Six months into the sinkhole crisis, Texas Brine decides to see what’s going on down there


The last time that we visited the sinkhole in Bayou Corne, the situation did not look good. The giant hole on the earth, in the heart of bayou country between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, was getting so big that some experts were predicting that it would soon be nearly big enough to hold the Louisiana Superdome, site of Sunday’s Super Bowl. But it wasn’t just the hole, but the...

A plea for stronger radiation standards in Europe — and at home


I’m involved in a lot of environmental issues these days, but there was one cause that got me started: Fighting back against radiation poisoning. My first big environmental case, more than two decades ago, involved the hidden dangers of radiation exposure in the Gulf Coast oil patch. My clients were small business owners and their workers in Laurel, Miss., who cleaned out the pipes used for...

“Something has gone wrong”: The mutant butterflies of Fukushima


You may be familiar with the scientific theory known as “the butterfly effect” — a small change in nature today that creates major transformations in the future. The famous scenario speculates that a solitary butterfly flapping its wings far away can trigger a chain of events that could cause a hurricane to strike your home. The “butterfly effect” is a favorite of...

Will the truth about San Onofre, Fukushima mean beginning of the end of nuclear power?


This has been a little lost in the fallout — no pun intended — from last year’s nuclear disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan. But a shutdown of the aging and problem-plagued San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California could mark a sea change in the way that we view and deal with nuclear power in this country as well. Indeed, major news from the two troubled plants, half...

You Might Even Say It Glows: Radioactive Tuna and the Parallels Between Fukushima and the Gulf Spill


Although the twin tragedies are fundamentally different in many ways, there are also some disturbing similarities between the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and last year’s post-earthquake, nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, Japan. Both episodes were rooted in fundamentally unsound solutions to an industrialized nation’s quest for easy energy solutions. Both accidents were downplayed...

Louisiana Uses BP Funds to Construct Indoor “Mini Swamp” in Downtown Manhattan


An unassuming warehouse on the banks of the Hudson River provides cover for the most absurd – not to mention irresponsible – use of BP tourism funds to date. Inside is a 1,600-square-foot artificial swamp, just like the kind you’d find down on the bayou in Louisiana (except fake) – complete with live alligators, turtles and 15-foot cypress trees draped in Spanish moss. Why, you ask? What...

When the Party Gets Too Loud: New Orleans Residents Wither Under Noise Pollution


The French Quarter in New Orleans is the heart and soul of the southern party scene. All the essential ingredients are here, in abundance: great drinks, even better food, revelers of every stripe and music – live, loud music deep into the night. From Jazz Fest to Mardi Gras and all the gumbo and crawfish festivals in between, the French Quarter knows how to throw a party. Although the Quarter is...

Site Off Louisiana Coast Has Been Leaking Hundreds of Gallons of Oil Every Day – For 7 Years


When Hurricane Ivan blew across the Gulf of Mexico in 2004, it severely damaged an offshore platform and 28 associated oil wells owned by Taylor Energy Company. The site has been leaking oil ever since, without any discernible spill response from Taylor or the U.S. Coast Guard. Environmental groups monitoring the site – at the surface and via satellite – estimate that “hundreds of gallons...

Top BP Officials Demanded That Expert’s Alarming Oil Spill Estimate Be Kept Secret


On April 22, 2010, top BP officials knew that the crippled Macondo Well would release roughly 82,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico if the leak was unobstructed. An oil spill expert with impeccable credentials had told them so. Yet, two days later, as the federal government was scrambling to mobilize an effective response to the unfolding disaster, BP announced publicly that the...

Whistleblower Says BP Intentionally Left Oil Debris on Gulf Coast Beaches Then Falsified Cleanup Reports


Warning: You may want to hold off on booking that Gulf Coast vacation – because the beaches aren’t as clean or safe as official reports indicate. According to a whistleblower lawsuit filed in New Orleans, BP cleanup crews intentionally left oil debris on Mississippi beaches while company officials falsely reported that the areas were adequately cleaned. (So much for public safety.) The...

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