Scientist “Bought” by BP Runs Amuck, Calling Spill a Good Thing


Welcome to a new week of the BP spill, and let’s start by refuting some of the bull that surfaced over the weekend. Remember when the oil spill forced sharks close into Gulf beaches? And when so many news outlets covered the quick migration of sea life away from the oil and from oxygen-depleted areas?

A few months back, here’s how Bloomberg – a fairly reliable business-friendly source – reported on part of the trend:

Called ‘jubilees’ by locals because of the opportunity to scoop up seafood in buckets, they typically appear during the summer along the Gulf Coast. This year, scientists say jubilees have occurred in open water for the first time, raising concern that low-oxygen areas are expanding because of the more than 4 million barrels of oil BP’s Macondo well leaked into the Gulf.

Low oxygen in the water because of oil and methane from the BP spill contributed to a ‘jubilee-like effect’ in late June off the coast of Fort Morgan, Alabama, at the mouth of Mobile Bay, Monty Graham, a senior marine scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, said in a telephone interview. Catfish, shrimp, crab and flounder piled up along an offshore sandbar, until the sharks moved in, Graham, 45, said.

Fast forward to last weekend. You have to wonder if the Sea Lab’s Monty Graham ever bumps into her Dauphin Island Sea Lab colleague John Valentine, identified as “senior marine scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab,” because he has an entirely different take on why hordes of adult fish would suddenly show up where they can be caught. According to Valentine, the BP spill was a good thing.

It would be easy to dismiss Mr. Valentine as the latest pro-BP nutjob to surface, especially when he responds to comments by noting that the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl was a good thing, too. Check out this comment from Valentine: “I was part of the Chernobyl followup team. While Chernobyl was a disaster, the ecosystem around Chernobyl is now flourishing, because humans won’t go there, grow crops there, or hunt there…”

Well, if your idea of “success” is certain cancer and a painful death to any human who dares to enter the disaster zone, then I guess we screwed things up by sealing BP’s well.

In the Press-Register, the Chernobyl apologist becomes among the first of the BP revisionists, saying: “It is possible that the federal management activities had more of an effect on the Gulf than anything BP did with their oil.” Now that’s just plain irresponsible coming from a so-called scientist. Mr. Valentine should be ashamed.

Even the mission-accomplished feds were backing away from Valentine’s nonsense. Reports the Press-Register:

Roy Crabtree, who supervises Gulf fisheries for the National Marine Fisheries Service, said the spill caused one of the most widespread and long-term fishing closures ever seen in U.S. waters. But, he said, there are many variables that might explain the increased fish numbers seen off Alabama and Mississippi. Chief among them, he said, is the possibility that some fish were displaced by oil.

Again, we can’t simply dismiss Mr. Valentine – as much as that would be deserved – if only because of the whitewash that actually followed the Chernobyl catastrophe. Eventually, an official United Nations study attributed only 4,000 deaths to the incident, while independent research suggests that hundreds of thousands of deaths were tied to the disaster. Similarly, in the aftermath of the BP spill, the veracity of “official” science has been widely questioned – which makes bearing witness to a “scientist” like Mr. Valentine and his “all good” message downright chilling.

The Press-Register story is here:

The Bloomberg report is 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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