Posted by | September 1, 2010 10:56 | Filed under: Top Stories

By William K. Wolfrum

When the Obama Administration came out earlier this month and said that of the 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico by British Petroleum’s destroyed Deepwater Horizon well, only 26 percent remained, many found it hard to believe. This was either a very positive estimate, or just a flat-out lie to help BP’s PR effort.

Dr. Samantha Joye, University of Georgia (UGA) professor of marine sciences at Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, was asked about the estimates in a story for The Huffington Post, and had this to say about the great “Where is the Oil?” question:

“Because these numbers are ‘estimates’ constrained by little actual data and because the estimates probably have associated with them fairly large error bars, I do not find the budget convincing,” said Dr. Joye. “The refractory, dissolved and dispersed oil components REMAIN in the system. So rather than 75% having ‘disappeared’, I would argue that probably close to 60% of the oil is still floating around in the seawater invisible to our eyes but having exerting continued effects on the system.”

Nonetheless, the Obama Administration’s announcement did take the heat off of BP, helping the corporation escape the daily front-page news stories about the spill, as Obama added to the PR barrage by taking a swim with his daughter somewhere vaguely near the Gulf. But at this stage, confusion reigns when it comes to how much oil is still out there.

There is very positive analysis – that comes from BP-funded sources. There is also some quite negative analysis – which comes from independent sources. And aside from the oil estimates, there is the question of Corexit, the oil-dispersant heavily used in the Gulf.

Is seafood from the Gulf safe to eat? The jury is still out. The FDA is waiting to see if enough children die before it becomes worthy to test Gulf seafood. But a Boston lab has found Corexit in samples they have taken.

The lab, Boston Chemical Data Corp., said it found dispersant in a sample taken near Biloxi, Miss., almost a month after BP said it had stopped using the toxic chemical to break up the record amounts of crude spewed by the Gulf oil spill. The leak was finally capped on July 15.

The lab posted its data today on the website of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network in a move that could fuel the debate over the status of the cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico.

Finally, outside of the Gulf, there is another disconcerting report about how British Petroleum puts the bottom line ahead of the environment and humanity. According to the New York Times, a BP refinery in Texas City, Texas recently let loose a torrent of deadly chemicals.

A BP refinery here released huge amounts of toxic chemicals into the air that went unnoticed by residents until many saw their children come down with respiratory problems.

For 40 days after a piece of equipment critical to the refinery’s operation broke down, a total of 538,000 pounds of toxic chemicals, including the carcinogen benzene, poured out of the refinery.

Rather than taking the costly step of shutting down the refinery to make repairs, the engineers at the plant diverted gases to a smokestack and tried to burn them off, but hundreds of thousands of pounds still escaped into the air, according to state environmental officials.

Time will tell what the final damage will be to the Gulf of Mexico and Texas City. Much research needs to be done yet, and at this stage, most of it is being done by those with an agenda.

But the one conclusion that stands out to this writer is a simple one – the U.S. government is taking every step it can to ensure that British Petroleum and the Gulf of Mexico fishing industry remain as healthy as possible. The health of the environment and the people affected by the chemicals BP unleashed will have to be someone else’s problem to clean up.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: William K. Wolfrum

I'm a journalist, columnist, humorist, satirist, Dogist and Husbandist