Sunday, May 02, 2010

Gulf of Mexico oil spill (Part 1)

Plumes, Pressure, and Cracks in the Sea Floor
Deepwater Horizon disaster
By Jim O'Neill
Friday, June 18, 2010
"It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”—R.E.M “It’s the end of the world”
The information that I’ve run across vis a vis the oil spill, runs the gamut from “move along folks, there’s nothing here to see,” to laser beams from outer space blowing up the Deepwater Horizon.
One thing I know for sure, the government and BP can’t be trusted—they are not telling us the truth about what has, and is, transpiring in the Gulf of Mexico.
If half of what I’ve garnered about the scenario in the Gulf is true, then we are dealing with an extremely grave situation. Whether the oil spill was caused by deliberate sabotage, or criminal greed and hubris, is almost besides the point.
I don’t wish to cause unnecessary alarm, so please keep in mind that what I’m about to say is only my belief about what is transpiring in the Gulf of Mexico. These are undocumented opinions; not proven facts. Caveat emptor.
Nonetheless, I would feel remiss if I didn’t pass along what I believe to be true about the oil spill.
The most salient points that I’ve discovered (thanks to several friends/readers—a special thanks to CJ) are these:
The Deepwater Horizon well erupted, not only at the wellhead, but also along the drill-pipe, well below the seabed.
The amount of oil and gas escaping into the Gulf is much, much, higher than we’ve been told.
The escaping oil and gas pressures involved are incredible.
The oil and gas is not only escaping at the wellhead (the video we’ve all seen), but has also seeped into the area surrounding the wellhead, via the gap (s) in the drill-hole casing.
The oil and gas that has escaped via the gap (s) in the drill-hole casing, is making its way up to the seabed via cracks and fissures, that have spread up to twenty-plus miles from the wellhead—creating “plumes.”
If the above scenario is true (and I emphasize the word “if”) then, at best, we’re looking at a situation that is going to take a long time, and drastic measures (possibly a nuclear explosion) to rectify. At worst, we’re looking at a real “doomsday” scenario.
If the Deepwater Horizon explosion was caused by sabotage, (either through deliberate negligence, or more direct means), I can’t believe that those responsible could have had any idea of the magnitude of the catastrophe they would unleash. Nobody’s that crazy. Right?
If “It’s the end of the world as we know it,” then I don’t feel fine.
Laus Deo
BP Aware Of Cracks In Oil Well Two Months Before Explosion
Paul Joseph Watson
Thursday, June 17, 2010
BP was aware of cracks appearing in the Macondo well as far back as February, right around the time Goldman Sachs and BP Chairman Tony Hayward were busy dumping their stocks in the company on the eve of the explosion that led to the oil spill, according to information uncovered by congressional investigators.
The Mining and Mineral Services agency released documents to Bloomberg indicating that BP “was trying to seal cracks in the well about 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast,” according to the report.
The fissures, which BP began to attempt to fix on February 13, could have played a role in the disaster, though this is a question still being explored by investigators. Improperly sealed, the cracks cause explosive natural gas to rush up the shaft.
“The company attempted a “cement squeeze,” which involves pumping cement to seal the fissures, according to a well activity report. Over the following week the company made repeated attempts to plug cracks that were draining expensive drilling fluid, known as “mud,” into the surrounding rocks,” states the report.
As we previously highlighted, eyewitness evidence indicates that Deepwater Horizon managers knew that the BP oil rig had major problems before its explosion on April 20. A crew member who rescued burning workers on the rig told Houston attorney Tony Buzbee of a conversation between Deepwater Horizon installation manager Jimmy Harrell and someone in Houston. According to the witness, Harrell was screaming, “Are you fucking happy? Are you fucking happy? The rig’s on fire! I told you this was gonna happen.”
The fact that BP managers were aware of problems with the rig and were seemingly unconcerned about fixing them only lends more weight to the already startling indications of some having foreknowledge of the disaster.
As we highlighted last week, on page 37 of British Petroleum’s own investigative report into the oil spill, it is stated that the Hydraulic Control System on equipment designed to automatically seal the well in an emergency was modified without BP’s knowledge sometime before the explosion.
Highly suspicious stock and share trades by people connected to BP before the explosion indicate some extent of foreknowledge.
Goldman Sachs dumped 44% of its shares in BP Oil during the first quarter of 2010 – shares that subsequently lost 36 percent of their value, equating to $96 million. The current chairman of Goldman Sachs is Bilderberg luminary Peter Sutherland, who is also the former chairman of British Petroleum.
Furthermore, as reported by the London Telegraph on June 5th, Tony Hayward, the current BP CEO sold £1.4 million of his shares in the fuel giant weeks before the spill.
On April 12th, just over one week before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, Halliburton, the world’s second largest oilfield services corporation, surprised some by acquiring Boots & Coots, a relatively small but vastly experienced oil well control company.
Halliburton is named in the majority of some two dozen lawsuits filed since the explosion by Gulf Coast people and businesses who claim that the company is to blame for the disaster.
Halliburton was forced to admit in testimony at a congressional hearing last month that it carried out a cementing operation 20 hours before the Gulf of Mexico rig went up in flames. The lawsuits claim that four Halliburton workers stationed on the rig improperly capped the well.
Ten Things You Need (But Don't Want) To Know About the BP Oil Spill
By Daniela Perdomo
Global Research, May 29, 2010
How the owner of the exploded oil rig has made $270 million off the disaster, and nine other shocking, depressing facts about the oil spill.
It's been 37 days since BP's offshore oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, crude oil has been hemorrhaging into ocean waters and wreaking unknown havoc on our ecosystem -- unknown because there is no accurate estimate of how many barrels of oil are contaminating the Gulf.
Though BP officially admits to only a few thousand barrels spilled each day, expert estimates peg the damage at 60,000 barrels or over 2.5 million gallons daily. (Perhaps we'd know more if BP hadn't barred independent engineers from inspecting the breach.) Measures to quell the gusher have proved lackluster at best, and unlike the country's last big oil spill -- Exxon-Valdez in 1989 -- the oil is coming from the ground, not a tanker, so we have no idea how much more oil could continue to pollute the Gulf's waters.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster reminds us what can happen -- and will continue to happen -- when corporate malfeasance and neglect meet governmental regulatory failure.
The corporate media is tracking the disaster with front-page articles and nightly news headlines every day (if it bleeds, or spills, it leads!), but the under-reported aspects to this nightmarish tale paint the most chilling picture of the actors and actions behind the catastrophe. In no particular order, here are 10 things about the BP spill you may not know and may not want to know -- but you should.
1. Oil rig owner has made $270 million off the oil leak
Transocean Ltd., the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP, has been flying under the radar in the mainstream blame game. The world's largest offshore drilling contractor, the company is conveniently headquartered in corporate-friendly Switzerland, and it's no stranger to oil disasters. In 1979, an oil well it was drilling in the very same Gulf of Mexico ignited, sending the drill platform into the sea and causing one of the largest oil spills by the time it was capped... nine months later.
This experience undoubtedly influenced Transocean's decision to insure theDeepwater Horizon rig for about twice what it was worth. In a conference call to analysts earlier this month, Transocean reported making a $270 million profit from insurance payouts after the disaster. It's not hard to bet on failure when you know it's somewhat assured.
2. BP has a terrible safety record
BP has a long record of oil-related disasters in the United States. In 2005, BP's Texas City refinery exploded, killing 15 workers and injuring another 170. The next year, one of its Alaska pipelines leaked 200,000 gallons of crude oil. According to Public Citizen, BP has paid $550 million in fines. BP seems to particularly enjoy violating the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and has paid the two largest fines in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's history. (Is it any surprise that BP played a central, though greatly under-reported, role in the failure to contain the Exxon-Valdez spill years earlier?)
With Deepwater Horizon, BP didn't break its dismal trend. In addition to choosing a cheaper -- and less safe -- casing to outfit the well that eventually burst, the company chose not to equip Deepwater Horizon with an acoustic trigger, a last-resort option that could have shut down the well even if it was damaged badly, and which is required in most developed countries that allow offshore drilling. In fact, BP employs these devices in its rigs located near England, but because the United States recommends rather than requires them, BP had no incentive to buy one -- even though they only cost $500,000. estimates that BP makes $500,000 in under eight minutes.
3. Oil spills are just a cost of doing business for BP
According to the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, approximately $1.6 billion in annual economic activity and services are at risk as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Compare this number -- which doesn't include the immeasurable environmental damages -- to the current cap on BP's liability for economic damages like lost wages and tourist dollars, which is $75 million. And compare that further to the first-quarter profits BP posted just one week after the explosion: $6 billion.
BP's chief executive, Tony Hayward, has solemnly promised that the company will cover more than the required $75 million. On May 10, BP announced it had already spent $350 million. How fantastically generous of a company valued at $152.6 billion, and which makes $93 million each day.
The reality of the matter is that BP will not be deterred by the liability cap and pity payments doled out to a handful of victims of this disaster because they pale in comparison to its ghastly profits. Indeed, oil spills are just a cost of doing business for BP.
This is especially evident in a recent Citigroup analyst report prepared for BP investors: "Reaction to the Gulf of Mexico oil leak is a buying opportunity."
4. The Interior Department was at best, neglectful, and at worst, complicit
It's no surprise BP is always looking out for its bottom line -- but it's at least slightly more surprising that the Interior Department, the executive department charged with regulating the oil industry, has done such a shoddy job of preventing this from happening.
Ten years ago, there were already warnings that the backup systems on oil rigs that failed on Deepwater Horizon would be a problem. The Interior Department issued a "safety alert" but then left it up to oil companies to decide what kind of backup system to use. And in 2007, a government regulator from the same department downplayed the chances and impact of a spill like the one that occurred last month: "[B]lowouts are rare events and of short duration, potential impact to marine water quality are not expected to be significant."
The Interior Department's Louisiana branch may have been particularly confused because it appears it was closely fraternizing with the oil industry. The Minerals Management Service, the agency within the department that oversees offshore drilling, routinely accepted gifts from oil companies and even considered itself a part of the oil industry, rather than part of a governmental regulatory agency. Flying on oil executives' private planes was not rare for MMS inspectors in Louisiana, a federal report released Tuesday says. "Skeet-shooting contests, hunting and fishing trips, golf tournaments, crawfish boils, and Christmas parties" were also common.
Is it any wonder that Deepwater Horizon was given a regulatory exclusion by MMS?
It gets worse. Since April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, the Interior Department has approved 27 new permits for offshore drilling sites. Here's the kicker: Two of these permits are for BP.
But it gets better still: 26 of the 27 new drilling sites have been granted regulatory exemptions, including those issued to BP.
5. Clean-up prospects are dismal
The media makes a lot of noise about all the different methods BP is using to clean up the oil spill. Massive steel containment domes were popular a few weeks ago. Now everyone is touting the "top kill" method, which involves injecting heavy drilling fluids into the damaged well.
But here's the reality. Even if BP eventually finds a method that works, experts say the best cleanup scenario is to recover 20 percent of the spilled oil. And let's be realistic: only 8 percent of the crude oil deposited in the ocean and coastlines off Alaska was recovered in the Exxon-Valdez cleanup.
Millions of gallons of oil will remain in the ocean, ravaging the underwater ecosystem, and 100 miles of Louisiana coastline will never be the same.
6. BP has no real cleanup plan
Perhaps because it knows the possibility of remedying the situation is practically impossible, BP has made publicly available its laughable "Oil Spill Response Plan" which is, in fact, no plan at all.
Most emblematic of this farcical plan, BP mentions protecting Arctic wildlife like sea lions, otters and walruses (perhaps executives simply lifted the language from Exxon's plan for its oil spill off the coast of Alaska?). The plan does not include any disease-preventing measures, oceanic or meteorological data, and is comprised mostly of phone numbers and blank forms. Most importantly, it includes no directions for how to deal with a deep-water explosion such as the one that took place last month.
The whole thing totals 600 pages -- a waste of paper that only adds insult to the environmental injury BP is inflicting upon the world with Deepwater Horizon.
7. Both Transocean and BP are trying to take away survivors' right to sue
With each hour, the economic damage caused by Deepwater Horizon continues to grow. And BP knows this.
So while it outwardly is putting on a nice face, even pledging $500 million to assess the impacts of the spill, it has all the while been trying to ensure that it won't be held liable for those same impacts.
Just after the Deepwater explosion, surviving employees were held in solitary confinement, while Transocean flacks made them waive their rights to sue. BP then did the same with fishermen it contracted to help clean up the spill though the company now says that was nothing more than a legal mix-up.
If there's anything to learn from this disaster, it's that companies like BP don't make mistakes at the expense of others. They are exceedingly deliberate.
8. BP bets on risk to employees to save money -- and doesn't care if they get sick
When BP unleashed its "Beyond Petroleum" re-branding/greenwashing campaign, the snazzy ads featured smiley oil rig workers. But the truth of the matter is that BP consistently and knowingly puts its employees at risk.
An internal BP document shows that just before the prior fatal disaster -- the 2005 Texas City explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170 -- when BP had to choose between cost-savings and greater safety, it went with its bottom line.
A BP Risk Management memo showed that although steel trailers would be safer in the case of an explosion, the company went with less expensive options that offered protection but were not "blast resistant." In the Texas City blast, all of the fatalities and most of the injuries occurred in or around these trailers.
Although BP has responded to this memo by saying the company culture has changed since Texas City, 11 people died on the Deepwater Horizon when it blew up. Perhaps a similar memo went out regarding safety and cost-cutting measures?
Reports this week stated that fishermen hired by BP for oil cleanup weren't provided protective equipment and have now fallen ill. Hopefully they didn't sign waivers.
9. Environmental damage could even include a climatological catastrophe
It's hard to know where to start discussing the environmental damage caused by Deepwater Horizon. Each day will give us a clearer picture of the short-term ecological destruction, but environmental experts believe the damage to the Gulf of Mexico will be long-term.
In the short-term, environmentalists are up in arms about the dispersants being used to clean up the oil slick in the Gulf. Apparently, the types BP is using aren't all that effective in dispersing oil, and are pretty high in toxicity to marine fauna such as fish and shrimp. The fear is that what BP may be using to clean up the mess could, in the long-term, make it worse.
On the longer-term side of things, there are signs that this largest oil drilling catastrophe could also become the worst natural gas and climate disaster. The explosion has released tremendous amounts of methane from deep in the ocean, and research shows that methane, when mixed with air, is the most powerful (read: terrible) greenhouse gas -- 26 times worse than carbon-dioxide.
Our warming planet just got a lot hotter.
10. No one knows what to do and it will happen again
The very worst part about the Deepwater Horizon calamity is that nobody knows what to do. We don't know how bad it really is because we can't measure what's going on. We don't know how to stop it -- and once we do, we won't know how to clean it up.
BP is at the helm of the recovery process, but given its corporate track record, its efforts will only go so far -- it has a board of directors and shareholders to answer to, after all. The U.S. government, the only other entity that could take over is currently content to let BP hack away at the problem. Why? Because it probably has no idea what to do either.
Here's the reality of the matter -- for as long as offshore drilling is legal, oil spills will happen. Coastlines will be decimated, oceans destroyed, economies ruined, lives lost. Oil companies have little to no incentive to prevent such disasters from happening, and they use their money to buy government regulators' integrity.
Deepwater Horizon is not an anomaly -- it's the norm.
BP under fire: Claims of cover-up, told to use less toxic dispersants; spill larger than believed
Isabelle Zehnder
International Headlines Examiner
May 20, 2010
BP and the federal government came under fire Thursday for having stuck to the 5,000 barrels a day estimate for the BP spill; BP told to use less toxic dispersants. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. believes there’s a cover-up.
According to Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a task force of scientists is now reviewing video and reassessing the earlier 5,000 barrels per day estimate. According to Boxer estimates by scientists could be as high as 70,000 barrels per day or more.
"The truth needs to be told ... At some point we need to stop all this cover-up," Boxer said.
Most independent estimates of the spill flow were considerably higher than BP’s.
In order to estimate the flow more accurately better video and/or more robotic submarines around the blown-out well would have been necessary. However, this comes at a time when efforts have been on trying to stop the leak.
BP must make information public
BP came under fire from the Obama administration and was asked to create a website within 24 hours and post detailed environmental and analytical data within 48 hours.
Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency agreed all data and information must be updated daily, and that information related to the spill be readily available to the U.S. Government and the American people. They said those efforts, to date, have fallen short both in their scope and effectiveness.
BP must use less toxic dispersants.
BP was instructed by the EPA to use less toxic chemicals to disperse oil from the spill. According to BP they are testing four possible alternatives.
MSNBC reported that BP hopes to go with one but constraints include getting enough quantity quickly, he said.
According to the Washington Post the EPA informed BP late Wednesday it has 24 hours to choose a less toxic chemical and has 72 hours to apply a new form of dispersants after submitting the list of alternatives.
So far BP has applied 600,000 gallons of dispersants on the surface and 55,000 gallons below the sea.
The EPA said that while the dispersant BP has been using is on the Agency’s approved list, it is being used in unprecedented volumes and began using it underwater at the source of the leak last week – a procedure that has never been tried before.
Concern was raised by the National Wildlife Federation that the government and not BP should be directing the response to the oil spill, including attempts to cap the gushing well.
Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said the government — not BP — should be directing the response to the oil spill, including attempts to cap the gushing well.
"The Gulf of Mexico is a crime scene and BP cannot be left in charge of assessing the damage or controlling the data from their spill. The public deserves sound science, not sound bites from BP's CEO," Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the national Wildlife Federation said.
The Cover-up: BP's Crude Politics and the Looming Environmental Mega-Disaster
By Wayne Madsen
Global Research, May 9, 2010
WMR has been informed by sources in the US Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Florida Department of Environmental Protection that the Obama White House and British Petroleum (BP), which pumped $71,000 into Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign -- more than John McCain or Hillary Clinton--, are covering up the magnitude of the volcanic-level oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and working together to limit BP's liability for damage caused by what can be called a "mega-disaster."
Obama and his senior White House staff, as well as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, are working with BP's chief executive officer Tony Hayward on legislation that would raise the cap on liability for damage claims from those affected by the oil disaster from $75 million to $10 billion. However, WMR's federal and Gulf state sources are reporting the disaster has the real potential cost of at least $1 trillion. Critics of the deal being worked out between Obama and Hayward point out that $10 billion is a mere drop in the bucket for a trillion dollar disaster but also note that BP, if its assets were nationalized, could fetch almost a trillion dollars for compensation purposes. There is talk in some government circles, including FEMA, of the need to nationalize BP in order to compensate those who will ultimately be affected by the worst oil disaster in the history of the world.
Plans by BP to sink a 4-story containment dome over the oil gushing from a gaping chasm one kilometer below the surface of the Gulf, where the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and killed 11 workers on April 20, and reports that one of the leaks has been contained is pure public relations disinformation designed to avoid panic and demands for greater action by the Obama administration, according to FEMA and Corps of Engineers sources. Sources within these agencies say the White House has been resisting releasing any "damaging information" about the oil disaster. They add that if the ocean oil geyser is not stopped within 90 days, there will be irreversible damage to the marine eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico, north Atlantic Ocean, and beyond. At best, some Corps of Engineers experts say it could take two years to cement the chasm on the floor of the Gulf.
Only after the magnitude of the disaster became evident did Obama order Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to declare the oil disaster a "national security issue." Although the Coast Guard and FEMA are part of her department, Napolitano's actual reasoning for invoking national security was to block media coverage of the immensity of the disaster that is unfolding for the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean and their coastlines.
From the Corps of Engineers, FEMA, the Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard, and Gulf state environmental protection agencies, the message is the same: "we've never dealt with anything like this before."
The Obama administration also conspired with BP to fudge the extent of the oil leak, according to our federal and state sources. After the oil rig exploded and sank, the government stated that 42,000 gallons per day was gushing from the seabed chasm. Five days later, the federal government upped the leakage to 210,000 gallons a day.
However, WMR has been informed that submersibles that are monitoring the escaping oil from the Gulf seabed are viewing television pictures of what is a "volcanic-like" eruption of oil. Moreover, when the Army Corps of Engineers first attempted to obtain NASA imagery of the Gulf oil slick -- which is larger than that being reported by the media -- it was turned down. However, National Geographic managed to obtain the satellite imagery shots of the extent of the disaster and posted them on their web site.
There is other satellite imagery being withheld by the Obama administration that shows what lies under the gaping chasm spewing oil at an ever-alarming rate is a cavern estimated to be around the size of Mount Everest. This information has been given an almost national security-level classification to keep it from the public, according to our sources.
The Corps and Engineers and FEMA are quietly critical of the lack of support for quick action after the oil disaster by the Obama White House and the US Coast Guard. Only recently, has the Coast Guard understood the magnitude of the disaster, dispatching nearly 70 vessels to the affected area. WMR has also learned that inspections of off-shore rigs' shut-off valves by the Minerals Management Service during the Bush administration were merely rubber-stamp operations, resulting from criminal collusion between Halliburton and the Interior Department's service, and that the potential for similar disasters exists with the other 30,000 off-shore rigs that use the same shut-off valves.
The impact of the disaster became known to the Corps of Engineers and FEMA even before the White House began to take the magnitude of the impending catastrophe seriously. The first casualty of the disaster is the seafood industy, with not just fishermen, oystermen, crabbers, and shrimpers losing their jobs, but all those involved in the restaurant industry, from truckers to waitresses, facing lay-offs.
The invasion of crude oil into estuaries like the oyster-rich Apalachicola Bay in Florida spell disaster for the seafood industry. However, the biggest threat is to Florida's Everglades, which federal and state experts fear will be turned into a "dead zone" if the oil continues to gush forth from the Gulf chasm. There are also expectations that the oil slick will be caught up in the Gulf stream off the eastern seaboard of the United States, fouling beaches and estuaries like the Chesapeake Bay, and ultimately target the rich fishing grounds of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland.
WMR has also learned that 36 urban areas on the Gulf of Mexico are expecting to be confronted with a major disaster from the oil volcano in the next few days. Although protective water surface boons are being laid to protect such sensitive areas as Alabama's Dauphin Island, the mouth of the Mississippi River, and Florida's Apalachicola Bay, Florida, there is only 16 miles of boons available for the protection of 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline in the state of Florida.
Emergency preparations in dealing with the expanding oil menace are now being made for cities and towns from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Houston, New Orleans, Gulfport, Mobile, Pensacola, Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater, Sarasota-Bradenton, Naples, and Key West. Some 36 FEMA-funded contracts between cities, towns, and counties and emergency workers are due to be invoked within days, if not hours, according to WMR's FEMA sources.
There are plans to evacuate people with respiratory problems, especially those among the retired senior population along the west coast of Florida, before officials begin burning surface oil as it begins to near the coastline.
There is another major threat looming for inland towns and cities. With hurricane season in effect, there is a potential for ocean oil to be picked up by hurricane-driven rains and dropped into fresh water lakes and rivers, far from the ocean, thus adding to the pollution of water supplies and eco-systems.

Gulf of Mexico oil spill shows disastrous legacy of Halliburton and the real cost of the oil era
by Mike Adams
Saturday, May 01, 2010
(NaturalNews) Oil is a dirty business. It's not just the politics of oil, which are dirty enough by themselves -- it's also the environmental toll of the substance. Even when used correctly, its chemical byproducts cause air pollution and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But the real mess comes when things go terribly wrong -- much like what happened recently when the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank to the ocean floor off the coast of Louisiana. This set in motion a chain of disastrous events that are only now beginning to unfold.
Nearly 50% of the seafood consumed by Americans comes from the Gulf of Mexico, by the way. That explains why seafood contains such an alarmingly high concentration of mercury as well as industrial chemicals -- because the Gulf of Mexico is America's toilet where every toxic chemical, heavy metal and pharmaceutical that's flushed down the drain ends up getting dumped. No wonder the Gulf of Mexico is home to one of the planet's largest ocean "dead zones" -- over 6,000 square miles of dead water where fish can't even survive (
And that was before the oil spill. Now, thanks to a creeping oil slick that's approaching shorelines throughout the gulf, the breeding grounds for a huge number of marine species is now threatened. Species from pelicans to shrimp are likely to be devastated by this oil slick.
It's already being called a "mega-disaster" by environmentalists. "The magnitude and the potential for ecological damage is probably more great than anything we've ever seen in the Gulf of Mexico," said Nancy Rabalais in a Washington Post interview ( She heads the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Cocodrie, La. "Once it hits the shoreline, it'll get into everything."
"Ninety-seven percent of commercial fish and shellfish in the Gulf depend on estuaries and wetlands during their life cycle," said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Those wetlands are about to be covered with a thick brown slime that will make reproduction of seafood species virtually impossible.
Oil continues to spill out of the sunken rig wreck at the rate of 5,000 barrels a day. So far, there's little hope of stopping it. Observers are already characterizing this spill as "worse than the Exxon Valdez spill" in 1989.
Everything you've read here so far is being widely reported in the mainstream media. The story that follows, however, is much more difficult to find.
The Halliburton link and Washington hypocrisy
It was only a few weeks ago that Obama proudly announced he would expand offshore drilling, breaking one of his many now-worthless campaign promises. The lack of outcry from Democrats over this announcement was nothing short of bizarre: If Bush had announced an expansion of offshore drilling, he would have been widely (and rightly) condemned for it by the left. But when Obama announces the same thing, it's apparently okay with Democrats.
Back on the Republican side of things, the company Halliburton -- yes, the same one that rakes in billions of dollars in profits rebuilding things in the Middle East after the U.S. military blows them up -- is the company that completed the "rig cementing" just 20 hours before the rig exploded. A federal study, meanwhile, shows that most rig blowouts are caused by problems with rig cementing. So now it appears that Halliburton may be implicated in this environmental disaster. ( ...)
The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that a lawsuit filed by a rig technician who was injured in the explosion claims Halliburton made crucial mistakes in cementing the well, "increasing the pressure at the well and contributing to the fire, explosion and resulting oil spill." (
A blog at the L.A. Times explored the full extent of the Halliburton connection to the oil spill: ...
Get ready for some theater
Halliburton, which was once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, now finds itself in the spotlight as Congressional investigators are beginning to ask questions. But don't expect this to go very far: It's all just theater to appease the public until memory of this event fades and the old corrupt Washington / Big Business machine can get rolling again.
Since when has concern for the environment ever got in the way of powerful corporate interests that have political pull in Washington? Rest assured that no matter what the immediate fallout from this disastrous oil-era accident, the Halliburtons of the world continue to rake in billions of dollars in annual profits even as their mistakes extract an incalculable loss of life across our natural world.
Halliburton has shareholders to please, after all... no matter how many pelicans, sea turtles or dolphins have to die in the process.
Slick, huh?

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Growing
By Long Island Press on Apr 27th, 2010
Just weeks after President Obama announced a new offshore oil drilling policy for the East Coast, a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to widen after an oil rig exploded off the Louisiana coast last week.
Eleven people have been missing and presumed dead since the rig exploded and sank last week about 50 miles off the state’s coast. Experts described the resulting oil spill as one of the biggest in recent memory.
As of Tuesday morning, the Coast Guard said oil that leaked from the rig site was spread over an area about 48 miles long and 80 miles wide at its widest. The borders of the spill were uneven, making it difficult to calculate how many square miles are covered, Coast Guard Petty Officer Erik Swanson said.
In this aerial photo taken over the Gulf of Mexico, boat crews work to contain oil which leaked from a pipeline at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana, Monday, April 26, 2010. Officials say there will be no shoreline impact from an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico for at least another three days. Crews were ramping up Monday to protect the coastline after the oil rig exploded off the Louisiana coast nearly a week ago. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
“Right now, the weather’s in our favor,” Swanson said, explaining that the wind was blowing the oil away from shore Tuesday.
But Swanson said the winds could shift later in the week and there was concern about oil reaching the shore.
So far, skimming vessels had collected more than 48,000 gallons of oily water, Swanson said.
“Our goal is to fight this thing as far offshore as possible,” he said.
The rig was owned by Transocean Ltd. and operated by BP PLC.
Crews used robot submarines to activate valves in hopes of stopping the leaks, but they may not know until Tuesday if that strategy will work. BP also mobilized two rigs to drill a relief well if needed. Such a well could help redirect the oil, though it could also take weeks to complete, especially at that depth.
BP plans to collect leaking oil on the ocean bottom by lowering a large dome to capture the oil and then pumping it through pipes and hoses into a vessel on the surface, said Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP Exploration and Production.
It could take up to a month to get the equipment in place.
“That system has been deployed in shallower water, but it has never been deployed at 5,000 feet of water, so we have to be careful,” he said.
The spill, moving slowly north and spreading east and west, was about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the Chandeleur Islands off the Louisiana coast. The Coast Guard said kinks in the pipe were helping stem the flow of oil.
From the air Monday afternoon, the oil spill reached as far as the eye could see. There was little evidence of a major cleanup, with only a handful of vessels near the site of the leak.
The oil sheen was a shiny light blue color, translucent and blending with the water, but a distinct edge between the oil slick and the sea could be seen for miles.
George Crozier, oceanographer and executive director at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, said he was studying wind and ocean currents driving the oil.
He said Pensacola, Florida, is probably the eastern edge of the threatened area, though no one really knows what the effects will be.
“We’ve never seen anything like this magnitude,” he said. “The problems are going to be on the beaches themselves. That’s where it will be really visible.”