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.

Here’s a featured video to learn more:

To see photos of land farming, visit

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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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