BP’s Macondo Matter: Huge New Slick Forming at Old Deepwater Horizon Site (Photos)


Despite multiple – increasingly frantic – reports that oil is bubbling to the surface near the old Deepwater Horizon site, BP and the Coast Guard say they haven’t been able to find even the slightest trace of it. They say they’ve looked high and low, but they haven’t spotted any oil at the site that launched last year’s catastrophic 200-million-gallon spill. A Coast Guard boat dispatched to the area reported nothing. A Coast Guard helicopter crew conducting aerial surveillance was equally unproductive. And BP had two vessels on the scene late last week, one for an entire day, but they too yielded nothing.

Just to be sure all allegations had been firmly denied, BP also reported that images from remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) deployed to the seafloor revealed no signs of leakage from the Macondo wellhead or the nearby relief wells.

So based on BP and Coast Guard reports and assurances, everything is completely copasetic out at the Deepwater Horizon site. BP and our own Coast Guard says there’s no leak and no oil in the water. So we shouldn’t worry, right? Ummmmmmmm, wrong – horrifically and monumentally wrong.

Despite the “see no evil” approach embraced by BP and the Coast Guard, here’s a little dose of reality from On Wings of Care pilot Bonny Schumaker on what she witnessed on her Aug. 30 flyover:

…we found so much oil out in the Macondo Prospect (near the site of the April 2010 explosion), that we have an 11-minute video of it that never covers the same area twice! Not since last summer have we seen this kind of expansive surface sheen. Metallic-gray and rainbow swirls stretched for miles, mixed with dark-brown stuff that resembled weathered crude more than sargassum weed. And there were those round-shaped ‘globs’ of oil again, here, there, and everywhere it seemed.

Photo credit to On Wings of Care/Terese Collins & Don Abrams

According to Schumaker, the expanses of sheen appeared to be contained within a 40-square-mile swath of the Gulf. And yes, tragically, those are dolphins swimming directly into the heart of it (last photo in series above).

This latest round of photos exposes BP and the Coast Guard as either grossly incompetent or hopelessly incapable of telling the truth. The Aug. 30 footage also clearly shows that an enormous amount of new oil has surfaced – mixing with the “oil globules” first observed on Aug. 19 – over the course of the last few days (see photo sequence below).

So while BP and the Coast Guard play games with our environment and our livelihoods, a massive slick is forming above the Macondo Prospect. And every day BP focuses on limiting its liability rather than responding to the incident, more oil spews into the Gulf – barrel after toxic barrel.

Here are photos from Schumaker’s initial Aug. 19 flyover:

Photo credit to On Wings of Care and the Gulf Restoration Network

Here is what a team from Mobile Press-Register saw near the Deepwater Horizon site on Aug. 24:

Photo credit to the Mobile Press-Register

And again, here’s what the area looked like yesterday, Aug. 30:

Photo credit to On Wings of Care/Terese Collins & Don Abrams

Despite the presence of a slick that extends 10 miles, BP has yet to admit there’s any sort of problem out at the Macondo field. Last we heard from BP and the Coast Guard was that they can’t find any oil out there. Makes me wonder if they could find their butts with both hands (forgive me, but it does seem unlikely).

Another curious development – in a situation filled with curiosities – is that Bonny Schumaker spotted a vessel, the Sarah Bordelon, out by the Deepwater Horizon site during her Aug. 30 flyover. She determined through radio communication that the crew was gathering oil samples for BP. But wait, I thought BP said there was no oil in the water.

Photo credit to On Wings of Care/Terese Collins & Don Abrams

Asked Schumaker: “How can BP say it’s not there when they have a ship out there sampling it?”

Excellent question. Mr. Suttles, would you like to provide some clarity?

Read my Aug. 17 post that broke the entire “New Macondo Leak” story: https://www.stuarthsmith.com/oil-rising-again-from-macondo-well-bp-hires-fleet-of-40-shrimp-boats-to-lay-boom-around-old-deepwater-horizon-site

Check out Bonny Schumaker’s Aug. 30 report, photos and video here: http://onwingsofcare.org/protection-a-preservation/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-2010/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-2011-spring.html

Read the Press-Register story on new oil near the site where the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank to the seafloor: http://blog.al.com/live/2011/08/deepwater_trouble_on_the_horiz.html

© Smith Stag, LLC 2011 – All Rights Reserved


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