The national media notices that BP is leaking fresh oil in the Gulf

Nothing will ever make right BP’s negligence that caused the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. But there’s been a flurry of recent news that authorities are finally listening to some of our pleas for both justice and for more aggressive investigation here on the Gulf Coast. The steep criminal penalties imposed on the oil giant — and the prospect of stiffer civil fines — have been a giant step in the right direction.

And now there’s this: Both law enforcement and the national media are taking a serious look at a story that we broke on this site more than a year ago: Oil sheens pointing to the alarming fact that fresh oil is somehow leaking into the Gulf, some 32 months after the rig explosion. The U.S. Coast Guard has ordered BP to go back underwater with a robotic device to try to locate the source of the pollution, and now the story has been spread nationally on the CBS Morning News.

CBS News has learned that BP is set to embark Thursday on the fifth day of a little-known subsea mission under Coast Guard supervision to look for any new oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The BP oil rig exploded in 2010, killing 11 workers and sending a total estimated 206 million gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for three months before it was capped.

In September, a new oil sheen was spotted about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. Tests confirmed the oil came from the infamous Macondo well underneath the Deepwater Horizon. BP’s underwater vehicle observed oil seeping from the well’s containment dome and, after a remote operation, declared the leaks plugged on October 23. The company and the Coast Guard said it wasn’t feasible to clean up the slick, and that it didn’t pose a risk to the shoreline.

But more oil continues to surface. Slicks and sheens of varying sizes and shapes have been documented by satellite photos, as well as aerial video recorded by the non-profit environmental group “On Wings of Care.” It’s suspected that an unknown amount of oil trapped in the containment dome, and in the wreckage and equipment from 2010, could be seeping out.

A couple of points here. First of all, while it’s a travesty that new oil is still polluting the Gulf after all this time, it’s fantastic to see Bonny Schumaker and On Wings of Care receive national credit for the amazing work that they do. In fact, the CBS piece was illustrated with some of Bonny’s photos that revealed BP’s new pollution. They were pictures that neither BP or the authorities wanted people to see, and Bonny Schumaker showed great courage in obtaining these images and releasing them to the public. The hidden story of Deepwater Horizon is the effort that many private citizens have undertaken to reveal the truth of the spill and its severe impacts on the ecology of the Gulf Coast and on human health.

Second, Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts — who has been steadfast on the issue of holding BP accountable — told CBS that BP is still not being honest or transparent in this new leak, and that he is worried that “substantial” amounts of oil are leaking from the site. Said Markey: “This is the same crime scene, and the American public today is entitled to the same information that BP was lying about in 2010 so that we can understand the full dimension of the additional environmental damage.”

I could not agree more. We need answers, and we need them before any of the pending settlements — the $7.8 billion deal for residents and small business, as well as the looming governmental penalties — are finalized. We have to hold BP’s feet to the fire on this. What’s more, how can we access the final damages when the damage is still ongoing.

To read and watch the CBS News report about the new investigation into the BP leak, go to: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57558916/oil-may-be-seeping-from-deepwater-horizon-site/

Here’s my Dec. 4 post on the new investigation of the Deepwater Horizon site: http://www.stuarthsmith.com/were-keeping-the-pressure-on-bp-to-stop-spilling-more-oil-into-the-gulf/

To check out the original of U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan’s order for BP and Transocean inspections of the Deepwater Horizon site, please read: http://www.stuarthsmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/53251575_8060.pdf

Read my Aug. 17 , 2011 post that broke the story of the “new Macondo leak”: 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

To check out my post from last November about the 2011 leaks at the Macondo field, check out: http://www.stuarthsmith.com/breakthrough-in-the-macondo-mystery-bp-admits-to-new-activity-at-deepwater-horizon-site/

Here is our report from Oct. 3 of this year about another fresh oil sheen in the Gulf: http://www.stuarthsmith.com/breaking-news-new-oil-sheen-near-site-of-deepwater-horizon-disaster/

To read Bonny Schumaker’s report of her most recent flyover filed on Dec. 2, please go to: http://www.onwingsofcare.org/protection-a-preservation/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-2010/gulf-2012/334-20121202-slicks-macondo-area.html

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