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Topics: Not So Slick, Caminada shoreline restoration project is ready to go, corps says, Baby bird boom for pelicans and terns on Mobile Bay's Gaillard Island (photo gallery), Gulfport councilman slams BP, Origin of North Platte sheens eludes detection, BP Emissions Continue at Whiting Refinery in Indiana, NRC Says, Mobile native Margaret Brown wins grant for oil spill documentary film, Oil spill plaintiffs committee having trouble with responses

ou are in the current Gulf Watchers BP Catastrophe - AUV #535. ROV #534 is here.

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Part one of the digest of diaries is here and part two is here.

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On the anniversary of their deaths BP filed a document with the court accusing the eleven men who perished on the Deepwater Horizon of being  “callous, indifferent and grossly negligent in causing this explosion.” I hope that plaintiffs' lawyers take particular care in pointing how terrified these men must have been about losing their jobs to have had taken what many knew to be needless risks to save BP money.

BP is following it's proud tradition of being completely oblivious to any sense of corporate or executive responsibility for what goes on in their business. It would seem that not only does BP's executive not to seem overly concerned about killing its own employees but feels that character assassination once they are dead is a brilliant defense strategy.

We get glimpses of BP's executive corporate culture that has absolutely no sense of the legitimate responsibilities of leadership in Hayward's testimony in the first video. Getting Hayward to admit that he had ultimate responsibility in the chain of the safety command was pretty much an exercise in trying to corner slime in a round sieve. It is ironic that it was a lawyer representing Transocean, another master finger-pointing practitioner, that finally got Tony to admit that the safety buck stopped with him.

When asked about supervising the Bly internal investigation into BP's Macondo horror show that completely ignored the issue of BP's management, Hayward replied, "I did not monitor the investigation on a daily basis; weekly basis; or, even indeed, a monthly basis given everything else that was going on at the time." Willful ignorance is seemingly an absolute job requirement for top BP execs.

There is now video posted on YouTube of Tony Hayward's testimony covered by Yasuragi in the last Gulf Watchers diary. Warning: Viewing Hayward's testimony will cause a strong urge for an immediate shower afterwards.
Exclusive: Tony Hayward Defends His Actions, Part 1‏
Exclusive: Tony Hayward Defends His Actions, Part 2‏
Exclusive: Tony Hayward Defends His Actions, Part 3‏
Exclusive: Tony Hayward Defends His Actions, Part 4‏

Not So Slick

When asked about the 11 men who died when the Horizon burst into flames on April 20, 2010, he notes his remorse, but admits he can’t remember all of their names. In the end, he is able to correctly name only one victim, Karl Kleppinger.

Stephen L. Roberts, an attorney for BP’s corporate partner Transocean, also drops a bombshell when he reveals that BP filed a legal pleading that referred to the 11 victims as “callous, indifferent and grossly negligent in causing this explosion.”

Roberts claims BP filed the pleading on April 20, 2011, the one-year anniversary of the day the men died in the explosion. “It was after I left the company. I’ve had no involvement in it,” says Hayward.

In a nasty exchange on day one of the deposition, plaintiffs’ attorney Robert Cunningham accuses Hayward of lying when he testified to Congress that BP was conducting “a full and complete investigation.”
But attorneys believe they were able to show that BP failed to follow its own investigative procedures, neglecting to pursue possible mistakes by its leadership.
Hayward left the company in September 2010 and admits in the deposition that he never read the Presidential Commission’s report, which concluded that “most of the mistakes and oversights at [Deepwater Horizon] can be traced back to a single over-arching failure, a failure of management.” 

Disturbingly absent from this story is any mention of any sort of environmental review. Making major, very expensive changes to high dollar projects always sends up red flags to me about whether decisions were made on the basis of scientific merit or who is going to end up with money in their pockets and who is going to end up with political favors owed.

Surprisingly, there seems to be some leftover money from Jundall's $240 billion sand berm boondoggle that Louisiana plans to use for Shell Island restoration. Not surprisingly, there remain serious concerns about BP's committment to clean up Wisner trust land. It's also curious that there is a split in the Corps of Engineers' preferences for ownership of the new land that will be created.

It's more than worth reading the entire story for many more details on the restoration and Wisner trust.

Caminada shoreline restoration project is ready to go, corps says

The Army Corps of Engineers has finally unveiled a long-awaited $446 million plan to rebuild the Caminada shoreline south of Port Fourchon and the mostly disappeared Shell Island to the east of Grand Isle.

It calls for a radically different approach to coastal restoration, one that involves using sand deposits miles offshore to restore a sand dune that would reach 7 feet above sea level along the Caminada shoreline, and deploying a 12-mile pipeline to move sand from the Mississippi River to rebuild the large barrier island to 6 feet above sea level.

Though the two projects have already been authorized by Congress, the costs are nearly double what was originally budgeted. As a result, the corps says it will move forward only on the Caminada shoreline restoration for now, leaving Shell Island for later.

Louisiana’s top coastal official, Garret Graves, says the corps already should have begun construction of the two projects, and that the rising costs are the corps’ own fault.

“Here we are approaching four years down the road for something that should have been done in months,” said Garret Graves, chairman of the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. “This is the corps’ process, the corps’ attorneys, being incapable of responding to this urgent coastal crisis we have in Louisiana.”
Equally unclear is whether money will be available. Congress has been loath to finance new corps construction projects in recent years.

Graves said that despite the corps plan to delay construction on Shell Island, the state will begin construction of part of the project, using money from the separate federal Coastal Impact Assistance Program and a portion of the remaining $120 million given to the state by BP to build sand berms to capture oil from last year’s BP oil spill.
strong>While both projects are authorized under legislation aimed at restoring the environmental services of land lost to erosion, the Caminada project would also increase protection from hurricane storm surges for the sprawling Port Fourchon offshore oil service industry base. It also would reduce damage to interior wetlands from surge.

But Lachney said the corps remains concerned about two potential obstacles to beginning construction of the Caminada project: a question about who will ultimately own the land created by the project; and pollution along the project shoreline remaining from the BP oil spill.

Much of the land on which the project will be built is owned by the Edward Wisner Donation Trust, which was donated in 1914 to the City of New Orleans under a 100-year trust agreement.

Much of Port Fourchon, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port’s onshore operations; facilities owned by Chevron Oil, and a number of other oil and gas production facilities all sit on Wisner land.
Lachney said senior corps officials have recommended that the property for construction of the dune and wetlands be bought, with mineral rights remaining with the original owner. But she said the corps’ New Orleans District officials are recommending instead that Wisner and the other owners grant easements that would assure the project would be protected.

Cathy Norman, executive director of the trust, said she also is in favor of an easement, rather than sale of the land.

The BP oil could be more of a problem, Lachney said.

“We cannot acquire any property if it is contaminated,” she said. “Any property, before we acquire it for a project, would have to be cleaned.”

Wisner officials have been trying to get BP to clean its property since the first oil washed ashore weeks after the April 20 accident, Norman said. At the moment, cleanup operations by contractors working for the joint BP-Coast Guard oil spill cleanup program are on hold because of nesting birds, she said.

But Joel Waltzer, an attorney representing the trust, said BP officials seem to be waffling on how clean they plan to make the Wisner property.

“We’ve been told now that the removal is stagnant and that the Unified Command seems content to leave oil on the beach, against our will,” he said. “To the extent any of this jeopardizes critical restoration projects, that needs to be changed.

“The standards for cleanup are attenuating over time, appear to be getting weaker, and either the Coast Guard or the state needs to make sure the cleanup is done to the satisfaction of the corps,” Waltzer said, “because without restoration, there won’t be a beach, and without a beach, there won’t be an interior wetland separating the Gulf from Houma, not to mention Port Fourchon, a critical asset to the state and the nation.”

Graves agreed. Last week, he complained to a congressional committee about the slow pace of cleanup efforts and their potential to delay a raft of restoration projects.

“The reality is that there’s oil in the Gulf today, and we likely will see oil washing up from these submerged oil mats and other sources for several years,” he said. “To say we can’t do restoration anywhere where there’s oil would mean we wouldn’t build restoration projects for years in coastal Louisiana and that’s obviously not an option.”
The corps is seeking public comment on the Barataria plan, available on the web at

The corps will hold two public meetings on the Barataria restoration plan from 6 to 8 p.m. on July 26 at Woodland Plantation, 21997 Highway 23, in Port Sulphur, and from 6 to 8 p.m. on July 28 at South Lafourche High School, 16911 East Main St., in Galliano.

Comments or questions on the draft also can be sent to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District, Attention: William P. Klein, Jr., P.O. Box 60267, New Orleans LA 70160-0267, or by calling 862-2540, or by fax to 862-2208. Comments will be accepted through Aug. 8.

Even though scientists universally caution that the full effects of BP's black monster won't be known for years, the abundance of baby birds on an isolated Alabama island is very welcome and hopeful news. The fact that the chicks are well-fed and healthy is also more potential good news about the health and well-being of nearby fish populations,

Baby bird boom for pelicans and terns on Mobile Bay's Gaillard Island (photo gallery)

As this year’s crop of baby pelicans and terns hatch out on Gaillard Island in Mobile Bay, biologists in Alabama are breathing something akin to a sigh of relief. At the midpoint of the first nesting season since the BP oil spill, the manmade rookery — at 1,300 acres, one of the largest pelican nesting areas on the upper Gulf Coast — seems to be home to a bumper crop.

“I think there is an uptick in the number of pelicans out there, and maybe even royal terns. Overall, it looks like a great year,” said Roger Clay, with the state Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.
The 8,000 pelicans are now raising around 16,000 chicks, while the 20,000 gulls and other birds are raising around 40,000 chicks, meaning there are more than 80,000 birds on the island.
He also said it was possible to glean something about fish populations from the tens of thousands of tiny bird mouths now being fatted on anchovies, menhaden and mullet from the bay.

“All those pelicans and terns and gulls nesting on Gaillard, they all appear to be getting plenty of food. If there was a problem with the fish in the bay, we’d see it there,” Clay said.
He said that nearly every kind of shorebird common in the state nests on Gaillard. The island is prime bird habitat for two reasons: there are no predators and there are no people.

It's difficult to understand what prompted the Gulfport government to engage in the magical thinking that BP would be willing to give the city fair compensation absent some sort of heavy legal boot being applied to BP's backside. However, that seems to be the case and one of the councilmen, Rusty Walker, now professes shock and dismay that BP is using bureaucratic stalling to keep their money in their own pockets.

To accuse James Lee Witt, former FEMA director, of not understanding short-term community redevelopment seems a far reach. However, since Witt is now working for BP he is undoubtedly dancing to their tune. Walker also appears rather silly by implying that Witt being a Democrat has something to do with BP's normal, foot-dragging strategy.

Gulfport councilman slams BP

Gulfport councilman Rusty Walker doesn't mince words when the issue of BP's relationship with his city comes up.  "They're not dealing fairly with us," Walker said during a phone conversation with WLOX News Director Brad Kessie.  "They're using low level flunkies to deal with us."
"BP's office in Gulfport does not make up for the negative impact of the oil disaster it was responsible for.  It's affect on our City will be felt for years," the councilman wrote."

"In fact, this new office should facilitate direct communications with BP management on the damages and losses that have been suffered and will be suffered in the future by the City.  However, to date, BP has refused to deal with the City on a direct basis and instead has tried to force the City to deal with an array of contract adjusters, lawyers, and consultants such as Witt and Associates, headed by Democratic FEMA director, James Lee Witt, with no experience in understanding local government finances or short or long-term community redevelopment.

A BP refinery is the suspected source of oil sheening seen in the North Platte River in Casper since last spring but no one has tracked down where the nasty thing is leaking. It is not comforting that Wyoming's environmental agency is depending on BP to do the major part of the work in locating the source of the leak. Final reports aren't expected until August.

Origin of North Platte sheens eludes detection

After weeks of searching, BP has still not found the origins of the oil sheens occasionally appearing on the North Platte River in Casper.

The sheens, which first appeared in spring of 2010, returned this spring with more size and frequency.

“Unfortunately, none of our investigations to date have found anything,” said Matt Buchholz, an environmental analyst with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.

But “the difference between last year and this year is we’re going to continue to investigate regardless of whether we see sheening,” he added.
BP, the company that took over the former Amoco refinery site that is believed to be the source of the sheens, and the DEQ agreed in May on a plan for the company to investigate the sheens, which includes drilling test wells and making visual observations around the refinery site.

Also included in the plan is the collection of water samples to find clues to the sheens’ origins.

The WSJ indicates that flaring started on July 2. No estimated time for the problem being fixed is included in either the WSJ story or this one.

BP Emissions Continue at Whiting Refinery in Indiana, NRC Says

BP Plc (BP/)’s Whiting refinery in Indiana continues to release higher-than-estimated emissions, according to a filing with the National Response Center.
Bloomberg News couldn’t immediately verify that the information in the NRC filing was accurate.

Margret Brown, a Gulf native, has won a grant for a documentary about the impact of BP's black monster on oil workers and people in the fishing industry. The title, The Great Invisible, aptly describes the press attention given to BP's victims.

Mobile native Margaret Brown wins grant for oil spill documentary film

AUSTIN, Texas -- Margaret Brown -- a Mobile, Alabama, native documentary filmmaker most recently known for her film about the dual racial nature of Mobile's Mardi Gras -- has now turned her attention to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Brown is at work on a film tentatively titled "The Great Invisible." According to a news release, it "explores the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and resulting moratorium and their impact on her hometown of Mobile Alabama and the Gulf of Mexico.

"The film looks at the global oil economy through the lens of characters that work in the oil and fishing industries on the Gulf Coast."

I have no idea about the merits of the legal arguments but a Louisiana judge has ordered plaintiff's steering committee attorneys to stipulate to certain facts or to state why they refuse to do so. The story seems to be slanted against the plaintiff's attorneys so there may be pertinent bits and pieces left out.

Oil spill plaintiffs committee having trouble with responses

Lawyers leading litigation over the Deepwater Horizon explosion can't wriggle out of answers to sharp questions, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan decided on June 24.

She utterly rejected a plaintiff steering committee's June 13 responses to requests that it admit facts to oil company BP and rig investor Anadarko Petroleum.

"Having reviewed the requests for admission and the PSC responses, the undersigned finds that BP and Anadarko are entitled to know what the plaintiff steering committee currently contends as to the facts," she wrote.

She wrote that federal rules of civil procedure provide that if a matter is not admitted, the answering party must deny it or state why it can't deny or admit it.

She entered the order without any motion and without any delay.

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