Friday Reads: Two Years Gone and where has all the Sealife Gone?

Good Morning!

This Morning Reads will have a theme.  Two years ago the Gulf was oozing nasty, icky, oil.  Like Hurricane Katrina, it’s an event that’s changed our lives down here in ways that are hard to explain and share.  We’ve not fully recovered from either of these events.  That’s not exactly what the Oil, the seafood, or the tourist industry wants any one to tell you.  It’s not what state, local, and federal governments and agencies want you to know either.

But there it is.  There is still devastation. There are huge problems. The folks that created the problems are not being held to account.

The stories I will share are human, animal, vegetable, and mineral.  The BP Spill turned an entire ecosystem and way of living inside out.  It’s being covered up by smiling people inviting you to our Gulf Coast Cities and Beaches in ads.  It’s being hidden behind pictures of big heaping plates of staged seafood buffets.  What’s hidden behind the ads and the promos is disturbing science, economics, medicine, and social upheaval.  Here’s somethings you may want to know from our local news stations, scientists, and doctors.

From wusf News: Two Years after the BP Oil Spill: The Oil You Cannot See

On some Florida Panhandle beaches, swimmers can come off the beach with oil from the BP oil spill still on their skin — two years after that environmental disaster.

And, even after showering, the oil can still be on their skin. Only an ultraviolent light can show it.

Tampa Bay Times environmental reporter Craig Pittman says that’s because leaked oil, mixed with chemical dispersant sprayed on the spill two years ago to break it up, is pooling in some shallow waters of Panhandle beaches.

And the mixture actually accelerates absorption by human skin.  Seen under the ultraviolet light, it’s kind of creepy.

From The Nation: Investigation: Two Years After the BP Spill, A Hidden Health Crisis Festers

n August 2011 the Government Accountability Project (GAP) began its investigation of the public health threats associated with the oil spill cleanup, the results of which will be released this summer. “Over twenty-five whistleblowers in our investigation have reported the worst public health tragedies of any investigation in GAP’s thirty-five-year history,” Shanna Devine, GAP legislative campaign coordinator, told me.

Witnesses reported a host of ailments, including eye, nose and throat irritation; respiratory problems; blood in urine, vomit and rectal bleeding; seizures; nausea and violent vomiting episodes that last for hours; skin irritation, burning and lesions; short-term memory loss and confusion; liver and kidney damage; central nervous system effects and nervous system damage; hypertension; and miscarriages.

Cleanup workers reported being threatened with termination when they requested respirators, because it would “look bad in media coverage,” or they were told that respirators were not necessary because the chemical dispersant Corexit was “as safe as Dawn dishwashing soap.” Cleanup workers and residents reported being directly sprayed with Corexit, resulting in skin lesions and blurred eyesight. Many noted that when they left the Gulf, their symptoms subsided, only to recur when they returned.

According to the health departments of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, from June to September 2010, when they stopped keeping track, more than 700 people sought health services with complaints “believed to be related to exposure to pollutants from the oil spill.” But this is likely an extreme undercount, as most people did not know to report their symptoms as related to the oil spill, nor did their physicians ask. Like virtually everyone I have interviewed on the Gulf Coast over the past two years—including dozens for this article—Nicole Maurer’s doctors did not even inquire about her children’s exposure to oil or Corexit.

It will take years to determine the actual number of affected people. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), with financial support from BP, is conducting several multiyear health impact studies, which are only just getting under way. I spoke with all but one of the studies’ national and Gulf Coast directors. “People were getting misdiagnosed for sure,” says Dr. Edward Trapido, director of two NIEHS studies on women’s and children’s health and associate dean for research at the Louisiana State University School of Public Health. “Most doctors simply didn’t know what questions to ask or what to look for.” There are only two board-certified occupational physicians in Louisiana, according to Trapido, and only one also board-certified as a toxicologist: Dr. James Diaz, director of the Environmental and Occupa-tional Health Sciences Program at Louisiana State University.

Diaz calls the BP spill a toxic “gumbo of chemicals” to which the people, places and wildlife of the Gulf continue to be exposed.

From a George Washington Blog Post Crossposted at Naked Capitalism: The Gulf Ecosystem Is Being Decimated.  This is a huge list of sources covering the many problems.

 New York Times: “Gulf Dolphins Exposed to Oil Are Seriously Ill, Agency Says

MSNBC: Gulf shrimp scarce this season (and see the Herald Tribune‘s report)

Mother Jones: Eyeless shrimp are being found all over the Gulf

NYT: Oil Spill Affected Gulf Fish’s Cell Function, Study Finds

CBS:Expert: BP spill likely cause of sick Gulf fish (and see the Press Register’s report)

  Study confirms oil from Deepwater spill entered food chain

Pensacola News Journal: “Sick fish” archive

Agence France Presse: Mystery illnesses plague Louisiana oil spill crews

MSNBC: Sea turtle deaths up along Gulf, joining dolphin trend

MSNBC:Exclusive: Submarine Dive Finds Oil, Dead Sea Life at Bottom of Gulf of Mexico

AP: BP oil spill the culprit for slow death of deep-sea coral, scientists say (and see the Guardian and AFP‘s write ups)

A recent report also notes that there are flesh-eating bacteria in tar balls of BP oil washing up on Gulf beaches

And all of that lovely Corexit dispersant sprayed on water, land and air? It inhibits the ability of microbes to break down oil, and allows oil and other chemicals to be speed past the normal barriers of human skin.

Just google up the Legacy of the BP Oil Spill and feast your eyes on the eyeless shrimp,  lesions on fish, and all the dead sea mammals washing up on Gulf Cost beaches.  This is from AJ.

“The fishermen have never seen anything like this,” Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. “And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I’ve never seen anything like this either.”

Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.

Cowan’s findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants.

Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP’s 2010 oil disaster.

Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp – and interviewees’ fingers point towards BP’s oil pollution disaster as being the cause.

This AJ article explains that “Nearly two years after BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, fishermen and scientists say things are getting worse.”

Fishermen, in particular, are seeing their way of life threatened with extinction – both from lack of an adequate legal settlement and collapsing fisheries.

One of these people, Greg Perez, an oyster fisherman in the village of Yscloskey, Louisiana, has seen a 75 per cent decrease in the amount of oysters he has been able to catch.

“Since the spill, business has been bad,” he said. “Sales and productivity are down, our state oyster grounds are gone, and we are investing personal money to rebuild oyster reefs, but so far it’s not working.”

Perez, like so many Gulf Coast commercial fisherman, has been fishing all his life. He said those who fish for crab and shrimp are “in trouble too”, and he is suing BP for property damage for destroying his oyster reefs, as well as for his business’ loss of income.

People like Perez make it possible for Louisiana to provide 40 per cent of all the seafood caught in the continental US.

But Louisiana’s seafood industry, valued at about $2.3bn, is now fighting for its life.

We actually see all this reported in the local media.  We see the pictures. We live the effects.  I completely admit to having scaled back my consumption of seafood since the spill.  It’s just not the same and I don’t trust it.  But, if you watch the ads that BP runs on TV stations around our neighboring states and listen to the deafening response by governments, you think it all just disappeared.  They keep saying everything is safe and it’s all back to normal. Well, it isn’t.  If you ask me, I think it’s just going to get worse.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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31 Comments on “Friday Reads: Two Years Gone and where has all the Sealife Gone?”

  1. boogieman7167 says:

    i never did belive the BP lady that telling us how great the gulf coast is in fact the comerical i saw she said something like that the gulf coast had it best year ever

  2. dm says:

    Thank you for continuing to keep us informed…personally, I find this to be BO’s most shameful failure…one, that unfortunately, will last lifetimes.

    • dakinikat says:

      So many people are complicit in this lie that it’s hard to keep track of it all … I can’t think of one politician that’s stayed on top of this or done anything about it. They are all concerned about the oil industry, the associated jobs, and the oil itself.

  3. Thank you for the information. I realy consider you the final / credible source of this information from the gulf.. Here in Troy MI, the BP television adds paint a problem fixed picture. We had a oil pipeline spill in river in western MI about two years ago and newspaper articles still document the river has oil residue

    • dakinikat says:

      Good to see you!!! We see the dolphin death counts on the news a lot because the nacropsies are done at the Audubon Institute. Same with the Sea Turtle nacropsies. They also show us the work coming out of the local marine biology departments. Some of the fish lesions and mutant shrimp are just bizarre. I can’t imagine that eating these things is healthy.

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    Those BP ads play up here in MA as well. If you believe the spokesperson, “have no fear, all is well” just hop a plane and come on down!

    No one is ever accountable for anything anymore. And the same GOP wants to deregulate even more industries to further chase away restrictions.

    As long as there is a buck to be made it’s becoming an “anything goes” proposition brought to us by your “friendly” corporate sponsor, polluting the atmosphere with a smile.

  5. ecocatwoman says:

    Thanks, Kat. Now for my lengthy comment.

    April 22nd is the 42nd Anniversary of Earth Day. And today is the 2nd Anniversary of the worst environmental disaster America has ever seen. And that event is all over the news…today. Morning Edition on NPR had this story this morning: http://www.npr.org/2012/04/20/150871935/as-workers-age-oil-industry-braces-for-skills-gap Last night’s Marketplace had a “feel good” story. I was 1 of 2 who commented on the misguided piece. You can see it here: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/bp-oil-spill-legacy/what-happened-oil-bp-spill

    I don’t live on the Gulf, so I haven’t been personally or directly impacted by the tragedy of this cataclysmic event. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been deeply affected by this apocalyptic event. My heart goes out to Kat and all the others along the Gulf Coast who have been or will be adversely impacted by the repercussions of this disaster. My primary concern, however, is for the marine life, birds and plants who can’t move away or change their diets. You can read my posts about “the spill” on my personal blog here: http://ecocatwoman.blogspot.com/search/label/Gulf%20oil%20spill and my post on Skydancing called Goodbye Flipper?

    During the many months it took BP to cap the well, I followed the coverage by both Mother Jones and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Julia Whitty for MJ and David Gessner for NRDC’s On Earth magazine had the best commentary I found. You can search BP on either of MJ’s & NRDC’s sites to find all of the coverage. Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit, has also been diligent in covering this story. Check out their blog here: http://www.nottheanswer.org/ A grassroots movement that began in Florida to oppose lifting the ban on offshore oil drilling became a worldwide movement after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. You can find out more here: http://www.handsacrossthesand.com/

    The Gulf of Mexico, along with the states bordering it, are the “canary in the coal mine.” Unfortunately, the states and federal governments refuse to tell the public that the canary died. The disaster that happened in the Gulf two years ago, and is ongoing today, is the poster child for why the environment matters. It disturbs me that when pollsters ask what issues matter to voters, the environment nearly always comes in last. It’s number one for me and should be for everyone else. Why? Because the environment impacts every other issue of concern: the economy, public health, national security, jobs, energy, food safety, water quality, education and so on. Yet the public doesn’t get it. Why else would they continue to vote for Republicans? Nearly every Republican has the lowest ranking voting record for environmental issues. Most Democrats traditionally score much higher. (Sadly those are our only choices) What will it take for people to understand that our very lives depend upon making the environment the issue of primary concern? Our lives and the future of our planet depend on it.

    • dakinikat says:

      The BP spill is an environmental holocaust and few are paying attention. I wonder how long its going to take before the people start dying the way the wildlife is right now? I just read that the republican congress just voted to allow hunting in all national parks and that it would take forever to get the coast guard up to any spill where they want to drill in ANWAR. It’s a 1000 miles between the nearest base and the site. Where’s the outcries?

      • bostonboomer says:

        People have probably died from it already without publicity.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        One can only hope it won’t pass the Senate, and if it does that the prez won’t sign it. There are quite a few environmental groups that have been fighting to keep drilling out of ANWR. And hunting in national parks and refuges makes a mockery of the term refuge. The sale of hunting licenses has continued to fall each year. That means fewer NRA members, so it’s obvious that NRA pushed this issue. Unfortunately, many groups calling themselves “conservation” groups have no problem with hunting. Even Defenders of Wildlife has no problem with hunting & the National Wildlife Federation never has. At least members of World Wildlife Fund, a group that traditionally also had no problem with hunting, have raised their voices over King Juan Carlos’ recent elephant hunting trip to Africa.

        The Republicans are attacking from every direction. Their backers have ALL of the money, while those opposing them – especially in a failing economy – are struggling to keep or acquire donors. In my experience, it is mostly middle class people who provide the majority of support to everyday nonprofits. When there is no middle class, there are fewer advocacy groups and the remaining ones have to severely scale back their actions.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        I can’t find anything about opening ANWR, but found this bill that has passed the House: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr4089 It has 4 Dem co-sponsors. It now has to go to the Senate. Guess it’s time to write my Senators. Maybe I can count on Nelson, but Rubio – yeah, right!

      • Tim says:

        Sorry it’s a bit late, but I found this article on the effects of crude oil and the chemicals used to disperse it in the gulf. All I can say is that I’m glad I’m not a big eater of marine life.

        http://www.sciencecorps.org/crudeoilhazards.htm

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Today is the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. Unfortunately, there may be a bloodbath there today when the Yankees beat up on the sad sack Red Sox.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      I feel very much like a “Republican” today.

      Just like those having to pretend they just “love, love, love” the idea of Mitt Romney, I sit here pretending the Sox have a chance to score against the Yanks on the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park.

      Based on performances by the miserable candidacy of Mitt and the horrible performance by the Sox, you can see where I may be coming from.

      We are beating our heads against the Green Monster wall.

    • foxyladi14 says:

      :)

  7. northwestrain says:

    The lying by BP and the politicians isn’t surprising. The coast guard is/was in bed with BP. In Case of public interest & health & welfare — we are onour own.

    The corporation first move after an major spill is to hire PR firm — and apparently these firms employ sociopaths. They are able to twist the facts into a blame the victim orgy.

    Speaking of messy news — on Huff Post there is a story about one of the heavy drinking SS agents. Seems that the 20 Veteran of the SS – the one supposed to oversee the younger guys is in the habit of being a MCP. He was on Sarah Palin’s security detail — but it seems he mostly was leering at her. He proudly posted photos on Facebook. WHY does this creep even have a job as a SS agent.

    Seems like the SS needs to be overhauled. A SS agent who is too busy checking out a woman he is supposed to be guarding that he’d never see an attack coming is a tragedy waiting to happen.
    The real hero here is the woman who stood her ground to be paid — in the end she only got enough $ to pay her pimp his share.

    Both stories — the BP spill and over looking of inappropriate behavior by SS agents demonstrate that there is very little responsibility for bad & dangerous behavior by elites.

    Meanwhile common non-elite people are being put in prison for minor infractions. The BP gang will never see a day of jail time. They will also escape paying for most of the damages caused by corporate bad decision.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    I’m listening on the radio to the parents of the little girl who was handcuffed by police for having a tantrum. The girl was being teased and bullied by classmates, which upset her. The teacher sent her to the principal’s office and the principal called police.

    The parents were not contacted until the child had been in an adult cell in the police station for an hour! The child was handcuffed so tightly that it broke the skin. She was actually charged with crimes! They have now been dropped after the community protested.

    This child has be traumatized!

    • northwestrain says:

      Blame the victim — bullies seem to have taken over.

      Yes this little girl will never ever forget and she will forever mistrust cops — they will always be the bad guys to her.

      BF Skinner called this something instant Fear Imprinting. It only takes one time and this sort of treatment, along with the pain she suffered. This memory will always be her nightmare.

      • northwestrain says:

        Mind confusion — it wasn’t BF Skinner — but Konrad Lorenz who made the link of extreme fear or trauma deeply “imprinting” the memory. However the Behavior guys did manage to frighten a child with a white rat and they learned just how well children retain memories of trauma.

      • northwestrain says:

        Oh Connie I agree — BF Skinner really was nuts. Konrad Lorenz was really brilliant. He discovered what he called fear imprinting when he was walking his dog and something terrified the dog — from that day until the dog died — the dog always avoided that side of the street. Just one time and the memory training stuck with the dog. This also happens to all of us — we can remember vividly some events — often something with emotional significance.

        • ecocatwoman says:

          My favorite class as an undergrad was Ethology. We read King Solomon’s Ring. My favorite, however, of Lorenz’ books was Man Meets Dog. Kindred spirit!

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes, Dak wrote about it a few days ago. Thanks for the link.

        And when to call the cops? Certainly not before the parents are called. It’s an outrage.

    • Oh wow, this is so upsetting!

  9. foxyladi14 says:

    Great post Dak.thanks for the update.Don’ eat the fish!!!!!!!!!!! ;)

  10. ecocatwoman says:

    Great show on Talk of the Nation Science Friday about the oceans: http://www.npr.org/2012/04/20/151047262/exploring-the-deepest-darkest-spots-on-earth Warning – it’s not good news, although John McCosker says he has hope, but he’s not optimistic. Been a real downer of a day for me.

  11. ecocatwoman says:

    Sorry this is late. The story wasn’t posted on the NPR website yesterday afternoon, even though I was listening to it. The quote from the former director of the DISL really ticked me off. DISL got a $5 million dollar grant from BP after the spill. Here’s the link: http://www.npr.org/2012/04/20/151053737/two-years-later-bp-spill-reminders-litter-gulf-coast