“Shane Granier, a wildlife biologist, was dispatched by the state’s wildlife and fisheries department to Venice nine days ago. “The mood is apprehension,” Granier said as we sheltered with oil spill responders and fishermen under a metal awning on the marina. “Always being on standby, ready to go, and never going.”
THIS SMALL community of 2,000 fishermen has become one of the main staging grounds for containment of the BP oil spill, a watery waiting place at the tip of the finger that Louisiana thrusts into the Gulf of Mexico.
Here grounded fishermen, US coast guards, men from the Wildlife and Fisheries department and journalists peer through pelting rain and fog so liquid that air and water are virtually indistinguishable.
With a mixture of dread, resignation and impatience, they are waiting for what may turn out to be the worst oil spill in US history to come to them. But two weeks after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank 50 miles away, storms blowing eastward have so far kept the oil at bay. Source: irishtimes
The sad fact is that companies like BP are more concerned over proprietary secrets than capping the well. Sometimes technology and trades become antiquated simply by lack of exposure to alternative thinking. High wages and trade secrets don’t mean you have the most competent people with the best technology. If you look at the development of the sciences in Europe, you find many examples of scientific results being published and shared between scientists of many different nationalities.
BP has history of flaunting rules
There was competition but it was in a more open and catholic spirit than trade secret protectionism motivated by wages or contracts. We have world standards for many endeavours from electronics to air travel. There should be international treaties to protect the environment from the greed of the oil companies and their contractors with regulation by government treaty mandate and mutual aid sharing agreements between nations.
You only have to look at the North American automobile to see how cosmetics have prevailed over utility in a moribund form of intellectual protectionism. Intellectual or contractual protectionism should not be a factor in a disaster such as this. What they are protecting may be of less value when we can see what it is really worth. The sad fact is that BP and its associates may be the best we have for the job.
The Government and NASA or NOAA scientists may have some more innovative solutions that they might actually share. They might also be better motivated to cap the well rather than draw from it. Nonetheless the resources on site belong to or are under contract to the oil companies. The USCG may not be the agency with the science and expertise to handle such a problem. Or, would Martial law over BP and its tradespeople be a good way to get to the bottom of this?
Why would anyone want the Big Oil Corporations to be operating either rigs or tankers off their coasts when they have shown nothing but contempt for the orders of the courts when settling punitive damages for the accidents that do and will occur during their operations. In the Exxon Valdez matter, after the 1994 court ruling requiring a settlement of $5 billion, Exxon launched a series of appeals. At a trial in 2006, the jury agreed to cut the settlement in half to $2.5 billion. In June 2008, Justice David Souter ruled that punitive damages cannot exceed the approximately $500 million Exxon has already paid to victims of the oil spill and their families.
Interestingly, the $507.5 million settlement only amounts to about 1/5 of the $2.5 billion cost of cleaning up the oil spill, which flooded the alaska coastline with 10.8 billion gallons of oil and is known as one of the most destructive man-made environmental disasters in history. And I’m still not aware whether they have made payment as of yet. They managed to appeal time and time again, and in 2006 granted out-going CEO Lee Raymond a 400 million dollar golden handshake (as a thank-you for stalling the settlement, one would wager).
If these people want the privilege of conducting business in this industry they should at least be prepared to accept the verdicts of the courts without years of appeals that will slowly whittle down the original damages awards after something goes wrong (and eventually something will, even if extremely rarely, you would be a fool to think otherwise).
Florida to Evacuate?
The rumored evacuation of some Gulf cities because of the possibility of dangerous petroleum pollution and fires remains a major concern. And civil defense experts continue to worry about spill generated fires, pollution, and resultant respiratory illnesses in the very young and elderly.
Plans to evacuate the TampaBayarea are expected to be announced in the coming days as FEMA prepares for what is now being called the worst oil disaster in the history of the world. The evacuations will be necessary for the elderly and those with respiratory problems along much of Florida’s coast, including the Tampa Bay area, if plans proceed to set the massive, approaching oil slick on fire, according to Oilprice.com.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s motto is “Semper Paratus,” Latin for “Always Ready” or “Always Prepared.” In the case of BP’s Gulf oil disaster, the Coast Guard is apparently always prepared to prevent the media from covering Louisiana’s oil-soaked Gulf shoreline.
CBS journalists were threatened with arrest by BP contractors and the Coast Guard when they attempted to film the beach. See the video below.
“This is BP’s rules, it’s not ours,” someone aboard the boat said. In other words, BP is running the show, not the Coast Guard and the government. Karl Burkart, writing for Mother Jones, reports numerous, unconfirmed reports of cameras and cell phones being confiscated, scientists with monitoring equipment being turned away, and local reporters blocked from access to public lands impacted by the oil spill.
“But wait,” writes Burkart, “isn’t that a public beach? From my viewpoint, it looks as if the Coast Guard has been given direct orders to protect BP’s PR interests above safety concerns over air and water quality, above the outcries of local governments in need of aid, and (worst of all) above the need for the American public to be informed about what is really going on in the Gulf.” Source