Land Farming, Revisited


We blogged the “land farming” issue on July 27 (see post and video below), and now we take another look as powerful evidence is emerging of the widespread use of this dangerous practice across the Gulf Coast.

Articles are now circulating that BP has unveiled a new piece of heavy machinery called the “Sand Shark” to remove oil from beaches, and its use has shown that there is a significant amount of oil buried just beneath the surface. The Press-Register reports: “Bright orange and emblazoned with BP logos, the Sand Shark dismantled any doubt that there is a significant amount of oil sitting just below the surface of Baldwin’s sandy vistas. After tilling a stretch of less than 50 feet, the Sand Shark’s hopper was filled with a mash of shell shards and emulsified oil.”

This new revelation of buried oil is right in line with the ongoing theme of “out of sight, out of mind” that BP has embraced (to our detriment) from the outset of this disaster. BP has long tried to keep the oil and its true volume under wraps. Examples range from delaying the release of underwater footage of the gusher to the unauthorized sub-sea use of dispersant to keep the oil submerged to setting up “safety zones” around impacted areas to keep reporters away.

Stay tuned…

See the “Sand Shark” in action here:

Land farming video:


The Big Coverup: Land Farming

Another term to add to your BP spill glossary: Land Farming. And you should file it under “Oldest, Dirtiest Tricks in the Book.”

It’s a longtime practice of Big Oil to simply coverup its contamination, literally finding some place to dump toxic material then cover it up. A while back, the idea was that “dilution is the solution to pollution,” and of course out of sight means out of mind. Remember the subsurface use of dispersant at the well site to keep the oil out of sight in the now-notorious underwater plumes. Covering up the oil rather than removing it and disposing of it in an authorized way poses major risks to the environment and human health. Oil leeches into groundwater and can make its way into freshwater aquifers and be ingested by humans and animals. It kills marine life and marshes. It poisons grasses that are ingested by livestock and thereby can work its way into the food chain. And it can do all this damage AFTER land farming has taken place.

We have strong evidence that BP is land farming its oil spill. Instead of cleaning up the oil, workers are simply covering it up. Sweeping it under the carpet is an appropriate metaphor. It’s certainly a much cheaper and quicker way of doing things. But land farming could be even worse than doing nothing, because at least if we can see the oil, we know its there, but we don’t know the extent of the problem after its been land farmed…and effective cleanup becomes more expensive and much more difficult to do.

© Smith Stag, LLC 2010 – All Rights Reserved

Add comment

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

Follow Us

© Stuart H Smith, LLC
Share This