First (we hope) arrest in the BP investigation; accused appears in court in Houston. Reaction from the LA Bucket Brigade. Shrimp processors object to settlement terms. Dismal view for health of Gulf ecosystem. Oil industry safety progress? Probably not. Brown pelicans okay..for now. Healing the marsh with pillows.
You are in the current Gulf Watchers BP Catastrophe - AUV #586. AUV #585 is here.
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Gulf Watchers Diaries will be posted on every other Tuesday afternoon.
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Update re: court appearance of Kurt Mix.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, BP said it would have no comment on the charges against Mix, and that it “is cooperating with the Department of Justice and other official investigations into the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill.”As we all remember, there was much discussion about how much oil was flowing from the BP gusher immediately after the blowout, from an abysmally low 1,000 barrels per day, up to 80+ thousand barrels.
However, some apparently had more working knowledge - and one of those with the information was BP drilling and completions project engineer Kurt Mix. Now no longer employed by BP, Mix knew that a high rate of flow - above 15,000 barrels per day - would negate any efforts with the "top kill" procedure of pushing heavy drilling mud into the pipe and surrounding casing. It just wouldn't work.
According to the Justice Department, Mix was told by BP to save all of the information he had acquired relating to top kill, including more than 200 text messages. But...he didn't.
On or about Oct. 4, 2010, after Mix learned that his electronic files were to be collected by a vendor working for BP’s lawyers, Mix allegedly deleted on his iPhone a text string containing more than 200 text messages with a BP supervisor. The deleted texts, some of which were recovered forensically, included sensitive internal BP information collected in real-time as the Top Kill operation was occurring, which indicated that Top Kill was failing. Court documents allege that, among other things, Mix deleted a text he had sent on the evening of May 26, 2010, at the end of the first day of Top Kill. In the text, Mix stated, among other things, “Too much flowrate – over 15,000.” Before Top Kill commenced, Mix and other engineers had concluded internally that Top Kill was unlikely to succeed if the flow rate was greater than 15,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD). At the time, BP’s public estimate of the flow rate was 5,000 BOPD – three times lower than the minimum flow rate indicated in Mix’s text.Is it live...or is it Memorex? Was it Mix himself, or was it on BP's orders? Inquiring minds want to know...
How high was the flow rate, actually? Top kill sure as hell didn't work. Neither did the "junk shot". By then BP was really grasping at straws...at least the ones they weren't trying to stuff down the blown-out hole.
Yeah, as someone stated earlier, this is low-hanging fruit. But there are indications that a bunch of those apples are not falling far from the tree.
And although he might not have the cojones he once had (well, better cojones than others...) our "man in Washington" at least is saying the right things...
"The courts will determine whether these actions were an obstruction of justice, but we already know that BP had a policy of obfuscation during the spill when it came to the amount of oil flowing out of the Macondo well," said U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee.Will Rep. Markey or anyone ever get to the bottom (or top) of this? Probably not in our lifetimes. But hey, it's a start...maybe...
Reaction from the grassroots of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade on the arrest (h/t luckydog...now I'm hungry for something from a cart on Royal Street...)
Statement in response to the first criminal indictment from the BP Spill reprinted in its entirety, because I don't think they will mind. Go to the link and check out the website, and help if you can. They do good work.
Today a former BP employee has been indicted. We believe that there are more criminal indictments of oil companies possible, if only the Department of Justice would look. The Department should look into ongoing actions by managers at the ExxonMobil, Citgo, Chalmette Refining, Calumet and Motiva refineries here in Louisiana.
Some shrimp processors on the Gulf Coast asked a federal judge yesterday to delay an initial approval on a portion of a class-action settlement proposed by BP in payment of lost income after the gusher.
BP is slated to pay $2.3 billion for some seafood-related claims, but the American Shrimp Processors Association says the settlement unfairly excludes the processors from receiving a portion of the settlement, instead compensating mainly shrimp harvesters, boat captains and some others, and denying claims from other businesses that depend on the shrimp harvest, but do not direct qualify for the settlement program.
“The two groups are part of the same shrimp supply chain and share virtually identical future economic loss risk; however, their compensation for future economic loss risks is widely disparate for a number of reasons under the proposed Class Settlement,” the association’s attorneys wrote.Judge Barbier has yet to decide whether to give a final approval to BP's settlement, but set a deadline of May 1st for others involved to weigh in on that issue.
It will take years, perhaps decades, to know the full extent of the damage done to the Gulf ecosystem by the BP blowout and the damaging effects of abortive attempts at "cleanup". The collapse of herring fisheries in Prince William Sound occurred nearly three years after the Exxon Valdez ran aground and spilled what amounted to a tiny amount of oil in comparison to the BP gusher.
The Ixtoc I blowout off Yucatan in 1979 spewed 3.5 million barrels into the Gulf, and fishing was damaged for fifteen years afterward.
We are just beginning to see evidence that the long-term damage could be horrific...
“Many of the kinds of impacts that would be a precursor of long-term damages, we have not seen,” said Donald Boesch, a University of Maryland professor of marine science who served on the president’s commission studying the oil spill. “That reduces our apprehension about the long-term effects.”(If you haven't already, please check out this in-depth diary by Siri and this piece from original Gulf Watcher khowell for additional information on what fishermen and shrimpers are experiencing.
Am I going to believe the PR and eat Gulf seafood? Don't think so.)
And then there's this...
Oil companies say they are working on making offshore safer, and we are told government regulations will help. But with all that money and power at stake, what are we to believe? What they tell us, or our lyin' eyes?
“If a similar disaster happened today, there’s no guarantee that we wouldn’t get the same result,” said David Pettit, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council.And, given the fact that we're often looking at lots of foxes guarding the henhouse...
The Houston-based Center for Offshore Safety, created by the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s top trade group, is focusing on helping companies develop federally mandated Safety and Environmental Management Systems to deal with risks in drilling and production.Charlie Williams, a Shell scientist who heads the center, says the Center will push companies to focus on process safety.
“It’s all about maintaining this high level of awareness — consistently, every second and every minute and every hour of every day,” Williams said. “It’s easy to say ‘we’re going to put no-slip stairs everywhere.’ And it’s easy to fall into the trap of getting really focused on that — which is important — but lose your focus on getting good standards and good work processes that make sure we are following the standards and making decisions in a way that supports safety.”Aaahh, our old friends, the American Petroleum Institute... Yeah, I trust them just about as far as I can throw the Nazgul, all nine of their horses, and the Koch brothers.
But safety experts warn that cultural change needed to put safety at the forefront of every decision can’t come solely from the boardroom or new operational standards.Any of BP's initial response plans was rendered moot by the actuality of the resulting gusher. And the "innovations" touted by API and their corporate ilk are of no comfort.
Although off-the-shelf containment systems are now readily available in the Gulf of Mexico, the industry is still responding to potentially lethal shortcomings in blowout preventers used to guard against uncontrolled surges of oil and gas. After an examination of the BOP used at the Macondo well found its powerful blades could not sever drill pipe that had been pushed askew by flowing oil and gas, a National Academy of Engineering panel insisted there was an “urgent need” to redesign the devices.Mr. Williams, do you have a horse?
But there may be a bit of good news... that is, if the Corexit-laced mutated seafood doesn't kill them later...
Last Thursday morning, the Cat Islands in Barataria Bay looked like a slice of brown pelican heaven. Every mangrove bush seemed crowned by a nest, and each nest was home to a group of youngsters, from the tiny, hairless newborns that resemble dinosaurs more than birds, to the gangly adolescents trying to test their emerging plumage. And each nest was guarded by at least one vigilant parent while other adults were wheeling across the blue sky hunting for finned meals in the sparkling green waters below.
And because I need to know there are people (not unlike our own Crashing Vor) who are dreaming of new things and thinking outside the box, I end with this:
Flotant marsh plants like maidencane (Panicum hemitomon) are not directly planted, so a new project unveiled in Barataria Preserve in Jean Lafitte Park hopes to recreate mats of flotant marsh, by a similar, but simpler method as planting underwater vegetation in Bayou St John.Please check out the pictures. So beautifully simple...
Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
|4-10-12 04:00 PM||Gulf Watchers Tuesday - 95% of BP's Atlantis engineering docs not approved - BP Catastrophe AUV #585||peraspera|
|3-27-12 03:00 PM||Gulf Watchers Tuesday - BP's Fingerprints Found At Dead Coral Crime Scene - BP Catastrophe AUV #584||Lorinda Pike|
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.