Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tar Balls Galore on Alabama Beaches

Tar Balls Galore on Alabama Beaches

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Gulf Oil Spill Links

Published: Tue, September 28, 2010 - 6:27 pm CST Last Updated: Tue, September 28, 2010 - 6:35 pm CST

GULF SHORES, Alabama - After hearing reports of more oil off the coast of Gulf Shores we took to the air again to see what might be out there.
The first area we wanted to check was Little Lagoon Pass. We had seen a video that looked like oil coming out of the pass. Its more like algae discolored the water that is flowing into the Gulf.
All along the coast a non-metallic sheen. In places four miles off shore.
Clean up crews sporadically dotted the beaches. There were crews near Laguna Key on West Beach. A large group of workers at the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge but it was the oil in plain sight that got our attention.

When we were up in the air we saw several clean up crews all along the surf line all up and down the coastline and we wondered why they were cleaning there when up on the beach there are all these tar balls, little pieces of oil, almost any where you look you can find them and nobody is cleaning them up.

"They"re down to I'd say couple hundred people they need thousands of people to get it cleaned up." A man who identified himself as a worker for BP but wanted to remain anonymous says he has been working on those clean up crews since June.
"The beaches are not clean, they've just been covering it up. There's oil everywhere. It's below the sand up to six foot."

Using shovels, buckets and fishing nets they sift through the sand but there is so much more he says, beneath the surface.
"Dig down about four foot there are actually layers about four inches thick. There's just tar close to the pier just tar, tar, tar solid layers of tar,"

News Five spoke with one of the supervisors of the crew working in Gulf State Park. He didn't want to appear on camera but says it is a slow process. They know

BP's new CEO creates unit to enforce safety

BP's new CEO creates unit to enforce safety


By ROBERT BARR Associated Press Writer
Published: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 6:02 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 6:02 a.m.
BP's incoming chief executive on Wednesday announced a new unit to monitor safety throughout the oil company's operations, starting work to restore the company's battered reputation two days before officially becoming CEO.

Bob Dudley also announced that the was breaking up BP's exploration and production, or upstream, business into three divisions. Andy Inglis, the man now in charge of upstream, is leaving the company.
The new safety organization will be headed by Mark Bly, who led the team which produced BP's report on the causes of the disastrous blowout of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.
That blowout led to widespread scrutiny and criticism of BP's safety practices.
"This is a deeply challenging time for BP. The Macondo incident was a tragedy that claimed the lives of 11 people, caused injury to many others and had a widespread environmental impact," Dudley said in a message to BP staff.
"Our response to the incident needs to go beyond deepwater drilling. There are lessons for us relating to the way we operate, the way we organize our company and the way we manage risk."
BP shares jumped 2.8 percent higher to 416.8 pence following the announcement, but then retreated.
The Safety & Operation Risk unit will have the authority to intervene in all of BP's technical activities, the company said.
"It will have its own expert staff embedded in BP's operating units, including exploration projects and refineries. It will be responsible for ensuring that all operations are carried out to common standards, and for auditing compliance with those standards," the announcement said.

Dudley, an American, was formerly in charge of BP's North American operations. He stepped up as the company's public face in the United States following a series of public relations blunders by Chief Executive Tony Hayward.
"As I take up my new role I am aware of two things," Dudley told the staff.
"First, there is a pressing need to rebuild trust in BP around the world. Second, BP's people have both the commitment and the capability to rebuild that trust."
Dudley announced that Inglis would step down as head of the upstream division, leaving the board on Oct. 31 and the company by the end of the year.
The new upstream organization is to be led by three executive vice presidents: Mike Daly at Exploration, Bernard Looney for Development and Bob Fryar for Production.
They will work with Andy Hopwood, who becomes executive vice president for strategy and integration in a management team reporting to Dudley.
Dudley said he was not setting out to change everything at BP.
"We have great strengths that are important to maintain," he said.
"We have a high quality portfolio of assets. We have a sound financial footing on which to build. We have good technology... Most importantly, we have great people."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Solar Energy Tours across the country!

About the 2010 ASES National Solar Tour

Event Date: Saturday, October 2, 2010 (in most areas)
Ed Begley, Jr.
Join Ed Begley, Jr., Author of "Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life", in supporting the ASES National Solar Tour!
The ASES National Solar Tour is the world's largest grassroots solar event. This event offers you the opportunity to tour innovative green homes and buildings to see how you can use solar energy, energy efficiency, and other sustainable technologies to reduce monthly utility bills and help tackle climate change. More than 160,000 participants will visit some 5,500 buildings in 3,200 communities across the U.S.

Now in its 15th year, this event is coordinated nationally by the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society in collaboration with dozens of outstanding partner organizations. It takes place annually during the first Saturday in October in conjunction with National Energy Awareness Month.

We invite you to learn more about the Solar Tour, find a tour in your area, or register your own solar tour.
About the American Solar Energy Society

Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is the nation's leading association of solar professionals & advocates. Our mission is to inspire an era of energy innovation and speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy. We advance education, research and policy.

Leading for more than 50 years

ASES leads national efforts to increase the use of solar energy, energy efficiency and other sustainable technologies in the U.S. We publish the award-winning SOLAR TODAY magazine, organize and present the ASES National Solar Conference and lead the ASES National Solar Tour – the largest grassroots solar event in the world.

What's New?


September 24, 2010
 Although the official date for the ASES National Solar Tour is October 2nd there are many tours occurring this weekend- be sure to look under the "Find a tour" tab on this web page to see when a tour is taking place in YOUR community- bring the family, neighbor or friend and celebrate the many benefits of going solar.

Three new solar videos!

August 31, 2010
Check it out!  There are three great solar videos posted in the National Solar Tour video gallery,

2010 ASES National Solar Tour

Solar Tour promo Photo Gallery Photo Gallery Photo Gallery Register your Tour Find a Solar Tour

About the 2010 ASES National Solar Tour

Event Date: Saturday, October 2, 2010 (in most areas)
Ed Begley, Jr.
Join Ed Begley, Jr., Author of "Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life", in supporting the ASES National Solar Tour!
The ASES National Solar Tour is the world's largest grassroots solar event. This event offers you the opportunity to tour innovative green homes and buildings to see how you can use solar energy, energy efficiency, and other sustainable technologies to reduce monthly utility bills and help tackle climate change. More than 160,000 participants will visit some 5,500 buildings in 3,200 communities across the U.S.
Now in its 15th year, this event is coordinated nationally by the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society in collaboration with dozens of outstanding partner organizations. It takes place annually during the first Saturday in October in conjunction with National Energy Awareness Month.
We invite you to learn more about the Solar Tour, find a tour in your area, or register your own solar tour.

About the American Solar Energy Society

Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is the nation's leading association of solar professionals & advocates. Our mission is to inspire an era of energy innovation and speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy. We advance education, research and policy.
Leading for more than 50 years
ASES leads national efforts to increase the use of solar energy, energy efficiency and other sustainable technologies in the U.S. We publish the award-winning SOLAR TODAY magazine, organize and present the ASES National Solar Conference and lead the ASES National Solar Tour – the largest grassroots solar event in the world.
Join ASES button

What's New?


September 24, 2010
 Although the official date for the ASES National Solar Tour is October 2nd there are many tours occurring this weekend- be sure to look under the "Find a tour" tab on this web page to see when a tour is taking place in YOUR community- bring the family, neighbor or friend and celebrate the many benefits of going solar.

Three new solar videos!

August 31, 2010
Check it out!  There are three great solar videos posted in the National Solar Tour video gallery,

Stress of oil spill still lingering in Orange Beach

 Stress of oil spill still lingering in Orange Beach

oil spill Orange Beach August 12 2010.JPG 
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Beach goers walk past oil stains at Romar Beach in Orange Beach on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010. Stress from the oil spill appears to be lingering in the Orange Beach community.
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — Councilman Jeff Silvers receives phone calls in the middle of the night. The citizens on the line tell him that BP is spraying oil dispersant over Perdido Pass “from an airplane with no lights,” he said, or that workers on boats are covertly dumping it into the water.
“I’m thinking one time I’m going to make a run back to the beach and I’m going to see it,” Silvers said. “But I just haven’t.”
Psychologists have said that a disaster like the Gulf oil spill can heighten anxiety and even divide neighbors and family. In Orange Beach, city leaders like Silvers find themselves spending time listening to citizens vent their fears and frustrations.
“What’s been happening in our community is what happened in Valdez,” Silvers said at a recent, impromptu meeting. “Friends started turning against friends. Family members started turning against family members. I’ve had family members question me.”
A frequent concern is reports and rumors of toxic dispersant in the air.
Councilwoman Pattisue Carranza, a pharmacist, said that she had seen more and more people seeking prescriptions and medications this summer for “thick throats.”
There’s something, she said, that’s “making people behave differently” and “making people cough and giving people headaches and nausea.”
An emergency survey conducted door-to-door in coastal Alabama confirmed elevated levels of depression and stress following the oil spill and also detected possible effects, such as respiratory ailments, according to a preliminary report.
Carranza said, “I don’t think it’s time to raise flags. But there’s a message out there that needs to be one of be cautiously aware of your own body. What kind of warning do we put out that’s a positive warning and not a panic warning? You want to be honest with people and tell them this is what’s going on, but you don’t want to alarm them.”
Mayor Tony Kennon said he doesn’t sense an increased level of sickness, and he and many other elected leaders insist that the air and water are safe.
But at the impromptu meeting, which Kennon opened to the public to discuss concerns about the spill, the mayor said, “I don’t know why we’re divided.”
Community division isn’t necessarily unusual in such situations.
Steve Picou, a University of South Alabama sociologist who studied effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, has cautioned that the Gulf disaster could lead to what he called a “corrosive social cycle.” In Alaska, the spill caused stress and built conflict in relationships where there previously was none.
At last week’s meeting, Margaret Long, who has lived on Cotton Bayou for 61 years, spoke of possible dispersant in the water.
She said she pulls up traps from the water and her hands sting, as if from a chemical burn.
“How long are we going to have this stuff here?” she said. “When is it going to be safe for us to get back in the water? I’ve been here all my life. I’ve cried. I’ve gotten mad because I don’t know what’s going on.
Even Police Chief Billy Wilkins approached the microphone at last week’s meeting in an attempt to dismiss rumors. He said he was sick before the spill, with lung problems, and that he has since recovered.
“In my case, it came out OK,” Wilkins said. “I’m not saying it would in every case, but I was a person who had very much concern about it.”
Councilman Ed Carroll Sr. called for continued research into the air and water quality.
“I don’t have a magic wand to make it all go away,” he said. “If somebody can come up with a solution, we’ll do our dadburnedest to get it done and make sure that we find out whether we have it or we don’t have it. And I think we owe that to our citizens.”

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oil spill related health visits grow

Oil spill related health visits grow

The Associated Press
Published: Friday, September 24, 2010 at 7:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 24, 2010 at 7:12 p.m.
The number of Alabama residents reporting suspected oil-related health effects from the Gulf of Mexico is growing.

Alabama Department of Public Health authorities say at least 268 people have gone to local emergency rooms, clinics and urgent care centers since May 14.
Fifty-seven of the patients complaining of oil-caused symptoms were exposed via inhalation, 39 by contact, five through ingestion, nine patients reported multiple exposures, and 158 were exposed indirectly.
Indirect exposures include heat exhaustion during cleanup efforts or mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression.
There were about 97,156 patients treated for non-trauma care overall during the same period.
Information from: Press-Register,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Gulf Coast: How Much More Can It Take

About this project

Please support this multi-media project by award winning photographer and filmmaker Tammy Cromer-Campbell and environmental writer Vicki Wolf.
For the past 15 years, I have photographed subjects dealing with environmental injustice and Vicki has written about health and the environment. With the BP oil disaster proving to be the largest environmental disaster in the United States, I feel a strong urgency to include it with my environmental injustice work. It is our intent to have the Gulf as a stand alone 30 minute documentary, but it will also be a part of the larger project "Dying for Profit" that examines environmental injustice along East Texas and the Gulf Coast region. The money will be used for the crew of three to travel to the Gulf Coast to video, photograph, and record audio of the people and wildlife surviving this horrific disaster.
The Gulf of Mexico is rich in natural resources - from abundant aquatic life and shoreline birds and wildlife, to ocean beaches that provide recreation and livelihood for millions of people every year. But the people living here don’t call this place paradise. They know that this beautiful place also seems to attract natural disasters as well as man-made environmental disasters.
The Gulf Coast also is rich in oil deposits. More than 25 percent of the country’s petrochemical products are produced at refineries and plants in the gulf. The wealth and culture that has resulted from the oil industry cannot be denied. But lack of precaution has caused one environmental disaster after another for people and wildlife that depend on this beautiful, rich ecosystem and consider the Gulf Coast home.
This project examines the impact of the latest disaster - the BP gulf oil spill - is having on people, the ecology, and the wildlife of the area. The photographer’s lens will zoom in on communities, families, coastal marshes and birds to describe what this disaster means to the people and creatures closest to it. The writer will go to the heart of the story through interviews with people dealing first-hand with this calamity.
We intend to increase awareness about the true cost of the BP gulf oil spill in an area already suffering from environmental injustice and an ecosystem already damaged and stressed. Our closer look at the impact of this disaster also will explore most promising solutions for restoring the gulf.
This work -- The Gulf Coast: How Much More Can It Take? -- will stand alone as 30-minute multimedia documentary on the impact of the BP Gulf Coast oil spill. It also will be part of Dying for Profit, a documentary project in progress that examines environmental justice issues in East Texas as well as the Gulf Coast. Dying for Profit is an extension of Cromer-Campbell's 1st book, Fruit of the Orchard | Environmental Justice in East Texas.
To get a comprehensive look at the condition of the Gulf Coast and the impact of the gulf oil spill, we will target areas of the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida coasts to photograph and document the condition of coastlines, ecosystems, communities and wildlife. Along the way, we will interview those who make a living from the sea, scientists and toxicologists, activists, mothers and wildlife experts. After research is complete, we will focus in on the most poignant and illustrative stories that get to the heart of the suffering as well as the resilience of communities and nature.
Once complete, this will be a 30 minute stand alone documentary, part of Dying For Profit 90 minute documentary, a book, and a traveling exhibition.
Please support this project.
Our Team:
Tammy Cromer-Campbell award winning photographer/filmmaker/author.
Vicki Wolf, health, environmental writer, and audio producer.
Kyle McPeek, assistant to photography and video

Project location: Buras, LA

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Spill Into Washington DC" speakers part 3

 As promised, here is the last installment of the "Spill Into Washington DC" speakers at the Whitehouse.

Gulf Coast eyes tourism boost from fall fishing

Gulf Coast eyes tourism boost from fall fishing

Jay Reeves, The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 11:45 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 11:45 a.m.
ORANGE BEACH (AP) — The tourism industry along the northern Gulf Coast has a new bet for surviving the winter: Red snapper.

The federal government has approved an unusual autumn fishing season for the popular fish, which is a favorite prey for anglers who missed nearly an entire summer of saltwater fishing because of the BP oil spill.
In coastal areas hardest-hit by the oil, like Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, the special season is more about tourism dollars than seafood.
Tackle shops, restaurants, hotels and stores that suffered steep declines in revenue are hoping for big revenue boosts from snapper fishing this fall. Alabama tourism director Lee Sentell says tourism is down 10 percent statewide this year, mostly because of a drop in visitors along the coast.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Feds threaten man on oiled Florida beach:

ABC 3 Top Stories


PENSACOLA BEACH - The head of the Gulf Islands National Seashore wants to set the record straight about whether you can bring a shovel and pail to the beach.

Last week an officer stopped a Channel Three News crew from getting video of the oil under the sand.

Once again we're out here on the Gulf Islands National Seashore. I wanted to show you this sand castle out here that some one had abandoned and you can see that while they were building it, they encountered this, quite a few gooey tarballs out here on the Gulf Side Beach. We were told last week, that doing something like this, building a sand castle, was illegal.

Pat Gonzales/ US Fish and Wildlife: "You can not come out here and do your own investigation if you're looking for oil product."

That's the greeting we got from US Fish and Wildlife
Pat Gonzales/ US Fish and Wildlife: "Are you digging for oil product?" Thomas: "Not necessarily I just want to see what's there." Pat Gonzales/ US Fish and Wildlife: "Okay, I'll tell you what. If you're not going to cooperate with me I'm going to get a National Parks Service Officer out here. I'll get a law enforcement guy out here to talk to you."

Officer A. Negron/National Parks Service: "It's a National Park. You can't dig." Thomas: "So no sand castles, none of that huh?" Officer A. Negron/National Parks Service: "That's correct."

Mark Scarbrough/Tourist: "Sounds like they got something to hide, doesn't it."
Cindy Scarbrough/Tourist: "I guess they're trying to hide it."

These tourists have that opinion after they heard we were told it's illegal to dig at the beach.

Dan Brown/Gulf Islands Superintendent: "Well, that's true and not true."

Park Superintendent Dan Brown says you can't dig in areas where you're likely to find artifacts, like the Fort Pickens compound.

He doesn't know why we were stopped on the beach.

Dan Brown/Gulf Islands Superintendent: "There's no regulation or anything that would prohibit people from digging other than for the things already mentioned that would disturb natural and cultural features."

Dan Thomas/ "So then, what happened last week when they told us that?"

Dan Brown/Gulf Islands Superintendent: "Um, well, probably some incomplete information on the part of those field staff."

Dan Thomas/ "Were they told to stop people from digging by anyone in the Federal Government?"

Dan Brown/Gulf Islands Superintendent: "I don't have any knowledge of that. No."

Dan Thomas/ "So they weren't ordered to go out and stop a news crew from trying to get a story out."

Dan Brown/Gulf Islands Superintendent: "I'm not aware of that, no."

Dan Thomas/ "And once again, just to be clear the Superintendent of the park says people are welcome to come out here and build a sand castle on the beach. Digging NOT Illegal on Gulf Islands National Seashore
Monday, September 20 2010, 09:30 PM EDT

Oil spill nightmare is far from over for Gulf Coast

Oil spill nightmare is far from over for Gulf Coast

The oil well is dead, but challenges live on for people and businesses directly affected by the spill

The Associated Press
This April 21, 2010 aerial photo taken in the Gulf of Mexico shows the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning. A permanent cement plug sealed BP's well nearly 2.5 miles below the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico, five agonizing months after an explosion sank a drilling rig and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
By Allen G. Breed The Associated Press
Published: Monday, September 20, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 20, 2010 at 12:00 a.m.
The “nightmare well” is dead. But the Gulf Coast’s bad dream is far from over.

Federal officials declared Sunday that the well where the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded had finally been killed. Workers drilled a relief well into the damaged one and drove a cement stake deep into its oily, black heart.
Its official end came 11 years after Texaco first sank an exploratory well near that same spot 50 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, then moved on after finding it unprofitable. When BP PLC purchased the rights to explore for oil there in 2008, it held an in-house well-naming contest. The winning team chose the name Macondo, after the mythical town from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”
Carved out of a “paradise of dampness and silence,” the Macondo of the story is a cursed place, a metaphor for the fate awaiting those too arrogant to heed warning signs.
BP’s name choice came to seem prescient last April 20.
That day, an explosion on the rig — which had drilled the well and was in the process of capping it — killed 11 men instantly and started a slow-motion disaster that has jeopardized the livelihoods of legions of fishermen, hotel and restaurant workers, drilling employees and others.
In the three months before a temporary cap stemmed the flow from the blown-out well, as much as 172 million gallons of oil andmillions of cubic feet of natural gas spewed into Gulf waters.

For those most directly affected by the spill — the ones who still await BP checks for lost wages and revenues, who live on beaches where oil mats are just now coming ashore — the feeling of helplessness remains raw, like a freshly stitched wound.
“If you had to live with all the uncertainty, for all those months,” says Mike Helmer, a fishing guide out of Lafitte, La. “I can promise you it’s not easy. And it’s not over.”
At the well’s death, Associated Press reporters who covered the disaster checked in with scientists awaiting test results, with business and legal analysts seeking answers and resolutions, and with Gulf residents looking to an uncertain future and struggling against the “quicksand of forgetfulness” that consumed the fictional Macondo. Here are their reports.
Drilling for answers
Before the smoke even cleared, fingers of blame were pointing in many directions.
BP’s internal investigation, released earlier this month, accused subcontractor Halliburton of improperly cementing the well. It blamed rig owner Transocean Ltd. for problems with the blowout preventer on the seafloor a mile down. It even pointed at itself, acknowledging that if the results of a critical pressure test had been correctly interpreted, workers would have known something was horribly wrong in time to do something about it. (It was a BP engineer who once described Macondo as a “nightmare well.”)
While the company’s report went a long way toward previewing its legal strategy and explaining how a bubble of explosive gas made a 3-mile-plus journey from the bottom of the well to the drilling rig, it left many questions unanswered.
Those questions will be addressed by government investigators, other companies’ investigations, congressional committees and by examinations of key pieces of evidence plucked from the seafloor.

The conclusions will help determine who is liable for the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, and what share of the blame — and of the bill — the various companies with ties to the rig and its equipment will be responsible for. Based on an upper estimate of the oil spilled, BP and others could be fined up to $5.4 billion for violating water pollution laws, or up to $21 billion if gross negligence is found.
The blowout preventer, perhaps the most critical piece of evidence, now sits under guard at a NASA facility in New Orleans, awaiting forensic analysis.
“The whole matter of the BOP, whether it worked or didn’t work ... could change the whole outcome of the whole investigation,” says Daniel Becnel, an attorney representing a host of plaintiffs in the consolidated federal court case.
— By Dina Cappiello, Washington, D.C.
To drill or not to drill?
One of the supreme ironies of this disaster is that many of those hurt most by the spill find themselves having to defend the industry that caused it.
While acknowledging that we are only slightly better prepared to handle a big spill now than we were five months ago, Gulf state officials have joined oil interests in fighting a federal moratorium on deepwater drilling. A government report released Thursday says the ban may have temporarily cost 8,000 to 12,000 jobs on oil rigs and elsewhere.
The current ban on new deep-sea drilling is set to expire on Nov. 30. But there is little doubt the oil and gas industry will face even tougher regulations afterward.
Immediately after the explosion, it became apparent that BP, the industry and the government were woefully unprepared. There was no ready plan for capping a leak so deep underwater, and the cleanup and containment equipment had to be cobbled together on the fly.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man on the BP spill response, says there also needs to be a reevaluation of existing contingency plans. That should include a look at what people think about the role that responsible parties should have in the cleanup effort, and how much autonomy and flexibility state and local governments should have to act outside the national command structure. For instance, federal officials clashed with their counterparts in Louisiana over plans to build artificial barrier islands off the coast to block incoming oil.
Four oil industry giants have pledged to spend $1 billion developing equipment and procedures to better address spills in the future. But that effort is not expected to bear fruit anytime soon.
— By Harry R. Weber, New Orleans
Assessing the damage
There’s an old saying among fishermen: It’s better to be lucky than smart. Bad as things are in the Gulf, Steve Murawski, a pretty smart guy, says we got damned lucky.
On April 29, a mere nine days after the rig explosion, the Gulf’s so-called Loop Current was at full strength, says Murawski, chief fisheries scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Under those conditions, it had the potential to take any oil that got into its pinwheel-like effect and spin it into the Florida Keys and up the U.S. East Coast.
Then, just days later, a large eddy blocked the current and broke the Loop’s back. The threat disappeared.
“This is the closest thing to an act of God that we’ve seen,” says Murawski.
As the oil continued to gush, scientists and others feared a near-knockout blow to the Gulf’s already stressed ecosystem. Early signs suggest that didn’t happen.
But the effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and the 1979 Ixtoc disaster off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula are still unfolding, so only time will tell.
— By Seth Borenstein, Washington, D.C.
Paying up
Three weeks into the $20 billion oil spill claims process set up by BP and the Obama administration, tens of thousands of people are waiting much longer than promised for their money. And many are getting only a fraction of what they requested.
Claims administrator Ken Feinberg acknowledged in recent public appearances that there are “serious problems” with the payment of claims, which he initially said would take just 48 hours for individuals and seven days for businesses. Much of the delay involves lack of documentation and the unexpected complexity of many claims.
“We do not have the kind of results that we all want,” Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said after meeting with Feinberg. “People simply aren’t getting their claims paid and they have urgent need for them.” 

As of Friday, about 26 percent of more than 68,000 claims had been paid for a total of $193.3 million. Loss of earnings or profits makes up the majority of claims, yet most of those paid so far involve $25,000 or less. Only one claim had been denied.
“Most of my clients who are getting paid are not getting the amount they requested,” says attorney Rhon Jones, whose Montgomery, Ala., firm represents more than 1,000 people and businesses with oil-related claims, lawsuits, or both. “There is just lots and lots of frustration.”
“The longer they string this out,” says Jones, “the more people will be under financial duress and the more likely they will take a smaller number.”
— By Curt Anderson, Miami
Scanning the horizon
Ousted BP CEO’s Tony Hayward predicted a “very modest” environmental impact from the spill, and some observers say the relatively few dead sea animals found show he was right.
Critics counter with questions: How many of the dead sank to the bottom and were not counted? How many of the sick and weakened will die prematurely?
Third-generation fisherman Byron Encalade is sick of body and of heart.
For the first season in as long as he can remember, the 56-year-old from Pointe A’La Hache, La., is not out shrimping. He’s not out gathering oysters — they’re all dead. All of the drivers for the Delta family’s Encalade Trucking and Fisheries have moved on to new jobs elsewhere.
“Emotionally, I have family that depends on me,” says Encalade, a proud member of this primarily black community. “I’ve got one boat working for BP, and I’ve got about six families we’re trying to take care of off that one boat. I got my share of responsibilities.”
The water, he says, was his “main source of independence.” No longer.
“I can’t even go catch myself a plate of food anymore.”
— By Brian Skoloff,
Ocean Springs, Miss.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tracy Kuhns, Louisiana Bayoukeeper (June 2010)

 This really is my last post!

Tracy Kuhns, Louisiana Bayoukeeper, was interviewed by a video crew from Bridge the Gulf in June 2010. She talks about the impact of the BP oil disaster on her fishing community in Barataria, Louisiana and her family, including her husband, fisherman and Bayoukeeper Mike Roberts, and their grandson Scott.

LAST POST! for a while.

for a while.




I will check into the hospital in the morning for surgery to correct nerve damage in my right arm. It has been coming on for a while now and is causing loss of muscle mass and control over my hand. As a photographer, I must do what I can to stop the progress of the damage.

No real guarantees that it will ever completely recover but the procedure will stop it from getting worse.

I will be back ASAP and get back to the business of busting polluters and covering the BP Silck.

Thank you all for your support. I promise I will be back soon.

Stay Tuned!


Oil industry: Nix higher offshore inspection fees

WASHINGTON (AP) — The oil and gas industry says an Obama administration plan to double fees charged for inspections of offshore operations could cost jobs.
The industry recognizes the need for improved inspections and oversight following the massive BP oil spill, American Petroleum Institute president Jack Gerard said. But doubling the fees is not appropriate, especially during a recession, he said.
"This is not the time to go back and impose additional costs on industry," Gerard said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.
The oil and gas industry contributes billions of dollars to the U.S. government in royalty payments, taxes and other fees, Gerard said, adding that government policies should encourage development of domestic energy while making sure it is safe.
The White House asked Congress late Monday to approve the higher inspection fees as part of a request for $80 million in new spending for the agency that oversees offshore drilling.
The proposal would more than double the amount collected from oil and gas companies, to $45 million next year from about $20 million this year.
Obama said in a letter to Congress that the fee increases and other changes are needed to strengthen oversight of offshore oil and gas operations; address deficiencies in mineral revenue collection; and complete the reorganization of the agency formerly known as the Minerals Management Service.
The drilling agency's new director said Tuesday that he was not involved in the fee increase decision, but supports additional revenue for his organization, now known as Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
"We need the additional resources to do the job that we've been asked to do," said Michael Bromwich, the drilling agency's new chief. Under its former name, the drilling agency was long plagued by staffing shortages and an overly cozy relationship with the industries it oversees.
Bromwich acknowledged those problems, but said the ocean energy bureau is turning a corner — and needs additional money to get even better.
"We've been faulted for not doing the job people expected us to do, and the central reason for that is we haven't had adequate resources. If we don't get the resources we need we won't be able to do the job effectively," Bromwich said Tuesday in a separate conference call.
Congress recently approved $29 million in emergency spending to hire hundreds of new offshore drilling inspectors and take others steps to improve the drilling agency. No new inspectors have been hired yet, but Bromwich said officials were conducting a "full-court press" to find and hire qualified inspectors to bolster the 60 or so inspectors now responsible for about 3,500 drilling rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
In a related development, Bromwich said the Interior Department has hired McKinsey & Co., a management consulting firm, to help him reorganize the drilling agency. Bromwich said he was not involved in the selection process — which began before he took office in June — and did not know how much the company was being paid.
Federal records indicate that McKinsey will be paid $4.4 million over the next year for its analysis and expertise. The company defeated four other bidders for the yearlong contract, which began Aug. 13.

Prof. says HOMELAND SECURITY confiscated samples and NOTES with inside info on dispersant

Prof. says HOMELAND SECURITY confiscated samples and NOTES with inside info on dispersant

Where’s the oil? On Gulf floor, scientists say

Where’s the oil? On Gulf floor, scientists say

By Cain Burdeau and Seth Borenstein The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 13, 2010 at 11:08 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS | Far beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, deeper than divers can go, scientists say they are finding oil from the busted BP well on the sea’s muddy and mysterious bottom.

Oil at least 2 inches thick was found Sunday night and Monday morning about a mile beneath the surface. Under it was a layer of dead shrimp and other small animals, said University of Georgia researcher Samantha Joye, speaking from the helm of a research vessel in the Gulf.
The latest findings show that while the federal government initially proclaimed much of the spilled oil gone, now it’s not so clear.

At these depths, the ocean is a cold and dark world. Yet scientists say that even though it may be out of sight, oil found there could do significant harm to the strange creatures that dwell in the depths — tube worms, tiny crustaceans and mollusks, single-cell organisms and Halloween-scary fish with bulging eyes and skeletal frames.

“I expected to find oil on the sea floor,” Joye said Monday morning in a ship-to-shore telephone interview. “I did not expect to find this much. I didn’t expect to find layers two inches thick. It’s weird the stuff we found last night. Some of it was really dense and thick.”
Joye said 10 of her 14 samples showed visible oil, including all the ones taken north of the busted well. She found oil on the sea floor as far as 80 miles away from the site of the spill.
“It’s kind of like having a blizzard where the snow comes in and covers everything,” Joye said.

And the look of the oil, its state of degradation, the way it settled on freshly dead animals all made it unlikely that the crude was from the millions of gallons of oil that naturally seep into the Gulf from the sea bottom each year, she said. Later this week, the oil will be tested for the chemical fingerprints that would conclusively link it to the BP spill.

“It has to be a recent event,” Joye said. “There’s still pieces of warm bodies there.”
Since the well was capped on July 15 after some 200 million gallons flowed into the Gulf, there have been signs of resilience on the surface and the shore. Sheens have disappeared, while some marshlands have shoots of green. This seeming recovery is likely a result of massive amounts of chemical dispersants, warm waters and a Gulf that is used to degrading massive amounts of oil, scientists say.
Animal deaths also are far short of worst-case scenarios. But at the same time, a massive invisible plume of oil has been found under the surface, shifting scientists’ concerns from what can be easily seen to what can’t be.

For Ian MacDonald, a Florida State University biological oceanographer who wasn’t part of Joye’s team, the latest findings confirm that government assessments about how much oil remains — especially a report on the subject by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in August — were too optimistic.

The oil “did not disappear,” he said. “It sank.”
Not all scientists agree with this assessment.
Ed Overton, a Louisiana State University chemist who has analyzed the spill for NOAA, doubted much oil was resting on the bottom. He said the heavier components in oil — the asphalts — make up only about 1 percent of the oil that was spilled.

And Roger Sassen, an organic geochemist at Texas A&M University who has studied natural oil seeps, said so much oil seeps naturally into the Gulf each year that it’s hard to argue that the BP spill will make a significant difference.

Nonetheless, the big questions now are exactly how much oil is at the bottom and how many organisms are being exposed to it, said Robert Carney, an oceanographer and deep-sea expert at Louisiana State University. The answers to those questions could shed some light on the unseen damage to wildlife from the oil spill.

“Deep-sea animals, in general, tend to produce fewer offspring than shallower water animals, so if they are going to have a population impact, it may be more sensitive in deep water,” he said. “There is also some evidence that deep-sea animals live longer than shallower water species, so the impact may stay around longer.” 

At first, scientists, the media and the federal government focused their attention on tracking rainbow sheens approaching land, tar balls hitting beaches, measuring oil in marshes and scouting for oiled birds and sea turtles. But a spate of recent studies increasingly points to the deep.
NOAA’s Aug. 4 pronouncement that the oil was mostly gone also indicated that some 53 million gallons remained in the Gulf. At the time, federal officials said some of that could be on the sea floor, adding that the rest was mostly broken down naturally or by the widespread use of chemical dispersants.

“As we get into weathered oil, there is more likelihood that it will get into the sediment,” said Steve Murawski, chief scientist at the National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of NOAA.
Getting a handle on where the oil is at extreme depths will not be easy. Scientists will have to use expensive 1,000-pound devices that look like moon landers. The spindly legged machines land on the bottom and shoot tubes into the sea floor to collect 20-inch-long samples.
The terrain is exceedingly difficult. The area where the busted BP well sits is on the continental slope, formed by millions of years of deposits from the Mississippi River. It’s a region of bumps and valleys, salt domes, canyons and slopes.

Government scientists acknowledge they’ve not done enough to look for oil in the obscure corners of the Gulf’s bottom, but promise to do a better job.

“There are plans to do a considerable amount of that” sampling, said Debbie Payton, an oceanographer with NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration. In the coming weeks, NOAA and BP vessels will sample the deep bottoms, she said.

Joye’s latest discovery backs up the findings of a University of South Florida crew that reported pulling up oily sediment in August.

“What we saw were flecks, little discontinued droplets, or spots” of oil on the sediment, said John H. Paul, a biological oceanographer on the USF survey. The oiled sediment was found about 1.4 miles down in the De Soto Canyon, an underwater canyon east of the blown-out well.
Sediment brought up still needs to undergo laboratory testing to verify that the oil found on the bottom comes from the BP oil spill.

For oil to sink, it must attach itself to materials that are heavier than water, such as detritus, flecks of mud, sands and other particles. Such materials are abundant in the Gulf in places where rivers, especially the Mississippi, flush mud and sand into the open sea. Oil also can sink as it ages and becomes more tar-like in a process known as weathering.

Scientists also say the oil may be sinking because it was broken up into tiny droplets by dispersants, making the oil so small that it wasn’t buoyant enough to rise. One problem with oil at the sea floor is that it will take longer to degrade because of cold temperatures in the deep.
Borenstein reported from Washington, D.C.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Verdienen, Verheimlichen, Verschmutzen: BP und das Ölleck

 Translation below (as best I could) A German documentary about the BP Slick Disaster featuring film by Hurricane Creekkeeper thanks to flights by SouthWings

Verdienen, Verheimlichen, Verschmutzen: BP und das Ölleck

Ein Film von Volker Barth

  • SendeterminMontag, 13. September 2010, 22.00 - 22.45 Uhr .
  • WiederholungsterminDonnerstag, 16. September 2010, 14.15 - 15.00 Uhr (Wdh.).
Brennende Ölplattform; Rechte: WDR/United States Coast Guard
Die Ölbohrplattform Deepwater Horizon brennt am 20. April 2010.
Monatelang strömte das Öl im Golf von Mexiko aus dem explodierten Tiefseebohrloch. Zur Zeit, so sagt BP, fließe kein Öl mehr in die Tiefsee. Wahrheit oder Wunschdenken? Jedenfalls hat das Unternehmen die Unterwasserkameras abgestellt und alle Tiefsee-U-Boote im Golf von Mexiko arbeiten längst unter der Regie von BP. An den Stränden von Louisiana und Florida wird weniger Öl gefunden, allerdings hat auch hier nur derjenige Zugang, den BP zulässt. Im Meer wurden riesige Öllachen gesichtet. Fischer, die Journalisten mit hinausnehmen, berichten davon, dass man ihnen Strafzahlungen in Höhe von 40.000 Dollar androht. Das hat viele erschreckt, und andere stehen längst auf der Gehaltsliste von BP, als Arbeiter der US-Coast Guard saugen sie mit großen Schläuchen das Öl von der Meeresoberfläche. Andere reinigen die Strände.
Reinigungsarbeiten an der Küste; Rechte: WDR/Anthro media
Verzweifelte Reinigungsarbeiten an der Küste Louisianas.
Gerade in Louisiana, wo vor fünf Jahren noch der Wirbelsturm Katrina gewütet hat, sind die Menschen froh, ein Auskommen zu haben. Und BP zahlt gut. Doch wie kann es sein, dass ein Unternehmen zwei Bundesstaaten und eine große Fläche Meeresgebiet kontrolliert, öffentliche Strände absperrt und die Einsätze der Coast Guard mitbestimmt? Wollte der amerikanische Präsident Barak Obama nicht gerade BP strenger in die Verantwortung nehmen? Straßen und Strände sind das Eine, aber das Unternehmen will noch mehr: Meeresbiologen und andere Wissenschaftler sollen ihre Erkenntnisse drei Jahre lang nicht veröffentlichen dürfen.
Vogel und Arbeiter am Strand; Rechte: WDR/Anthro media
An den Folgen der Ölkatastrophe leiden besonders die Tiere in der betroffenen Region.
Das Team der story trifft in Lousiana überall auf die Folgen dieser Maßnahmen. Fischer, die sie beschimpfen, andere, die sie mit hinaus aufs Meer nehmen – trotz der drohenden Strafen. Sie sprechen mit amerikanischen Wissenschaftlern, Opferanwälten und Lokalpolitikern über den Druck, den das Unternehmen täglich erhöht. Auf der einen Seite der Staat, auf der anderen Seite der Konzern, der jeden Tag Millionen verliert und dessen Aktien auf fast die Hälfte gefallen sind, während andere Ölunternehmen satte Gewinne machen. BP kämpft ums Überleben ebenso wie das Ökosystem im Golf von Mexiko. Niemand weiß, was die Ölkatastrophe für die Lebewesen in der Tiefsee bedeutet. Die Vermutung liegt nahe, dass BP möglichst viel über die Katastrophe verschweigen will.

Redaktion: Barbara Schmitz


German to English translation

 (German title translated: to earn, to hide, to pollute: BP and the oil spill)

For months, the oil flowed in the Gulf of Mexico from exploding deep borehole. At present, says BP, oil no longer flows into the deep sea. Truth or wishful thinking? In any event, the company has turned off the cameras underwater and deep-sea submarines in the Gulf of Mexico are working long and directed by BP. On the beaches of Florida, Louisiana and less oil is found, however, has only one access, which allows the BP. In the sea giant pools of oil were spotted. Fischer, the journalists with hinausnehmen report, noted that it threatens their fines in the amount of $ 40,000. This has alarmed many, and others are already on the payroll of BP, as workers of the U.S. Coast Guard, they suck with big hoses, the oil from the sea surface. Other clean beaches.Cleaning on the coast; Rights: WDR / Anthro mediaDesperate cleaning on the coast of Louisiana.
Especially in Louisiana, which has raged five years ago Hurricane Katrina, people are happy to have a livelihood. And BP will pay well. But how can it be that a company controls two states and a large area maritime area, shuts off public beaches and affecting the operations of the Coast Guard? Did the American President Barak Obama does not just take strict BP in the responsibility? Streets and beaches are one thing, but the company wants even more: marine biologists and other scientists are not to its findings three years may not publish.Vogel and workers on the beach; Rights: WDR / Anthro mediaFrom the effects of oil pollution, especially the animals suffering in the affected region.
The team takes the story in Louisiana all over the consequences of these actions. Fischer, they insult others, they take out to sea - despite the threat of sanctions. They speak with American scientists, victim advocates and local politicians about the pressure that increased the company daily. On the one side of the state, on the other side of the company that loses millions every day and whose shares have fallen to almost half, while other oil companies make big profits. BP is fighting for survival as well as the ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico. No one knows what the oil spill for the creatures in the deep sea. It is likely that BP wants to conceal as much as possible about the disaster.

From the author / publisher...

On behalf of the whole film team, I would like to thank you and announce that we finally finished the film for German Public Broadcast and it will be aired today at 10 PM (CEDT) in German Television and on Thursday at 2.15 PM.

But unfortunately it has German Voice Over - so you may listen to yourself speaking German!

If you do not receive German Television, you can watch the film for seven days online - on the mediathek of the German Broadcaster WDR (, but it might be confusing for you to find the link.

We will also produce an international version of the film in English (with no voice over!) 
Again, thank you very much for your support and help!
Without your expertise and kind support, we would not have been able to produce this film!

WE hope you will enjoy the film and we are looking forward to hearing your feedback!

The film will be aired on WDR :
Monday, 13th of September 2010 at 10.00 - 10.45 PM (CEDT)
Thursday, 16th of September 2010 at 2.15 - 3.00 PM          (CEDT)

Thank you!

Kind regards, yours
Susanne and the film crew (Volker and Gernot)
Anthro Media
Documentary and iTV Production
Nature, Science, and Living HistoryNansenstr. 19
D- 12047 Berlin