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Topics:BP asking to return to Gulf; Dudley says they now have a culture of safety. Hopeful signs among brown pelicans rescued from the oily Gulf. Feinberg still doesn't get it and claimants are fed up. Wilma Subra, Louisiana chemist investigating spill pollution and its effects, to receive Human Rights award.

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Monday - evening drive time
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Part one of the digest of diaries is here and part two is here.

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Less than a year after the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 men and resulted in 4.9 billion barrels of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico , BP is seeking permission to resume drilling in the Gulf. According to two BP officials speaking anonymously,an agreement could be reached with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement to resume drilling at 10 production and development sites within a month.
BP is seeking permission to continue drilling at 10 existing deepwater production and development wells in the region in July in exchange for adhering to stricter safety and supervisory rules, said one of the officials. An agreement could be reached within the next month but would not include new drilling, the official said.

The other official said, “We’re making progress but it’s not a yes yet.” Both people spoke on the condition of anonymity because talks on a possible agreement were continuing.

Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was halted last summer as a result of the accident involving BP’s Macondo well, which spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean. The ban was lifted in October.

Melissa Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, the federal agency that overseas the development of resources in the gulf, said on Sunday that there was no deal with BP. Toby Odone, a spokesman for BP, declined to comment.

This request creates a delicate situation for the Obama administration, seeking to increase domestic oil production as part of its new energy policy.
Just last week, the Justice Department confirmed that it was considering a range of civil and criminal penalties against BP, including potential manslaughter charges for the deaths of the rig workers, as part of its ongoing investigation into the accident.

At the same time, President Obama, in a major statement on energy policy last week, said the administrations was seeking to reduce dependence on imported oil in part by increasing domestic production, both onshore and off. BP was one of the major producers in the gulf before the accident.

Dudley's desire to return to the Gulf so soon might just have something to do with with a 10 billion dollar deal gone bad, rather than a sudden improvement in its culture of safety(not).

Gaining permission to resume drilling in the gulf would help Mr. Dudley to move BP beyond its painful and expensive recent history in the region, which has eroded shareholder trust. It would also give BP a boost of confidence.

The British oil company suffered a setback in its expansion strategy last month when a Swedish court blocked a $10 billion cooperation agreement with Rosneft of Russia, which was supposed to give the company access to the Arctic.

The BOERME has said it will award drilling permits to any company that can meet the new, more rigorous safety requirements. Dudley, BP's CEO claims to have made safety his priority. BP was a major player in the Gulf, and full oil production will not return to the Gulf without them. BP insists that it needs to return to drilling to be able to pay for the cleanup and compensation costs. Some members of Congress and the oil industry itself is accusing the administration of driving up energy prices by not handing out permits. Seems to me that Michael Bromwich finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Let's hope our own Lorinda Pike is right about him growing a pair!.

If you were worried about your BP stock falling, or Bob Dudley having a few million shaved off his end of year bonus, don't worry. BP sells Arco Aluminum for 680 million. ARCO, formerly Anacondo, is based in Louisville, Kentucky and will now be owned by a consortium of Japanese companies.
The Japanese consortium is made up of Sumitomo Light Metal Industries, Furukawa Sky Aluminum, Sumitomo Corp., Itochu Corp., and Itochu Metals Corp. .

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.

"Although a strong business, Arco Aluminum is clearly a non-strategic asset for BP. Today's agreement will deliver an attractive price for the business, unlocking its value for our shareholders," said Bob Dudley, BP group CEO, in a statement.

BP said it remains on track to meet its target of divesting itself of $30 billion of assets by the end of 2011. To date, it has agreed to sell assets with a value of more than $24 billion.

On a more positive note,rehabilitated pelicans return to new home. Of the more than 600 oiled pelicans rescued from the Gulf oil slick last year ,cleaned and nursed back to health, 140 were relocated to the Georgia seaside. After migrating further south for the winter, there is evidence that they are returning to their new home.
 Among the 250 brown pelicans roosting on a sand bar on Georgia's Atlantic coast, wildlife biologist Tim Keyes managed to find a few with the numbered bands around their feet that identify them as survivors of a disaster more than 500 miles away.
The red bands worn by six of the large birds Keyes spotted last week mean they're among 140 brown pelicans relocated to the Georgia seaside last summer from Louisiana. Rescued from the fouled Gulf waters following the BP oil rig explosion, the pelicans had to be scrubbed of oil smothering their feathers before they could be airlifted to a new home.

More than eight months later, some of the rehabilitated pelicans have started returning to Georgia after migrating further south for the winter. Keyes, a coastal bird biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources, wants to know more than just how many come back. After the trauma the Gulf birds went through last year, he wonders if they'll reproduce during the nesting season that began in March.

Other rescued pelicans have returned to their relocated homes in Texas, while some went back to their old home in Louisiana.

Scientists aren't sure how many have chosen to stick with their new locations versus those that opted to go back to their old homes. And just because they survived the winter doesn't necessarily mean they escaped harm altogether.

Some pelicans with bands identifying them as relocated birds have been spotted back in the Gulf, but the total number of sightings hasn't been tallied, said Michael Seymour, a nongame ornithologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

The ability to reproduce following the trauma of being oiled is a large concern. Studies of brown pelicans following a 1990 oil spill in California showed no breeding activity.
"Being captured oiled and going through all the rigmarole it takes to get the oil off them is all really stressful on any bird," said Greg Butcher, director of bird conservation for the National Audubon Society.

"You've got to be a healthy bird to respond in a healthy reproductive manner."

Butcher said he believes tools and techniques used to clean oiled birds have improved enough in the last 20 years that the pelicans will be better able to bounce back.

What he's really curious to find out is how well formerly oiled but relocated pelicans reproduce compared to those that never needed rescuing and remained in Louisiana. The success birds on the Gulf coast have making babies could yield clues to whether the fish they eat and the water they drink have recovered or remain polluted.

Brown pelicans were close to extinction in 1970 and so were closely watched until they were taken off the endangered species list in 2009. That means there is plenty of data to compare current numbers to and to see how the oil as effected populations in the coming years. Meanwhile, in Georgia, the signs are hopeful.
It was last June and July when Coast Guard planes arrived on the Georgia coast with crates carrying roughly 70 rehabilitated pelicans each trip. The birds were released near some boat docks in the port city of Brunswick, 60 miles south of Savannah.

The first batch had orange bands on their legs — the same as rehabilitated pelicans released in other states, Keyes said. The second group got red bands with identifying numbers to distinguish them as having come to Georgia. They returned to the wild among the state's small but healthy native population of brown pelicans, about 500 nesting pairs.

Keyes said about 43 of the Gulf pelicans relocated to Georgia have been spotted since their release last summer, some as many as three times. The reported sightings haven't come from too far away, ranging from Tybee Island off Savannah to Nassau Sound off the coast of northern Florida.

One other hopeful sign: Keyes hasn't gotten any reports of any of Georgia's adopted Gulf pelicans being found dead.

Last week Kenneth Feinberg met with claimants in Mathews, Louisiana. Sounds like he is still giving folks the same old run around.
"My name is Anna Luke. I don't need to say anything; you know me. I was promised by you not once, not twice, but three times that you will handle this. I'm asking you to stay good to your word."

The standard Feinberg line, "I'll look into it.", seems to wearing thin for the people affected by the oil.
The abandoned Wal-Mart in Mathews has been reincarnated as the Lafourche Parish government building. For the meeting, a corner of it has been set up with a podium facing the table where Feinberg and a panel of officials sit. The rows of chairs for members of the public are full, so lots of people stand around the edges.

Yet for a moment, half the people who have chairs are standing, too, because Feinberg has just stopped a woman named Cathy Blanchard who was speaking. When she said, "We haven't been paid," he cut in, "In your case." And then she turned exasperatedly to the crowd behind her and said, "Stand up if you haven't been paid."

Blanchard's husband was one of the seven cleanup workers who were hospitalized last May. She says that her husband hasn't been reimbursed for his hospital bills and they've since been sent to collections. "I'd like you to be a man of your word and dish out this money," she says.

Seems that Feinberg frequently interrupted those that came forward.
FEINBERG, INTERRUPTING A person complaining about not being compensated for paralyzing headaches: "You gotta demonstrate that the physical injury is due to the spill. We are paying physical injury claims."

Crowd: "LIE! LIE!" "You are such a lying piece of shit!"
ONLY ONE OF the community members who stands in line to speak says he does not have a claim to settle with BP. But his son, who has a speech impediment, does. So the father waits to ask why his son, a fisherman who makes $17,000 to $18,000 a year, got denied when he only asked for $8,000 in compensation. His claim had all the right records, a letter from a politician...

Feinberg, who's been reclining in his chair, leans toward the microphone. "If he's been denied, there's a reason. You need to have shrimp tickets—"

"I have shrimp tickets!" the man yells, his voice wavering. "I drove to Baton Rouge to get it!"

Feinberg says, "I'll take a look."

That line doesn't seem to be working for Feinberg anymore. One woman drew applause from the crowd when she responded to this line.

. She says her husband's diagnosis says clearly that he's sick "due to chemical exposure." But there's been no compensation; she had no choice but to finally pay his ambulance bill, putting it on her credit card just today. When Feinberg responds that he'll look at her claim, her shoulders sink. "I work in the claims business," she says. "If I 'look' at a claim all…day…long, it won't get paid."

Clearly, Obama overestimated Feinberg's ability to handle this job, or else Feinberg is cracking under the pressure. In either case, he should be replaced.

Louisiana environmental activist, Wilma Subra,is being honored in June at the 9th annual Human Rights Award Gala as the domestic recipient. As a chemist, Subra first did testing for corporations, and uncovered harmful pollutions and conditions that she could not report because of her position.
Finally, she decided she could no longer work for the corporations doing so much harm to so many. So, she went into business for the people-forming the Subra Company, to provide testing and knowledge on behalf of Louisiana citizens in the fight to protect their lives and livelihoods. Bringing her expertise in chemistry and microbiology to bear, Wilma now provides scientific evidence for communities to back up their claims when it comes time to go toe to toe with corporate criminals.

She has worked with communities impacted by natural gas drilling in Texas and Wyoming, has helped communities living near polluted shipyards in San Francisco, and covered the potential impacts of importing Italian nuclear waste through New Orleans. She has trained people in rural areas in techniques for monitoring the health of the communities in which they live - gathering data on air quality and the impact of harmful emissions.

In 1999, Wilma received a MacArthur Genius Grant for her work protecting communities, and she served as vice-chair of the EPA National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT). In every capacity, at every turn, she has used her expertise and quiet diligence to help communities in need and spread the word about industry abuses.

Subra has been working tirelessly on behalf of the Gulf communities since the Macando explosion
. She has openly criticized OSHA and the Food and Drug Administration regarding the safety of clean up workers and the safety of consuming Gulf seafood. She has been one of few experts seeking to document and raise attention to the ongoing health problems that have been associated with the oil disaster.
Subra, who does research for the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, offered a scathing indictment of the way authorities, both public and private, have handled public health issues since the spill.

She said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, at several points during the oil cleanup last year, issued statements of concern and revised training requirements and safety standards for BP's cleanup workers and volunteers. She said those standards, including the use of biohazard gear, were inadequate and inconsistently enforced, as well as coming after many workers and Gulf Coast residents already were exposed.

Subra said the Food and Drug Administration declared in September that Gulf seafood was free from contaminants, but later modified its statement to state only that the level of toxins found was below levels of danger set by the agency. The problem, Subra said, was the methodology used to set the toxicity threshold. "They said a normal seafood diet would be four jumbo shrimp a week," she said. "How many of you, when you eat jumbo shrimp, only eat four?"

A division of the National Institutes of Health has started a program to track the long-term health effects of the spill. According to an online description, the study began with telephone interviews with more than 55,000 people -- Gulf Coast residents, Coast Guard and National Guard members -- who were involved in the cleanup. The long-term tracking will focus on about 25,000 of them.

Subra said the study, financed in part with $10 million from BP, is fundamentally flawed because it doesn't include the broader Gulf Coast population and, more important, doesn't offer care to those being studied.

Subra, basing her opinion on toxicity levels in blood, soil and water samples, says that the health effects of the spill will be greater and last longer than either the oil industry or the government will acknowledge.

Interesting that ongoing coverage of what is really going on in the Gulf, as far as health issues and pollution, come from Al Jazeera.
PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!

Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:

4-03-11 12:06 PM Gulf Watchers Sunday - A Bonus for Death - BP Catastrophe AUV #496 Lorinda Pike
4-01-11 06:13 PM Gulf Watchers Block Party: Déjà Vu edition -- again BlackSheep1
4-01-11 08:25 AM Gulf Watchers Friday - They Want It All and They Want It Now - BP Catastrophe AUV #495+ Lorinda Pike
The last Mothership has links to reference material.

Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.

Again, to keep bandwidth down, please do not post images or videos.

Originally posted to shanesnana on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 02:44 PM PDT.

Also republished by Gulf Watchers Group.

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