Some 30 months after BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana, killing 11 workers and triggering the worst oil spill in United States history, fresh oil continues to leak from the disaster site and pollute the Gulf of Mexico.
This stunning development in the BP saga — backing up suspicions that were first reported on this blog earlier this month and from an earlier episode in 2011 — has now been confirmed by the U.S. Coast Guard, which collected oil from a fresh sheen that appeared near the disaster site and tested it to confirm that the oil was coming from the Macondo field where the rig exploded. Here’s what they found:
The Coast Guard, in concert with BP and NOAA, has conducted regular assessments of the sheen by aircraft and boat since its discovery. The observed sheen size has varied over time depending upon the conditions present. Samples of the sheen were taken by Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Morgan City Sept. 26 and sent to the Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab in New London, Conn. The Marine Safety Laboratory results indicate the sheen correlates to oil that originated from BP’s Macondo Well. The exact source of the sheen is uncertain at this time but could be residual oil associated with wreckage and/or debris left on the seabed from the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010.
The NOFI effectively informs BP and Transocean that the Coast Guard matched the sheen samples to the Deepwater Horizon spill or sunken drilling debris and that either party or both may be held accountable for any cost associated with further assessments or operations related to this sheen.
Let’s cut through the bureaucrat-ese and ponder the major significance of this news. It means that after two-and-a-half years, after spending some $14 billion on cleaning up the Gulf shoreline and with billions more due in compensation, after all those ads that you’ve seen on TV telling you that everything along the coast is better than ever….BP is continuing to foul the natural splendor of the Gulf with its dirty crude oil.
Why is this happening? The Coast Guard release is merely speculating when it says this “could be residual oil associated with wreckage and/or debris left on the seabed from the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010.” That is the most benign scenario. The NOLA.com website also offers a new report on the leak this morning that looks at the possible causes in greater detail, including speculation that oil that was dispersed by toxic chemicals in 2010 is reappearing on the surface.
But the more troubling and arguably more likely possibility — which we’ve been reporting on this blog dating back to August 2011 – is that efforts to cap the BP well in 2010 could have created cracks, or fissures, in the floor of the Gulf. That raises the specter of an ongoing spill that is more serious in nature, and more difficult to contain and clean-up. The initial response from BP and from the feds in 2011 was to try to first ognore and then deny our reporting — until our colleague Bonny Schumaker flew over the site and confirmed the leak. This time, the feds did not seem in a hurry to confirm our publicize the BP connection. There needs to be a serious and thorough investigation into how much oil is still leaking, and why.
But the impact of this is clear. Fresh oil — the result of BP’s wanton negligence — is still spoiling the appearance of the Gulf, still hanging over the tourism and the fishing industries, still posing a threat to marine life and to the seafood that we eat. This is happening at a time when we still haven’t cleaned up BP’s original mess, as evidence by the gobs of oil that were washed ashore this summer by Hurricane Isaac.
And I want to re-emphasize what I said in our initial report on this new spill: This is why BP and the PSC — the lawyers named to negotiate the deal for residents and businesses with claims against the oil giant — are racing to try and get approval for their $7.8 billion deal. Motions have been filed to extend the opt-out date. The Court should extend the opt-out date and the time period for objections due to the uncertainty of this situation.
The crisis on the Gulf of Mexico that was created by BP is an ongoing disaster. There is much more work to be done, and new damage is occurring. Last night’s report by the Coast Guard is a new and powerful confirmation of what we’ve been telling you for more than a year..
To read the entire U.S. Coast Guard report on the fresh oil leak at the Deepwater Horizon site, please go to: http://www.restorethegulf.gov/release/2012/10/10/fosc-issues-notice-federal-interest-bp-and-transocean
To check out the NOLA.com report on the link, please see: http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2012/10/sheen_at_deepwater_horizon_dis.html
To read our initial report on the spill from Oct. 3, go to: http://www.stuarthsmith.com/breaking-news-new-oil-sheen-near-site-of-deepwater-horizon-disaster/
To read my August 2011 post the first reported that BP and the feds were covering up ongoing leaks from the site, check out: http://www.stuarthsmith.com/oil-rising-again-from-macondo-well-bp-hires-fleet-of-40-shrimp-boats-to-lay-boom-around-old-deepwater-horizon-site/
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