False Hope from BP


Our team of independent law firms, on behalf of the United Commercial Fisherman’s Association and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, were the first to release information that the BP cofferdam experiment has failed. Let me translate what BP has said: They have found no way to control this wellhead. BP knew that last night. Why was the information not immediately released? BP avoided the truth about the matter in a morning press conference and again used “spin” this afternoon to downplay and control the truth.

BP has repeatedly issued conflicting press releases. As expected, this attempt with cofferdam to operate at these ocean depths has challenges which have never been encountered. At this time, the first attempt to use a cap has failed. BP and government officials are sidestepping the real issue and already talking about other options. I believe their next attempt will be “top kill.” This involves pumping rubber trash down the pipe and then cementing to try to get a new well plug. BP needs to stop avoiding the truth and allow all public officials to prepare for a worst case scenario. We are at the door. Hopefully, a miracle will occur but we should plan for the worst, but without real information, that’s impossible.

We should have all learned from Katrina that rather than denying the worst case, we should be ready for it.

Many experts believe, and we concur, that we are one tiny step away from true catastrophe. BP has admitted flow could reach 60,000 barrels a day. A catastrophic failure means an even worse rate of leakage than now reported or admitted by British Petroleum. We may see the equivalent of a Valdez-type leak every five to six days in the Gulf. At that rate of release, there could easily be a significant threat not only to the environment, but to public health for those downwind of the oil slick. Air discharges of components of oil, such as benzene a known human carcinogen, and other volatile organic compounds could be significant. It is imperative that BP and the federal government immediately release to the public all information that they have as a result of modeling a worst-case scenario.

© Smith Stag, LLC 2010 – 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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