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Topics: Family says shark victim died doing what he loved, Dead dolphins still a concern on Gulf Coast, Burning oil from BP spill produced carbon plumes,  BP spill posed bigger risk to seabirds than believed: researchers, BP spill posed bigger risk to seabirds than believed: researchers, they're back, but are we ready for BP? (Frances Coleman), Judge Denies BP Appeal That Might Have Killed Thousands of Claims, Plaintiffs' committee wants past testimony admitted in BP suits, They're back, but are we ready for BP?, Deepwater negligence claims could scupper BP revival

You are in the current Gulf Watchers BP Catastrophe - AUV #566. ROV #565 is here.



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

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I think we all came to respect and admire the ROV operators who did such a spectacular job in helping bring the Deepwater Horizon gusher under control. During our many hours of ROV watching it was impossible not to come to deeply admire the ROV team who showed such amazing skill and creativity in always getting the job done, no matter how challenging the task.

Tragically, one of hero ROV pilots, George Thomas Wainwright, was killed by a great white shark attack in Australia. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends. I spoke with the Panama City News Herald about whether they had information about where to send cards and any family requests for donations. They said Wainwright's obit should have that information and should be posted today in their obituary section.

Family says shark victim died doing what he loved - Houston Chronicle

A Houston man killed this weekend by a great white shark in Australia was doing what he enjoyed most - fishing and diving - at the time of the brutal attack, his father said.

George Thomas Wainwright, 32, suffered fatal injuries Saturday when he was bitten by a 10-foot great white during a solo dive off the coast of Rottnest Island near Perth, Western Australia.

The avid outdoorsman and Texas A&M graduate was a marine systems engineer involved with capping the Macondo well after last year's BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Wainwright - whose body was recovered by the college friends he was boating with - is the third man killed by a great white in the state in two months.
...
Operated ROVs

As an engineer, Wainwright helped control remote-operated vehicles, or ROVs, that worked 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico to cap the oil spill. "He thought that what they were doing was a great accomplishment," said his sister, Brenda Wainwright, 41.

He was working for the Boa Group at the time, but was most recently employed by Oceaneering International while in Australia.

Wainwright grew up in Panama City, Fla., graduated from Texas A&M University in 2007 and lived in the Houston area until he got an opportunity to move to Australia while working for Oceaneering International, said Wainwright's father, George Wainwright of Panama City. He also held a master's license with the U.S. Coast Guard to operate vessels of up to 100 tons.

His upbringing in the Florida panhandle sparked an obsession with the ocean as he and his family frequently enjoyed water sports and fishing, Brenda Wainwright said.

His work to respond to the Gulf of Mexico spill was especially important to him, she said.

"He really was pleased that they were able to try to return the Gulf to some semblance of normal since he grew up here, and it was the area that he loved," Brenda Wainwright said.
...
Wainwright is survived by his parents, including mother Sharon, his sisters, Brenda Wainwright and Wanda Wainwright, and a niece, all of Panama City.
blockquote>



Tragically, more dead dolphins having been washing ashore in the Gulf. The good news is this has prompted an open-ended investigation. The bad news is that this can be easily used as an excuse to delay making any scientific findings public. Also, it seems officials remain overly eager to point fingers away from BP's black monster as playing a part in the dolphin deaths. Warning: very graphic photo used in story.

Dead dolphins still a concern on Gulf Coast

Dead dolphins have washed ashore in the hundreds along the central Gulf Coast, prompting federal officials to launch an open-ended investigation.

Since February 2010, 567 dead or distressed whales and dolphins have washed ashore in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Of those, 274 washed up in Louisiana.

“We're still getting elevated numbers of dolphin strandings,” said Erin Fougères, a National Marine Fisheries Service official.

The strandings peaked this year in March, with 72 reported from Florida to the Texas-Louisiana border. Sixty-seven of those were bottlenose dolphins. Since August, 52 more strandings have been reported, including nine this month.
...
And while many speculate that the deaths may be linked to the Gulf oil spill, scientists say the phenomenon started months before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and began pouring oil into the Gulf.

“We were already consulting with the mortality group (to open up an investigation) when the oil spill occurred. And the number has never gone back down,” Fougères said.
...
When reports come in, either from the public or oil-spill cleanup crews still working along some Louisiana beaches, teams are dispatched to verify and document the stranding.

If the dolphin corpse is in good condition, it is sent to the Audubon Aquarium for study. If it's already decomposed, samples are taken in the field.

“It's a very strict protocol,” said Suzanne Smith, stranding and rescue coordinator for Audubon's Louisiana Marine Mammal Network.

The samples are sent to labs across the country for testing, Smith added.

While disturbing, the mass strandings have happened before. The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Association began its tracking program in 1991. There have been 53 such events nationwide since then, Fougères said, many of them in the Gulf.

These die-offs are attributed to infectious disease, environmental factors or algae blooms that can be toxic. Unusually cold winters can also be a cause.

“Unfortunately, a great proportion of these have unknown causes,” Fougères said.

What's unusual about this event is the length of time it's been going on — 18 months — and the magnitude.

“Usually it's a couple of months,” Fougères said. “The fact that it's been going on this long is unusual.”

Because there's no end in sight to the marine-mammal deaths, Fougères said there's no telling when the federal investigation may wrap up.

In addition, many of the samples are tied up in the federal investigation into the oil spill, called the Natural Resources Damage Assessment, because they're considered evidence in the case against BP.

There could be multiple causes behind the die-off. Scientists will continue testing and investigating until they can release a final report, but that could take months or years, Fougères said.
...






This is a No Oil At All (NOAA) study. Given their efforts to minimize the effects of the BP's black monster it is pretty safe to assume that these would be conservative numbers. The NOAA press release was dated September but the Los Angeles Times only recently covered the study. The LA Times was sloppy in its coverage as it reduced the numbers of 1.4 to 4.6 million pounds of soot released to an "estimated 1 million pounds."

I recall reading about the plane and equipment used for the study some time ago but I don't recall reading about the study being released. My apologies if this is repeat information but Yasuragi sent me the link after I had dug through the NOAA site for their press release so I'm counting on her memory being better than mine.

Burning oil from BP spill produced carbon plumes

Chalk up another environmental impact from last summer's Deepwater Horizon oil spill: Nine weeks of burning off oil slicks from the surface of the Gulf of Mexico following the BP spill released an estimated 1 million pounds of soot into the atmosphere, according to a study released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
...


This is the press release for the study. Notice how NOAA buries the top end of the estimate of 4.6 million pounds in the bottom of the story while repeating the lower end three times above the accurate range numbers. NOAA also mention "more than one million" rather than the accurate figure of 1.4 million to further undermine the study's findings. More of the ugly news such as impact on human health is buried in the bottom of the press release. The study itself is available at the Geophysical Research Letters link.

NOAA researchers release study on emissions from BP/Deepwater Horizon controlled burns

NOAA researchers release study on emissions from BP/Deepwater Horizon controlled burns
September 20, 2011

Black smoke billows from a controlled burn of surface oil during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A new study by NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) found that controlled burns released more than one million pounds of sooty black carbon into the atmosphere.

During the 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill, an estimated one of every 20 barrels of spilled oil was deliberately burned off to reduce the size of surface oil slicks and minimize impacts of oil on sensitive shoreline ecosystems and marine life. In response to the spill, NOAA quickly redirected its WP-3D research aircraft to survey the atmosphere above the spill site in June. During a flight through one of the black plumes, scientists used sophisticated instrumentation on board, including NOAA's single-particle soot photometer, to characterize individual black carbon particles.

The black smoke that rose from the water’s surface during the controlled burns pumped more than 1 million pounds of black carbon (soot) pollution into the atmosphere, according to a new study published last week by researchers at NOAA and its Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in Boulder, Colo.

This amount is roughly equal to the total black carbon emissions normally released by all ships that travel the Gulf of Mexico during a 9-week period, scientists noted.

Black carbon, whose primary component is often called soot, is known to degrade air quality and contribute to warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. The new study, published online in Geophysical Research Letters, provides some of the most detailed observations made of black carbon sent airborne by burning surface oil.

“Scientists have wanted to know more about how much black carbon pollution comes from controlled burning and the physical and chemical properties of that pollution. Now we know a lot more,” said lead author Anne Perring, a scientist with CIRES and the Chemical Sciences Division of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo.

NOAA's WP-3D airplane in Broomfield, Colo. in May 2010. Scientists with NOAA, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and other institutions installed sensitive instruments on the aircraft that spring, for an air quality and climate mission in California. In June, NOAA redirected the aircraft to survey the atmosphere above the Gulf spill site. A new study by NOAA and CIRES scientists found that controlled burns released more than one million pounds of sooty black carbon into the atmosphere.

Black carbon is the most light-absorbing airborne particle in the atmosphere and the reason for the black color in the smoky plumes that rise from the surface oil fires. Black carbon can also cause warming of the atmosphere by absorbing light. Prolonged exposure to breathing black carbon particles from human and natural burning sources is known to cause human health effects.

During the 9 weeks active surface oil burning, a total of 1.4 to 4.6 million pounds (0.63 to 2.07 million kilograms) of black carbon was sent into the atmosphere of the Gulf of Mexico, the study estimated.

The study found that the hot soot plumes from the controlled burns reached much higher into the atmosphere than ship emissions normally rise, potentially prolonging the amount of time the black carbon can remain in the atmosphere, which would affect where the black carbon ends up.

The researchers also found that the average size of the black carbon particles was much larger than that emitted from other sources in the Gulf region, and that the emitted particles produced were almost all black carbon, unlike other sources such as forest fires that tend to produce other particles along with black carbon.

“The size and makeup of the black carbon particles determine how fast the particles are removed from the atmosphere by various processes, which ultimately affects their impact on climate,” says Perring. Larger particles are removed from the atmosphere more quickly and thus have smaller climate impacts. And, those same properties of black carbon are important for assessing human health impacts.

Finally, Perring and her colleagues found that of the oil that was burned, 4 percent of the mass was released as black carbon, an important metric rarely observed during cleanup of an oceanic oil spill, which could help guide future decision-making.

The new paper, Characteristics of Black Carbon Aerosol from a Surface Oil Burn During the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, has 15 co-authors from NOAA ESRL and CIRES and can be found on the Geophysical Research Letters website.
...




New research is using geolocators on birds which more accurately assesses birds that were exposed to BP's black monster. For as long as I can remember bird experts have always said that bird deaths from oil spills have been dramatically undercounted because so few are found. Using geolocators goes a step forward because it allows researchers to more accurately assess the number of birds that are exposed to the spill.

The researcher, Bill Montevecchi, joins many other reputable scientists in being deeply concerned about the impact all the oil that sunk to the bottom of the ocean will have.

BP spill posed bigger risk to seabirds than believed: researchers

Last year's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico put at risk a much larger portion of a far-ranging northern seabird population than previously thought, according to new Canadian research.

A study released Thursday by researchers at Memorial University in Newfoundland concludes that almost a quarter of North America's 450,000 northern gannets - a seabird which summers off the east coast of Newfoundland and Quebec - were in the Gulf of Mexico when BP's Deepwater Horizon exploded in April 2010, dumping millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf.

The white-feathered northern gannet - the largest seabird in the North Atlantic - was the first bird recovered by the army of rescue workers that arrived to help with clean up, said Memorial University Research Professor Bill Montevecchi.

"It just goes to show the long reach of the impact of this spill, that the first rescued bird was from Canada," he said.

Until now, reports which used only bird bands - rudimentary ankle tags used to track birds - indicated that only a small portion of the population made long-distance migrations to the Gulf of Mexico. Most, it seemed, stuck to the east coast of the U.S. between Maine and Florida.

However, using state of the art, round-trip tracking devices attached to the birds' ankles called geolocators - which weigh about 8 grams and contain microchips - Montevecchi and his team of researchers were able show that almost a quarter of the birds made it into the danger zone.

Montevecchi said he doesn't know yet how many of them were killed but he said his study, which was released Friday in Biology Letters, has helped to emphasize the risk to this population.

"Mortality associated with oil spills is always underestimated," he told Postmedia News, speaking from the St. John's campus.

"Usually, they count the birds that wash up along the coast, but if they're covered in oil, they'll sink after a few days, so those ones aren't counted."

The geolocators also showed that most adult gannets - those of breeding age - had returned to Canadian colonies by the time Horizon blew up, although more than 50,000 gannets who were younger than seven years were in the Gulf at the time and "suffered oil-related mortality."
...
"Essentially, the oil sank," said Montevecchi. "Who knows what it might be doing to the fish or the subsurface?"
...
"These birds died because of weak regulation of the oil industry," he said. "It was an error, which is different from an accident."



You know that BP's reputation is totally buried in a cesspit when an Alabama newspaper's editorial board prints an editorial that isn't haranguing the big, bad meanie government for picking on poor BP. They remain completely delusional, however, in thinking that BP will live up to its promises considering they have a perfect track record of never keeping them in the past.

They're back, but are we ready for BP? (Frances Coleman) | al.com

Look who’s back, or soon will be, in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico: our old friend BP, with government-approved plans in hand for drilling again off our vulnerable coastline.

It’s hard to know whether to cheer or weep at the prospect.

On the one hand, we are a nation that depends on oil and a region that depends on the jobs generated by the oil industry; and on the other hand, we know from bitter experience how devastating an offshore drilling accident can be.

Eleven men died when the Deepwater Horizon platform exploded 18 months ago and set loose more than 200 million gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oystermen and shrimpers were idled, especially in Louisiana; and the coastal ecosystem was imperiled as oil sloshed into bayous and marshes. In Alabama, the tourism industry took a huge financial hit.

So pardon us if we’re not elated by the news that BP has cleared the first major hurdle in its plan to develop a huge field about 200 miles south of the Louisiana coast.

Despite BP’s assurances that it has learned and will implement the lessons of Deepwater Horizon, residents of the Gulf Coast are suspicious of those assurances. Who wouldn’t be, after enduring the nation’s worst offshore oil spill?
...
BP can’t wave a magic wand and render drilling 100 percent safe. But what it can do — and what we have to insist that it does — is live up to the promises it has made to the federal government.
...
For its part, the federal government can refuse to allow the oil industry to downplay the risks associated with deepwater drilling. No more waiving requirements that companies conduct environmental assessments — something regulators generally did before Deepwater Horizon.

No more superficial disaster-response plans, either, and no more chummy relationships between the industry and those who are supposed to regulate it.
...
Frances Coleman is editorial page editor of the Press-Register.
...




I wonder who it was that suggested to BP that they were far too incompetent to be taking on frontier projects. The BP executives have repeatedly demonstrated that they are too willfully ignorant to have come up with the idea themselves. The idiots can't even run a pipeline or refinery on solid ground with well-established technology. h/t Yasuragi

BP Rethinks Risky 'Frontier' Oil And Gas Projects - Report | Fox Business

BP PLC (BP) may limit its involvement in so-called frontier oil and gas projects as it tries to rebuild itself after the Gulf of Mexico disaster, U.K. daily The Times reported Tuesday, without citing specific sources.

The company is in the early stages of a strategic review that will report in February and has put a variety of options to investors, The Times said.

One proposal is that it should scale back its involvement in technically risky projects to find and produce oil and gas, The Times said. BP has traditionally prided itself on being bolder than its rivals -- for example, by drilling in the deepest waters, the newspaper noted. But the estimated $41 billion cost of the spill after the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers last year is forcing a rethink over whether such ventures are worth the risk, The Times said.

The company is unlikely to pull out of the frontier projects altogether, but it could limit the number and scope of such ventures and bring in more partners to share potential liabilities, The Times said.



BP has disgracefully tried to persuade Judge Barbier to help them bully its victims to use their equally disgraceful Gulf Coast Claims Facility. Fortunately, Barbier was having none of it and pretty much accused BP attorney, Andrew Langan, of talking out of both sides of his mouth. Undeterred, Langan, set a new high bar for chutzpah and went on to assert that granting their appeal request would benefit claimants.

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - Judge Denies BP Appeal That Might Have Killed Thousands of Claims | Courthouse News Service

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier denied BP's motion for interlocutory appeal of a ruling that could affect hundreds of thousands of claims for economic damages. More than 40 million pages of documents have been produced so far in the consolidated litigation, and 226 depositions have been taken.

"I have given this a lot of thought," Barbier said as he denied BP's motion. Barbier is overseeing the litigation stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill catastrophe.

BP attorney Andrew Langan said BP appealed because it believed Barbier's August order on Bundle B1 was incorrect. By appealing that order, BP believed it could avoid at least some of the litigation, Langan said.

Barbier in August issued a 39-page ruling granting in part and denying in part requests made related to Bundle B1 - and ruled that claimants can sue for punitive damages.

The B1 pleading bundle includes all claims for private or "nongovernmental economic loss and property damages." It includes claims for economic damages filed by fishermen, seafood processors and distributors, recreational and commercial businesses, plant and dock workers and those who worked for BP's Vessels of Opportunity program.

In its Oct. 13 motion for interlocutory appeal, BP said, "an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation."

Langan told Judge Barbier on Friday: "We still have the GCCF [Gulf Coast Claims Facility] in place. If these claims are all eliminated from litigation, litigants will have no option but to go through the GCCF."

But Barbier recalled that during the June hearing on the B1 bundle, Langan said that BP had no intention of dismissing the whole lot of economic damage complaints, and said BP would allow the trial to go forward no matter what decision the judge made on that bundle.

Barbier indicated that granting the appeal now would be impractical, because even if it were granted, the same trial, the same witnesses and the same evidence will still be presented.

But, "This is not a typical commercial dispute," Langan told the judge. "This is a case with thousands of thousands of thousands of claimants. ... What we're seeking will resolve the claims of those thousands; what we're seeking will help them. It will materially advance the determination of thousands of claims."

Arguing against the motion for appeal, plaintiffs' attorney Elizabeth Cabraser said, "The law, like time, does not flow backwards."
...
After the status conference, Cabraser told Courthouse News: "Judge Barbier's decision is the right decision. It is the practical decision. It is the fair decision and the expected decision."

Cabraser said the policy of the court is to have trial go forward to judgment and to allow appeals after judgment has been made.
...
"Judge Barbier has been doing a tremendous job of managing the case so far," Cabraser said.
...
Plaintiffs' attorney Steve Herman told the court that 1,600 plaintiff-profile forms have been filled out related to BP's Vessels of Opportunity program, set up during the oil spill to hire out-of-work fishermen to clean up oil.

Of the thousands of contract complaints filed by fishermen who say they haven't been fully paid by BP, the court has selected six test plaintiffs for a pilot mediation program.



BP has disgracefully tried to persuade Judge Barbier to help them bully its victims to use their equally disgraceful Gulf Coast Claims Facility. Fortunately, Barbier was having none of it and pretty much accused BP attorney, Andrew Langan, of talking out of both sides of his mouth. Undeterred, Langan, set a new high bar for chutzpah and went on to assert that granting their appeal request would benefit claimants. h/t Yasuragi

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - Judge Denies BP Appeal That Might Have Killed Thousands of Claims

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier denied BP's motion for interlocutory appeal of a ruling that could affect hundreds of thousands of claims for economic damages. More than 40 million pages of documents have been produced so far in the consolidated litigation, and 226 depositions have been taken.

"I have given this a lot of thought," Barbier said as he denied BP's motion. Barbier is overseeing the litigation stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill catastrophe.

BP attorney Andrew Langan said BP appealed because it believed Barbier's August order on Bundle B1 was incorrect. By appealing that order, BP believed it could avoid at least some of the litigation, Langan said.

Barbier in August issued a 39-page ruling granting in part and denying in part requests made related to Bundle B1 - and ruled that claimants can sue for punitive damages.

The B1 pleading bundle includes all claims for private or "nongovernmental economic loss and property damages." It includes claims for economic damages filed by fishermen, seafood processors and distributors, recreational and commercial businesses, plant and dock workers and those who worked for BP's Vessels of Opportunity program.

In its Oct. 13 motion for interlocutory appeal, BP said, "an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation."

Langan told Judge Barbier on Friday: "We still have the GCCF [Gulf Coast Claims Facility] in place. If these claims are all eliminated from litigation, litigants will have no option but to go through the GCCF."

But Barbier recalled that during the June hearing on the B1 bundle, Langan said that BP had no intention of dismissing the whole lot of economic damage complaints, and said BP would allow the trial to go forward no matter what decision the judge made on that bundle.

Barbier indicated that granting the appeal now would be impractical, because even if it were granted, the same trial, the same witnesses and the same evidence will still be presented.

But, "This is not a typical commercial dispute," Langan told the judge. "This is a case with thousands of thousands of thousands of claimants. ... What we're seeking will resolve the claims of those thousands; what we're seeking will help them. It will materially advance the determination of thousands of claims."

Arguing against the motion for appeal, plaintiffs' attorney Elizabeth Cabraser said, "The law, like time, does not flow backwards."
...
After the status conference, Cabraser told Courthouse News: "Judge Barbier's decision is the right decision. It is the practical decision. It is the fair decision and the expected decision."

Cabraser said the policy of the court is to have trial go forward to judgment and to allow appeals after judgment has been made.
...
"Judge Barbier has been doing a tremendous job of managing the case so far," Cabraser said.
...
Plaintiffs' attorney Steve Herman told the court that 1,600 plaintiff-profile forms have been filled out related to BP's Vessels of Opportunity program, set up during the oil spill to hire out-of-work fishermen to clean up oil.

Of the thousands of contract complaints filed by fishermen who say they haven't been fully paid by BP, the court has selected six test plaintiffs for a pilot mediation program.



Some people have taken the Fifth so plaintiff's attorneys want some of the testimony from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Enforcement and Regulation part of the report from the joint investigation that BOEMRE did with the Coast Guard admitted. The Coast Guard part of the report is a marine casualty investigation and is not admissible.
h/t Yasuragi
Plaintiffs' committee wants past testimony admitted in BP suits
NEW ORLEANS - Plaintiff lawyers preparing for trial over liability for the Deepwater Horizon explosion seek to admit past testimony of witnesses who now refuse to testify because they might incriminate themselves.

On Oct. 17, leaders of a plaintiff committee urged U. S. District Judge Carl Barbier to allow witness statements from a report of a U.S. Coast Guard investigation board.

Attorneys James Roy of Domengeaux Wright Roy & Edwards in Lafayette and Stephen Herman of Herman, Herman Katz & Cotlar in New Orleans asked Barbier to grant an exception to the rule against hearsay.

"Because a witness who invokes the Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination is deemed unavailable under the federal rules of evidence, previous testimony before the board is admissible at trial," they wrote.

They conceded that Barbier can't admit the full report as evidence, but they asked him to admit it for impeachment purposes. They also asked him to admit "photographs and other raw materials" from it.

Finally, they asked him to admit a report from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Enforcement and Regulation.

The agencies intentionally separated their reports into separate volumes and released the volumes on separate dates, they wrote, and each agency report was prepared according to the respective agency's internal processes.

"Volume I is clearly the Coast Guard's marine casualty investigation report and is inadmissible," they wrote."Volume II is clearly BOEMRE's report and is admissible because it is not a marine casualty report and no other statute precludes its admission," the attorneys wrote.

Lawyers for many witnesses have notified Barbier that clients won't testify.
...




You know that BP's reputation is totally buried in a cesspit when an Alabama newspaper's editorial board prints an editorial that isn't haranguing the big, bad meanie government for picking on poor BP. They remain completely delusional, however, in thinking that there is a snowball's chance in hades that BP will live up to its promises considering they have a perfect track record of never keeping them in the past.

They're back, but are we ready for BP? (Frances Coleman) | al.com

Look who’s back, or soon will be, in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico: our old friend BP, with government-approved plans in hand for drilling again off our vulnerable coastline.

It’s hard to know whether to cheer or weep at the prospect.

On the one hand, we are a nation that depends on oil and a region that depends on the jobs generated by the oil industry; and on the other hand, we know from bitter experience how devastating an offshore drilling accident can be.

Eleven men died when the Deepwater Horizon platform exploded 18 months ago and set loose more than 200 million gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oystermen and shrimpers were idled, especially in Louisiana; and the coastal ecosystem was imperiled as oil sloshed into bayous and marshes. In Alabama, the tourism industry took a huge financial hit.

So pardon us if we’re not elated by the news that BP has cleared the first major hurdle in its plan to develop a huge field about 200 miles south of the Louisiana coast.

Despite BP’s assurances that it has learned and will implement the lessons of Deepwater Horizon, residents of the Gulf Coast are suspicious of those assurances. Who wouldn’t be, after enduring the nation’s worst offshore oil spill?
...
BP can’t wave a magic wand and render drilling 100 percent safe. But what it can do — and what we have to insist that it does — is live up to the promises it has made to the federal government.
...
For its part, the federal government can refuse to allow the oil industry to downplay the risks associated with deepwater drilling. No more waiving requirements that companies conduct environmental assessments — something regulators generally did before Deepwater Horizon.

No more superficial disaster-response plans, either, and no more chummy relationships between the industry and those who are supposed to regulate it.
...
Frances Coleman is editorial page editor of the Press-Register.
...




There is no particular reason to get all excited about the proposed bill unless it becomes law. However, what Feinberg said is utter hooey. He fought independent auditing like a cornered rattler. However he didn't have much practical choice when AG, Holder, requested that DOJ do an audit. Picking fights with DOJ can cause any number of unpleasant consequences. h/t Yasuragi

Yall Politics | Wicker seeks audit of BP oil spill fund

The U.S. attorney general would be legally required to appoint an independent auditor for the Gulf Coast Claims Facility under an amendment added to a Senate spending bill early Friday morning.
Ken Feinberg, leader of the claims facility commonly called GCCF, agreed to such an audit in July, at the request of Attorney General Eric Holder.

If the Senate amendment passes Congress and is signed by the president, such an audit would be mandated by law. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, added similar language to a House spending bill in July.
In an emailed statement, Feinberg expressed no opposition to the audit requests.

“I have said all along we welcome an independent audit and have been working with the Department of Justice,” the statement said.
...



The financial press has been parroting Dudley's corner turning claim despite the fact that hades will be celebrating Winter Carnival when something resembling the truth even accidentally comes out of any BP executive's mouth. The Guardian took a more sensible approach pointing out that BP still has some considerable hurdles to overcome before any serious corner-turning has actually been achieved. However, they fail to speculate why they think there is anything beyond a zero chance of BP establishing a "good track record of safe operations" considering the company has shown zero historical evidence of either the will or capacity to do so.

Deepwater negligence claims could scupper BP revival | Business | The Guardian

Bob Dudley, the BP boss, has got a bit ahead of himself in talking about a "turning point" while the threat of gross negligence still hangs in the air. The normally quiet American was keen to fast-forward announcements on his strategic plan for the business from next February to Tuesday.

His move was partly to take advantage of some genuinely decent news - on financial results, Gulf drilling and a settlement with Macondo partner Anadarko - but also to head off growing investor disquiet that he is failing to articulate a vision for the future.

The share price leaped 4% at one stage suggesting the City is keen to find a new, more positive "story" for the company but the stock market performance of the group over the last year remains dismal compared to its peers.

Some $15bn (£9.37bn) more of asset sales brings the total number to an astonishing $45bn - a third the total capitalisation of the business. But Dudley is building up the balance sheet, determined he will not be caught out by a nasty legal surprise.

Both the civil court in New Orleans and the criminal investigators of the department of justice have yet to decide whether BP is negligent - or even grossly negligent. Such a ruling is not expected, says Dudley, but who would bet against the American legal system?
...
But Dudley needs to escape the legal overhang of Macondo, build up a good track record of safe operations as well as coming up with some more innovative moves in the wider energy arena if he is to put the magic back into the BP brand. And none of that can be rushed - whatever the City wants



The financial press has been parroting Dudley's corner turning claim despite the fact that hades will be celebrating Winter Carnival when something resembling the truth even accidentally comes out of any BP executive's mouth. The Guardian took a more sensible approach pointing out that BP still has some considerable hurdles to overcome before any serious corner-turning has actually been achieved. However, they fail to speculate why they think there is anything beyond a zero chance of BP establishing a "good track record of safe operations" considering the company has shown zero historical evidence of either the will or capacity to do so.

Deepwater negligence claims could scupper BP revival

Bob Dudley, the BP boss, has got a bit ahead of himself in talking about a "turning point" while the threat of gross negligence still hangs in the air. The normally quiet American was keen to fast-forward announcements on his strategic plan for the business from next February to Tuesday.

His move was partly to take advantage of some genuinely decent news - on financial results, Gulf drilling and a settlement with Macondo partner Anadarko - but also to head off growing investor disquiet that he is failing to articulate a vision for the future.

The share price leaped 4% at one stage suggesting the City is keen to find a new, more positive "story" for the company but the stock market performance of the group over the last year remains dismal compared to its peers.

Some $15bn (£9.37bn) more of asset sales brings the total number to an astonishing $45bn - a third the total capitalisation of the business. But Dudley is building up the balance sheet, determined he will not be caught out by a nasty legal surprise.

Both the civil court in New Orleans and the criminal investigators of the department of justice have yet to decide whether BP is negligent - or even grossly negligent. Such a ruling is not expected, says Dudley, but who would bet against the American legal system?
...
But Dudley needs to escape the legal overhang of Macondo, build up a good track record of safe operations as well as coming up with some more innovative moves in the wider energy arena if he is to put the magic back into the BP brand. And none of that can be rushed - whatever the City wants


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Comment Preferences

  •  Any volunteers for Friday's block party? (16+ / 0-)

    I hope everyone is continuing to enjoy some nice fall weather and color.

    My trusty, decade old microwave just now caught on fire and made a gawdawful electrical stink in the house so I'm feeling lucky to have the nice temps to air out the house.

  •  BP made 5 billion dollars in profit this quarter (9+ / 0-)

    They are getting ready to drill again in the Gulf of Mexico,  they were granted deep well drilling permit again ,

  •  they lost the sea glider (8+ / 0-)

    at Hierro, an underwater volcano is erupting and its a bit scary and the spanish authorities had sent a naval R/V and those had tried to check on whats going on with a sea glider - a sailing plane for underwater so to say - and they lost contact in the water full of the volcanoes emissions and now theyre searching for it but there is practically no hope. Its a sad little story that I think you ROV watchers can relate to but on the other hand, what´s happening is entirely natural there, an entirely different class of event. The volcano came up in a marine nature reserve though. A good lot of rather threatened species got cooked. this happens too.

    •  Thanks much for letting us know (6+ / 0-)

      even though it is very sad news. I couldn't find any stories in English about the loss of the glider so we wouldn't have known if you hadn't stopped in to tell us. The gliders are capable of collecting vast quantities of data over a large area fairly quickly so it's a huge loss to science. Crossing fingers that the glider can be found and that the threatened species near Hierro will be able to recover sooner rather than later.

      •  on my side (6+ / 0-)

        i had read about the australian shark attacks but had had no clue that the victim was a Macondo ROV pilot. Thank you for letting me know. its a reminder that people out there take real risks but then people do it everywhere. a tug boat capsizes out of rotterdam and four people are dead, four workers, doing their jobs taking risks as a matter of course because much as we try to do things safely, many such jobs are inherently risky. Remember Air France, Rio Paris? Something unexpected happens and before even the most trained professionals can figure out whats really up, all are dead. None of the Financials take that sort of risks, ever. but well that is OT here isnt it :)

        Hierro is covered by El Pais. The glider loss is a few days ago (if I understood that all right), their story of today has already moved on. Apparently conditions there are not always the best, as of this foto (top one).

        •  I found glider pix and description (5+ / 0-)

          by clicking on the second to top link.18th of October - Operations in the area

          Although these vehicles are still in an early stage of technological development, and despite operating conditions in the area of influence of the volcanic event implies a difficult and risky operation, the configuration of the glider sensors should allow the observation of parameters covering greater distances, depths and continuity in time compared to the conventional observation methods. This is an opportunity to test the technology and acquire unique data without a doubt. There are not known historical references with these objectives and circumstances.

          I find it interesting how vastly different the different models of gliders look. I'm guessing that once the basics were down that the gliders have offered huge design flexibility depending on their mission.

          One of the ocean TV shows I saw on TV had quite a bit of glider coverage done at Woods Hole. The engineers and scientists there said the cost is, by orders of magnitude, much cheaper than ROVs plus they have the ability to cover a much larger area very quickly. The Woods Hole crowd aren't usually an excitable bunch but they were brimming over with enthusiasm at the prospects of doing more science at a much more reasonable costs. The gliders really do open new worlds to science.

          I hope they can recover the glider but even if it is lost it doesn't cause the monstrous financial hit to a research institution that the loss of a ROV does. However, the loss of the unique data would be a nasty kick in the gut.

  •  Such a sad story on the ROV operator dying---One (8+ / 0-)

    of the many quiet heroes of the Gulf disaster.
    Thanks for posting that.

    Funny how some things on this BP disaster keep re-emerging:

    On the dolphins deaths..

    “Usually it's a couple of months,” Fougères said. “The fact that it's been going on this long is unusual.”

    Seems like we've heard this theme before....

  •  The cold water theory can't work for 18 months (7+ / 0-)

    Sheesh if the dolphins are still dying it's either caused by infections, toxins or a combination of the 2.

    If there was a problem with infectious disease, the oil sure didn't help.

    Why haven't results been released. The studies have been going on for many months.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

    by FishOutofWater on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 01:12:45 PM PDT

    •  NOAA took charge of all scientific work (7+ / 0-)

      immediately after the dolphin deaths became front-page news and instantly muzzled all the involved scientists. They can't even make public how many dead dolphins they have found let alone any of their lab results. There are also the problems of industry captive "research", whether or not a NOAA will be testing for an adequate spectrum of substances, testing an adequate number of samples and whether or not the labs are both competent and honest.

      A couple of independent scientists have spoken out. They have sensibly mentioned the potential of the oil making worse anything else that might have negatively impacted the dolphins health.

      •  NOAA - four letter word. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peraspera, AnotherAmericanLie, rubyr, JanL

        We´re going to have a rough time anyhow this century, but we could face it with confidence and trust in each other, if only we could get over our fears of each other.---marsanges

        by DawnN on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 05:56:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There is always the hope that an insider (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peraspera, DawnN, JanL

        scientist will quietly send documentation to, say, the Union of Concerned Scientists.  That is what started the slide on all the ESA species eventually litigated upon by CBD (Center for Biological Diversity).

        Scientists, in general (but not always) don't like bad science and don't like being muzzled if it means the truth will not be told.

        I'm holding out for such a scientist.

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

        by cany on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 08:11:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't doubt that there are more than a few (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rubyr, DawnN

          scientists who are already hopping mad about being muzzled. Also, I'm holding out some hope that some deep-pocketed plaintiff's attorneys will find it in their best interests to dig to the bottom of the dolphin deaths.

          •  SOP (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peraspera, rubyr, DawnN, JanL
            These die-offs are attributed to infectious disease, environmental factors or algae blooms that can be toxic.
            They always blame it on red tide or whatever and assiduously avoid any hint that mankind is destroying the immune systems of top predators through the contamination of the environment. It will be shocking if any "science" agency risks pissing off the polluters.

            "Our answer is more democracy, more openness, more humanity." ~Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg

            by Andhakari on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 10:35:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The hidden implication (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Andhakari, rubyr, DawnN, JanL

              is that if animals are under stress from other natural or manmade causes that piling on untold amounts of known toxic substances is just ducky. It's difficult not to conclude that there is something putrid in the souls of people who engage in that type of rationalization.

              The National Science Foundation has been the only federal science agency standout. They partially or fully funded nearly all the top quality work that has been done so far. Sadly, they had very little money but scraped together what they could and made every red cent count.

  •  um.... is of your blockquoted material (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera, rubyr, AnotherAmericanLie

    taken from actual quoted artices?

    if so, you need to check the faq on fair use - you could be in serious violation here.

    only a couple of paragraphs - not entire articles.

    there are major issues now with blogs and copyrights - so please check and modify your diary.  the info is good, but you are risking banning, also, for violating fair use.

    just break up and quote less and explain more in between the paragraphs.

    it's hard to tell how much you've quoted with the way you've laid out the diary.

    just a tip here.  no response required.

    Is GlowNZ back yet?

    by edrie on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 03:04:52 PM PDT

  •  peraspera!!! This is such an amazing diary!! (5+ / 0-)

    I don't know how you do it.

    Great, deep heartache over the death of George Thomas Wainwright. Those ROV operators are heroes of the highest level in my book. Sad to lose such talent and caring.

    This diary breaks the heart, as they all do. But we have to know. We have to keep caring.

    My sheros are those of you writing these diaries. You are so wonderful and I am so grateful.

    Hello and peace to all GWers.  

    love.  

    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 04:41:54 PM PDT

  •  I think it was the bp thing that set me off today (6+ / 0-)

    I was nice and calm, and then the led readout came across saying BP got a new lease in the Gulf and was going back in..

    and all of a sudden I was so mad..I didn't quite know what to do so I picked up my phone and called the Mayor of Oakland's office about the ows thing..and then called them back again and then called the California AG...

    but now that I really think about it..

    BP was what set me off...those miserable slugs..

    FUCKYOUYOUFUCKINGFUCKS

    and all the facilitators that led up to this wonderful development.

    now that I am typing this ..I know this is what set me off...

    anyone got Dudley's number? I wanna call him directly and tell him exactly how I feel...

    by the way ..I heard an interesting thing on Bloomberg Channel..seems Dudley is in trouble over there...

    HA! - don't let the door hit you on the  way out pal if they can  you...you got your miserable millions..go cry on a yacht with Tony..just don't bother me anymore - can't you be a bit more invisible????

  •  oh..and this is an incredible diary pera! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DawnN, peraspera, rubyr, Phil S 33, JanL

    thank you so much...

    in honor of our first winter storm (10 inches so far)..

    anyone care for a

    Snowball
    Ingredients:

        1 1/2 oz Advocaat
        8-10 oz cold Lemonade
        1 slice Lemon
        Ice cubes

    Mixing instructions:

    Place one ice cube in the glass and add 1 1/2 oz of Advocaat. Fill up the glass with lemonade and decorate with a slice of lemon. Serve at once.

  •  just stumbled on this, and here's the link: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera, JanL, AnotherAmericanLie

    bridge the gulf project beta.
    hope it's of some interest and good use.

    Addington's perpwalk is the trailhead of accountability for this wound to our national psyche. (But go ahead and arrest Rumsfeld, too.)

    by greenbird on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 02:58:38 PM PDT

    •  Thanks greenbird. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, greenbird, AnotherAmericanLie

      Bridge the Gulf Project looks like a very worthwhile endeavor. About the Project | Bridge The Gulf Project

      BRIDGE THE GULF is a citizen journalism and new-media initiative designed to help Gulf Coast communities convey their stories and their vision for a just, healthy and sustainable future.

      In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many endangered Gulf Coast communities felt their stories had been overlooked or misrepresented. With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, this beta Website was launched in the summer of 2010.

      I am relieved to hear that someone is trying to document the parts of the story that have been nearly completely overlooked.  I have been deeply concerned that these stories were being lost to history.

      Horn Island is one of the places where previous dolphin deaths were reported. It is heartbreaking to see the deaths continue there.

      Always nice to see you stopping in.

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