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Friday, May 21, 2010


A friend of mine from Louisiana wrote me to thank me for writing about the oil spill. He says that the people in Louisiana are horrified at what is happening and feel that their government has abandoned them again. He tells me that state and local officials are furious at BP and are trying to get a better response, and it looks like at long last, some are finally listening.
  • In London, activists strung a banner at BP headquarters, rechristening the oil company, "BP, British Polluters."
  • "I think now we're beginning to understand that we cannot trust BP," said U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass. "BP has lost all credibility ... It's clear that they have been hiding the actual consequences of this spill."
  • Calling the disaster site a "crime scene," Larry Schweiger, the president of the National Wildlife Federation, accused BP of a cover-up
  • Lawmakers including Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., wonder why the company has to invent remedies on the fly. "Shouldn't you have thought of a worst-case scenario and prepared for it and had this type of technology from day one?" Cohen asked BP America President Lamar McKay during a hearing.
  • Ask Vincent Creel, spokesman for the city of Biloxi, Miss., about the spill and his words nearly spew, like a leak he can't control. The oil hasn't hit shore here, he says, but it overshadows everything, including a major golf tournament. It is an economic and PR nightmare. "It's staying out at sea so far," he said, "and yet it's bringing doom to our shores."
And the worst is only now showing up on our shores. 

Thick, sticky oil crept deeper into delicate marshes of the Mississippi Delta, an arrival dreaded for a month since the crude started spewing into the Gulf, as anger and frustration mounted over efforts to plug the gusher from a blown-out well and contain the spill.

Up to now, only tar balls and a sheen of oil had come ashore. But chocolate brown and vivid orange globs and sheets of foul-smelling oil the consistency of latex paint have begun coating the reeds and grasses of Louisiana's wetlands, home to rare birds, mammals and a rich variety of marine life.

"Everything in that marsh is dead as we speak," Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said after touring the clogged marshes. "Had you fallen off that boat yesterday and come up breathing that stuff, you probably wouldn't be here, either."

With each passing day, outrage grows. State and local officials say the federal government isn't doing enough. President Barack Obama faults the agency that oversees offshore drilling. Republicans say the Coast Guard and the administration should have done more.

A deep, stagnant ooze sat in the middle of a particularly devastated marsh off the Louisiana coast where Emily Guidry Schatzel of the National Wildlife Federation was examining stained reeds.

"This is just heartbreaking," she said with a sigh. "I can't believe it."

Fingers are also pointing at BP PLC, not only for the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig and the deaths of 11 workers, but for the gusher of oil that flowed entirely uncontained until this past weekend. The company, which was leasing the rig, conceded Thursday what some scientists have been saying for weeks: More oil is flowing from the leak than BP and the Coast Guard had previously estimated.

The BP executive in charge of fighting the spill, Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles, said he understands the public frustration. He told the CBS "Early Show" on Friday that in the worst case scenario, the gusher could continue until early August, when a new well being drilled to cap the flow permanently could be finished.

And on another front:

“BP’s numbers just don’t add up, and the video proved it,” U.S. Representative Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “The whole world could see that there must be much more than 5,000 barrels per day coming from BP’s spill.”

BP, the Coast Guard and NOAA have estimated the leak rate at 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) a day since April 28, a figure disputed by some scientists who say that it may be more than 10 times bigger.

SO, after raising its original estimate of 1,000 barrels a day for the leak, to 2,000, BP now says it is sucking 5,000 bpd. But just three days ago they said the straw was only getting 20% of the oil. Does that mean its been spewing 25,000 barrels a day for a month? Or is it 95,000?

“What they are capturing is a small fraction of the total leak,” Steve Wereley, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, said yesterday in a telephone interview. He’s among researchers who estimate the leak ranges from 25,000 barrels a day to 100,000 barrels a day.

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