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Environmental attorney says oil still leaking; UK secretly helping Canada push its oil sands project; U.S. Judge Denies BP's Bid to Access $750 Million of Insurance Coverage; U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rules Transocean can't sue U.S. government; Halliburton wants Barbier to disqualify engineer for 'switching sides' to BP; Transocean Synonymous With Oil Spills; Chevron Banned From Brazil Drilling as Regulator Probes Leak; Chevron Named "Most Toxic" Energy Company of 2011; BP gags in-house lawyer on oil spill lawsuits; BP responsible for eyeless shrimp?

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Gulf Watchers Vindicated!
As we've claimed since the wellhead was first visible on ROV feeds and oil was seen seeping from the outside, Macondo is leaking, and not from the wellhead itself.  As some of us speculated (ahem!), it appears the sea floor was fractured in the original explosion, and the continuing leaks are coming from the seabed -- a truly appalling situation.  One can hardly "cap" the seabed.
     
An environmental attorney said oil is still leaking from BP's Macondo Formation more than 16 months after the well was declared sealed. The attorney said the only explanation for fresh oil bearing the Macondo fingerprint that's washed ashore on barrier islands is that the seafloor was damaged during the Deepwater Horizon blowout, and oil is seeping through.

Attorney Stuart Smith said:
"Oil from different reservoirs contains different concentrations of various stuff, and so each reservoir has a fingerprint. If you test it, you can tell where it's coming from. The Macondo well was the only well that was completed into that particular reservoir.
     "In the spring of this year, we did some sampling and when we got the results back, it was a fingerprint match to fresh Macondo oil," Smith said.
     "That was very interesting to us. We couldn't understand why. Then again, we did some more testing this summer and it came back the same way. We're finding fresh Macondo oil washing up on beaches on the barrier islands. And then, through sources that I have, we heard that their [BP's] well was leaking, and that there was oil in the Gulf, and that they had research vessels there at the site.
     "We covered that, and then there was a big push back from BP, denying it. And so Bonny Schumaker [a pilot and founder of Wings of Care] flew out there in late August, and lo and behold, there's fresh oil bubbling up to the surface and this is still in the vicinity of the well. We don't know how much oil it is."
...
Smith said Schumaker has done several flights since August. In each case, he said, she identified oil in the area of the Macondo Prospect well.
     A story Smith posted on his blog last week details Schumaker's Nov. 12 flight over the Macondo well: "Macondo Mystery Deepens: Nine Large Vessels Spotted Working in Vicinity of Deepwater Horizon Site."
...
 "They said they sent remotely operated vehicles down there which found no oil leaking from the well itself. And then there was speculation that it might be leaking from the equipment that has fallen to the seafloor. Transocean did a submersible dive and they found nothing leaking from the equipment.
     "So the question becomes: Where is it coming from?
     "We know that fresh oil is washing up to this day. It's a fingerprint match to the Macondo crude. That's even been admitted by Ed Overton, who is a research scientist at LSU that's been hired by the Coast Guard to do these tests.
     "The only explanation is that there has been damage to the seafloor because of the blowout, which has allowed oil to come from that formation," Smith said.

In an e-mail late last week, a BP representative allowed as how there were vessels in the area:
"There are several vessels there participating in a study of natural oil seeps. This study has been ongoing for the past month or so. Data continues being collected and we provided an update on the natural oil seeps at the SETAC [Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry] conference in Boston this week. ... The study is documenting the specific locations of these seeps and is seeking to track oil flow from seabed to surface," BP wrote.
     Smith responded to BP's statement: "If there are seeps in this area they are not natural. BP was required to do a seafloor survey prior to applying for a permit to drill. If these seeps were not discovered at that time, they are clearly related to the disaster and the methods used to try to seal the well," Smith said.

As is their tedious custom, BP was unavailable for comment.
Here’s how On Wings of Care pilot Bonny Schumaker recounts the scene on the water in her Nov. 12 flyover report:
     We saw lots of “work” vessels out in the Macondo today! And new orange buoys we hadn’t seen before. Our southeast-bound route took us past the platform “VK989″ at about N28°58′ W088°37′, and the first two orange buoys we saw were a little over 50 miles off shore to the east-southeast. Thence came a progression of oil-related (BP-contracted, we think) work vessels, some ROV-capable and more. These included the Meg L. Skandi, C. Chariot, Monica Ann, Normand Pacific, Sarah Bordelon, Deep Blue, HOS Iron Horse, Brooks McCall, and Holiday.
     That’s a lot of vessels in a tight area of the Gulf of Mexico. We’re talking about a big operation – and an expensive one. For example, the Normand Pacific, flying under the flag of the United Kingdom, is equipped for diving and ROV operations (see file photo below). The vessel is well over a football field long.
...
     My guess is the cost per day of operating a fleet of nine vessels like this has to be in the seven-figure range. You have to wonder what kind of alarming subsea scenario would demand that kind of expenditure.
...
     More from Schumaker’s Nov. 12 report:
     Only when we reached the Holiday was the visibility good enough for us to identify unequivocally a line of oil “globules,” and they were very near the Holiday. That vessel was almost stationary but there was quite a bit of exhaust coming out of a stack on it, as if it were running a pump or something. We saw several other such lines of sheen that did not resemble the usual wind-surface patches or lines, but we did not have time to fly over to them to inspect them closely.
     So what does all this activity mean at a site where large oil slicks have been observed for months and a BP-Macondo fingerprint has been established? Based on Schumaker’s aerial observations, it would seem the vessels are out there for at least two reasons: (1) To identify the source of the surface oil through ROV footage; and (2) To recover leaking oil before it reaches the surface (and the prying eyes of the public).
...
     More from Schumaker’s report:
     There seems to be a great deal of work going on out there – well, a large number of work vessels out there, but we couldn’t see any work being done from above the water’s surface! Several vessels had cables going down, so they may have been working with ROVs or other equipment sub-surface. We did see the above-mentioned line of oil. Note that all of these vessels are in the same areas that we have documented significant quantities of surface oil since August and in particular on our flights dated Aug 30, Sep 10, Sep 11, and Sep 27. We saw no whales or whale sharks or dolphins or other large marine life for this entire flight. There was one other fixed-wing (multi-engine high-wing propeller) airplane that passed us at our altitude (about 800′) on our return, just north of the Holiday and the line of oil; we could not read its registration numbers.
      [...T]he Macondo Prospect has become a beehive of activity with a swarm of oil andvessels. Though both BP and the Coast Guard have been running from this escalating “situation” for months, it’s impossible to hide the severity of a problem that requires the presence of nine large, oil-related “work” vessels in a relatively tight area surrounding the Macondo wellsite.
     In the absence of even a modicum of transparency or anything resembling leadership on the part of our federal government, Ms. Schumaker’s flights over the Gulf represent the public’s only regular access to the site of last year’s 200-million-gallon spill.



UK secretly helping Canada push its oil sands project
Wait... it gets worse...
The UK government has been giving secret support at the very highest levels to Canada's campaign against European penalties on its highly polluting tar sands fuel, the Guardian can reveal.
     At the same time, the UK government was being lobbied by Shell and BP, which both have major tar sands projects in Alberta, and opened a new consulate in the province to "support British commercial interests".
     At least 15 high-level meetings and frequent communications have taken place since September, with David Cameron discussing the issue with his counterpart Stephen Harper during his visit to Canada, and stating privately that the UK wanted "to work with Canada on finding a way forward", according to documents released under freedom of information laws.
...
     Canada's vast tar sands – also known as oil sands – are the second largest reserve of carbon in the world after Saudi Arabia, although the energy needed to extract oil from the ground means the process results in far more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil drilling, as well as causing the destruction of forests and air and water pollution.
     Nasa scientist James Hansen says if the oil sands were exploited as projected it would be "game over for the climate".
...
     The UK and Canada's shared opposition to the European plan puts the UK in a minority among EU countries and will be deeply embarrassing as a new round of global negotiations on tackling climate change begins in Durban, South Africa on Monday. Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary, claimed on Thursday that the UK was showing "leadership" in the UN negotiations, while Canada's prime minister has blocked climate laws. The revelations are also the latest blow to Cameron's claim to be the "greenest government ever".
...
     BP has lobbied ministers, too. Its vice president in Europe, Peter Mather, has been, in his own words, "bending the ear" of Baker. Mather also sent a letter in which he wrote: "The regulatory burden would be considerable at a time when the industry is already creaking under the weight of a heavy regulatory regime."
     John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: "The scale of oil industry lobbying exposed in these documents is quite extraordinary. It's especially worrying that Baker held a secret meeting with Shell about this key European vote on tar sands. But worse still, he's now covering up what was discussed."
     Colin Baines, toxic fuels campaign manager at the Co-operative, the UK mutual business group which targets tar sands as part of its climate change campaigning, said: "It is very disappointing that the UK government is supporting Canada's efforts and we hope it has a rethink and puts tackling climate change ahead of Canada's trade interests when it comes to vote on the European commission's commonsense proposal."
     The documents were obtained by the Co-operative under environmental information regulations, a type of freedom of information law. They include letters to and from ministers, diplomatic correspondence and notes of meetings.
...
      Canadian ministers and diplomats state they support an "overarching ambition" to reduce carbon emissions. But Canada has admitted it will fail to meet its Kyoto protocol target of a 6% cut compared with 1990 levels: in 2009 its emissions were 34% higher.
...
     Bill McKibben, a leading US environmentalist, who was arrested in August protesting against a major oil sands pipeline called Keystone XL said: "The UK seems to have emerged as Canada's partner in crime, leaning on Brussels to let this crud across the borders. This will be among the biggest single environmental decisions the Cameron government makes."
     Greenpeace's Sauven, along with the head of Friends of the Earth, Andy Atkins, and David Nussbaum, leader of WWF-UK, have written to Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister and Lib Dem leader.
     The letter says: "We ask you to intervene personally on this, to ensure that your party's green ambitions are more effectively upheld across Whitehall."


Chevron Banned From Brazil Drilling as Regulator Probes Leak
Wait, it gets much more worse.
Chevron Corp., the U.S. oil producer operating the $3.6 billion Frade oilfield off the coast of Brazil, was blocked from drilling in the South American country while the government probes a recent spill.
     The company needs to pay more attention to safety after its “negligence” contributed to the accident, Brazil’s oil regulator, the Agencia Nacional do Petroleo, said yesterday. The ban will remain in place until the regulator identifies the causes and considers it safe to resume drilling, ANP said.
...
     Chevron said today in a statement it “has not received any formal notice from” the Brazilian regulator suspending its drilling license, although it “acknowledges” the ANP posted a suspension notice on its website.
...
     Chevron hopes to continue operating in Brazil, George Buck, the head of Chevron’s Brazil operations, said at a Congressional hearing in Brasilia yesterday.
      “Sincere apologies to the Brazilian people and the Brazilian government,” he said.

     According to Harald Lima of the National Oil Agency, the $28 million, for having filed "false and misleading reports," could be just the beginning.  Just how many fines will be levied will be determined by what the investigation turns up.
     In addition, Rio de Janeiro has fined Chevron 20 million real for the damage, plus another punitive 30 million real.
     Brazil's Environmental Minister, Izabella Teixiera, says more fines will be forthcoming pending proof of violations to environmental law.  Carlos Minc, Rio's environmental secretary, said, ""There will be no impunity in Rio." Citing the company's negligence as having caused the accident, Minc said, "they under-estimated the excessive oil pressure near a crack... This accident could have been avoided."
     The state environmental agency, Ibama, claims 5,000 to 8,000 barrels were spilled, while Chevron claims it was only 2,400.
     Some estimates set the seep at 200 to 330 barrels per day since November 8, but the energy ministry has a lower estimate of 220 to 230 bbd.
     Greenpeace disagrees sharply with those estimates, indicating satellite photos that show a spill ten times that size, and more likely approaching a total of 3,700 barrels per day.
Chevron underestimated the amount of pressure at a reservoir at the Frade project about 230 miles (370 kilometers) northeast of Rio de Janeiro, Buck told reporters on Nov. 20. The well experienced a pressure “kick” at the reservoir, prompting oil to leak to fissures on the ocean floor, he said.
     Chevron halted the flow of oil from the “source” at the reservoir on Nov. 13 and reduced the spill to residual seepage, he said. The company will continue to seal the well that caused the spill, the ANP said.
     Chevron was fined 50 million reals ($27 million) by Brazilian environmental authorities for the spill, which occurred Nov. 7 off the coast of Rio. The company will be fined for falsifying information to ANP and also for failing to meet a plan to counter the accident, the regulator has said.
...
     “Here in Brazil laws are stricter than in the United States,” Gabrielli told reporters yesterday in Rio before ANP announced the drilling ban. “The plan continues to be strongly oriented toward accident prevention.”
     The ANP also said it rejected Chevron’s request to drill a so-called pre-salt well at the Frade project, where the increased depth makes drilling more risky.
     “We’re going to see increasingly draconian measures,” said Brookshire’s Bern. “Operators can’t afford to have any accidents.”

Chevron Named "Most Toxic" Energy Company of 2011
     
The American oil giant Chevron has been named the "most toxic" energy company of 2011 by AlterNet, a prestigious U.S.-based online magazine that closely tracks environmental issues.
     Chevron won the sad award the same week it was caught misleading Brazilian authorities who threatened company officials with prison terms about a burgeoning offshore spill. The toxic designation also came in the same year Chevron lost the largest environmental lawsuit in history over its intentional contamination of what was once pristine rainforest in the Amazon of Ecuador.
     The Ecuador contamination decimated indigenous groups and created an outbreak of cancer that has killed or threatens to kill thousands of people, according to evidence presented to an Ecuador court that recently ordered the company to pay $18 billion in damages. Chevron operated in Ecuador from 1964 to 1992 under the Texaco brand.
     AlterNet reported that Chevron beat out ExxonMobile and BP, which ranked second and third respectively. Koch Industries and Massey Energy ranked fourth and fifth.
     In its eye-opening report -- "The 5 Most Toxic Energy Companies and How They Control Our Politics" -- AlterNet cited Chevron's misconduct in Ecuador as the primary reason it won the award.
...
     Victims in Ecuador refer to Chevron's catastrophe as the "Amazon Chernobyl" and experts believe the damage dwarfs that caused by BP's recent spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike the BP spill, which was an accident, Chevron designed its system of oil extraction in Ecuador to pollute as a way to lower production costs.
     AlterNet also concluded that Chevron has paid $85 million on Washington lobbyists since 1998 to help cover up its wrongdoing. It wrote: "(Chevron) has ... moved quite a large amount of cash through Washington and its business practices have resulted in an incredible loss of life. Much of it just happened out of the country, so many in the U.S. may have missed Chevron's gross abuses."
     Chevron's "most toxic" award follows a November 7th spill caused by the company in Brazil that has leaked an estimated 110,000 gallons of pure crude into the Atlantic Ocean.
...
    Chevron was drilling deeper than it was licensed to by the Brazilian government and had to borrow sonar equipment to try to determine the source of the spill, according to the U.S.-based environmental group Amazon Watch. Carlos Minc, an official in Brazil's Rio province, called the spill an "environmental crime" and said it took Chevron almost ten days to start containing it.
     In Ecuador, Chevron has declared open warfare on the country's government by suing it in various courts in a desperate attempt to shift the $18 billion liability to Petroecuador, the state-owned oil company.
     The Ecuador judgment, issued after an eight-year trial, also found that Chevron left behind more than 900 unlined waste pits gouged out of the jungle floor that to this day contaminate groundwater and discharge oil sludge into nearby rivers and streams.
...
     Chevron has been widely mocked for its "We Agree" ad campaign and spends far more money each year buying publicity than it has ever spent cleaning up its toxic legacy in Ecuador, said Karen Hinton, the U.S. spokesperson for the Ecuadorians.
     "It is becoming increasingly clear that Chevron under its current CEO John Watson has become the most rogue of energy companies and has fostered an internal culture of impunity when it comes to abuses," Hinton said.

...
     Hinton said a significant portion of Chevron's lobbying funds were used to try to convince the U.S. government to cut trade preferences for Ecuador in retaliation for letting its citizens press their legal claims against the company. Cutting trade preferences would have cost Ecuador an estimated 300,000 jobs.
...
     "Anyone familiar with the ongoing battle to bring Chevron to justice in Ecuador knows that the company will do everything it can to protect its profits even at the expense of the planet and human health," wrote Amazon Watch.
     Rainforest Action Network, another prominent American environmental group, also blasted Chevron for the Brazil spill and issued a warning to other countries who are thinking about doing business with the American company.
     "Countries like Brazil should be cautious about doing business with Chevron considering how long the oil giant has evaded responsibility for its environmental crimes in Ecuador," said Ginger Cassidy, an official with the organization

Transocean: The Name Synonymous With Oil Spills
History seems to be repeating itself. Once again, Transocean is embroiled in an oil-spill mess that threatens to bring repercussions far worse than what the company had to endure after the Gulf of Mexico spill.  
     This time, it's a leak of almost 3,000 barrels in eight days in the Campos Basin, off the Brazilian coast, from a well operated by Chevron. And Transocean is, yet again, the rig operator. Now, in terms of magnitude, this is much smaller than the Macondo well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico last year, where the spill was about 3,000 barrels of crude oil per day. However, the ramifications for Transocean may be much greater. According to the latest information available, the Brazilian government has already banned the rig maker from operating in the state of Rio de Janeiro and has slapped the company with a $28 million fine.
...
Given that offshore drilling is picking up across the globe as onshore reserves are fast getting depleted, exploration and production companies will be wary of employing the services of Transocean. This is where management needs to carefully weigh its options.
     Take the Campos Basin alone: More than 80% of Brazil crude oil is produced here. The recent Tupi oil field discovery, which is three times larger, has yet to figure prominently in terms of production. State-owned Petrobras, which is the major operator in both the oil fields, will now think twice before using the services of Transocean. The Gulf of Mexico holds several contracts for the Switzerland-based company as well.
     It'll be interesting to see how Transocean reacts to the latest crisis. The best possible way out is to follow Chevron's footsteps and accept full responsibility. Still, that could be far-fetched, given the company's past responses in similar situations.


Barbier Denies BP Bid to Access $750M in Insurance
U.S. District Court Judge, Carl Barbier, issued a forty-two (42) page Order ruling against BP on its motion for final judgment on the pleadings in respect to all claims presented in the pending insurance actions arising from the Deepwater Horizon incident.  BP requested the Court issue two (2) declaratory awards in its favor, specifically seeking the Court to identify BP as an “additional insured” under the Transocean insurance policies and to broadly define BP’s coverage rights under the policies themselves, rather than limit its coverage rights pursuant to the underlying Drilling Contract.
...
Under the contract interpretation and analysis, the Court held that: as the Deepwater Horizon Incident entailed a subsurface release, Transocean did not assume pollution liabilities arising from the Incident.  Accordingly, “Transocean was not required to name BP as an additional insured as to those risks. Because there is no insurance obligation as to those risks, BP is not an “Insured” (or“additional insured”) for those risks. Therefore, BP is not entitled to the declarations of coverageit seeks under Section II of the Policies.”

Barbier Rules Transocean Can't Sue US Government
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled Friday that Transocean cannot sue the U.S. government for fault in the Deepwater Horizon blowout, as Uncle Sam has sovereign immunity.
...
     BP set up the Gulf Coast Claims Facility last year under its obligation as responsible party for the April 20, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 and dumped millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, in the worst spill in U.S. history.
     Under pressure from the Obama Administration, BP set aside $20 billion to pay claims of Gulf Coast residents.
     Ideally, the GCCF would satisfy the claims of out-of-work commercial fishermen, restaurant and business owners and others hurt by the spill, so that litigation could be avoided.
     But the GCCF has faced criticism from residents and lawmakers, who say it is too slow to pay claims, and sometimes assesses and pays claims unfairly.
     More than 530 oil spill complaints have been filed in Federal Court, representing more than 109,000 plaintiffs.

...
     The U.S. Senate in October approved an independent audit of the GCCF. The audit, to be done this year, comes as several claims sites are closing for good.
...
    During oral arguments after Friday's status conference, Judge Barbier blocked Transocean from suing the U.S. government for fault in the blowout.
     "The United States has sovereign immunity here," Barbier said.
     He went on: "There will be no alleged fault of the United States in this trial."

     If evidentiary issues come up, he said, "We'll deal with those as they come."
     Also addressed in oral argument were terms of BP contracts with Vessels of Opportunity (VoO) participants who chartered their boats to BP to work in the cleanup.
     Several thousand VoO participants have sued BP, saying BP kept them and their boats on standby, in some instances for several months, but failed to pay their wages or for the charters. Many say BP promised to decontaminate their boats after the work was done, but failed to do so.

     During oral argument, Barbier asked for clarification of the contracts the VoO plaintiffs signed and what they expected from BP in return.
     Plaintiffs' attorney Clay Garside told the judge; "What we disagree with was BP's attempt to restrict the terms of the charter hire. ... We are contending that everyone that BP put on hire - BP used response terms, 'put to hire,' etc. - now BP is trying to restrict the pay to when the vessel was actually out on the water."

Halliburton wants Barbier to disqualify engineer for 'switching sides' to BP
Halliburton Energy Services Inc. claims an employee who helped develop strategy for litigation over the Deepwater Horizon explosion quit his job and joined a firm that helps rig operator BP develop an opposing strategy.
     On Nov. 15, Halliburton asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to disqualify engineer Michael Viator, CSI Technologies, and CSI owner Fred Sabins as experts for BP.
     "HESI recently learned that Viator, after switching sides, revealed confidential information to Sabins and CSI as they assisted BP in formulating its claims and defenses against HESI," Donald Godwin of Dallas wrote.
     "Because Sabins and CSI consciously and affirmatively tainted themselves in this case, their continued work for BP unfairly prejudices HESI and offends the integrity of the judicial process," he wrote.
      Halliburton faces hundreds of suits as cement contractor on the rig.
...
    According to Godwin, Viator created computer models and assisted Halliburton counsel in formulating strategies.
     [...]Viator resigned in March.
...
     He wrote that he began working for Sabins in April without Halliburton's knowledge.
     "Prior to leaving HESI, Viator transferred confidential electronic files that he utilized as part of the internal expert team, including simulations, onto an external thumb drive, which he still has in his possession," Godwin wrote.
     "Shortly after Viator began working for CSI and Sabins, BP suddenly turned its attention to gaining access to HESI's proprietary software and the data inputs.
     "BP's abrupt focus on accessing HESI's modeling software was occasioned by Viator's disclosure of HESI's work product, his post incident modeling."

...
He wrote that Halliburton deposed Viator on Nov. 2, and discovered he had revealed confidential information.
     "Sabins assigned Viator to at least two tasks related to this litigation, and Viator knew that this work would be used against HESI," Godwin wrote.

BP gags in-house lawyer on oil spill lawsuits
Oil giant BP has succeeded in preventing the public airing of comments from a senior in-house lawyer about lawsuits stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, as part of a legal claim of discrimination.
     John Skipper told a British employment tribunal on Wednesday that he had been passed over for promotion because he was over 50 years of age, and that his case highlighted a culture of ageism at BP.
     BP denies the accusation and said comments Skipper made in his witness statement, about the oil spill lawsuits, were irrelevant to his claims, and only intended to embarrass BP.
     BP's lawyer John Bowers said the company has no wish to stifle evidence but he argued the tribunal was being used to reveal "confidential information about highly sensitive matters."
     "We're concerned about the use of a witness statement in relation to purported age discrimination to ventilate the claimant's views on a major piece of litigation," he added.
...
     UK courts can grant gagging orders to companies seeking to prevent employees or others from publicizing information which may be injurious to their business. This can include information related to issues of public health or accusations of wrongdoing.
...
      Skipper said BP had consistently discriminated against employees on the basis of age.
     "Between 2009 and 2011 of the 60 lawyers that left the company... 43 of those lawyers were over the age of 50," he told the tribunal.

...
     In defense of his case, Skipper cited a speech given by former BP Chief Executive John Browne about ageism, in which he criticized the practice of compulsory retirement at the age of 60 years -- the age at which senior BP managers were expected to retire.
     At the time, the speech was seen as part of Browne's battle to stay on beyond this age, a battle he lost after then-chairman Peter Sutherland insisted he could not extend his tenure.
     Skipper also criticized the restructuring conducted under former Chief Executive Tony Hayward, which he said instituted a "banking industry philosophy of remuneration, recruitment and replacement of experienced personnel."


Did BP Oil Make Shrimp Lose Their Eyes?
Little more than a year after BP oil disaster, seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is "as safe to eat as it was before the oil spill," the FDA insists on its website.
     But along the Gulf itself, questions linger within the very fishing communities that rely on the Gulf's bounty both for sustenance and a living [...]. For one thing, shrimp populations have plunged. The New York Times reported last month that Gulf fisherpeople were complaining of the worst white-shrimp season in 50 years, with yields 80 percent lower than normal.
     Several fisherman and processors make similar complaints [...], and admit that they feel less safe eating shrimp now than they did before the spill. One makes an even more startling claim: "fisherman are bringing in shrimp without any eyes … they evidently have lost their eyes and they're still alive."
     Of course, there is as yet no hard link the BP spill with the shrimp declines or this disturbing eyeless condition. But you won't find such links if you don't look for them—and with the FDA insisting that everything is fine, it's hard to discern any urgency among federal authorities to examine the question.
     While the federal government takes a see-no-evil approach, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has been looking at FDA data on petrochemical traces in Gulf fish—and charging that the agency has been way understating safety concerns.
     NRDC senior scientist Gina Solomon reiterates those concerns, claiming that the FDA's tolerance levels for petroleum traces do not adequately protect children and pregnant women who regularly eat Gulf seafood. She adds that "it's likely that the population declines in the shrimp are due to the same contaminants that we're worried about if people eat them."
     FDA spokesperson Robert Dickey [asserted], "The seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe to consume for all consumers including pregnant women and children."

     The NRDC's Solomon [wrote]:
      FDA only examined what would be safe for an adult. When they did their calculations they looked at what level of contamination would be safe for a 176 pound person. Children are known to be more vulnerable to contaminants in seafood because they eat more per pound of their bodyweight and their developing bodies are more sensitive to harmful contaminants. What’s more, in a pregnant woman, these contaminants can cross the placenta and harm the developing fetus. This increased vulnerability is well known to science, and other agencies require that children be included in safety assessments.
Tate trustee reignites BP row ahead of Turner Prize
Diogenes can set down his lantern, give his dog a bowl of water, and quit larking about.  We've found his honest man.
One of the Tate galleries' top officials has broken ranks to criticise the organisation's sponsorship deal with BP, calling the oil company "a disgrace" for its environmental record.
     Patrick Brill, who goes by the pseudonym Bob and Roberta Smith, is one of 13 trustees who oversee the organisation's acquisitions and strategies. He features in a report on the subject, co-published this week by campaign groups Liberate Tate, Art Not Oil and Platform.
     The publication, Not If But When: Culture Beyond Oil, comes days before the announcement of the winner of the Turner Prize, one of the most high-profile platforms for contemporary art, which the Tate organises.
      "[BP] is going to dig up the Arctic," says Mr Brill in the report. "It's sucking up oil from tar sands. We should have a moratorium on the seas and stop deep drilling. When activists protest at, for example, events like the Tate summer party, that is a thoroughly good thing. It allows me to say: BP is a disgrace."
...
     The Tate refuses to reveal the exact sum it receives from BP each year, but the oil company is known to spend more than £1m a year sponsoring major UK arts institutions.
     "The relationship of BP and Tate is nuanced and complex and full of contradictions," said Mr Brill. "I am critical of BP and yet I sit on the Tate board. I'm on that board because I believe in the power of art. Art is important; yet art is under threat. That is why I sit on that board. I will not leave the board because of protests about BP, but these protests are important."

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:
11-21-11 04:00 PM Gulf Watchers Monday - Chevron lies about size of their Brazil oil spill - BP Catastrophe AUV #569 peraspera
11-14-11 03:00 PM Gulf Watchers Monday - BP Aghast: Stronger Damage Assessment Demanded - BP Catastrophe AUV #569 Yasuragi
The last Mothership has links to reference material.

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

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

  •  Tip Jar (21+ / 0-)

    I love how setting up a library is being spoken about like it was a military installation or a trade blockade. "They set up a library." I'm so scared. -- Vox Populous

    OCCUPY

    by Yasuragi on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 01:00:03 PM PST

  •  thank you (11+ / 0-)

    I am happy to see that Brazil follows through on the harsh measures against Chevron over this accident. I´d been lost track of the story when the exclusion was still threatened. We had our own kick in the stomach here with the spanish elections, and I´ve been burying myself in work since. Times are full of bad news. Our chief caster, a man who I knew a bit and who had the sweetest soul imaginable, has been felled by a heart attack, in his fifties, not dead thanks to a bystander but we won´t see him back anytime soon if at all. People gone leave holes that I dont know what to fill them with, so I go to work, and at least I can leave greetings here for all the GW crowd, and you Yasu. Be well, all of you.

    •  Hi, marsanges. So good to see you here. (9+ / 0-)

      I've missed you.

      I'm very sorry about your co-worker.  So sad to loose a co-worker like that.  Please know I send my best wishes to him and his family.

      Things are quite bleak in Europe now, it seems -- except for at St Paul's, where there reversal on the Occupy movement has given me enormous hope.  The Square Mile may never know what hit it.

      Wish you sounded a bit happier.  Wish I could do something.  

      Brazil has been rather impressive from the start, laying down some tough rules, if I recall, for BP.  And who knew Chevron would beat them out this year.  Sadly, I'll bet BP is dancing in the streets.

      Be well, old friend.

      I love how setting up a library is being spoken about like it was a military installation or a trade blockade. "They set up a library." I'm so scared. -- Vox Populous

      OCCUPY

      by Yasuragi on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 02:15:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow....what a lot of articles... (7+ / 0-)

    geez Yas! You are the Mighty!

    Still reading but my ct alarm is ringing...message rec'd: two large deep oil fields with broken seabeds leaking...and the only 'solution' is more drilling and extraction. And we know just the ones to do it.
     Hmmm....sounds like a plan.

    So we have one citizen who flies over an obvious seven figures a day operation, and no has spilled..I mean talked about what the hell they are doing?
           And that's all the public oversight here?  
    In taxpayer owned waters?

    This is a lot like the police doing a self investigation, now they are getting around to a seabed inspection?

    Didn't they already do that and reassured us everything was okdokey?
         .......back when they were letting us in on some ROV feeds?

    ..squinting all the while in the glare of a culture that radiates ultraviolet consumerism and infrared celebrity...Russell Brand

    by KenBee on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 02:39:09 PM PST

    •  Hey, Kenny Bee. (6+ / 0-)

      Yeah -- funny how those recent feeds weren't public.  I seem to recall one or two, but they didn't even look like our wellhead.  In fact they looked nothing like it.  

      Hope all's well with you, darlin'.

      I love how setting up a library is being spoken about like it was a military installation or a trade blockade. "They set up a library." I'm so scared. -- Vox Populous

      OCCUPY

      by Yasuragi on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 06:03:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  and not only mighty but (7+ / 0-)

    mighty kind too!

    All the best and thanks for all this!

    ..squinting all the while in the glare of a culture that radiates ultraviolet consumerism and infrared celebrity...Russell Brand

    by KenBee on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 02:40:05 PM PST

  •  Thanks Yasu, and everyone at Gulf Watch.. (6+ / 0-)

    for going around the spin screen created by BP and others to look at what is really happening in the Gulf of Mexico.  

  •  I'm SHOCKED! Shocked I say! (6+ / 0-)

    Ok, just a morbid joke.  Of course the wellfield is leaking, d'oh!  I teach 2nd graders and I've known this all along. And part of me wonders if the "top kill" operations didn't seal the deal as far as leaks. And, of course, now we know why nothing shows up on the Marine Traffic site - nobody is worried one little bit about it, nope.  
    Fuck those fucking lying fucks.
    However!  It's great to see you Yas...this is a trove of great information.  Chevron, those people that "agree" with all kinds of stuff in their commercials (constant commercials, at that) are the world's WORST?  Shucks, what a surprise.
    You've out-did yourself ;)  good to see you posting.  Hope your TG was peaceful and filling. I have a really hectic school year underway and a sicker-than-the-average-bear Dad, who has pulmonary fibrosis.  A new round of tests at the OSU Medical Center may give us a clearer picture of where we are...not information that I'm sure I want, but sigh it's time to get it on the table.  We've all been in denial long enough, or at least that is his feeling. Gotta go with the patient's wishes on this.
    Love you all and hoping all the Watchers are well and safe.
    XOXO

    Think what you are doing today. -Fred Rogers

    by JanL on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 03:32:51 PM PST

    •  Oh, JanL -- I'm so sorry about your dad. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Phil S 33, rubyr, Lorinda Pike, JanL, peraspera

      My non-denominational (and god-free) prayers go out to him and to you and your family.  So tough to face these times.

      Yeah -- I do seriously feel vindicated, though, after all the claims that we were ct lunatics who didn't understand what we were seeing (some from inside the camp, if you recall).  Having watched the full footage of the DH sinking and what looked like a possible explosion, I never doubted they'd broken the earth's mantle.  There's no way something that big -- plus the phenomenal torque on that riser (just think how thick it is and what it's made of) could have not done that damage.

      Sorry the school year's been hard.  Teaching any level is exhausting -- but second graders?  You're some kind of saint!

      Thanksgiving, thank you, was lovely and delicious, spent with my sister, nephew, and his wife.  Really lovely.  Well... my sister was a pain in the ass (I'm forever the kid sister), but for once I gave as good as I got.  ;)

      Hope yours was wonderful, and precious given the circumstances.

      I love how setting up a library is being spoken about like it was a military installation or a trade blockade. "They set up a library." I'm so scared. -- Vox Populous

      OCCUPY

      by Yasuragi on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 06:11:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Expect the federal government to be as secretive (6+ / 0-)

    as BP about the seeps around the Macondo as they have a big dog in this fight. The leaking seabed could have just as easily been caused by Dr. Steven Chu's decision to shut in the well as by the blowout itself. I don't know if it would even be technically possible to prove whether the blowout caused the leak or shutting in the well did. My guess is that it was cause by a combination of both things with the blowout weakening the formation and shutting the well in weakening it even more.

    Bless Sky Truth, Wings of Care and Stuart Smith. I know Smith has financial interests at stake but environmental plaintiff's work is pretty much guaranteed to make someone persona non gratis in a very serious, and even potentially dangerous, way in oil country. I hope Smith or another plaintiff's attorney can figure out a way to get crews of the vessels who have been around the Maconda in court under oath sooner rather than later.

    It does my heart good to see Brazil taking such a tough stance with the Chevron spill. At least there seems to be one place in the world where the government isn't just rolling over for big oil companies.

    Yas, it's always great to see one of your always excellent diaries even though the news about the Macondo leaking is so worrisome.

    •  Brazil dug in their heels from the beginning (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lorinda Pike, JanL, rubyr, peraspera

      about caution.  And Chevron blew it in a big way.

      I agree that Chu's fascination with seeing just how much the shut in could take (wish he was a shut-in) had to have made things much, much worse: we know the whole mechanism was leaking like a damned sieve.  But I have always believed, since seeing the crash footage, that that was the cause of the initial leaks.  Who knows by what magnitude he made it worse.  A madman, by my lights.

      We were seeing leaks around the wellhead even before his evil experiments.  It was obvious from the first shots they gave us of the wellhead that there were steady if slight leaks all around it.  And who knows what they didn't show us of the seabed?

      Thanks for your kind words, pera.  I actually enjoyed doing this one a lot -- I think I'm remembering how.  ;)

      And thank you also for your incredibly helpful e-mail.  I've just been so jammed up I haven't had a chance to answer -- but things appear to be working out quite well with the agency.

      I love how setting up a library is being spoken about like it was a military installation or a trade blockade. "They set up a library." I'm so scared. -- Vox Populous

      OCCUPY

      by Yasuragi on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 06:19:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unless the leak around the Macondo (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yasuragi, rubyr, Lorinda Pike

        gets a whole lot worse I don't expect we will ever know the details of its evolution and my curiosity isn't close to wanting anything like that to happen.

        Don't be silly about the email! I just hope one or two of the things I suggested might help a little.

        •  They looked like very good suggestions. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rubyr, Lorinda Pike

          The agency is giving me five free training sessions (along with a whole bunch of other stuff -- will tell you the whole amazing tale when I've got the energy: it's really long!), so I'll work with what their trainer does.  Then probably later on move to click training.  

          I love how setting up a library is being spoken about like it was a military installation or a trade blockade. "They set up a library." I'm so scared. -- Vox Populous

          OCCUPY

          by Yasuragi on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 08:41:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  And I wish gchaucer2 were around -- (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lorinda Pike, JanL, Phil S 33, rubyr, peraspera

      I'd lover her take as an environmental lawyer.

      I love how setting up a library is being spoken about like it was a military installation or a trade blockade. "They set up a library." I'm so scared. -- Vox Populous

      OCCUPY

      by Yasuragi on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 06:26:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey Cuz!!! Thanks for this amazing (6+ / 0-)

    diary. I don't know how you ones do it. Thank you so much for this dreaded news. Leaking. Makes the stomach sick.  

    As usual, I am late but lucky to get here at all. Huge computer difficulties.

    I hope you are feeling better. I've been sending good vibes up that way.

    Going up to read more if the computer holds on.

    Best to all Gulf Watchers.

    love.  

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

    by rubyr on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 05:03:04 PM PST

  •  Excellently well done disastrous news, Yas. It (6+ / 0-)

    should come with warnings and anti-depressants.

    At least, however, it is a comfort to the heart to see beloved Watcher names. Sending good thoughts to all GWers.

    “Wall Street owns the country. Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags. The parties lie to us, and the political speakers mislead us.” - Mary Elizabeth Lease, 1890. It's late. Occupy everywhere.

    by DawnN on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 05:48:59 PM PST

  •  Funny how UK gets involved in the tar sands deal-- (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lorinda Pike, Yasuragi, rubyr, peraspera, JanL

    as they try to keep their oil buddy, BP happy.

    There are so many intertwining relationships--it almost is impossible to fight----and we yet haven't seen wher eObama will come down on this.  (Conveniently, after the election)

  •  A good job with a bunch of bad stuff... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yasuragi, Phil S 33, rubyr, peraspera, JanL

    Thanks, Yasu...

    "In other words, if we bust our butts, there's an even chance things will get better; and if we sit on our butts, there's a major chance things will go completely to hell". --- G2geek

    by Lorinda Pike on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 06:26:29 PM PST

    •  Thanks, Pike. Miss you like mad. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Phil S 33, Lorinda Pike, rubyr, peraspera, JanL

      Hope all's going as well as it can.  Haven't written because I've been Occupying... and it's a pain in the ass and incredibly time-consuming.  And we're not even sleeping there.  Hell, we're a bunch of pikers (sorry for that...) -- one day a week.  But the GAs are a riot.  We're the blind leading the nearsighted.  

      And Haunted Island's environs (must keep under cover) are where the elite meet to vacation, so I'm hoping we can have some impact.  Of course, we can't even put together a Declaration of Occupation without fisticuffs... but it'll work out.  It's basically a good group.

      Hugs and blessings to you and your love.

      I love how setting up a library is being spoken about like it was a military installation or a trade blockade. "They set up a library." I'm so scared. -- Vox Populous

      OCCUPY

      by Yasuragi on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 06:32:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually sounds like fun... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phil S 33, rubyr, peraspera, Yasuragi, JanL

        brings back memories of my late-blooming DFH activist attempts...

        All's going pretty well, considering. Even put together a generally-soft-food holiday feast. Anyone want a recipe for turkey loaf?  :-)

        "In other words, if we bust our butts, there's an even chance things will get better; and if we sit on our butts, there's a major chance things will go completely to hell". --- G2geek

        by Lorinda Pike on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 06:46:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Um... I'll pass -- but it was a great (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rubyr, JanL, Lorinda Pike

          idea.  Good to see you're still being innovative, even under duress.  ;)

          I love how setting up a library is being spoken about like it was a military installation or a trade blockade. "They set up a library." I'm so scared. -- Vox Populous

          OCCUPY

          by Yasuragi on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 08:39:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Bloomberg News has had "good luck" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera

    with the FOIA-provided news on grand theft...
    has been making for quite tumultuous reading.

    first thought i had: DW Horizon.
    nothing stands in the way of profit.
    ever. never.

    second thought i had: Cheney's Oily Party.
    wish (against my fragile tummy's better instincts) someone could pry the lid off THAT one.

    third thought i had: Gulf Watchers keep going.
    even though the job requires "excellently well-done disastrous news," as DawnN sez.

    thanking you all for facing the giants.

    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 Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 09:27:12 PM PST

  •  tomorrow (saturday) there will be (0+ / 0-)

    this event on BP which i just saw posted on facebook. don't know whether there will be any transcripts after...

    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 Fri Dec 02, 2011 at 07:20:55 PM PST

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