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Topics: Environmental groups: Oil spill's effects persist, Report highlights need to clean Gulf, Harvesters dispirited by white shrimp catch, Gulf lawmakers in House to announce agreement on oil spill fines, Corexit Makers May Be Liable for Use at Oil Spill, BP shareholder suits in court Nov. 4 on motions to dismiss, BP top manager may join Russia's oil giant Rosneft

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Waterkeepers issued a report pointing out that the Gulf and its residents are still enduring suffering caused by BP's black monster. The report was largely ignored by the media and the Mobile Press-Register disgracefully included comments by George Crozier without mentioning he has been the recipient of considerable BP largesse.

The human health impact of BP's wrongdoing has been completely ignored by the government other than an in-progress survey and the ever-parsimonious Feinberg, head of BP's Gulf Coast Claims Facility, has turned down all health claims. There are not physicians in the Gulf expert in toxicology to treat people even if they are fortunate enough to be able to afford health care. The Waterkeeper's reports highlights this aspect of the ongoing tragedy.

Environmental groups: Oil spill's effects persist |

A coalition of Gulf Coast environmental groups said in a report released today that last year’s oil spill is still a “developing disaster,” as they called for government officials to reinstate a moratorium on new deepwater drilling and rethink claims that Gulf of Mexico seafood is safe to eat.

“Across the Gulf Coast, oil continues to wash ashore along beaches and wetlands,” the Waterkeeper Alliance report said. “Local and state economies and household budgets are still suffering, and health impacts, potentially from exposure to the mixture of crude oil and toxic dispersant, are being reported.”
The report was produced jointly by Mobile Baykeeper, Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, Louisiana Bayoukeeper and four other Waterkeeper groups, from Seabrook, Texas, to Apalachicola, Fla.
Even some in the science community have questioned the severity of the spill, with former Dauphin Island Sea Lab Executive Director George Crozier calling its impact east of Louisiana “minor.” [With $5 million in hand from BP, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is mapping out a plan to study the long-term environmental impacts of the oil spill, according to George Crozier, the sea lab's executive director.]

“I can’t bring myself to exaggerate effects that I can’t document,” he told the Press-Register in June.

Environmental advocates came to a very different conclusion in the report.

Seafood samples from the Gulf, tested by Waterkeeper officials, turned up oil-related compounds that could pose a health risk, the report said.

“These results call into question the efficacy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s seafood testing and their proclamation that Gulf seafood was and continues to be safe for regular consumption,” the report said.
“Based on our test results, we consider the ‘all clear’ for consumption of Gulf seafood to have been premature and based on flawed levels of concern.”

Meanwhile, oil continues to hit Gulf Coast shorelines, the report said.

“If there is a problem, we need to address it and fix it. Not hide it,” said Mobile Baykeeper’s executive director, Casi Callaway.

The report said officials should continue to study the spill and its impact well into the future, noting that the effects of the Exxon Valdez spill have continued for decades.
The report listed a litany of health problems that fishermen suffered in the wake of the spill and continue to experience, including severe headaches, vomiting and nausea, fatigue and difficulty breathing.

“At the time of this writing, Gulf Coast communities remain without adequate diagnosis or treatment for these health concerns,” the report said.

Meanwhile, BP has continually tried to minimize the spill and its effects, according to the Waterkeeper Alliance.

“Throughout most of 2010 and 2011, it has been evident that BP is running a public relations campaign, more than a recovery effort,” the report said.

“The basic, underlying message of this report is: There is a lot more work to do,” Callaway said.

“The oil is not gone. We have to clean it up; we have to put methods in place to never let this happen again; and most importantly, we need to do significant restoration.”

Read the full document: Waterkeeper Alliance report.pdf

Hundreds of different PAHs commonly occur as mixtures in the environment, and toxicological data available on these mixtures are limited. Most studies focus on individual PAHs, and therefore assessing cumulative risks for more than one PAH is a challenge. However, based on the available toxicological data, some PAHs have been classified as probable or possible carcinogens. Naph- thalene is not currently listed as a probable or possible carcinogenic PAH (cPAH), although recent studies by the National Toxicology Program have concluded that there is clear evidence of its carci- nogenic effects in animals.27

Federal Drug Administration (FDA) established levels of concern specifically for the unprecedented Deepwater Horizon disaster and will not necessarily be applicable after all fisheries closed due to oil contamination are reopened for safe harvest. In developing the parameters for levels of concern (LOCs), adjustments for smaller individuals, children, and pregnant women were not taken into account. The seafood consumption rates of Gulf Coast communities also were not taken into account. Residents of the Gulf Coast tend to consume far more seafood than was taken into consideration. In particular, many of the lower-income coastal communities rely on subsistence fishing as a way to supply a significant portion of their dietary requirements.

A study published by the journal Environmental Health Perspectives took a close look at the testing done in the Gulf and compared it to that in other oil spills and to the science on oil-spill contamination.29 Some of the noteworthy findings include:

1 Gulf seafood should be tested for heavy metals.
2 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed a higher level of contamination to be considered “safe” after the BP disaster than following other oil spills.
3 A long-term comprehensive testing plan is needed that covers all types of seafood, includes an adequate number of samples from all impacted areas, and measures all of the relevant contaminants (PAHs, metals, and dispersant chemicals).
4 Improvements are needed in community engagement and communication.
5 Guidelines should be developed to standardize seafood safety assessments and make them more protective of health.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force has issued a report stating the blindingly obvious ecological Gulf problems that have existed for decades. The AP story on the preliminary report only cites the BP black monster as an event that peaked interest in the long-term environmental health of the Gulf with no mention of any of its possible long-term effects.

I couldn't find the actual preliminary report on the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force site. Preliminary report is now up. h/t bobnbob

Report highlights need to clean Gulf

HOUSTON—Coastal states must work together to restore key elements of the Gulf of Mexico that have made it a backbone of the U.S. economy before the ecosystem becomes so weak and polluted that it is no longer habitable for animals or people, according to a preliminary report released Wednesday.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, established by President Barack Obama after last year's catastrophic oil spill, provided an executive summary of the report to the Associated Press. The draft report seeks to pinpoint the biggest challenges and most pressing issues facing the Gulf and also provide the five coastal states -- Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama -- with a restoration strategy.

"One of the results of all the meetings is a real sense of urgency," EPA chief Lisa Jackson told The AP. "Person after person came in and said `we're losing the Gulf.' None of it is irreversible, but the longer we wait, the harder it will be."

The Gulf of Mexico's ecosystem, long the victim of upstream efforts to allow easy ship navigation and prevent Mississippi River flooding, has been in a state of environmental decline for decades.

BP's oil spill, the largest offshore spill in U.S. history, drew public attention to the slow, persistent damage done to the area that produced 30 percent of the nation's gross domestic product in 2009. The sudden fear that the oil would permanently harm the marine and coastal area created an urgency to fix those woes.

The task force, made up of representatives from an array of federal and state agencies, laid out four goals requiring immediate attention: restoring and conserving habitat; restoring water quality; replenishing and protecting coastal and marine resources and enhancing community resilience.

The committee also demanded that Congress, which has still failed to dedicate funding to restoration efforts, dedicate "significant portions" of penalties from the oil spill to the recovery efforts. Members also are asking Congress to create a permanent council to oversee, coordinate and manage the restoration.
A priority highlighted by the task force is a need to restore and preserve natural river processes that distribute and process sediment and freshwater -- the lifeblood of downstream wetlands and the wildlife that call those areas home.

The sediment -- nutrient -filled sand and rock that flow from rivers and streams into the ocean -- constitute the structural foundation of the Gulf's ecosystem.

Thousands of years of downstream sediment flows helped create the wetlands and barrier islands that are now parts of the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Like sponges, they soak up floodwaters and protect millions of residents in coastal communities from the massive hurricanes and other storms that blow inland from the ocean.
"Restoring the supply of sediment is the number one most important thing. If we can do that, as well as decrease the flow of nutrients that have created a dead zone in the Gulf, we'll be in good shape," Jackson said.

The dead zone is an area where there is so little oxygen nothing can live. Scientists believe it is caused by fertilizers and other nutrients from the Midwest that flow into the Mississippi River and eventually into the Gulf.

The Gulf of Mexico has at times been overlooked, but economically it is vital. More than 90 percent of the nation's offshore oil and natural gas production originates in the Gulf, 13 of the top 20 ports by tonnage are in the region and if the five coastal states were a country, they would rank seventh in global gross domestic product.

Jackson said the task force has identified a variety of strategies -- including rebuilding barrier islands and wetlands -- to help restore the Gulf. But she believes the most successful will involve partnerships between the public and the private sector.

Most immediately, making preservation of the Gulf as important as flood control and navigation -- a major policy shift from how the U.S. has traditionally treated the region during the past century -- will likely lead to quick results, Jackson said.

This year's white shrimp harvest is abysmal when a decent year was expected. Anecdotal reports from shrimpers indicates that the harvest are the poorest where the BP oil spill wreaked its worst havoc.

Harvesters dispirited by white shrimp catch

This year’s white shrimp harvest in the waters off Louisiana’s southeastern coast is significantly lower than in the past, forcing some people in the industry to look elsewhere for product and scale back operations while others blame the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

“I am talking to the guys, I am talking to the docks, and they are telling me that they are 80 percent off,” said Clint Guidry, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association. “We should have had a good year this year.”

Carol Terrebonne, who runs the Seafood Shed, a seafood wholesaler in Golden Meadow, agreed.

“Usually at this time of the year, we are loading trailer loads,” Terrebonne said. “It’s just not happening.”
The lack of shrimp around Grand Isle has forced some shrimpers to sail west toward Dulac and Delcambre, said Dean Blanchard, owner of a shrimp dock in Grand Isle.

“Our Grand Isle beach is producing less than one percent of the shrimp it normally produces,” he said.

Many fishermen are blaming the lack of shrimp on the oil leak, said Guidry of the Louisiana Shrimp Association.

“I think you will find the parishes that were most affected by oil are down (in terms of shrimp),” Guidry said. “We are just seeing something (a lower number of shrimp), and what we see on the beaches is a minute fraction of what went on in the Gulf. I don’t think we will ever know what it (the oil) killed.”

Guidry cited a study published Sept. 26 by LSU researchers Fernando Galvez and Andrew Whitehead. The study found that exposure to oil causes changes in fish genes that could have implications for future fish populations.

“You look at this fish study, you put the pieces of the puzzle together,” Guidry said.
The low harvest is impacting businesses farther inland, too, such as Doran Seafood, a shrimp processing plant in Independence.

“We have done zero this year,” said Randy Pearce, the plant’s owner-operator. “We have not peeled one Louisiana white shrimp.”

Pearce recently pointed to an empty live shrimp storage room, saying that at this point in the season, it should be full.

In another room of the plant, four large shrimp-peeling machines sat idle. Those machines should be running two shifts per day, Pearce said.

The plant has already reduced the number of days that employees are working from five or six days per week to three, Pearce said.

Pearce has reduced the number of employees from 50 to 25, he said. Further reductions at the plant are likely if the season’s harvest doesn’t pick up, he said.
Guidry said he has discussed his concerns with state officials “but we are still waiting on the Wildlife and Fisheries numbers.”

An agreement among House Republicans will allow BP fines to directed towards Gulf states is to be announced about this time today. However, given the Republicans are in charge in the House I have little hope that the funds will be directed in any meaningful way towards environmental restoration nor the Gulf human health needs. My guess is that the agreement will go out of its way to allow the mainly Republican Gulf pols to funnel the dollars directly into the pockets of their supporters with any benefit to the Gulf ecosystems or its suffering residents being incidental.
Gulf lawmakers in House to announce agreement on oil spill fines
Published: Tuesday, October 04, 2011, 3:29 PM     Updated: Tuesday, October 04, 2011, 4:03 PM

Gulf Coast lawmakers in the U.S. House appear to have reached a long-awaited agreement on sending potentially billions of dollars in oil spill fine money to the Gulf states.

The office of Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., issued a news release minutes ago announcing a news conference tomorrow at 3 p.m. Central Standard Time to unveil the oil spill fine proposal.

"A coalition of Gulf Coast lawmakers in the U.S. House will host a press conference tomorrow to discuss the introduction of the RESTORE Act and their continued efforts to build momentum to secure BP Clean Water Act fines for coastal states," the release said.

Scalise will be joined by Reps. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile; Steven Palazzo, R-Biloxi; Jeff Miller, R-Fla.; Steve Southerland, R-Fla.; Pete Olson, R-Tex.; and others, according to the release.

The inclusion of lawmakers from every Gulf state is significant, following the many months of negotiations by House members that broke down across state lines.

Their Senate counterparts similarly struggled with questions about how much money each state should get and what purposes it could be used for. But Gulf Coast senators announced an agreement in July and their bill passed committee last month.
BP PLC and other companies deemed responsible for last year's massive oil spill could be on the hook for between $5.4 billion and $21.1 billion in fines under the federal Clean Water Act.

Without congressional action, Gulf States would not receive that money.

It's hardly a shocker that Corexit manufacturer, Nalco, and the companies, including BP, who used the product are using EPA's head honcho, Lisa Jackson's, cowardly decision to back down on her directive to BP to use a safer dispersant has given attorneys a golden opportunity. Defendants are now claiming that the government ordered the use of Corexit and, therefore, should not be held liable for any of the problems its nasty ingredients may have caused. Fortunately, Judge Barbier, didn't buy the argument but said that it could be raised at a later time.

Corexit Makers May Be Liable for Use at Oil Spill

Monday, October 03, 2011Last Update: 4:01 PM PT

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - Companies involved in the use of the dispersant Corexit during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill last year cannot get immunity from what may be hundreds of thousands of personal injury claims, a federal judge ruled.

After the Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling rig exploded on April 20, 2010, unleashing the worst oil spill in U.S. history, BP directed third-party cleanup workers to spray and inject more than 1.8 million gallons of Corexit into oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Early on, the Environmental Protection Agency told BP to stop using Corexit because of the dispersant's known toxicity, but BP objected and continued to use the chemical.

Part of the massive multidistrict litigation for the oil spill involves claims by those who have allegedly suffered injuries from exposure to Corexit.

The dispersant's manufacturer, Nalco, tried to dismiss these claims by noting that it merely followed orders passed down from the president of the United States in distributing the highly toxic chemical. Corexit is banned in several counties including the U.K. because of its known toxicity. If Nalco had been following federal orders, it could have sought immunity under two separate rules: the government contractor defense and a provision of the Clean Water Act (CWA) that protects any private contractor following orders from the federal government.

But U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled Friday that Nalco was following orders from BP, not orders from the United States, and can therefore be held liable for damages.

Judge Barbier's order relates to all claims belonging to the B3 pleading bundle. B3 claims pertain to post-explosion oil spill-related personal injuries. Because even Gulf Coast residents who suffered injuries from oil or Corexit are named generally as plaintiffs in some of the complaints, B3-related claims could potentially number in the hundreds of thousands.

The B3 bundle "alleges the oil and/ or dispersants caused some plaintiffs headaches, nausea, vomiting, respiratory problems, eye irritation, rashes, lesions, and burns. ... Moreover, it is claimed that exposure 'may lead to serious problems, disease, and medical conditions' and plaintiffs are at a 'significantly increased risk of contracting serious latent disease.'" (Parentheses in original)
The defendants can raise this defense involving supposed orders from the U.S. government at another time, the judge added.

"The derivative immunity defenses cannot succeed at this time," Barbier wrote. "Because this decision is not based on the merits of defendants' arguments, however, defendants are not prejudiced from reasserting this defense at a later time."

Judge Ellison will be holding more hearings on stockholder claims against BP. Previously, Ellison ruled that the only the UK courts had jurisdiction. This story indicates that ruling is based on a Supreme Court decision that shares of stocks sold only on the London and Frankfurt aren't subject to the U.S. Exchange Act.

BP shareholder suits in court Nov. 4 on motions to dismiss

HOUSTON - U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison will hear motions to dismiss three groups of Deepwater Horizon suits from BP shareholders at hearings on Nov. 4.

All three suits seek to recover damages from BP directors on behalf of the company.

They alleged that BP misled investors about safety risks.

In May, BP answered that the Act doesn't allow claims of internal corporate mismanagement.
Ellison has already adopted that position in regard to shareholder suits under common law.

He dismissed them in September, so plaintiffs could file them with the English High Court.

Ellison plans another hearing after noon on Nov. 4, on a motion to dismiss a bigger class action.

In that case, public pension funds of Ohio and New York represent all buyers of American depositary shares between Jan. 16, 2007, and May 28, 2010.
According to Taylor [attorney for BP], the U.S. Supreme Court bars all Exchange Act claims based on purchases of BP shares that trade only in London and Frankfurt.

We can add being responsible for a monumental deal failure to being amoral as job requirements for working for BP, a strategy which their Russian business partner, Rosneft, seems to be wholeheartedly embracing

BP top manager may join Russia's oil giant Rosneft

Larry Bates, a former BP top manager, who supervised the failed tie-up deal in January between the British oil giant and Russia's largest state-run oil company Rosneft, may join the local firm as vice president, Kommersant business daily said on Wednesday quoting a Rosneft official.

Bates may be officially appointed by the end of the year, the paper added.
A Rosneft representative said the company was considering Bates' candidacy , but declined to name the exact position, while a source in Rosneft said Bates might be appointed as advisor to Rosneft President Eduard Khudainatov.

In January, BP and Rosneft struck a $16-billion agreement to develop the Arctic shelf with BP getting new reserves and Rosneft gaining shelf technologies it lacked. But the deal collapsed after BP's partners in its local project said the Rosneft deal violated a shareholder agreement between them and the British major.
A source close to Rosneft said the fact that the deal between BP and Rosneft collapsed was not taken into account when hiring people.

blockquote>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:

10-02-11 02:33 PM Gulf Watchers Sunday - YOU Are Paying BP's Fines! - BP Catastrophe AUV #560 Lorinda Pike
9-28-11 04:51 PM Gulf Watchers Wednesday - Oil Sightings Confirmed as Macondo - BP Catastrophe AUV #559 shanesnana
The last Mothership has links to reference material.

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

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