tupes exclaimed at one point.


Substance that is likely weathered BP oil in West Bay, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

While flying back to the airport, Truthout witnessed large amounts of oil sheen atop the water of Bay Jimmy in Barataria Bay. Numerous areas of marsh were covered in oil, and much of the grass appeared black and dead.


Oiled marsh in Bay Jimmy, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

Several BP cleanup crews were working in the area, yet Henderson had visited the area on October 21 to find several oiled birds and much oil heavy damage. “This marsh is in trouble,” Henderson added.

Environmental groups like the Gulf Restoration Network are deeply concerned about the ongoing oil findings, as the Mississippi Delta is a primary wintering ground for hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese, some of which already have begun arriving. The West Bay area leads into several shallower interior bays that attract ducks, geese and myriad species of shore and wading birds each winter.

“What you don’t see anymore out here are ducks,” Tupes said. “It used to be that there were so many ducks they’d darken the sky. Now you don’t see anymore of that.”

Henderson is angered by what he saw Saturday. “Much of the water we flew over today was open for commercial and recreational fishing,” he said of the flight. “We saw shrimp boats trawling in a bay full of oil. We were under the impression that the science advisor for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries had gone out to assess the situation in West and East Bays, to determine if they should be closed. What we ascertained from conversations with aviators flying through these waters today was that that scientists had gone out and then returned and reported these waters clear.”

Henderson paused, then continued, “But we went out and flew over these same areas and sensitive marshlands and found them completely covered in oil, and with shrimp boats trawling in them. Honestly, I don’t have any kind words for the LDWF, and I’m at a juncture where I’m losing faith in any assessments that are done by our state or federal governments.”

“I would not eat the shrimp right now,” Henderson added. “They are shrimping in oil. Where were all the spotter planes? Where was the boom and skimmers? There was clearly skimmable oil on the surface, and they were doing absolutely nothing. Why is there not a more concerted effort to fight this? How is it that BP gets to make the decision to remove what defenses we have against this oil that keeps coming in?”


 

** Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches **
** Visit Dahr Jamail’s website http://dahrjamailiraq.com **

Dahr Jamail’s new book, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now available.

Order the book here http://tinyurl.com/cnlgyu

As one of the first and few unembedded Western journalists to report the truth about how the United States has destroyed, not liberated, Iraqi society in his book Beyond the Green Zone, Jamail now investigates the under-reported but growing antiwar resistance of American GIs. Gathering the stories of these courageous men and women, Jamail shows us that far from “supporting our troops,” politicians have betrayed them at every turn. Finally, Jamail shows us that the true heroes of the criminal tragedy of the Iraq War are those brave enough to say no.

Order Beyond the Green Zone
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage

“International journalism at its best.” –Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author All the Shah’s Men

Winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism

BACK to margotbworldnews.com

Massive stretches of weathered oil spotted in Gulf of Mexico

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Published: Saturday, October 23, 2010, 11:37 AM     Updated: Saturday, October 23, 2010, 6:45 PM

Just three days after the U.S. Coast Guard admiral in charge of the BP oil spill cleanup declared little recoverable surface oil remained in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana fishers Friday found miles-long strings of weathered oil floating toward fragile marshes on the Mississippi River delta.

Oil Slick in Gulf of Mexico Enlarge Matthew Hinton, The Times-Picayune MATTHEW HINTON / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Oil was spotted in West Bay just west of the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River, seen at top left, by the Gulf of Mexico Friday October 22, 2010. Oil Slick in West Bay gallery (9 photos)

  • Oil Slick in Gulf of Mexico
  • Oil Slick in Gulf of Mexico
  • Oil Slick in Gulf of Mexico
  • Oil Slick in Gulf of Mexico
  • Oil Slick in Gulf of Mexico

The discovery, which comes as millions of birds begin moving toward the region in the fall migration, gave ammunition to groups that have insisted the government has overstated clean-up progress, and could force reclosure of key fishing areas only recently reopened.

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The oil was sighted in West Bay, which covers approximately 35 square miles of open water between Southwest Pass, the main shipping channel of the river, and Tiger Pass near Venice. Boat captains working the BP clean-up effort said they have been reporting large areas of surface oil off the delta for more than a week but have seen little response from BP or the Coast Guard, which is in charge of the clean-up. The captains said most of their sightings have occurred during stretches of calm weather, similar to what the area has experienced most of this week.

On Friday reports included accounts of strips of the heavily weathered orange oil that became a signature image of the spill during the summer. One captain said some strips were as much as 400 feet wide and a mile long.

The captains did not want to be named for fear of losing their clean-up jobs with BP.

Coast Guard officials Friday said a boat had been dispatched to investigate the sightings, but that a report would not be available until Saturday morning.

However, Times-Picayune photojournalist Matt Hinton confirmed the sightings in an over-flight of West Bay.

Robert Barham, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said if the sightings are confirmed by his agency, the area will be reclosed to fishing until it is confirmed oil-free again.

Just Tuesday, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft, in charge of the federal response, and his top science adviser, Steve Lehmann, said that little of the 210 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf remained on the surface or even on the Gulf’s floor. Lehmann pointed to extensive tests conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that included taking samples of water from various depths, as well as collections of bottom sediments both far offshore and close to the coast.

Those claims, announced on the six-month anniversary of the spill, brought quick rebuttals from a variety of environmental and fishermen’s groups who insist their members have been reporting sightings of surface oil all along.

LSU environmental sciences professor Ed Overton, who has been involved in oil spill response for 30 years, said he believes both claims could be accurate. The Louisiana sweet crude from the Deepwater Horizon is very light and has almost neutral buoyancy, Overton said, which means that when it picks up any particles from the water column, it will sink to the bottom.

“It’s quite possible that when the weather calms and the water temperatures changes, the oil particles that have spread along the bottom will recoagulate, then float to the surface again and form these large mats.

“I say this is a possibility, because I know that the (Coast Guard) has sent boats out to investigate these reports, but by the time they get to the scenes, the weather has changed and they don’t see any oil.”

“I think the reports are credible, but I also think the incident responders are trying to find the oil, too,” Overton said. “This is unusual, but nothing about this bloody spill has been normal since the beginning.”

Overton said it is important for the state to discover the mechanism that is causing the oil to reappear because even this highly weathered oil poses a serious threat to the coastal ecology.

“If this was tar balls floating around, that would be one thing, but these reports are of mats of weathered oil, and that can cause serious problems if it gets into the marsh,” he said

The reports are a great concern to wildlife officials. The Mississippi delta is a primary wintering ground for hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese, some of which already have begun arriving. The West Bay area leads into several shallower interior bays that attract ducks, geese and myriad species of shore and wading birds each winter.

Earlier this month state wildlife officials were expressing optimism the spill would have minimal impact on most waterfowl visitors because little oil had penetrated the sensitive wintering grounds.

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Evidence Refutes BP’s and Fed’s Deceptions

October 5, 2010 1 comment

Monday 04 October 2010

by: Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld, t r u t h o u t | Report

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(Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

In August, Truthout conducted soil and water sampling in Pass Christian Harbor, Mississippi; on Grand Isle, Louisiana; and around barrier islands off the coast of Louisiana, in order to test for the presence of oil from BP’s Macondo Well.

Laboratory test results from the samples taken in these areas show extremely high concentrations of oil in both the soil and water.

These results contradict consistent claims made by the federal government and BP since early August that much of the Gulf of Mexico is now free of oil and safe for fishing and recreational use.

The samples taken were tested in a private laboratory via gas chromatography.

The environmental analyst who worked with this writer did so on condition of anonymity and performed a micro extraction that tests for total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH). The lower reporting limit the analyst is able to detect from a solid sample is 50 parts per million (ppm).

Pass Christian, Mississippi

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Oiled mooring rope and oil sheen on water’s surface inside Christian Harbor, Mississippi, August 13, 2010. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

A water sample from inside Pass Christian Harbor, Mississippi, taken on August 13, contained 611 ppm of TPH. Seawater that is free of oil would test at zero ppm of TPH.

Grand Isle, Louisiana

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Grand Isle beach, Grand Isle, Louisiana, August 16, 2010. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

A soil sample containing tar balls from the beach on Grand Isle, Louisiana, taken on August 16, contained 39,364 ppm of TPH.

Casse-Tete Island, Louisiana

A water sample taken on August 16 from a pool of water on Casse–Tete Isle contained 57 ppm of TPH. The GPS coordinates for this and the following samples are 2907.603N, 9020.395 W.

Several soil samples were tested from an oil-covered beach on the island.

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Sampling team on oil–soaked beach, Casse-Tete Isle, Louisiana, August, 16, 2010. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

A sample of soil taken from this area contained 40,099 ppm of TPH. Much of the marsh grass was stained black and brown with oil.

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Oiled sand and marsh grass, Casse–Tete Isle, Louisiana, August, 16, 2010. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

A sample of marsh grass in this area of Casse–Tete Isle contained 144,700 ppm of TPH.

West Timbalier Isle, Louisiana

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Oil sheen-covered tidal pool and fiddler crabs, West Timbalier Isle, Louisiana, August 16, 2010. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

A water sample taken from a tide pool on West Timbalier Isle on August 16 contained 11 ppm of TPH. The GPS coordinates for this and the following samples are 2903.389N, 927.033W.

Disturbingly, despite these results and a continuance of fish kills along the Louisiana coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recently partnered up with BP to send personnel into middle schools in Louisiana in order to convince school children that Gulf seafood is safe.

Meanwhile, several recent massive fish kills continue to occur in other areas of Louisiana.

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Oil-soaked lagoon, West Timbalier Isle, Louisiana, August 16, 2010. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

A water sample taken from an inland lagoon on West Timbalier Isle contained 521 ppm of TPH.

Sampling was also conducted on beach areas of West Timbalier Isle on the same day.

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Fist-sized tar ball, West Timbalier Isle, Louisiana, August 16, 2010. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

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Charter fisherman Craig Matherne with tar mat, West Timbalier Isle, Louisiana, August 16, 2010. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

A soil sample containing tar balls contained 40,834 ppm of TPH.

A soil sample taken near a layer of tar on the beach of West Timbalier Isle contained 60,068 ppm of TPH.

A soil sample taken from another inland lagoon on West Timbalier Isle contained 4,506 ppm of TPH.

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Oiled soil within inland lagoon, West Timbalier Isle, Louisiana, August 16, 2010. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

Open Water in Gulf of Mexico

After leaving the area, Truthout came across a large area out in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately five miles from shore, where emulsified white foam covered the surface.

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Emulsified foam and oil in open water between Timbalier Isle and Port Fourchon, Louisiana, August 16, 2010. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

Fishermen and other journalists across the Gulf have reported to Truthout that this phenomenon is what is left after dispersants have been used to sink surface oil.

A water sample from surface of this area contained 11ppm of TPH. It was taken from an open water area between Timbalier Isle and Port Fourchon at 3:00 PM, on August 16 and the GPS coordinates for the sample are 2902.871N, 9017.421W.

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Jonathan Henderson with the Gulf Restoration Network taking water samples in emulsified foam area between Timbalier Isle and Port Fourchon, Louisiana, August 16, 2010. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

The US Coast Guard claims that no dispersants have been used since mid–July.

Jonathan Henderson, with the nonprofit environmental group Gulf Restoration Network, was on board to witness the sampling, as well as to conduct his own sampling and document what he found.

The hydrocarbon tests conducted on the samples taken by this writer only represent a tiny part of the Gulf compared to the massive area that has been affected by BP’s oil catastrophe. A comprehensive sampling regime across the Gulf, taken regularly over the years ahead, is clearly required in order to implement appropriate cleanup responses and take public safety precautions.


** Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches **

** Visit Dahr Jamail’s website http://dahrjamailiraq.com **

Dahr Jamail’s new book, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now available.

Order the book here http://tinyurl.com/cnlgyu

As one of the first and few unembedded Western journalists to report the truth about how the United States has destroyed, not liberated, Iraqi society in his book Beyond the Green Zone, Jamail now investigates the under-reported but growing antiwar resistance of American GIs. Gathering the stories of these courageous men and women, Jamail shows us that far from “supporting our troops,” politicians have betrayed them at every turn. Finally, Jamail shows us that the true heroes of the criminal tragedy of the Iraq War are those brave enough to say no.

Order Beyond the Green Zone

http://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage

“International journalism at its best.” –Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author All the Shah’s Men

Winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism

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