An Imperfect Storm: Did Toxic Rain from Gulf Spill Deliver Contaminants to Inland Communities?


Eco-activist Jerry Cope is breaking major news, providing strong evidence that TOXIC RAIN occurred during the BP oil spill. His article on Huffington Post cites NASA data and includes an interview with Dr. Ira Leifer, a University of California Santa Barbara scientist who served as “chief mission coordinating scientist” on NASA’s “remote-sensing” of the spill.

Mr. Cope reports that “…Dr. Leifer has been working with natural oil spills and natural methane bubble flows for the last decade. He is in the process of releasing some of the government data collected during the spill; the vast majority of this data has been suppressed and is not available to scientists, the media, or the general public. The data was collected on boats at the sea surface, in airplanes over the Gulf, and by satellite.”

The phenomenon of toxic rain isn’t fully understood but, in layman’s terms, it can be described thus: Water – and, in this case, oil and dispersant in the water – from oceans, lakes, and a variety of other bodies evaporates, and the water vapor is absorbed by clouds and eventually released as rain along with the toxins. The real danger is that clouds can move inland after absorbing the toxic water and release contaminants on top of towns, playgrounds, farms, etc. You get the idea: Toxic rain spreads contaminants, in many cases, far and wide.

Dr. Leifer stops short of confirming the actual occurrence of toxic rain, but offers this alarming explanation: “I know there were clouds filled with hydrocarbons. This is from the remote sensing data showing that a cloud – maybe it is 1/2 mile thick – had about .1 or .2mm of oil equivalent in it spread out through the whole thing. When it rains, whatever is in it is going to come down, that is just how clouds work. I don’t have documentation on the rain. On the other hand there are quite a few anecdotal reports of people saying it’s raining oil.”

This is a huge development – a complete game-changer for assessing Gulf health problems.

According to Mr. Cope, the new NASA data indicates “…that the toxic compounds released from the BP spill became airborne, and significant quantities were brought onshore by precipitation, thereby exposing coastal populations to chemical poisoning. This represents something new and unique not observed in previous oil spills. It helps explain why there were numerous reports by people living along the Gulf Coast that it was raining oil and dispersant during the summer months.”

In a dramatic comment, Dr. Leifer explains the impact on the human body when toxins become airborne: “…we know that aerosolization in past spills always cause a lot of people to get sick. In this spill, probably the same. They are droplets that are large enough that if they get into your lungs your body can potentially remove them, or maybe not because they are tar so it may get stuck in there. I do not know of literature in detail on this in the U.S., there may be overseas. If you breathe in aerosols of oil do you cough them out and get rid of them within a month or do they stay in your body for years? That is a very important distinction.”

Mr. Cope identifies toxic rain as one of his major concerns, explaining that it is a “…completely new phenomenon that has not been reported. People at California Oil Spill who have done testing on burning have never seen anything like that. But you don’t have 102% humidity in California. There is no precedent in past oil spills to consider to know that this is a problem and what its effects are.

Dr. Leifer is fast emerging as one of the most serious scientists voicing opposition to the BP-government “Mission Accomplished” messaging, and as the NASA data is released, he will no doubt increase his relevance, as will aerosolization and toxic rain as serious health issues.

Read Mr. Copes detailed report with Dr. Leifer’s interview here:

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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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