April 20th is the two year anniversary of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, an offshore drilling platform operated by BP. Eleven rig workers lost their lives in the initial explosion, which triggered a nearly four month-long oil spill that has been killing life in the Gulf Coast ever since.
One would think that two years later, we would be able to point out at least a few positive glimpses of hope for America’s Southern coastline. Instead, newly uncovered information proves that BP’s legacy of deceit and disregard for human life started long before they tapped the Macondo Well.
Two years before the Deepwater Horizon blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP offshore rig suffered a nearly identical blow-out, but the company concealed the first one from the U.S. regulators and Congress, according to new evidence uncovered in an investigation by EcoWatch.org. The evidence consists of an eyewitness account that they claim has been backed up by several rig workers as well as incriminating documents.
“The ultimate cause of both blow-outs was the same: the use of a money-saving technique – plugging holes with ‘quick-dry’ cement…,” explains Greg Palast. “By hiding the disastrous failure of its penny-pinching cement process in 2008, BP was able to continue to use the dangerous methods in the Gulf of Mexico causing the death of 11 men and the worst oil spill in U.S. history.”
Unfortunately, this new discover does little to comfort the Gulf Coast families and businesses who have been forever changed by the greatest environmental disaster in American history. Contrary to BP’s nauseating PR campaign claiming the Gulf is “back to normal,” oily beaches and soil water, dead dolphins, disfigured fish, and ever-shrinking seafood harvests are every day realities for those who live there, and contractors who were brought in to clean up the mess.
Recent reports show that hundreds of dolphins have mysteriously died since approximately 172 million gallons of BP’s oil gushed into the Gulf. What little fish, lobster, shrimp, and crab remain to be caught are disturbingly deformed, many missing eyeballs and claws.
Spill victims living in and around Louisiana during the spill, most of them children, are still dealing with illness brought on by BP’s excessive use of a dispersant known as Corexit, which the EPA specifically forbade them to use during the clean up, but they continued spraying anyway. The Surfrider Foundation recently released its preliminary “State of the Beach” study, which found that the Corexit BP used to “disperse” the oil now appears to be making it tougher (not easier) for microbes to digest the oil. Additionally, “the toxins in this unholy mix of Corexit and crude actually penetrate wet skin faster than dry skin…though you’d never know it unless you happened to look under fluorescent light in the 370nm spectrum. The stuff can’t be wiped off. It’s absorbed into the skin.”
Despite continued evidence that the oil industry’s “lack of a safety culture” puts humans, the economy, and the environment at risk, almost nothing has changed since the Gulf oil spill. In fact, in the two years since the Macondo well blow out, Congress has refused to make drillers more accountable, according to members of the panel that studied the disaster. “Across the board, we are disappointed with Congress’s lack of action. Two years have passed since the explosion” and “Congress has yet to enact one piece of legislation to make drilling safer,” said Democrat Bob Graham, former co-chairman of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill created by President Obama in 2010.
In fact, Congressional Republicans have done nothing but complain that the Obama administration is too slow to issue new offshore drilling permits and delaying exploration off Alaska’s coast (an area in which the industry would have no way how to clean up if something similar the Gulf oil spill were to occur). And President Obama, though aware of the industry’s crimes, continues to bend to their demands, even going so far as to include increased offshore drilling in his “all of the above” energy policy.
Big Oil continues to reap its massive profits and obscene taxpayer subsidies. Dirty money continues to line the pockets of politicians who are supposed to protect the general welfare. And ultimately, it is we the people who pay the price for this environmental game of Russian Roulette. When we will say that enough is enough?
Image via Thinkstock
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