'It Is All About Hiding the Oil, Not Cleaning it Up:' Deepwater Drilling Resumes Despite Impact of BP Spill

04/20/2011 04:27 pm ET | Updated Jun 20, 2011

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the worst maritime oil spill in U.S. history. Last year on April 20, the Deepwater Horizon rig, leased by oil giant BP, exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and releasing nearly 200 million gallons of oil, tens of millions of gallons of natural gas and 1.8 million gallons of other chemicals. A year later, Democracy Now! asks the question, "how much has changed?"

"A Sea in Flames": Ecologist Carl Safina on First Anniversary of Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Blowout

"[Another spill] could happen again tomorrow. And if it did, the response would be as bad," says Carl Safina, founding president of Blue Ocean Institute and author of the new book, A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout. On Democracy Now!, Safina reviews BP, Halliburton and TransOcean's role in the disaster and reflects on how little the government has done to prepare for another offshore drilling accident.

Voices from the Gulf: "One Year Later, We're in the Same Situation as Last Year"

One year after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, residents of affected coastal communities have reported health ailments such as severe coughing, migraines and irritations that are consistent with common symptoms of chemical exposure. Fishermen and shrimpers have reported record losses in sales and fear the spill will cause long-term damage to marine life and the economy of the region. Many residents report problems with receiving compensation claims from BP.

Democracy Now! interviews David Pham of Boat People SOS, a national Vietnamese American organization working with fishing communities impacted by the BP oil spill in Alabama, and Tracie Washington, president of the Louisiana Justice Institute in New Orleans.

Deepwater Drilling Resumes Despite Unclear Impact of BP Spill: "It is All about Hiding the Oil, Not Cleaning It Up"

Many scientists remain concerned that chemical dispersants used during the BP oil spill recovery effort may have damaged marine habitats, affecting many endangered species.

"You've got this unbelievable chemical soup out there on the order that's never been seen before," Kieran Suckling, director of the Center for Biological Diversity, told Democracy Now! today. His organization has filed a lawsuit trying to stop the use of dispersants in future oil spill recovery efforts. Meanwhile, the federal government has awarded its first permit for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico since lifting a moratorium imposed in the aftermath of the BP spill.

KIERAN SUCKLING: Yeah, the dispersants are particularly disturbing, because the oil was bad enough, then we sprayed this highly toxic dispersant on it, which is actually four times more toxic than the oil to many of the wildlife. And so, the oil did not disappear, but it was broken down into smaller parts, where it sunk into the water column, in some places onto the bottom of the sea. And so, now you've got this unbelievable chemical soup out there on the order that's never been seen before. There's never been an oil disaster where we've sprayed this much dispersant into the ocean not knowing its impact on wildlife. And so, the dispersant we sprayed out there is also killing wildlife. And indeed, my group, the Center for Biological Diversity, just filed a lawsuit challenging the continued use of dispersant in future spills, because it's a horrific way to address these oil spills. It's all about hiding the oil, not about cleaning it up.

DEMOCRACY NOW!'S AMY GOODMAN: Now, you have litigation pending around the dispersants, right?

KIERAN SUCKLING: Yes, that's exactly right, because despite all the horror that was caused by the dispersants, it's still the government's position that they would use those dispersants on the next spill coming up. The American public don't know what all the chemicals are in the dispersants. There's never been an environmental analysis of their effects on wildlife and on people. And we're saying to the government, "You cannot go forward and use this again, minimally until you at least figure out what the environmental effects are, but preferably not to use it at all."

Death Toll from BP Spill Still Rising as Residents Die from Spill-Related Illnesses

Residents of affected coastal communities have reported health ailments such as severe coughing, migranes, and eye irritation that are consistent with common symptoms of chemical exposure.

"We've had many deaths of humans directly attributed to this disaster," says investigative journalist Dahr Jamail on Democracy Now! today. "I recently spoke with Dr. Mike Robichaux, a doctor in Louisiana who's treated scores of people. And he said, if we do not have federal government intervention immediately to deal with this and start treating people and start really cleaning this up appropriately, we're going to have a lot of dead people on our hands."

Father of Deepwater Horizon Victim: The Blowout Was "Inevitable" Due to BP's Lack of Safety Precautions

One year ago today, 28-year-old Gordon Jones was one of 11 workers killed aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded April 20. Today we speak to his father, Keith Jones, who has been critical of the operators of the rig. "BP and Halliburton and Transocean peeled back layer after layer after layer of safety protections, one after another, until this blowout was inevitable," Keith Jones told Democracy Now! Click here to read entire transcript.

To watch the entire show, read the transcripts, share the interviews or see additional coverage of the BP oil spill disaster, check out the Democracy Now! news archive with our coverage over the past year. Join us on Facebook and share with a friend!

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