At the start of the BP civil trial now underway in New Orleans, I expressed my pleasure that more of the facts of what happened on the Deepwater Horizon rig on, and leading up to, the night of April 10, 2010, would finally be aired for the public to see, in an open court of law. Sure enough, the first couple weeks of the case — with billions of dollars in penalties against BP as well as rig owner Transocean and prime contractor Halliburton on the line — has been a font of useful and important information.
Not only have the American people gained new insight into the errors and miscalculations that led up to the explosion that killed 11 rig workers and unleashed as many as 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf, but new evidence has suddenly, almost magically, appeared, nearly three years after the tragedy.
BP’s cement contractor on the Deepwater Horizon rig has discovered cement samples possibly tied to the ill-fated drilling project that weren’t turned over to the Justice Department after the 2010 oil spill, a lawyer for the contractor said Thursday.
Halliburton lawyer Donald Godwin told U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier that the company believes the material found Wednesday at its laboratory in Lafayette has no bearing on the ongoing trial to assign responsibility for the nation’s worst offshore oil spill.
But a plaintiffs’ attorney, Jeffrey Breit, countered that the samples are cement a Halliburton employee used for testing of BP PLC’s Macondo well before the disaster.
The discovery is significant because it may shed more light on evidence that Halliburton looked to save money on the Deepwater well by using cement from a different well — Kodiak — containing a defoamer that would have caused problems at the BP rig:
In an email to the court late Wednesday, Godwin says Halliburton is investigating whether the cement samples should have been turned over in response to subpoenas. “The lab was immediately instructed to photograph the materials and to continue to hold them,” Godwin wrote. Godwin’s email said the newly discovered samples appear to be associated with the Kodiak well, which the London-based energy giant BP and its contractor Transocean were drilling in the Gulf.
There is a growing realization about the string of human errors — often aimed at cutting costs, cutting corners, or just covering up for earlier mistakes — led to the 2010 tragedy.. and then possibly hampered the clean-up. Although it’s not part of the BP trial now taking place before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, environmentalists are increasingly worried about the impact of the dispersant, Corexit, that was sprayed judiciously, or maybe injudiciously, at the wellhead once the oil spill started. A group called the Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Project is now accusing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of violating the Clean Water Act — the very law it’s tasked with enforcing — by encouraging the pouring of so much toxic material into the Gulf:
According to OSEI, the EPA is guilty of violations to the Clean Water Act because they knowingly used the toxic dispersant instead of opting for cleaner, less toxic methods of oil spill cleanup.
OSEI is actually not off base with their accusations. Reports from late 2012 revealed that using oil dispersants like Corexit make oil spills less visible, but when combined with the oil, create a mixture that is 52 times more toxic than the oil itself. The studies revealed that even in small amounts, the combination of oil and Corexit reduced the number of egg hatchings in small marine invertebrates by 50%. These are small creatures like krill, shrimp, and other crustaceans that form the bottom of the oceanic food pyramid.
Those results were just from small doses of the mixture. And as I wrote in 2011, the amount of Corexit dumped into the Gulf was anything but “small”:
To sum things up, Big Oil tried to hide its mistakes before the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up, it tried to hide the extent of the spill whike it was going on, and it may have even hid key evidence in the case. Maybe now you’re starting to understand why deep offshore drilling is such a bad idea, and why it doesn’t stand up to the light of day.
Read about Halliburton’s belated discovery of possible evidence in the ongoing civil trial at: http://thetandd.com/news/national/bp-contractor-finds-cement-samples-midtrial/article_63149373-29b2-58f7-ab87-2003729c8dfd.html
To find out more about environmentalists’ complaints about the EPA’s endorsement of Corexit, please read: http://www.desmogblog.com/2013/03/06/epa-accused-blocking-scientific-advancement-gulf-oil-spill-cleanup
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