2012’s had some bad news down the bayou: Bits of Louisiana are sinking, exploding, shaking, and seeping toxic liquids. Way more than any other state in the nation. Go figure — it’s the most flammable.
Guess which choices we’ve made in powering the modern world are to blame for most of these emergencies. (Hint: Rhymes with ‘spoil’) … Read on and click through; there’s good news too about Earth’s favorite swampland at the end of this roundup.
And as for the sinkhole in Assumption Parish that opened up this August?
The failing salt dome 1600 feet away from where 940,000 barrels of butane is being stored underground? The one where dozens of families have been evacuated from the nearby area for the past 5 months and are still not allowed to return? …
Salt-dome-breachin’ offenders Texas Brine said “natural tremors” caused the breach in the salt dome. The problem? “Natural tremors” is an oxymoron for a pre-fracking Louisiana.
UPDATE Sat. Jan. 19, 2013: Uh-oh. Now methane is bubbling up from the ground. Could it be connected to the BP / Deepwater Horizon disaster from 2010? … Of course it could. The limestone formations in the swamp are as holey as Swiss cheese.
Blogger comment from this site —
“The high pressure (800 PSI) and high temperature (400 F) crude from the BP deep well blowout has been seeping into and melting an enormous deposit of methane hydrate beneath the Gulf of Mexico. The methane hydrate expands by a factor of 160 to 1 and the liberated gas is migrating throughout the Gulf states. As the gas enters into existing underground cavities under high pressure it causes the movement of rocks and earth. Sparks from the rocks moving against each other, are no doubt igniting the volatile methane and causing the earth tremors and booms that people have been reporting in several Gulf States.”
If you’ve got 13 minutes, watch A Hole in the Bayou – a Bayou Corne / Gulf Coast update and technical explanations with Dr. Wilma Subra and others, presented on Dec. 29, 2012:
One-stop shop for news at Florida Oil Spill Law – the site with all the dirt on the poisoned ecosystems, mutant fish, sick children, and government pants-on-fires chicanery in the Gulf
PBS NewsHour: Why Louisiana is Sinking (besides the salt dome cavern storage thing)
CBS News: Two Missing, Four Badly Burned in Gulf platform fire (this is from Nov 16, 2012 – not the BP one, but 2.5 years later)
SkyTruth – Gas Pipeline Explosion and Fire – Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana (this is from April 10, 2012 – an on-land refinery explosion)
May 21, 2012: Fire still smoldering after Air Liquide plant explosion (Note the dates: This is a different on-land explosion, in a different petroleum-industry-producing-and-processing part of Louisiana. So that’s three Louisiana oil-industry explosions in one year, besides the sinkhole. There was also the bunker explosion in October — another suspicious one. Wait — make that two. Explosion total: Five, at least. Right?)
How bad is it?
The effect that the oil spill and its reckless cleanup has on sea life is frightening, damning and sad. Here’s a list of deformities that Al Jazeera found in its report:
Shrimp with tumors on their heads
Shrimp with defects on their gills and “shells missing around their gills and head”
Shrimp without eyes
Shrimp with babies still attached to them
Fish without eye-sockets
Fish without covers on their gills
Fish with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills
Crates of blue crabs, all of which were lacking at least one claw
Crabs with holes in their shells
Crabs with shells that have no spikes or claws or misshapen claws
Crabs that are dying from within
The fishermen, scientists, and seafood processors who talked to Al Jazeera are all in unison: They’ve never seen this before. Some have worked in and around the Gulf for over 20 years, and most have seen thousands and thousands of fish. This is the first time they’re seeing the mass mutation and destruction of seafood.
When did this start?
Scientists and fishermen are pointing to the 2010 BP oil disaster—and the dispersants and chemicals used in its cleanup—for creating these deformities. Specifically, the solvents used to clean up the spill are powerful enough to dissolve oil, grease and rubber. That’s great for cleaning up an oil disaster, but terrible for the environment and worse for humans, not to mention the toll taken on anything that lives in the Gulf. And the thing is, these dispersants have always been known to be mutagenic. The chemicals very probably altered the genome of sea life. […]
What exactly is the cause?
Dr. Jim Cowan of Louisiana State University believes that chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which the EPA terms as “a group of semi-volatile organic compounds that are present in crude oil that has spent time in the ocean,” are causing the majority of problems. Fish and other sea creatures are being exposed to PAHs, which affect both the immediate health of the fish itself and the victim’s genome.
On top of that, the dispersants used to clean up the oil spill are known to be toxic to humans. Symptoms of exposure include “headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitization, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage.” Even more damningly, it can disturb the growth and development of a fetus.
Essentially: BP is cleaning up a spill with acid, and acting surprised when the floor disappears.
The government has lost control
The FDA, EPA and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) all refused to comment on the awfulness that’s happening in the Gulf. BP, the company who created this mess in the first place, refuse to take the blame, saying the seafood in the Gulf is “as safe now as it was before the accident.” The evidence, of course, indicates otherwise.
What happens next?
The Gulf of Mexico provides nearly half of the seafood caught in the US (40%). With its inhabitants dying or suffering mutations before they’re caught, it looks like seafood shortages are inevitable. According to various fishermen, brown shrimp catch has dropped by two-thirds, white shrimp have been wiped out and some fishermen’s seafood catch are ten percent of what they normally are. Seafood, as America knows it, has changed. And without the proper funding or commitment or BP accepting the blame, these effects might last longer than anyone thinks.
Darla Rooks, a lifelong fisherperson from the Gulf, says it best:
“We’re continuing to pull up oil in our nets. Think about losing everything that makes you happy, because that is exactly what happens when someone spills oil and sprays dispersants on it. People who live here know better than to swim in or eat what comes out of our waters.”
Now check THIS headline out.
NEW ORLEANS – It’s been more than a year since offshore oil and gas operators had to have new safety systems in place; more than a year since a revamped federal agency got the power to audit them.
But agency records show that the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has not conducted a single audit of the safety systems for any of the 120 operators in the Gulf of Mexico.
What’s more, BSEE has only directed two Gulf of Mexico operators to conduct their own safety audits based on poor safety records.
It’s a staggering revelation, given the way the agency was restructured and safety was re-emphasized following the catastrophic BP oil spill of 2010.
Bonus from Naomi Wolf for the Guardian UK: Revealed: How the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy
And now for some GOOD news.
Remember the Lower Ninth Ward Village, where we always hung out making hair boom during the Gulf oil catastrophe in 2010, with our favorite person in New Orleans, Mack McLendon? … The Lower Ninth Ward Village, the spot where Burners Without Borders partnered with Mack for the “Where’s Your Neighbor?” program, and we had a “Pre-Vote Getdown” benefit party and they started a community garden?
Well, Lil’ Wayne and Tony Hawk consulted with Mack, and opened a SKATE PARK AT THE VILLAGE! Woo hoo, fun and non-dangerous stuff to do for the neighborhood kids and parents! Gosh, we miss that place. Lil’ Weezy even attended the opening to take the first skate on the new ramps. Lookit!
Tim Duggan, a landscape architect with the Make It Right foundation, took the microphone to explain the environmentally friendly and sustainable elements of the park’s design which, organizers have said, make it the first eco-skate park in the U.S. The park is powered by the “first tracking solar array on the Gulf Coast,” he noted. The ramps are 100% recycled concrete, he said, and the paint used for the Mountain Dew and Trukfit (Lil Wayne’s clothing line) logos, as well as abstract murals, is VOC-free. Light pours in from the converted warehouse’s large windows; live plants grow in between two of the ramps.
The design, Duggan said, is based on an aerial photo of the Lower Ninth Ward, abstracted to incorporate images of neighborhood landmarks like the Jackson Barracks and the Industrial Canal.(source)
The Sankofa Farmer’s Market continues to bring fresh produce and food education to the former food desert known as the Lower Ninth Ward, now an exploding eco-community filled with individualist, health-minded and earth-minded folks of all ages.
Also in December, the U.S. Senate approved the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration Act. The legislation could send $20 million to Pontchartrain basin projects through 2017 and is designed to protect Lake Pontchartrain and surrounding areas through restoration and cleanup efforts. Final Congressional approval of the Act would be a great Holiday gift for the Basin.
Very best of all, the RESTORE Act happened, which means the Gulf can get some cash to fix itself:
The Clean Water Act (CWA) levies civil and criminal penalties on parties that violate its oil discharge prohibitions, and was triggered by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. In response, a legislative proposal called the Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (known as the “RESTORE Act”) was developed to direct a portion of the Clean Water Act civil penalties from the Deepwater Horizon incident to Gulf restoration. President Obama signed the RESTORE Act into law on July 6, 2012.
The RESTORE Act creates a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. The Fund will receive 80% of any civil penalties paid under the Clean Water Act by the parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Fund will support a variety of projects aimed at helping the Gulf recover from environmental and economic injuries experienced as a result of decades of oil and gas development in the region, including the effects of Deepwater Horizon.
The Gulf Restoration Network reports on what they heard from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Meeting — namely, to decide where the RESTORE money goes. From the site: “Aaron Viles, GRN’s Deputy Director, pointed out the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council’s goal is not to repair damage from the BP disaster, but to go above and beyond to restore historical degradation of the Gulf’s ecosystem.”
If all this news makes a body feel good enough to donate some cash to help the RESTORE Act gain plenty of momentum out the gate, please consider the Gulf Restoration Network’s continued struggle to help the dolphins and whales of the Gulf Coast:
“In their exploration for new oil, the oil and gas industry produces underwater sound blasts so loud they can cause hearing loss and disorientation for dolphins and whales. One of the species affected, the Brydes whale, is a 50 foot long baleen whale recently found to have a resident population in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
This disruptive oil & gas activity risks the Brydes whales ability to feed, mate and communicate with its pod. Your commitment to the Gulf helps GRN and our partners take action that will ensure protection of Gulf whales and dolphins from seismic exploration.
With your help, we can continue to protect the Brydes whale and other Gulf species.”
Or, if you’re cash-poor and Occupy-rich, then register to host a “Defend the Gulf” movie screening in your hometown, at a bike drive-in, at your house, or on the side of an abandoned building by the docks for the fishermen. Wherever.
So there’s that. Please peruse the RESTORE Act’s site to see some facts and figures on where BP’s (still-criminally-small-amount-of) penalty money is going (and nobody in jail for fucking up the Gulf yet).
Of course we don’t trust the RESTORE Act completely, because it’s a government program, but nevertheless, it’s a start. Relish this victory with us — and work on manifesting oil companies of this great Apocalypse not only paying what they owe, but also fixing what they broke.
And finally, can we get an ‘amen’ to an end-of-year prayer we all find ways to circumvent the gangsterism of energy companies, finally realizing a break with extraction-energy industries within our generation? Let the crowd say amen. ::holds imaginary mic out to imaginary audience::
Happy new year yall, with some organic cane sugar on top. Lucky 2013 …
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