(Not So) Great Expectations

During my travels the last two days, I had a wonderful opportunity to spend time with some old friends. We went to Hooters, ate wings, drank beers and talked shit. But, eventually, the conversation turned to serious things. Since one guy is from New Orleans originally and his dad retired from Exxon, he had a few things to say about this mess that is devastating his home state. He does have some insight and explained that he is extremely worried that this well is blown out so bad that it will never be sealed. Relief wells will never stop this, because the damage to the well is so bad.

Like me, he thinks of all the things that could go wrong. The main problem will be the health effects of the crap that aerosols and gets in to the air for the locals to breathe. If you follow the three videos below that WSWS produced (Greg from the Goon Squad recommended one and I believe all three should be viewed to get an idea about what to expect on various fronts):

In this first part in a series of videos on the Gulf Coast oil spill, the WSWS interviews Dean Blanchard, the owner of a shrimp processing and distribution company located in Grand Isle, Louisiana. Like many others, his business has been ruined by the oil spill that has contaminated the Gulf of Mexico and largely destroyed shrimping and fishing in the region.

Part 2—The effect on human health
By C.W. Rogers and Andre Damon
30 June 2010

This video, the second in a series, explores the health consequences of the BP oil spill. It features interviews with Nathalie Walker, an attorney and co-director of Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, as well as environmental chemist Wilma Subra.

This video, part three of a series, explores the social consequences of the BP oil spill. The disaster has destroyed the livelihoods of tens of thousands of fishermen and small business people, and experts say it may uproot whole communities and trigger mass migrations.

from the World Socialist Website

Yes, this oil blowout is fouling water, land and air. And no matter how emotional you get about the cleanup (like my little sister, who, with the world’s biggest heart, is outraged and wants to go help clean up). But like I told her son, who wanted to go clean up, too (they lived at Pensacola for a few years and love the place), this shit may not only make you ill, but it could very well KILL YOU. People, please wake up to how bad this shit is and will be.

Do not fall for the Floridian leadership pleas lies telling you that the water and beaches are ok. Those assholes are thinking about money, not you or your health.

I visited another old friend who is a big wheel at a major automobile manufacturer and he told me about his family’s plans to go to Panama City, Florida in the next couple of months and I felt a wave of nausea as I thought about his beautiful children going to the beach, breathing that air and getting flu-like symptoms. Or, even if the least is getting burned by the Corexit and tar balls:

Don’t Scare the Tourists

One of the concerns is that the local officials want to downplay the hazards from the oil spill to avoid alarming tourists and driving even more people away from the beaches.

“The official story,” said Mogavero, “is that the water is clear, and there are a few tar balls but it is safe to swim in and I feel that is in direct opposition to the reality of the situation…

“When you’ve got this detergent, this dispersant in the water – coming in – I have first-hand experience with burn marks on my skin with these tar balls that these children are playing in that potentially could cause their death.”

The long-time Floridian is also shocked to see people swimming so close to where clean-up boats, with workers in hazmat suits, were cleaning up the toxic sludge.

“It is probably a couple hundred yards across, right smack in the middle of Destin Harbor,” he said. “And there are two boats dragging a boom, obviously skimming the surface oil within 20 yards of where there were people on the beach, entering the water, and going swimming.”

The next day, Lepori went to investigate reports of another school of sick dolphins. As soon as she got to the water’s edge, she became dizzy and nauseous, similar to her experience out on the Gulf off Alabama.

“Within minutes of getting on the beach with families swimming in the water and it was maybe because I was so exposed to all these chemicals, I was sick,” she said. “I had a headache, I couldn’t breathe, again, I was dizzy and I ended up having to leave the beach.

“And again, there were families. I walked along the beach telling the families along the beach, did you know this water’s poisonous that you’re putting these children in? …There were no signs, no one telling anyone anything about the toxicity of the water. And you know sometimes I don’t even have words. And none of those people knew.”

h/t Common Dreams

I saw this interesting video on Facebook this morning from a friend who lives in Florida. Apparently, the stuff is being picked up and dumped inland by rain (this home is 10 miles from the coast, in Tampa):

The same friend posted this video, produced by a couple who lives and work in New Orleans. In it, they show that the brand new, gleaming white roof of the Super Dome is turning black and oily from the rains that are picking the shit up and dumping inland. According to these two, this roof was solid white just a week or two ago.

Supposedly, BP is getting real close to having the relief wells completed. But, as history shows, this usually doesn’t work correctly the first time. It can take many stabs before actually hitting the mark.

One relief well is now within about 20 feet [1] of BP’s ruptured well in the Gulf, but historically these fixes haven’t always worked on the first try–even on blowouts in far shallower waters.

The Ixtoc well in the Gulf of Mexico was only 150 feet below the surface, and it took nine months [2], two relief wells, and several tries before a relief well finally stopped that spill. That was in 1979.

And the Montara well, off the coast of Australia, was in 250 feet of water [3] and flowed for 10  weeks last fall. A relief well took five attempts [4]. At one point engineers even lost control of the relief well, causing a fire that destroyed the original rig [5], according to The Times-Picayune of New Orleans.

BP’s well in the Gulf, by comparison, is 20 times deeper than the Montara well and more than 30 times deeper than the Ixtoc well. Two relief wells are being drilled–one as a backup.

Initial failure is “almost a certainty [6],” David Rensink, president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, told Bloomberg. “It would be like winning the lottery to get it on the first shot.”

H/t to Marian Wang at ProPublica

Should we expect them to cap this thing? Or, should our expectations change as we begin to clearly see the damage being done and the feet being dragged. When will it become acceptable to SUSPECT these people of criminality?

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