Three years after BP’s oil spill disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico, their massive cover-up is finally being exposed and it is horrifying. Last year the federal government fined BP an extraordinary 4.5 billion dollars, the largest fine ever levied against a company operating in the U.S., after they pleaded guilty to fourteen felonies, one of which included lying to Congress. It was revealed that 210 million gallons of Louisiana sweet crude gushed into the Gulf during the 87 days it took to plug the well, but hasn’t been disclosed how BP managed to keep that a secret. The Government Accountability Project, (GAP), an advocacy group for whistleblowers inside and outside of the government, has unraveled Bp’s web of lies and exposed how they managed to conceal the extent of damage in the worst environmental disaster the United States has ever seen. Newsweek released a piece that highlights the cover-up, first, how did they manage to hide 210 million gallons of oil from the public eye? The answer…….Corexit. Corexit is a dispersant that attached itself to the oil, broke it up into droplets and dispersed it into the Gulf of Mexico so that the oil didn’t reach the shoreline.
But the 1.84 million gallons of Corexit that BP applied during the cleanup also served a public-relations purpose: they made the oil spill all but disappear, at least from TV screens. By late July 2010, the Associated Press and The New York Times were questioning whether the spill had been such a big deal after all. Time went so far as to assert that right-wing talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh “has a point” when he accused journalists and environmentalists of exaggerating the crisis.
Hey, I remember that stuff. I live in Florida along the Gulf coast and night after night it was reported that the dispersant was working. The beaches in Panama City weren’t as bad as everyone suspected they would be, by and large we thought it was a ‘miracle.’ I live father south and there was some worry that the oil would reach our pristine beaches and it never did. Whoo hooo!!! However, I know that we were all left scratching our heads and wondering,” well is this stuff as safe as they say it is?” Surely there had to be some risk from the chemicals being used to clean it up, after all, they are chemicals. Turns out, we had a right to worry.
The report released by the GAP outlines exactly what the ‘miracle dispersant’ did to not only the ecosystem, already suffering from the 210 million gallons of oil being pumped into it, but to the cleanup workers as well. The damage to the fragile gulf ecosystem was unprecedented according to the report. The combination of the oil and dispersant caused seafood mutations, nearly 80% decline in seafood catch, and massive die-offs of microscopic life-forms that are essential to the food chain. Damage to the cleanup workers was even more horrifying. Some of the health problems include bloody urine, heart problems, memory loss, kidney and liver damage and the list goes on.
Why did BP cover it up? Because it was bad for public relations, that’s why. Does everyone remember the soothing BP commercials after the oils spill? You know where the CEO stood with seagulls in the background promising BP was doing everything it could to clean up the mess and assuring everyone that they ‘cared’ about us. Yes, those commercials played over and over and over during the cleanup efforts, unfortunately for the cleanup workers reality was much different. One worker, Jorey Danos, told a story about his boat being sprayed by planes dispersing the Corexit four times a day as he cleaned the oil up. Danos relayed his encounter with a BP representative:
“When the BP rep came around on his speed boat, I asked, ‘Hey, what’s the deal with that stuff that was coming out of those planes yesterday?’ He told me, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ I said, ‘Man, that s–t was burning my face—it ain’t right.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ I said, ‘Well, could we get some respirators or something, because that s–t is bad.’ He said, ‘No, that wouldn’t look good to the media. You got two choices: you can either be relieved of your duties or you can deal with it.”
‘Don’t worry about it.’ SERIOUSLY?! The BP representative said it wouldn’t ‘look good to the media.’ WTF?! You see, BP knew that the dispersant was dangerous if it touched the skin of the workers. NALCO, the firm that provided BP with the Corexit also provided them with a manual and according to the manual it was very toxic and should be used with protective gear.
According to the NALCO manual, Corexit is an “eye and skin irritant. Repeated or excessive exposure … may cause injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidney or the liver.” The manual adds: “Excessive exposure may cause central nervous system effects, nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects.” It advises, “Do not get in eyes, on skin, on clothing,” and “Wear suitable protective clothing.”
BP, however chose to ignore the manual and put all of the cleanup workers in jeopardy. Furthermore, when an administrator with the EPA asked them to use something less toxic, they refused. Proving once again that corporations care more about their PR than they do the people working to clean up their screw ups. Now BP is in court again, in New Orleans, were it will be decided whether or not they are guilty of “negligence” which carries a fine of $1,100 for each barrel of oil that leaked under the Clean Water Act or “gross negligence” which carries a fine of $4,300 per barrel of oil. The latter would result in a nearly $17.5 billion dollar fine on top of the fine paid to the federal government and the $34 billion that the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida are seeking. Let’s hope the company is levied the highest fine.
This folks is what happens when corporations are just allowed to run wild. The impact of the BP oil spill is probably still not completely known. They covered it up for three years and the damage caused is far-reaching and astounding. So while Republicans continue their,” DRILL BABY DRILL,” mantra the rest of us are left to remember the absolute devastation caused by BP and wondering when will it happen again? There is no doubt, if there is increased drilling in the Gulf, as Republicans want, another spill will happen. Accidents happen all the time and we will once again be left with perhaps not a spill as disastrous as this one,but a disaster nonetheless.