Saturday, January 12, 2013

Gulf's Plight under the Red, Blue and White

As the sea life in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico continue to die off at an alarming rate, confusion amongst Gulf-side residents who continue to suffer economic loss, and health-related deterioration, is on the increase, as the date for filing claims, or opting out of the class action suit against BP drew near.  Many of those deserving financial assistance for injuries sustained due to the spill, out of fear, bailed out of the suit, rather than making an informed decision, due to misinformation, or lack of information altogether. 
BP Statue of Liberty pictures

Americans deserve, and have earned, the right to full disclosure, not merely by virtue of their hard work and taxes paid, but by right of the Constitution and its protective measures laid down by our forefathers. Yet, BP and the United States Government have failed to provide its citizens with the ammunition they need to fight for their rights, and what has been lost, and will continue to be lost for generations to come, due to BP's negligence.

Uncertainty as to what was in the best interests of residents and businessmen affected by the explosion of BP Deepwater Horizon April 20, 2010, the largest environmental disaster in the history of the United States, had citizens frantically running about during the last weeks prior to the closing date for opting-out of the class action suit, Nov. 1.

Nearly three years following the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20, 2010 - which sent 4.9 million barrels (205.8 million gallons) of crude oil spilling into the environment - the plight of the Gulf of Mexico wanes under the red, white and blue.

The initial spill was more than six times larger than that of the Exon Valdeez in 1989, estimated to have spewed 750,000 barrels (31.5 million gallons) of oil into Prince William Sound, Alaska when a tanker, captained by Joe Hazelwood, struck ground due to broken radar equipment.

Estimates of BP payouts for cleanup, profit loss for business owners of the Gulf Coast, and medical claims settlements for those who have fallen ill due to exposure to the oil itself, and the estimated 1.8 to 2.3 million gallons of Corexit sprayed, a dispersant approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), may be capped off more quickly than the spill itself.  The outcome currently in the hands of our judicial system.

The numbers, sadly disproportionate, and disheartening low, are somewhere in the range of $7.8 billion, less than the cost for 20 new deep-water oil rigs, and far less than BP's quarterly profits that, according to CEO, Bob Dudley, in an interview with CNN in July of 2011, were over $5 billion, merely one year following the Gulf disaster. 

So, for the cost of 1/4 of a year's salary, BP will walk away with upwards of $15 billion in their satin-lined pockets, and live to fight another day. While Americans will be left footing the bill forever, for the environment - unlike the dollar bill that can take a run through the laundry machine and come out clean on the other side - takes decades to regenerate and cleanse itself.

Reuters estimated that 37 new floating rigs would be fully operational and in Gulf waters before the end of 2012.  With more than 28,000 rigs currently pulling more than 1.4 million barrels of oil from the Gulf bottom daily, in layman's terms, the payout for this natural disaster on which no true value can ever be placed, will merely be a drop in BP's $20+ billion yearly multinational oil and gas "bucket."

CNN,, and reported Oct. 4, and National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as of Sept. 17, that the seafloor gusher, said to have been remedied according to BP officials, continues to seep an undetermined amount of the thick, gelatinous crude oil into waters that, to date, have yet to be cleansed of the nearly 5 million barrels initially leaked.
Slicks atop Gulf waters off of Louisiana, reported by unnamed fisherman, and shore side citizens, prompted investigation by the United States Coast Guard (USCG), and subsequent release of this latest information. Samples acquired have been sent to various testing sites for determination and confirmation that the slicks are, in fact, crude oil that has leached from the seafloor crevice left from BP's Macondo Prospect explosion.

Oil continued to surface through September, 2012 creating a more than four-mile long reported surface slick.  More recent reports have also indicated further seepage.

The man-created disease of the Gulf is spreading nationally as vacationers walk seaside with their children unknowingly through Corexit foam-filled tidal wash lines, boaters trailer their craft from affected ramps to points unknown, and Mother Nature's cycle of evaporation and resultant rain, carries the poisons absorbed from the Gulf waters into the atmosphere where it continues to float on the breeze to far away destinations.

When will it end? Who’s going to call off the dogs? Will our government come to the aid of its citizens? Or, as in times past, will oil, and the almighty dollar, come out atop shining like a new penny?

To learn more about the BP Settlement, continuing oil seepage, and more visit

[Writer/Photographer Janel Troide-Heflin, a Florida native, has more than 20 years writing experience in relation to the environment, the Gulf Waters and its inhabitants, as well as shore side living.  She is PADI certified, and assisted with manatee research during the 1990's under the direction of Edmund Gerstein of Florida Atlantic University.  Her work is published nationally, and has been shared worldwide.]

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