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Allison Kilkenny Headshot

'It's as if a Nuclear Apocalypse has Gone Off in the Gulf'

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There are a few new, developing BP-related stories that should greatly disturb any American who values openness and transparency in their democracy.

First, a chemist named Bob Naman claims samples he received from Orange Beach Alabama waters tested positive for the dangerous neurotoxin pesticide 2-butoxyethanol, the main ingredient of Corexit 9527A. The government has been claiming they discontinued the use of that version of Corexit in the Gulf. Now, Naman says he's worried because BP called him and "threatened him."

Next, Dr. Nyman of Louisiana State University, who began comparative tests early May to determine the impact of oil and the impact of Corexit laced oil on maritime life, says, while marine life may recover quickly from oil exposure, the same cannot be said about exposure to Corexit.

Large mammals were the least affected by the presence of oil, while the small bottom creatures, worms that are the food source for bottom feeders, were affected the most.

The conclusion was that an oil spill is disruptive to maritime life but does not negatively impact the seafood population on a permanent basis. The impact is temporary and can reverse and restore itself over a period of time.

The same cannot be said when natural waters contain a Corexit-oil mixture. Dr. Nyman's studies show that the recovery period is twice or three times as long when maritime life is exposed to the toxic mixture of Corexit and oil. While the large mammals ultimately recover, the smaller fish population is reduced dramatically by 25% or more, depending on the concentration.

The bottom of the natural food chain however, does not recover and is killed in its entirety which affects all the bottom feeders in the Gulf of Mexico, including shrimp, crawfish, crabs and lobster.

Over at Counterpunch, Anne McClintock has a very good summary of the three vanishing acts playing out in the Gulf: the "disappearing" of oil courtesy of Corexit, the disappearing story in the media, and the disappearing of private contractors who are making a pretty penny helping BP and the Coast Guard keep a lid on the cover-up.

Previously, I have written about the absolutely absurd claim that the oil has magically disappeared thanks to the Corexit fairy. Corexit simply hid the problem by sinking the oil, and there is no good way to clean up oil that is sitting deep in the ocean. Marine scientists have reported finding enormous oil plumes that could still exist in the Gulf due to the cold temperatures of the water.

I recommend reading McClintock's article in full, but I wanted to highlight this interaction with her source, a veteran named Steve who was hired to help in the clean-up effort.

"It's as if a nuclear apocalypse has gone off in the Gulf," he said. "The media is not telling the truth. No one is telling the truth. Let me tell you something. Yesterday on the beach where we work, my crew cleaned up seven hundred bags of oil. Today we went back and the beach was completely covered in oil, as if we had never been there. Today we carried away another seven hundred and fifty bags. Every day we clean up, then the tide brings it in again. The oil is everywhere, deep under the sand. Today I wanted to measure the oil, so I stuck my shovel into the sand and the oil was down there eight inches deep."

Steve leaned in close, "Do you want to know how long my contract is to work down here?" he asked. "Three years." His jaw muscles tightened as if he wanted to suck his words back into his mouth, but could not. "They are telling everyone it is not so bad, but clean-up will take many years. I am going to be here a long time." Steve wiped a hand heavily over his eyes as if they were burning. "Let me tell you something. Today we saw three sharks washed up dead on the beach. The insides of their noses were black with oil. The membranes of their mouths were black with oil. Their eyes were black with oil."

As I have repeatedly stressed, the full ramifications of this disaster won't be understood for years. That's why it's so essential the media doesn't buy the narrative that the crisis is over. Ever since they refused to allow workers to wear respirators during the clean-up, BP has been doing everything in its power to skirt liability for not only the oil volcano, but also the consequences of dumping two million gallons of experimental toxins into the ocean. They have bullied, intimidated, and used private contractors to suppress free and open media coverage of the unfolding events.

BP is now desperately trying to get the victims of the Gulf disaster to quickly sign away their legal rights in order to secure swift payment as opposed to dragging things out in a lengthy, expensive court war like the one Exxon victims had to (and continue to) endure.

All the right rich people want the Gulf squared in their rearview mirrors. The oil companies want to drill, and many politicians want the oil companies to stay happy so they can secure their donations come election time. The media is fatigued by the story, and eager to believe BP and state officials when they brushed off their hands and delivered the clarion call, "The End!"

Focusing on the unknown consequences of Corexit is bad PR. It's bad for deep-sea oil drilling. It's bad for the politicians that need oil corporation donations. In all honesty, it's bad for the local fishing industry, too. And I feel for those poor men and women, who will suffer years of financial devastation because of the irresponsible actions by BP (another reason not to let BP off the legal hook.)

Of course, it's also necessary to ask these questions. No one really understands the long-term consequences of Corexit. In fact, every day it becomes clearer and clearer that no one has any idea what this stuff is going to do to the food chain.

Cross-posted from allisonkilkenny.com

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