Scientists Continue to Pander to BP; One “Researcher” Claims Manhattan-Size Oil Plume Simply Disappeared


The debate over toxic dispersant use in the Gulf will continue for years, and one of the “pro use” arguments is that it was the lesser of two evils. Harlan Kirgan from the the Mississippi Press has a story on part of that argument, with one “researcher” saying one of the enormous oil plumes in the Gulf has most likely disappeared.

“This was a gigantic plume,” Terry Hazen, a professor at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told the Press. “You couldn’t see it or smell it, but it was the size of Manhattan.”

Remember, this is the type of plume that NOAA and other official sources initially said didn’t exist…until they had to change their tune in the face of overwhelming evidence.

The highly questionable comments from Mr. Hazen came as 300 scientists and students attended a Biloxi-area conference on another subject, but of course, the Gulf came up.

Jay Grimes, a marine microbiologist, no doubt also earned a place on the BP speed-dial list by stating that the dispersants “did what they were supposed to do.” By that, he doesn’t mean hide the BP oil to avoid fines, but to break it down for easier consumption by micro-organisms.

“The native bacteria decompose this oil very quickly,” Grimes told the Press. He threw in some other highly suspect assessments, including: “Adverse impacts from the oil should last no longer than two to three years.” What luck that in a world where nearly everyone agrees that we don’t yet know the long-term impact, this “scientist” knows that everything will be fine in just three years. I wonder if he would put his career, family and health on the line for that bet? Because that’s what the Gulf families are being asked to do.

The predictions and “findings” of scientists like Grimes and Hazen run contrary to the assessments of dozens of independent researchers, including those who recently found spans of dying coral near the Deepwater Horizon. And researchers up in Alaska remind us that entire fisheries can collapse years after the oil is “gone.”

Look, it’s important to be aware that there will be a lot of these casual rosy predictions coming down the pike, and for the most part, they’re relatively harmless and easily dismissed on a case-by-case basis. But cumulatively, this kind of nonsense can become more of an issue. BP will accumulate this blather, package it as a sort of consensus, then use it for PR purposes. Here’s how this bunk will play out of BP’s spin machine: “Scientists say spill’s impact will last no longer than three years.”

To keep up with the background static, check out the Mississippi Press story:

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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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