Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

BP stonewalling efforts to get better oil volcano damage estimate

Posted in BP, deregulation, energy, environment, offshore drilling, United States by allisonkilkenny on June 9, 2010

A bird covered in oil flails in the surf at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The other day, I was discussing the “branding” of the BP disaster with a friend. Calling this catastrophe a “spill” seems like a laughable understatement, and my phrasing (the “oil geyser”) wasn’t really catchy. A few weeks ago, the term “oil volcano” emerged, I think because it was first used by Rachel Maddow, and I believe it captures the severity of the situation.

So this thing, the oil volcano, has been pumping thousands of barrels of oil into the ocean every single day. That much is undeniable. BP can’t approach the media and say, “Epic disaster is all over, folks!” because there are cameras (now HD video) down there, filming the whole thing.

The company attempted to use dispersants (hundreds of thousands of gallons of the toxic stuff) in order to coagulate the oil and sink it to the bottom, conveniently hiding the true toll of the oil volcano from the world. Except, that didn’t work entirely, and some endangered birds got snagged in the sludge.

Literally, there is nothing BP can now do in order to mend its public image except lie. And lie they have. Tony Hayward blamed workers’ illnesses on food poisoning instead of acknowledging exposure to oil fumes and dispersants tend to make individuals sick. BP denied the existence of those massive underwater oil plumes. You know, the ones NOAA just confirmed exist.

The oil giant is desperately attempting to tone down the severity of this situation because what is happening in the Gulf is really, super bad. Horrific, even. This may not only irreparably devastate the coastal ecosystem as Maddow has been doing an excellent job of documenting, but also destroy several states’ economies.

BP was hoping to have a one-night stand with Louisiana, but now it is locked in a marriage, and one of the spouses (LA) is going to need tons of support, money, time, and commitment from its heavily perspiring partner, BP.

No wonder BP officials have been lying, dismissing, bullying, and basically doing anything to control and manage this horror. Even if the company manages to dodge murder charges for the 11 workers killed during the blast, it will still have to deal with any illnesses that befall workers and/or coastal residents that can be linked to exposure to toxic dispersants and oil.

Everyone has been coming up with clever meanings for BP’s acronym, so here’s my contribution: Big Phonies. As in the company is comprised of a cesspool of liars, who lied to the US government before the blast, and said they could handle a spill 60 times larger than the Gulf disaster. As in the company who dismissed the plumes. As in the company that uses toxic dispersants, and then denied the possibility that workers may be getting sick from being exposed to toxic chemicals. As in the company that employed the official who wanted to cut corners in order to help speed up drilling shortly before the blast.

And now, the company is vastly underestimating how many barrels of oil have been spewing into the Gulf, despite the presence of its containment cap.

The cap is currently capturing 630,000 gallons per day—that’s 15,000 barrels of oil. The official estimate of the overall leak is between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels a day. Wereley told the AP that it’s more likely that between 19,000 and 43,000 barrels of oil have been spewing into the Gulf. From the AP:

“BP is claiming they’re capturing the majority of the flow, which I think is going to be proven wrong in short order,” Wereley said. “Why don’t they show the American public the before-and-after shots?”

He added: “It’s strictly an estimation, and they are portraying it as fact.”

BP? Lying? Of course. The reason it’s hard for anyone to get a handle on the size of the oil volcano is because BP won’t hand over the data to scientists. That’s one way to handle a crisis. Just shut out the experts who can tell everyone how badly BP screwed the planet.

Americans are fed this bullshit propaganda that the reason oil tycoons make so much money is because they work harder than everyone else, and harbor moral characteristics vastly superior to the ones possessed by worker drones. (Remember: Bobo says rich people work harder than poor people). Of course, that’s not the case. BP and its officials got ridiculously rich from cutting corners like in the instance of the Deepwater clusterfuck.

See, the BP official wanted workers to replace heavy mud, used to keep the well’s pressure down, with this lighter seawater stuff in order to speed up a process that was costing the company $750,000 a day. It didn’t matter that a Transocean official argued that decision, or that the rig’s chief driller expressed concern and opposition, as well. It didn’t matter that workers’ were killed because of BP’s orders because — frankly — the company valued the workers less than the price of slowed drilling.

That’s all this comes down to: a bunch of fat cats wanted to scrape a little more profit into their trough, and they didn’t care how they did it. They kick a few hundred thousand dollars in donations to both political parties, so that whoever is in power will agree to deregulate their industries, and allow them to explode as many rigs as they want, killing whoever they please. Then, they get to lie about it to the press, and conduct the clean-up at their leisure. After all, we’re told, they’re the only ones with the equipment to fix the leak (which they haven’t done yet.)

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