BP Oil Spill Disaster: The Growing Emergency, the Unpunished Crime
Two years and many millions of gallons of oil later — and still counting –, the Gulf is in worse condition than it was weeks after the Deepwater Horizon platform exploded on April 20, 2012.
By LUIS R. MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | APRIL 20, 2012
The worst man-made disaster in the history of modern society is still ongoing, and the criminals responsible for it continue to be the sole guardians of the crime scene. Animal and plant life continue to die in the Gulf of Mexico due to the continues leakage of oil from the depths of the ocean floor while from above, planes continue to poison the waters with Corexit in an attempt to hide the fact that the oil spill is far from being over. The lies and the fraud carried out by the federal agencies in charge of coming to the rescue and British Petroleum, which swindled the public for many months became part of a coverup that had the main stream media as their best accomplices. Under reporting or completely ignoring the oil spill and its magnitude was the job of the corporate whore media, that followed the traditional don’t ask, don’t tell modus operandi, limiting themselves to report what they were told to report.
Two years and many millions of gallons of oil later, the Gulf is in worse condition than it was weeks after the Deepwater Horizon platform exploded on April 20, 2012. As we all remember, that explosion resulted in the immediate death of 11 workers, a tragedy that has grown exponentially since then. After multiple attempts to supposedly ‘cap the leaking well’, BP was caught lying with a straight face, even during congressional hearings. The large volume of information to be analyzed, the lack of expertise of those in charge of holding BP accountable and BP’s explicit intention to defraud the public has made it impossible, so far, to bring those responsible for committing one of the greatest out-in-the-open crimes in history to justice. In fact, BP has worked overtime to try to settle the crime outside of court with both the residents of the Gulf and the Federal Government. Unfortunately, the residents caved in by accepting what on the face appears to be a juicy compensation, but does not solve their main problem whatsoever. Earlier this year, a group of residents settled with BP for damages caused as a result of the oil spill, letting the multinational off the hook regarding legal responsibility.
The problem is, money will not solve the disaster now taking place in the Gulf of Mexico. The money those residents received will be long gone before any real solutions are provided to actually cap the leaking well, clean the waters of the Gulf and return the region to the state it was in before the explosion. As we have informed before, capping the well that BP tried to keep secret during congressional testimony and up until now, may be impossible. The leak that is now flooding the Gulf with oil and gases is not a traditional leak per se, but a major leak coming out of a fractured sea floor that experts believe is a direct consequence of an explosive detonation. Regardless of the cause, the fact is the oil is still leaking just as fast as life in the Gulf is fading away. Up until now, several documented reports from private citizens show that oil is still reaching the surface before it is rapidly dispersed with Corexit during night flights. Another fact that cannot be easily ignored is the death of hundreds of sea animals that are found on the beaches of the Gulf region. Sea Turtles and dolphins lying dead on the beaches at an unprecedented rate, more than at any time before in history, is a sign of the only certainty we can believe in right now: The US government and BP lied to the public.
Separate reports from people who visit the Gulf region on a daily basis to document the death sea animals there count the number of dead turtles and dolphins by the hundreds. Oil on the surface of the ocean has been seen by people in planes and helicopters all over the Gulf. These same leaks were a rarity before April 20, 2010, but the so-called authorities say that the oil is coming from natural seepages out of the Gulf’s ocean floor. Scientists who have been shown the images, such as Dr. Ira Leifer, from University of California, say that the size and location of ocean surface oil are important enough to require another investigation. But not such an investigation is happening and as we said before, BP is spraying Corexit on a nightly basis to hide the new oil. Corexit, a product made by Nalco, is banned in 19 countries around the world, included the United Kingdom due to its high toxicity.
As The Real Agenda reported before, BP owns 70 percent of the leases for oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Those leases mean billions of dollars for the government, of course. But the reason why BP was left off the hook up until now goes way beyond a few billion dollars. BP was allowed to operate above all available standards of security and legality from the beginning. A detailed analysis of how the Gulf of Mexico Disaster happened gives us a clear picture of what this means.
A CHRONOLOGY OF THE DISASTER
The first gas well blowout that happened on April 20, 2010, was caused from shallow gas influx through leaks in the top hole section of the well caused by replacing drilling mud with sea water at 8,367ft BSL The light hydrocarbon influx came directly from the shallow gas-saturated weak sub-formation zone. After the initial gas surge, the top hole section quickly settled into a steady in-flow state. Light hydrocarbons then continued to flow into the top hole section of the well without affecting the stability.
From April 20-22, the Deepwater Horizon Platform experienced the explosions we all witnessed live or otherwise. These explosions followed the blowout from April 20. Even more explosions happened later as it was reported by firefighters at and close to the oil platform.
Early on April 22, underwater demolition charges were used to break the riser at 460ft from the BOP#1 end; 4540ft below water surface. This explosion caused the riser to bend in just 15 seconds, which is thought to have been aided by directional charges.
By the late afternoon on April 22, another deliberate detonation took place, which occurred around the sub-seabed level. According to experts who provided us with this information, the main objective was to demolish the third well and to induce a second bottom hole well blowout – BHWell-Blowout#2. However, an unintended result of this purposely set explosion, shook the shallow sub-seabed sediment resulting in a simultaneous massive discharge of hydrocarbons from the abnormal shallow hydrocarbon accumulations. The direct consequence of this explosion is what satellites images revealed on April 25, 2010: an oil slick of about 580 squared miles. At the time, the images suggested that hydrocarbons from the Macondo reservoir might be leaking through multiple cracks on the ocean floor.
Because of the numerous explosions, at the depths they took place, no one found out about the leaks until around April 24, 2010.
Later on April 22, almost right after the previous explosion, a new detonation went off at the second well that caused a complete breakdown od the cement plug at the bottom of that well. This resulted in the leakage of gas that might have depleted itself if BP had not messed it up later. Experts are sure that no big oil spill had happened if BP hadn’t caused such a spill artificially.The explosion that happened on the evening of the 22nd, started the massive oil spill we now know as the BO Oil Spill Disaster. This explosion ejected the Blowout Preventer out of the 3rd well, the one BP tried to keep secret for as long as they were able.
From the document BP drilled 3 wells at the Macondo Prospect:
“The original BOP is referred to as BOP#1 because there were at least 2 more BOPs brought into the Macondo prospect. BOP#2 replaced the broken BOP#1 and is now standing at NASA warehouse facility. No wonder NDV (Det Norske Veritas) were confused in their forensic examination of the fake BOP#2. Although DNV did not exactly say it, even their computer simulations and modeling could not fit in micro-details of BOP#1′s failure”
As it is now known, the Gulf was flooded with the largest amounts of oil after the detonation of BSB-Detonation#1 and BHWell-Blowout#2. (As shown by the satellite photo taken on 25 April 2010) Earlier on April 22, 2010, the satellite photo only showed the smoke from the Deepwater Horizon platform.
The latest of the detonations was conducted to achieve at least three goals, the document says: 1) to jam up the potential flow. This is confirmed by the jammed up 2 drill-pipes at the kink in the bent riser. 2) to weaken the well casing cement at the annulus. This is the reason why the detonation took place below the well casing level. 3) to breach the base cement plug to unleash the explosive hydraulic power of the reservoir.
The reservoir well detonation that occurred on August 1, 2010, was the last attempt to seal the leaking well after several previous attempts through the month of July. In this case, the detonation was caused by a nuclear device. Proof of this event is reflected by the unlikely shallow earthquake registered in Louisiana at about 11:34:29 Central Daylight Savings Time, just 12 minutes after the detonation. The epicenter of the quake was 5km deep exactly on the NW-SE fault line. Many people believe the nuclear explosion, although did not cause a complete activation of the New Madrid fault, it did cause to become unstable. To this fact we can add that the wellhead at well A was still standing, which makes it an impossibility that well A was the leaking well. The oil was indeed coming out of well 3, now known as Well BE.
WHAT IS BP RESPONSIBLE FOR?
BP is in part — along with other entities and persons — responsible for committing various crimes against the people of the Gulf, violating local and federal laws, perjuring in front of Congress, hiding information from authorities and the public that prevented the realization of a complete and orderly investigation of the events that led to and that happened during and after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in 2010.
More specifically, BP is to blame for illegally drilling a 3rd oil well, the one it tried to hide in order to keep the crime secret from authorities and the public. The company drilled this third well without the proper permit, and it was precisely this well the one that caused the largest oil spill in the history of the oil industry. The third well was not approved by the Mineral Management Service (MMS) for exploration and/or drilling in the Macondo Prospect. According to ROV video, Well BE, was the only one of the three wells that BP drilled that reached the desired depth the company wanted to access the Macondo Reservoir, which later caused the underwater explosion.
BP perjured itself by testimony of their representatives before Congress by providing false evidence that BP had drilled only the permitted well (well A). This well was, according to evidence, drilled to a depth of 5,000 feet, way to shallow to reach the Macondo Reservoir. BP stopped works at well A because the drill it was using got jammed by the pressure formation collapse at the open section of the well bore. The collapse, experts say, could have been caused by gas saturation at sub-formations. BP informed the MMS that this well (well A) was leaking gases and oil. Well A was abandoned for safety reasons.This also confirms that the gas blowout that occurred on April 20, 2010, could have not come from well A.
Meanwhile, well B, drilled to a depth of 13, 305 feet, also way too shallow to reach the Macondo Reservoir, could not be drilled deeper because of similar drills jamming problems. According to geohazard experts, well B experienced even stronger pressure problems. Regarding this fact, Transocean is still suing BP for not informing the company about these type of problems. BP could have drilled at the same location using something called a bypass, which would have enabled the company to keep on perforating the sea bed around the same place but change trajectory at some point. BP had asked the MMS for a permit to do such a procedure, but never actually did it, neither on well A or B. Evidence and reasons for BP not to have done the by-pass range from the company’s own reports to safety and inefficiency.
BP also withheld vital information up to the explosion on April 22 that, experts agree, would have led to the speedy and safe control of the well. Such controls would have prevented the cement plug at the base from failing completely; avoided that the high-pressure oil gushed out of the reservoir directly into the well; stopped the gas blowout on April 20 that was caused by shallow gas influx within the first 9,000 ft; reduce or eliminate the danger posed by the shallow hydrocarbon influx into the upper section of the well, which had settled into a steady inflow. If British Petroleum had informed the reality of the situation, the result of the explosion on April 20, 2010 would have been less lethal indeed.
British Petroleum also perjured itself in Congress by claiming that a second explosion on 2010 April 22 was the reason why the Deepwater Horizon Platform collapsed, destroying the riser pipe that was still attached to the blowout preventer (BOP#1). BP also said that the riser pipe, that goes from the wellhead to the drilling rig broke as the DWH fell into the ocean. BP said that the first leak was located at the bent rise, on top of BOP#1. Later they added that the larger second leak was at the broken end of the riser, at about 480 ft to the north inside a blown crater at the seabed, and that the third leak was just a smaller one occurring at the Riser on the seafloor. This was of course false. Videos from the ROV’s frm April 22 – 24 show that there were no significant leaks on the broken riser, and all of the gushing oil seemed to be coming from isolated seafloor.
From the document BP drilled 3 wells at the Macondo Prospect:
We further posit that it was this detonated explosion that triggered the second, more powerful oil blowout by breaching the base of this well below 18,000 ft bsl and allowing high-pressure oil from the Macondo reservoir to gush directly into the well. It was this detonated explosion at shallow depth that started the chain of events that led to the uncontrollable massive oil spill that poisoned the Gulf with oil from the Macondo reservoir. The first gas blowout, which set the DWH rig on fire April 20, was caused by gas influx from the shallow gas-saturated weak subformation (GWSF) zone. After that initial gas surge into the well, the shallow section of the well (down to 10,000 ft bml) appeared to have stabilized into a constant-flow equilibrium with the GWSF zone.
At that point there was no immediate danger of another gas blowout from within the well, neither from the shallow section with a stable incoming leak from the GWSF zone nor from the deep end o the well which had not been breached by virtue of being suppressed under heavy mud weight. Well A, which is located 720 ft southeast of the blown well BE crater, had been spewing gas from the same GWSF zone since 2010 February and had not been plugged, a violation of MMS regulations regarding abandoned wells. At the time of the first gas blowout on April 20 until at least April 24, well A and well B were left abandoned and had no man-made connection (riser pipe or any pipeline) to well BE or to BOP#1 sitting on well BE’s wellhead. The second detonated explosion, however, did aggravate the gas leaks at both wells A and B, due to the inter-connecting faults and the same GWSF occurrence at all three wells.
The scenario described above is supported by ROV videos, specifically the one that shows the blown out crater from April 23, 2010. This video shows the riser pipe dipping northward into the crater floor with the oil flowing from the north, forming a plume directed southward. This debunks BP’s statement that the oil was leaking out of the broken riser connected to the blowout preventer at well A. So, the oil was not leaking from that well, but from further below at the crater itself located at the illegally drilled third well. Additionally, the video of the shows the fractured seafloor near the third well crater. This had been covered in part by gigantic amounts of cement and drilling mud. This fact also confirms the impossibility that BP was not aware of the explosion, since work had already been done to cover up the crater and site of the explosion caused by the indiscriminate drilling and the detonation performed that caused the crater in the first place.
IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS TO FIND OUT MORE
As monumental as all these facts may seem, should the federal agencies allow truly independent investigators to take charge of the oil spill site, and complete a whole new investigation, the public would learn even more about the investigations conducted by citizen groups and independent researchers as well as to reveal even more of the information we do not know. For example, an full investigation would show exactly how ROV videos were altered to hide the real state of BOP#1, which had been blown in pieces and whose parts were buried on the seafloor. The same situation occurred with wellheads and casings from well BE, the third illegally drilled well. The videos were cut and pasted to cover up the times and dates of the explosions as well as other aspects such as coordinates, headings, altitudes, depths, job description.
The making of the false videos and their presentation as proof that everything was under control was one of BP’s main lies in Congress. It was intended to support their claim that the leaks were coming from well A, as supposed to Well BE. Further research would also show how exactly BP substituted the blow out preventer at well A and lying about it being the original BOP. This BOP withstood the explosions on well A up until April 22, but was destroyed by the second detonation on that same day. This, as posed before, caused the massive flooding of the Gulf of Mexico with oil from the Macondo Reservoir. The result of this flood was a panic-driven initiative to use Corexit to try to clean the waters. As we now know, Corexit does not have that capacity. It only turns the pockets of oil into smaller particles without actually cleaning the ocean.
In order to pull this plan off, BP had about two weeks to carry out the changes, while the people were shown ROV video footage of well A. BP then installed a second BOP at well A, which later was presented as an intact BOP bent-riser assembly. “A forensic examination on this fake BOP#2 naturally raised more questions than answers and left many important questions unanswered.”
These are just a few of the facts that would be confirmed beyond reasonable doubt — not that more of it is necessary in order to know the truth –.
TOXICITY AND DEATH IN THE GULF REGION
Testimonies continue to reveal the dire consequences of the BP oil spill from two years ago continue to pour in from different reports ranging from individuals — who on their own dollar travel to the region to document the scenario of death and sickness now developing around the coastal areas — to foundations and non-profit organizations that provide residents of the Gulf and the rest of the world the information the main stream media does not.
An article from the Surfrider Foundation dated April 17, 2012, shows the extent of the persistent toxicity at different locations. Just as many other activists have done it, the foundation demonstrates how people who live in the region are exposed to toxins in the water, the sand and the air. “We saw hazmat-suit wearing workers leaving the beach as the sun rose over the horizon. They had worked during the night and were leaving just as the tourists came over the sand dunes for a day at the beach. The workers had worked hard and picked up what oil globs that could be seen by the naked eye (aided by a little extra UV light). If it was safe for tourists then why would workers have such protection? If it wasn’t safe why weren’t the tourists being told that?”
According to the previous report, between 800,000 to 1,000,000 gallons of Corexit have been used in order to disperse the oil coming out from the Macondo Reservoir. The Surfrider Foundation released a report entitled: “State of the Beach“, a study that provides the latest details about the Gulf of Mexico on-going disaster. The report related that the large amounts of Corexit being sprayed over the Gulf’s waters is making it impossible for microbes to digest the oil. “The persistence of Corexit mixed with crude oil has now weathered to tar, yet is traceable to BP’s Deepwater Horizon brew through its chemical fingerprint. The mix creates a fluorescent signature visible under UV light.”
In an article dated October 2010, environmental reporter Julia Whitty documented the magnitude of the disaster up to that time. By her account, methane was shooting up from the well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon rig, exploding at the well’s head. Those gases and the oil that came out from the bottom of the ocean floor would later turn the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig into the least of the problems. The Surfrider Foundation’s report speaks about four main relevant facts:
* The use of Corexit is inhibiting the microbial degradation of hydrocarbons in the crude oil and has enabled concentrations of the organic pollutants known as PAH to stay above levels considered carcinogenic by the NIH and OSHA.
* 26 of 32 sampling sites in Florida and Alabama had PAH concentrations exceeding safe limits.
* Only three locations were found free of PAH contamination.
* Carcinogenic PAH compounds from the toxic tar are concentrating in surface layers of the beach and from there leaching into lower layers of beach sediment. This could potentially lead to contamination of groundwater sources.
The complete study from the Foundation written by James H. “Rip” Kirby III, is accessible to the public online. His study tested samples of crude oil in the northern Gulf of Mexico from the day the spill happened. Field testing from May 2010 were conducted at beaches before the crude oil from spill made its way there. Additional testing was done on tar samples for a trend analysis of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
(PAH) that analyzed concentration levels. This tests began March 2011 and were completed in November 2011. Overall, 71 samples were tested. “Tests for 38 different PAH analytes were done on 48 samples. Oil range organics (ORO) tests were done on 23 samples. Compared to the Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) or carcinogenic exposure limit for PAH analytes listed as coal tar derivatives, 90% of the positively identified analyses exceeded the IDLH limit,” reads the report.
For months and months, federal agencies assured Gulf residents and tourists that it was safe to consume seafood from Gulf waters, even though visual proof showed otherwise. Now, a report issued by Al-Jazeera confirms the worst fears regarding food safety and how it has declined since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Both scientists and residents of the Gulf region continue to find not only contaminated sea animals, but also others that have suffered mutations as a consequence of the exposure to chemicals used to supposedly clean the waters from the oil spill. As reported by EcoWatch.org: “horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp” along with “shrimp with abnormal growths, female shrimp with their babies still attached to them, and shrimp with oiled gills.” And this seems to be only the beginning. See visual proof of the mutations and contamination in this news report. In a press communique, BP responded to the questions of food contamination by saying that both NOAA and the FDA guaranteed that seafood from the Gulf was as safe as it was before the oil spill disaster.Meanwhile, NOAA declined to comment on the findings of the investigation conducted by Al-Jazeera, saying there would be a conflict of interest because the organization was involved in the lawsuit against BP.
The results of the tests conducted to back up the investigation show not only mutation and contamination, but also the decline in the number of kinds of sea life as well as the number of those sea animals. These facts add to the already existing economic and environmental Armageddon that the oil spill has caused and continues to cause for residents and visitors. BP has responded to investigations and evidence of fraud, perjury and lies with numerous PR campaigns and has moved fast to settle as much of the problem as possible outside the traditional legal processes. “The fishermen have never seen anything like this,” says Dr. Jim Cowan, who works at Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. “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.” Al-Jazeera reports that fishermen have witnessed how 50 per cent of the shrimp caught during the last high season were damaged with mutations or missing body parts, a consequence of BP’s oil and dispersants. “Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets,” says Tracy Kuhns, who is a commercial fisher in Barataria, Louisiana. According toxicologists like Dr. Riki Ott, who survived the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the usage of dispersants is a draconian experiment being performed by BP. Corexit is know to have a combination of solvents, petroleum distillates, 2-butoxyethanol, among others, which work by dissolving oil, grease, and rubber. Mr. Ott said to Al Jazeera that the solvents in the chemicals are toxic to people, and that “it is something the medical community has long known”.
Separate studies have already demonstrated that oil dispersants like Corexit have mutagenic effects, which directly explains why seafood are experiencing the type of physical changes reported by fishers and residents, as well as why large mammals such as dolphins are appearing dead on the beaches all along the Gulf of Mexico. As it has been shown by several studies, the deformities caused by the chemicals carry out their effects through several generations, especially in those animals whose life span is shorter. The chemicals do indeed enter and negatively affect the genes. Although deformities and major health problems are not seen in humans, many residents of the Gulf have already been found sick or have died to the exposure to the chemicals sprayed over them. The chemicals can be absorbed through breathing, ingestion of contaminated food and water, through the skin or even the eyes. Early symptoms of intoxication manifest as headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pains, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. In the worst case scenario, the person dies if not treated or if an explicit detox program is not followed and repeated frequently.
A study conducted by Dr. Andrew Whitehead, from Louisiana State University, that analyzed the negative effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was published on the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last October. The report speaks volumes about the physiological effects of the oil disaster and shows a clear link between the BP oil spill and the intoxication of the waters, sea life and Gulf residents. “We found is a very clear, genome-wide signal, a very clear signal of exposure to the toxic components of oil that coincided with the timing and the locations of the oil,” said Whitehead during an interview with Al-Jazeera.
The oil industry has gotten away with so many crimes that government agencies, regulators and even the public have become conformed at best. The BP oil disaster happened — in part — as a consequence of a wave of exemptions to allow risky drilling operations without following proper safety procedures and it was the US federal government, through its multiple agencies the one that granted those exemptions. This makes the government as guilty as BP; guilty of the mass killing of life in the Gulf region. So, even if the same complicit government managed to try BP for its actions, who will indict the government for its complicity in this catastrophe? As oil industry insiders informed the public back in 2010, there was indeed an agenda to wipe out all life throughout the Gulf of Mexico at first, and everywhere else around it later.
The BP oil spill disaster, as we have abundantly reported, was the result of a combination of factors; among them, greed, lack of accountability, corruption and government collusion with powerful out-of-control corporations. Now, when it comes to simply letting the disaster get worse and worse, both the government and BP have taught us that their nature is rooted into a cesspit that is deeper and darker than anything humans are familiar with, a level that goes beyond corruption and disregard for responsibility. The actions and the inaction, the cover ups, the lying, the levels of conspiracy and deceit, the smoke screens and the expressed complicity not to solve the disaster they themselves created can only be explained by the degree of Evil with which corporations traditionally operate. It is in this times when the thoughts that government does not work for the people are effectively reinforced. It is becoming tiring to report on this issue without seeing any action taken against the corporations and the government agencies that allow those corporations to operate above the laws that the rest of us are obligated to abide by. This state of affairs also shows us the magnitude of the problem the people are up against. The problem is, as defined evidence, a direct and open war against us the people. An additional caveat is that given the inability of the public to demand answers and action, the warmongers hold all the chips in their power and while this stays the same, the war will continue to be waged on the same uneven table.