The Slo-Mo Oil Sludge Will Make Landfall Friday; Another Louisiana-Gulf Coast Disaster in the Making?
I was checking the Times Picayune last week about the oil leaking from that platform that exploded, burned and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana with eleven workers missing or presumed dead. I didn’t see anything that smacked of alarm or of concern. All I could think of was ruined wetlands, fcked up shrimp catches and fisheries and wildlife and flora larded and befouled with oil, resulting in an even more depressed state economy and more jobless. I wanted to see what the authorities were about to do to stave off this mess. Instead, the local paper seemed sluggish and disinterested. Nobody was talking about it. It’s almost as if there was a media blackout, until one got to the national level.
With 5,000 barrels per day–not 1,000–leaking from three, not two breaks in the oil lines, and no way to know when these ruptures will be capped with submersibles or without, President Obama’s strategy to drill offshore in defiance of campaign promises to the contrary looks like a real loser. Six hundred miles long, the oil spill is now a spill of “national significance.” Booms and burning have not even begun to stanch the flow, although both the government and British Petroleum say that they are brainstorming and trying everything that they can.
“This isn’t a spill,” said Kerry St. Pe, who headed Louisiana’s oil spill response team for 23 years. “This isn’t a storage tank or a ship with a finite amount of oil that has boundaries. This is much, much worse.”
It’s a river of oil flowing from the bottom of the Gulf at the rate of 210,000 gallons a day that officials say could be running for two months or more. If that prediction holds, much of the state’s southeastern coast will become a world-watched environmental battleground that hasn’t been seen in the United States since the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska 21 years ago.
Well, the captain of the Deez, if not Waterworld, Joe Hazelwood, was said to have been drinking when the vessel ran aground. We still don’t know yet what went wrong to occasion the oil platform exploding, but it increasingly looks like cementing may have caused it.
Though the cause of last week’s explosion on the Deepwater Horizon remains under investigation, officials with Transocean have said a blowout within the deep oil well was likely to blame for the deadly blast. At the time of the accident, crews were “cementing,” or installing casing to secure the walls of the well.
A 2007 MMS study found that although blowouts with offshore drilling operations were becoming less frequent, less deadly and less polluting, cementing-associated troubles persisted.
If gases leak underwater while this work is being done, it appears, then…
And it’s not only British Petroleum (BP), but Halliburton that is involved. You know. Vice President Dick Cheney’s little nest egg that made out like bandits in Iraq and is headquartered in Dubai now. That Halliburton.
The widow of a crew member killed in last week’s oil platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico has filed a lawsuit accusing the companies that operated the rig with negligence, court documents showed Tuesday.
The suit was filed by Natalie Roshto against Transocean Ltd, British Petroleum and Halliburton after the blast that killed her husband Shane, a seaman on the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig.
“Shane Roshto was one of (the) crew members thrown to his death,” according to a copy of the suit.
“After six days, Shane Roshto’s body has not been found, despite an extensive and thorough search orchestrated by the United States Goast Guard which lasted several days.
Halliburton and its subsidiaries’ shady record towards its own employees has marked it as one of the most exploitative companies around. Whether it is mislaying radioactive materials or fighting a woman employee’s claim that she was raped while working in Iraq, to using and promoting hydrofracking–a process to force oil or natural gas out of rock crevices–at the price of poisoning groundwater wells and ultimately the citizenry, you can bet Halliburton will sooner count profits than the dead or maimed bodies of its workers.
The oil spill couldn’t come at a worse time for President Obama, who vowed to drill, baby, drill in March, going against his own campaign promises once more, and pissing off not only progressives but environmentalists.
In backing wider offshore oil and gas exploration only a month ago, Obama promised to “employ new technologies that reduce the impact of oil exploration.” He acknowledged that his decision would provoke criticism from those who decried the expansion and those who said it did not go far enough.
“Ultimately, we need to move beyond the tired debates of the left and the right, between business leaders and environmentalists, between those who would claim drilling is a cure-all and those who would claim it has no place,” Obama said.
There are some things that have a place while others do not. This is why development of alternative energy has been touted as a sure bet against the “tired” resources like coal and oil so that we also avoid dangerous situations and procedures that caused the deaths of the 29 miners and the eleven oil rig workers. Because these industries’ time is almost up, they are almost rapacious about the bottom line, and to hell with who is risking their lives so that the company can still show up on the Dow Jones averages.
We’re now looking at least three months before BP can conceivably cap the leaks. Governor Jindal has declared a state of emergency and is readying the National Guard. Already, residents have reported that a stench has reached New Orleans.
Residents throughout the New Orleans area on Thursday reported an oily odor apparently coming from the spill, which was more than 90 miles from the Crescent City.
State health and environmental officials requested continuous air quality testing and monitoring by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Health officials said people sensitive to reduced air quality may experience nausea, vomiting or headaches. Anyone with these symptoms should consider staying indoors, ventilating their homes with air conditioning and avoiding strenuous outdoor activity, the officials said.
Planning for a spring shrimp season only two weeks away, James Gerakines of Delacroix has been toiling all winter and spring aboard the deck of his trawler, the “Last Chance,” painting, hammering and hoping for some kind turnaround on his investment.
But as the first bands of an expanding Gulf of Mexico oil spill reach the fertile nurseries of Louisiana’s coastal estuaries, Gerakines and thousands of others who rely on the marsh’s bounty face an unprecedented environmental and economic challenge. From the hardy, blue-collar fishermen to the dining rooms of New Orleans’ finest restaurants, the fear is palpable for the long-term significance of such a spill for the state’s $2 billion seafood industry, which supplies a third of the nation’s oysters and brings in a quarter of the seafood in the continental United States.
“You can either laugh about it, or cry about it, and I prefer to laugh,” said Gerakines, who was at a tense meeting with nearly 200 fishers in St. Bernard Parish on Thursday.
Spring is always a time of ritual in the fishing industry, with blessings of the fleet and high hopes for a productive growth season that will bring crabs, shrimp and finfish to harvestable size.
It’s the timing of the spill that has many worried not only about this season, but the years ahead.
“We’re going to take the first beating here when it comes in, and depending on how much damage it does, we’re going to take a beating for years,” said George Barisich, a shrimp and oyster fisherman out of Yscloskey who is president of the United Commercial Fisherman’s Association.
“Crabs just spawned, shrimp are coming in, everything’s there,” said Tony Morales, another St. Bernard shrimper.
No shrimp, no crawfish, no oysters, and prices will go up for the tourists and elsewhere. And tourists won’t want to come to a place where the air smells like oil. It’ll be bad all around.