Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Someone finally asks BP if they’re using dispersants to hide the size of the spill

Posted in BP, offshore drilling by allisonkilkenny on June 30, 2010

One of you, buy this t-shirt for Tony Hayward

I’ve been wondering when someone was going to ask this extremely obvious question. Regular readers of my blogs (particularly at my old T/S one) know that I’ve been following this story with much enthusiasm.

..Okay, some might say “psychotic devotion.”

But Anderson Cooper, bless his little, silver Vanderbilt-spawned head, finally interviewed someone capable of putting two and two together: Fred McCallister, an investment banker with Allegiance Capital Corporation, who is going to be testifying before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today.

ANDERSON COOPER: Fred McCallister joins us now.

Fred, why do you think that BP would prefer to use dispersants over skimmers?


The issue that BP is facing right now is whether to use what’s practices that are normal around the world, which is to try to cause the oil to come to the surface, and then deploy the right amount of equipment and the right type of equipment to gather that oil up and get it out of the Gulf.

Using the dispersants allows the oil to stay under the surface, and this accomplishes several purposes. It allows the — it makes it a lot more difficult to quantify the amount of oil that’s coming out, which has a direct impact on damages and royalties that have to be paid.

It keeps it out of sight and out of mind. And it allows BP to amortize the cost of the cleanup over several years, 10 to 15 years, because some of this oil is going to biodegrade, but a lot of that oil is going to roll up on the beaches for 10 or 15 years.

And if they can amortize that over 10 or 15 years,as opposed to dealing with that over the next 15 months, that’s a much better financial position for BP to be in.

COOPER: Well, let’s be clear, though. The EPA has sanctioned the use of dispersants on the spill. Dispersants are generally less harmful, they say, and toxic than the oil itself. But you say it’s really about BP’s financial interests?

MCCALLISTER: Well, it’s about — well, in terms of environmental impact, it’s about getting the oil to the surface and getting it out of the water. That’s the best solution, bar none.

And I understand that the EPA has sanctioned the use of these dispersants, but I also believe that BP is in control of this situation. And they’re doing what’s in the best interest of BP and their shareholders.

No one wants BP to fail, trust me. I don’t want BP to fail. It’s in the best interests of the country and everybody in the Gulf region. I happen to be from that region. I have family there. I have property there. I want BP to succeed.

COOPER: But do you have any direct evidence, though, that what you’re saying, what you believe is true is actually true? I mean, do you have any evidence that BP is basically using these dispersants to keep the oil from not coming to the surface for financial motives, and not using these skimmers?

MCCALLISTER: I — I have been working on this project of trying to get these skimmers into the Gulf for over a month now.

Everybody in Europe, where standard practice is to raise the oil and to collect it, is scratching their heads and, quite honestly, laughing at what’s happening in the Gulf. This is — and I have educated myself over the last month, as I have gone through this process of trying to get these skimmers here, because it seems self- evident that these skimmers were needed.

People like Billy Nungesser down there are using makeshift equipment. And so I began to educate myself. And what I have learned is that everybody is looking at us and wondering why we’re allowing this to happen.

And, as a businessman, the only answer I could come up with is, what are the motivations for not dealing with this issue head-on, raising the oil, and collecting it with the skimmers? And the only answer is the financial interest of BP.

I don’t — I don’t see any other reason that it should be handled the way that it’s handled.

COOPER: I mean, the other alternative could be, A, that they believe in the dispersants or don’t believe in the skimmers, or, B, that they’re simply incompetent or just not doing a very good job.

MCCALLISTER: Well, Anderson, it’s a grand experiment on an unprecedented scale.

And, unfortunately, I don’t know that we’re going — you and I are going to know the results of this experiment until we get 20 years down the road. I think we know what the result would be if we put an armada of vehicles — vessels out there and gathered the oil off the surface and took it out of the Gulf.

We know what would result from that. We don’t know what’s going to result from emulsifying this oil into the Gulf, what’s happening under the surface to the marine life, and what the long-term effects are going to be.


Well, I should point out, as we always do, we invited BP to be on the program tonight to defend themselves, basically, and show their side of the story. They declined that. In particular, in response to this, they said they wouldn’t have any response to your allegations.

Mr. McCallister, I appreciate you being on with us tonight. Our invitation stands, as always, to BP to come on.


Makes sense. Part of what cost Exxon some fairly serious PR damage (though they were ultimately able to skirt paying many of the claims by stretching out legal battles in court,) was the photographic evidence of the Valdez disaster. Sinking the oil with toxic chemicals will surely inflict irreparable damage on the ecosystem, but it saves BP having to come up with excuses for why those endangered pelicans were “asking for it” after they wash up on the beaches, coated in oil.

Cooper playing the EPA card is sort of an eye roll moment. Yeah, the EPA sanctioned the dispersants, but the EPA also first politely asked BP to stop using them, and when BP told them to fuck off, they dutifully sat down in the back seat with hands neatly folded in laps.

Make no mistake, BP has been running this show. As Mac McClelland reported, the company has been disseminating propaganda to government officials, who continue to mindlessly parrot the information without bothering to independently verify it. BP tells the Coast Guard the top kill worked, so the Coast Guard tells everyone else it worked. Except, it didn’t really work, but nevermind. At least Mr. I Want My Life Back is happy and back to yachting.

Then there’s this:

Tuesday, Lt. Commander J.R. Hoeft of the United States Navy sent out an official Deepwater Horizon Response email to members of the media and other interested parties. Hoeft is the online communications coordinator of the unified area command who called me several weeks ago, when I first encountered BP roadblocks to press access, to explain that he didn’t know “why those practices are in place” and assure me that the United States government was in charge of the whole oil-spill show, “holding BP’s feet to the fire,” in accordance with the rules of government oversight of corporate cleanup dictated by Congress after Exxon Valdez. I find Hoeft to be extremely charming and helpful and so didn’t hesitate to ring his bell, which he immediately picked up, to ask for the breakdown of his email’s stat that there are “24,000 personnel responding” to the spill. Are those workers BP is paying? Or does that also include, like, Audubon volunteers coordinating bird cleanup?

Hoeft didn’t know off the top of his head, he said, but “I’ll get that for you—with one caveat.” The caveat is that the numbers in that email are BP’s numbers, and the United States government doesn’t actually know, so Lt. Commander Hoeft and I will have to wait until BP turns around the request for information.

What the what? So… no one except Mac McClelland has ever asked BP to verify its information…like, ever?

The oil giant just spouts bullshit (along with crude,) and the government repeats it in between the EPA making weak sauce demands before BP ultimately spits in their eyes. And now we’re supposed to trust the EPA, who says the dispersants aren’t that toxic. According to whom? Is the EPA even using their own data, or BP’s info?

Dear Christ, please don’t let it be BP’s famously outdated data. I’m pretty sure some of their contingency plans still involve horse buggies and penny-farthings.

3 Responses

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  1. Nate Bear said, on June 30, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Uggggg! Can’t trust them capitalist money-grubbers one iota.

    I recall Mike Papantonio on Grit TV about a month ago saying something about BP not calling in boats to suck up the oil because they’re too busy making money for BP by being deployed elsewhere.

    I think this is the video:

  2. KC said, on July 1, 2010 at 7:58 am

    The world needs a new guiding philosophy to move forward. What is happening in BP is not a freak incident. The financial crisis and the stupid fracking method used to extract gas are all incidents that show the breakdown of governing system.

  3. Ignatius Crumwald said, on July 1, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Here’s no breakdown of government, it’s simply the limits to governing made apparent. The breakdown is in our belief in what the central planning of governments are ultimately capable of.

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