The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Was a Cover-Up, Not a Cleanup

Deepwater Horizon, called “the worst environmental disaster in American history,” was one of the environmental stories I covered at HuffPost a decade ago.

“On April 20, 2010, a fiery explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had killed 11 workers and injured 17. One mile underwater, the Macondo well had blown apart, unleashing a gusher of oil into the gulf,” Grist reported.

For 87 days, the leak was unstoppable.

“The damaged Macondo wellhead, located around 5,000 feet beneath the ocean’s surface, leaked an estimated 3.19 million barrels (over 130 million gallons) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico — making the spill the largest accidental ocean spill in history,” according to Grist journalist Mark Hertsgaard, in an article written three years after the accident.

“At risk were fishing areas that supplied one-third of the seafood consumed in the U.S., beaches from Texas to Florida that drew billions of dollars’ worth of tourism to local economies, and Obama’s chances of reelection.”

In revisiting the terrible accident, which produced lasting environmental contamination, it’s important to examine the Obama administration’s “pragmatic” decisions that caused, allowed to proceed, and ultimately failed to remediate the disaster by:

  • Allowing the driller, BP, to cut corners, and to self-regulate
  • Ignoring well-known corruption within the federal agency charged with oversight
  • Dismissing concerns posed by its own scientists
  • Bypassing authentic remediation and instead pouring 1.84 million gallons of a chemical product called Corexit into the Gulf of Mexico without regard for environmental or health consequences.

This was done, ostensibly, to clean up the contamination. The reality is that Corexit did not clean up the over 92,000 miles of spilled oil. Instead, it visually covered up the extent of the damage done by the fossil fuel industry. Protecting the industry’s image superseded the environmentally sound response to the worst environmental disaster in the U.S.

Unsound Environmental Decisions

Ten years later, it’s easier to recognize that such decisions, which elected officials at the time viewed as pragmatic, can produce major, ongoing negative ramifications when the superficial solution fails to address the problem.

Revisiting the now decade-long evolution of the disaster and the cover-up, a recent article in Common Dreams reports on a study published in Science, which reveals that “a significant amount of oil was never picked up in satellite images or captured by barriers that were meant to stop the spread.”

One of the study’s authors notes that “[o]ur results change established perceptions about the consequences of oil spills by showing that toxic and invisible oil can extend beyond the satellite footprint at potentially lethal and sub-lethal concentrations to a wide range of wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico,” with “invisible oil” reaching an area 30% larger than the 92,500 square miles experts identified at the time.

Public officials may exonerate themselves for a bad decision by claiming that the terrible outcome could only be known with 20/20 hindsight. But in this case, that’s not true.

As a health reporter back in 2010, I always read labels, because products sometimes contain understudied toxic ingredients, which are mistakenly regarded by the general public as harmless when diluted or dispersed — a claim made then and now by industry and its media spokespeople, and ignorantly codified even by journalists well-versed in other areas but overly zealous in a unilateral defense of science. I therefore researched Corexit, which, as I reported back then in HuffPost, is a dispersant that its producer, a company called NALCO, claimed on its website was “safer than dish soap.”

My specific concerns were, first, that the use of the product would spread the oil throughout the waters of the gulf, making it harder to pick up and remove the spilled oil. Because Corexit was known as a dispersant, I could not understand why the government chose to use it.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, “Dispersants are chemicals that are sprayed on a surface oil slick to break down the oil into smaller droplets that more readily mix with the water. Dispersants do not reduce the amount of oil entering the environment, but push the effects of the spill underwater.”

I also was concerned about the biological hazards of exposure to Corexit’s proprietary and undisclosed ingredients. The claim that Corexit was safer than dish soap did not account for possible health impacts of ingredients in soap, when used at such scale in combination with the already toxic oil. It turned out that this concern was shared by scientists.

A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution found that crude oil becomes 52 times more toxic when combined with Corexit.

Government scientists also found that the combination of Corexit and crude oil “caused terrible damage to gulf wildlife and ecosystems, including an unprecedented number of seafood mutations; declines of up to 80 percent in seafood catch; and massive die-offs of the microscopic life-forms at the base of the marine food chain.”

The Government Accountability Project noted that “as a result of Corexit’s perceived success, Corexit … has become the dispersant of choice in the U.S. to ‘clean up’ oil spills.” …

I note the referenced study hardly mentioned the reason why the oil became invisible to satellites and cleanup crews.  The corruption of academia parallels that of government, media, medicine and the rest of the establishment.   Not a surprise.   That’s how regimes (as opposed to democratic republics) operate.   A vast echo chamber.   That’s why we rilly rilly need to take the power to create currency out of the hands of bankers.

In any case it seems many people are still in denial about obama the trojan horse intelligence asset.    The gulf catastrophe was not an accident.   The actions which led to the blowout were done over the objections of senior workers at the site and established safety guidelines.   Furthermore, many countries offered to help with the cleanup by donating very effective oil sweeper ships which skim oil from the surface, a strategy which was precluded by the subsequent corexit catastrophe, which was also excoriated by real environmental activists (i.e. not the global warming crowd) AT THE TIME.

But why?  Was it caused by incompetence and corruption, or disaster capitalism?

Let me put this in a larger context by asking who could benefit from the poisoning of the single most abundant source of seafood in the american diet?

There are longstanding and well-advanced plans to overturn the “american empire” and move it to china, in service to the financial aristocracy which created it (as well as nazi germany and soviet russia) to begin with.   The idea is maximization of profit per unit time.   Stable economies with stable commodity flows, wage structures and populations do not maximize this quantity.   War, economic depression and ecological catastrophes do, for those properly positioned to take advantage of them.   The only requirement is that such “investors” be capable of triggering such “acts of god” as needed.   Not a problem.    This is a well-worn business model:

It should go without saying that the perpetual deployment and scattering of the US military to distant unwinnable whack-a-mole  operations plays right into this agenda.   This is a full-spectrum take down on every level: economic, medical, military, media, “entertainment” and  education.   It’s not just the land that they’re after.    They want to dismantle western culture itself, to facilitate centralized elite rule.    The middle class must be eliminated.

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