More from Macondo? Fresh, Highly Toxic BP Oil Rolls Ashore in Alabama’s “Seafood Capital”

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All the slick BP tourism ads and fat research grants and indignant denials in the world can’t change one crushing reality for the Gulf Coast: There’s still fresh, highly toxic oil from the Macondo reservoir fouling our waters and shoreline. The “old-world” fishing community of Bayou La Batre, once hailed as the “Seafood Capital of Alabama,” has been dealing with that painful reality for nearly 24 months. Many commercial fishermen here have been stretched to the point of snapping by the worst shrimp and oyster seasons in 50 years.

Tragically, according to new “sampling” test results, it doesn’t look like there’s any relief in sight for Gulf fishermen, particularly those from Bayou La Batre. New sampling data from the nonprofit Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) provide confirmation that not only is BP’s oil still very much present in the water in Bayou La Batre, but that it still exists in a highly toxic state nearly two years after the spill.

Here are photos of brown oily foam washing ashore in Bayou La Batre (just west of Mobile Bay) on February 27, 2012:


Photo credit to the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN)

Water samples were taken by Dennis and Lori Bosarge, LEAN members from Coden, Alabama. The lab-certified test results are in (see full lab report at bottom), and they are startling in that they suggest that oil is still leaking from the Macondo reservoir  – most likely from cracks and fissures in the seafloor around the plugged wellhead. Scientists believe the cracks were caused by BP’s heavy-handed “kill” efforts.

The top graph shows the chemical composition of a lab-fingerprinted “BP MC 252” (Macondo Well) oil sample from Louisiana collected in March 2011. The bottom graph shows the chemical makeup of the oily foam sample collected on February 27, 2012 – almost a year later – in Bayou La Batre. The two graphs in the composite show a strikingly similar chemical match between the February 2012 sea foam sample and the March 2011 sample of BP fingerprinted oil.


The data show that there are numerous persistent toxic polynuclear aromatic compounds in the foam, all of which are components of crude oil, including:

(1) anthracene
(2) chrysene
(3) fluoranthene
(4) dibenzothiophenes
(5) naphthalenes
(6) pyrene
(7) phenanthrene

The sea foam also contained at least 25 other polynuclear aromatic compounds, all of which are found in BP’s Macondo oil from 2010.

According to civil engineer Marco Kaltofen, a leading member of my research team, these test results indicate a still deeply damaged Gulf ecosystem:

The data show that BP oil is still in the environment, two years later. The presence of such concentrated oil in sea foam is a sign of serious environmental damage. Many of the ocean’s most important microscopic creatures live in the marine microlayer. This microlayer is a productive and critical part of the oceanic food chain for fish and marine mammals. It is found at the water’s surface, where the water is always aerated and marine phytoplankton receive full sunshine. If there is BP oil in sea foam, then there is also oil in the marine microlayer. If there is oil in the microlayer, then the most fundamental parts of the food chain are contaminated.

So we have fresh, dangerously toxic BP oil rolling into Alabama’s “Seafood Capital.” This is devastating news for commercial fishermen, not only in Bayou La Batre, but up and down the Gulf Coast. These test results raise serious concerns about how long it will take for Gulf fisheries to begin producing again at pre-spill levels. The results are also intensifying the debate as to whether any of the seafood coming out of the Gulf right now is safe for human consumption.

Despite numerous opportunities to do so, the U.S. Coast Guard has never publicly denied that the Macondo field is still leaking. And these latest sampling results out of Bayou La Batre provide damning new evidence that the BP oil spill never really ended.

Big kudos and special thanks to LEAN and its members – Dennis and Lori Bosarge from Coden, Alabama – for continuing to work on the side of truth and justice.

Read the “sea foam” lab report from ALS Environmental of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: LabReport1122487_COA

Read my Aug. 17 post that broke the story on oil surfacing again above the Macondo reservoir: 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

Visit LEAN’s website here: http://www.leanweb.org/

© Smith Stag, LLC 2012 – All Rights Reserved

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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