December 18, 2013
Bottlenose dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay have lung damage and adrenal hormone abnormalities not previously seen in other dolphin populations, according to a new peer-reviewed study published Dec. 18, 2013 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The Deepwater Horizon spill heavily oiled Barataria Bay. The study was conducted in August 2011 as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) by a team of government, academic and non-governmental researchers. In the NRDA process, federal and state trustee agencies working cooperatively with BP identify potential injuries to natural resources and lost public uses resulting from the spill, along with restoration projects to ensure that the public is fully compensated for its loss.
The publication details the first evidence that dolphins in heavily oiled areas are exhibiting injuries consistent with toxic effects observed in laboratory studies of mammals exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons. The dolphin health study concludes that the health effects seen in the Barataria Bay dolphins are significant and likely will lead to reduced survival and ability to reproduce.
Twenty-nine of the total 32 dolphins sampled in Barataria Bay received comprehensive physical examinations, including ultrasound examinations to assess lung condition. The researchers assigned almost half (48 percent) of the dolphins a guarded or worse prognosis. In fact, they classified 17 percent as being in poor or grave condition, meaning the dolphins were not expected to survive.
These findings are in contrast to dolphins sampled in Sarasota Bay, Florida, an area not oiled by the Deepwater Horizon spill. For Dr. Lori Schwacke, the study’s lead author and veteran of a number of similar dolphin health studies across the southeast, the findings are troubling: “I’ve never seen such a high prevalence of very sick animals — and with unusual conditions such as the adrenal hormone abnormalities.”
The NRDA researchers found that moderate to severe lung disease was five times more likely in the Barataria Bay dolphins, with symptoms including lung masses and consolidation. The researchers also found that 25 percent of the Barataria Bay dolphins were significantly underweight and the population overall had very low levels of adrenal hormones, which are critical for responding to stress.
The researchers examined alternative hypotheses for the dolphins’ disease conditions, such as exposure to other man-made chemicals that have previously been measured in high concentrations in marine mammals and also associated with impacts on health. Blubber samples from the Barataria Bay dolphins, however, showed relatively low concentrations for the broad suite of chemicals measured, including PCBs and commonly detected persistent pesticides, as compared to other coastal dolphin populations.
Based on the findings from the 2011 dolphin health study, researchers performed three additional health assessments in 2013 as part of the Deepwater Horizon NRDA. The studies were repeated in Barataria Bay and Sarasota Bay, and also expanded to Mississippi Sound, including both Mississippi and Alabama waters. Results from these more recent health assessments are still pending.
Researchers conducting the NRDA studies are collaborating closely with the team conducting an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) investigation in the northern Gulf of Mexico under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Investigations of this type follow stranding events that are unexpected, involve a significant die-off and demand an immediate response. The observed increase in the number of dolphin strandings now includes more than 1,050 animals that have stranded along the Gulf Coast from the Texas/Louisiana border through Franklin County, Florida. Ninety-four percent of these animals have stranded dead.
The UME investigation, spanning from February 2010 to present, is the longest UME response since 1992, and includes the greatest number of stranded dolphins in an UME in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Teresa Rowles, lead for the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program and a co-author on the dolphin health publication, indicates that “these dolphin health studies will contribute significant information for both the NRDA and the UME investigation as we compare disease findings in the wild, living dolphins to the pathologies and analyses from the dead animals across the northern Gulf.”
“It’s as safe as Dawn dishwashing liquid.” That’s what Jamie Griffin says the BP man told her about the smelly, rainbow-streaked gunk coating the floor of the “floating hotel” where Griffin was feeding hundreds of cleanup workers during the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently, the workers were tracking the gunk inside on their boots. Griffin, as chief cook and maid, was trying to clean it. But even boiling water didn’t work.
“The BP representative said, ‘Jamie, just mop it like you’d mop any other dirty floor,’” Griffin recalls in her Louisiana drawl.
It was the opening weeks of what everyone, echoing President Barack Obama, was calling “the worst environmental disaster in American history.” At 9:45 p.m. local time on April 20, 2010, a fiery explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had killed 11 workers and injured 17. One mile underwater, the Macondo well had blown apart, unleashing a gusher of oil into the gulf. At risk were fishing areas that supplied one third of the seafood consumed in the U.S., beaches from Texas to Florida that drew billions of dollars’ worth of tourism to local economies, and Obama’s chances of reelection. Republicans were blaming him for mishandling the disaster, his poll numbers were falling, even his 11-year-old daughter was demanding, “Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?”
Griffin did as she was told: “I tried Pine-Sol, bleach, I even tried Dawn on those floors.” As she scrubbed, the mix of cleanser and gunk occasionally splashed onto her arms and face.
Within days, the 32-year-old single mother was coughing up blood and suffering constant headaches. She lost her voice. “My throat felt like I’d swallowed razor blades,” she says.
Then things got much worse.
Like hundreds, possibly thousands, of workers on the cleanup, Griffin soon fell ill with a cluster of excruciating, bizarre, grotesque ailments. By July, unstoppable muscle spasms were twisting her hands into immovable claws. In August, she began losing her short-term memory. After cooking professionally for 10 years, she couldn’t remember the recipe for vegetable soup; one morning, she got in the car to go to work, only to discover she hadn’t put on pants. The right side, but only the right side, of her body “started acting crazy. It felt like the nerves were coming out of my skin. It was so painful. My right leg swelled—my ankle would get as wide as my calf—and my skin got incredibly itchy.”
“These are the same symptoms experienced by soldiers who returned from the Persian Gulf War with Gulf War syndrome,” says Dr. Michael Robichaux, a Louisiana physician and former state senator, who treated Griffin and 113 other patients with similar complaints. As a general practitioner, Robichaux says he had “never seen this grouping of symptoms together: skin problems, neurological impairments, plus pulmonary problems.” Only months later, after Kaye H. Kilburn, a former professor of medicine at the University of Southern California and one of the nation’s leading environmental health experts, came to Louisiana and tested 14 of Robichaux’s patients did the two physicians make the connection with Gulf War syndrome, the malady that afflicted an estimated 250,000 veterans of that war with a mysterious combination of fatigue, skin inflammation, and cognitive problems.
Meanwhile, the well kept hemorrhaging oil. The world watched with bated breath as BP failed in one attempt after another to stop the leak. An agonizing 87 days passed before the well was finally plugged on July 15. By then, 210 million gallons of Louisiana sweet crude had escaped into the Gulf of Mexico, according to government estimates, making the BP disaster the largest accidental oil leak in world history.
In 2010, Pulitzer Prize-winning animator Mark Fiore created this humorous and poignant take on the BP oil spill.
Yet three years later, the BP disaster has been largely forgotten, both overseas and in the U.S. Popular anger has cooled. The media have moved on. Today, only the business press offers serious coverage of what the Financial Times calls “the trial of the century”—the trial now under way in New Orleans, where BP faces tens of billions of dollars in potential penalties for the disaster. As for Obama, the same president who early in the BP crisis blasted the “scandalously close relationship” between oil companies and government regulators two years later ran for reelection boasting about how much new oil and gas development his administration had approved.
Such collective amnesia may seem surprising, but there may be a good explanation for it: BP mounted a cover-up that concealed the full extent of its crimes from public view. This cover-up prevented the media and therefore the public from knowing—and above all, seeing—just how much oil was gushing into the gulf. The disaster appeared much less extensive and destructive than it actually was. BP declined to comment for this article.
That BP lied about the amount of oil it discharged into the gulf is already established. Lying to Congress about that was one of 14 felonies to which BP pleaded guilty last year in a legal settlement with the Justice Department that included a $4.5 billion fine, the largest fine ever levied against a corporation in the U.S.
What has not been revealed until now is how BP hid that massive amount of oil from TV cameras and the price that this “disappearing act” imposed on cleanup workers, coastal residents, and the ecosystem of the gulf. That story can now be told because an anonymous whistleblower has provided evidence that BP was warned in advance about the safety risks of attempting to cover up its leaking oil. Nevertheless, BP proceeded. Furthermore, BP appears to have withheld these safety warnings, as well as protective measures, both from the thousands of workers hired for the cleanup and from the millions of Gulf Coast residents who stood to be affected.
The financial implications are enormous. The trial now under way in New Orleans is wrestling with whether BP was guilty of “negligence” or “gross negligence” for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. If found guilty of “negligence,” BP would be fined, under the Clean Water Act, $1,100 for each barrel of oil that leaked. But if found guilty of “gross negligence”—which a cover-up would seem to imply—BP would be fined $4,300 per barrel, almost four times as much, for a total of $17.5 billion. That large a fine, combined with an additional $34 billion that the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida are seeking, could have a powerful effect on BP’s economic health.
Yet the most astonishing thing about BP’s cover-up? It was carried out in plain sight, right in front of the world’s uncomprehending news media (including, I regret to say, this reporter).
The chief instrument of BP’s cover-up was the same substance that apparently sickened Jamie Griffin and countless other cleanup workers and local residents. Its brand name is Corexit, but most news reports at the time referred to it simply as a “dispersant.” Its function was to attach itself to leaked oil, break it into droplets, and disperse them into the vast reaches of the gulf, thereby keeping the oil from reaching Gulf Coast shorelines. And the Corexit did largely achieve this goal.
But the 1.84 million gallons of Corexit that BP applied during the cleanup also served a public-relations purpose: they made the oil spill all but disappear, at least from TV screens. By late July 2010, the Associated Press and The New York Times were questioning whether the spill had been such a big deal after all. Time went so far as to assert that right-wing talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh “has a point” when he accused journalists and environmentalists of exaggerating the crisis.
But BP had a problem: it had lied about how safe Corexit is, and proof of its dishonesty would eventually fall into the hands of the Government Accountability Project, the premiere whistleblower-protection group in the U.S. The proof? A technical manual BP had received from NALCO, the firm that supplied the Corexit that BP used in the gulf.
An electronic copy of that manual is included in a new report GAP has issued, “Deadly Dispersants in the Gulf.” On the basis of interviews with dozens of cleanup workers, scientists, and Gulf Coast residents, GAP concludes that the health impacts endured by Griffin were visited upon many other locals as well. What’s more, the combination of Corexit and crude oil also caused terrible damage to gulf wildlife and ecosystems, including an unprecedented number of seafood mutations; declines of up to 80 percent in seafood catch; and massive die-offs of the microscopic life-forms at the base of the marine food chain. GAP warns that BP and the U.S. government nevertheless appear poised to repeat the exercise after the next major oil spill: “As a result of Corexit’s perceived success, Corexit … has become the dispersant of choice in the U.S. to ‘clean up’ oil spills.”
BP’s cover-up was not planned in advance but devised in the heat of the moment as the oil giant scrambled to limit the PR and other damages of the disaster. Indeed, one of the chief scandals of the disaster is just how unprepared both BP and federal and state authorities were for an oil leak of this magnitude. U.S. law required that a response plan be in place before drilling began, but the plan was embarrassingly flawed.
“We weren’t managing for actual risk; we were checking a box,” says Mark Davis, director of the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy at Tulane University. “That’s how we ended up with a response plan that included provisions for dealing with the impacts to walruses: because [BP] copied word for word the response plans that had been developed after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill [in Alaska, in 1989] instead of a plan tailored to the conditions in the gulf.”
As days turned into weeks and it became obvious that no one knew how to plug the gushing well, BP began insisting that Corexit be used to disperse the leaking oil. This triggered alarms from scientists and from a leading environmental NGO in Louisiana, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN).
The group’s scientific adviser, Wilma Subra, a chemist whose work on environmental pollution had won her a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation, told state and federal authorities that she was especially concerned about how dangerous the mixture of crude and Corexit was: “The short-term health symptoms include acute respiratory problems, skin rashes, cardiovascular impacts, gastrointestinal impacts, and short-term loss of memory,” she told GAP investigators. “Long-term impacts include cancer, decreased lung function, liver damage, and kidney damage.”
(Nineteen months after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, a scientific study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution found that crude oil becomes 52 times more toxic when combined with Corexit.)
BP even rebuffed a direct request from the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, who wrote BP a letter on May 19, asking the company to deploy a less toxic dispersant in the cleanup. Jackson could only ask BP to do this; she could not legally require it. Why? Because use of Corexit had been authorized years before under the federal Oil Pollution Act.
In a recent interview, Jackson explains that she and other officials “had to determine, with less-than-perfect scientific testing and data, whether use of dispersants would, despite potential side effects, improve the overall situation in the gulf and coastal ecosystems. The tradeoff, as I have said many times, was potential damage in the deep water versus the potential for larger amounts of undispersed oil in the ecologically rich coastal shallows and estuaries.” She adds that the presidential commission that later studied the BP oil disaster did not fault the decision to use dispersants.
Knowing that EPA lacked the authority to stop it, BP wrote back to Jackson on May 20, declaring that Corexit was safe. What’s more, BP wrote, there was a ready supply of Corexit, which was not the case with alternative dispersants. (A NALCO plant was located just 30 miles west of New Orleans.)
But Corexit was decidedly not safe without taking proper precautions, as the manual BP got from NALCO spelled out in black and white. The “Vessel Captains Hazard Communication” resource manual, which GAP shared with me, looks innocuous enough. A three-ring binder with a black plastic cover, the manual contained 61 sheets, each wrapped in plastic, that detailed the scientific properties of the two types of Corexit that BP was buying, as well as their health hazards and recommended measures against those hazards.
BP applied two types of Corexit in the gulf. The first, Corexit 9527, was considerably more toxic. According to the NALCO manual, Corexit 9527 is an “eye and skin irritant. Repeated or excessive exposure … may cause injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidney or the liver.” The manual adds: “Excessive exposure may cause central nervous system effects, nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects.” It advises, “Do not get in eyes, on skin, on clothing,” and “Wear suitable protective clothing.”
When available supplies of Corexit 9527 were exhausted early in the cleanup, BP switched to the second type of dispersant, Corexit 9500. In its recommendations for dealing with Corexit 9500, the NALCO manual advised, “Do not get in eyes, on skin, on clothing,” “Avoid breathing vapor,” and “Wear suitable protective clothing.”
It’s standard procedure—and required by U.S. law—for companies to distribute this kind of information to any work site where hazardous materials are present so workers can know about the dangers they face and how to protect themselves. But interviews with numerous cleanup workers suggest that this legally required precaution was rarely if ever followed during the BP cleanup. Instead, it appears that BP told NALCO to stop including the manuals with the Corexit that NALCO was delivering to cleanup work sites.
“It’s my understanding that some manuals were sent out with the shipments of Corexit in the beginning [of the cleanup],” the anonymous source tells me. “Then, BP told NALCO to stop sending them. So NALCO was left with a roomful of unused binders.”
Roman Blahoski, NALCO’s director of global communications, says: “NALCO responded to requests for its pre-approved dispersants from those charged with protecting the gulf and mitigating the environmental, health, and economic impact of this event. NALCO was never involved in decisions relating to the use, volume, and application of its dispersant.”
Misrepresenting the safety of Corexit went hand in hand with BP’s previously noted lie about how much oil was leaking from the Macondo well. As reported by John Rudolf in The Huffington Post, internal BP emails show that BP privately estimated that “the runaway well could be leaking from 62,000 barrels a day to 146,000 barrels a day.” Meanwhile, BP officials were telling the government and the media that only 5,000 barrels a day were leaking.
In short, applying Corexit enabled BP to mask the fact that a much larger amount of oil was actually leaking into the gulf. “Like any good magician, the oil industry has learned that if you can’t see something that was there, it must have ‘disappeared,’” Scott Porter, a scientist and deep-sea diver who consults for oil companies and oystermen, says in the GAP report. “Oil companies have also learned that, in the public mind, ‘out of sight equals out of mind.’ Therefore, they have chosen crude oil dispersants as the primary tool for handling large marine oil spills.”
BP also had a more direct financial interest in using Corexit, argues Clint Guidry, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, whose members include not only shrimpers but fishermen of all sorts. As it happens, local fishermen constituted a significant portion of BP’s cleanup force (which numbered as many as 47,000 workers at the height of the cleanup). Because the spill caused the closure of their fishing grounds, BP and state and federal authorities established the Vessels of Opportunity (VoO) program, in which BP paid fishermen to take their boats out and skim, burn, and otherwise get rid of leaked oil. Applying dispersants, Guidry points out, reduced the total volume of oil that could be traced back to BP.
“The next phase of this trial [against BP] is going to turn on how much oil was leaked,” Guidry tells me. [If found guilty, BP will be fined a certain amount for each barrel of oil judged to have leaked.] “So hiding the oil with Corexit worked not only to hide the size of the spill but also to lower the amount of oil that BP may get charged for releasing.”
Not only did BP fail to inform workers of the potential hazards of Corexit and to provide them with safety training and protective gear, according to interviews with dozens of cleanup workers, the company also allegedly threatened to fire workers who complained about the lack of respirators and protective clothing.
“I worked with probably a couple hundred different fishermen on the [cleanup],” Acy Cooper, Guidry’s second in command, tells me in Venice, the coastal town from which many VoO vessels departed. “Not one of them got any safety information or training concerning the toxic materials they encountered.” Cooper says that BP did provide workers with body suits and gloves designed for handling hazardous materials. “But when I’d talk with [the BP representative] about getting my guys respirators and air monitors, I’d never get any response.”
Roughly 58 percent of the 1.84 million gallons of Corexit used in the cleanup was sprayed onto the gulf from C-130 airplanes. The spray sometimes ended up hitting cleanup workers in the face.
“Our boat was sprayed four times,” says Jorey Danos, a 32-year-old father of three who suffered racking coughing fits, severe fatigue, and memory loss after working on the BP cleanup. “I could see the stuff coming out of the plane—like a shower of mist, a smoky color. I could see [it] coming at me, but there was nothing I could do.”
“The next day,” Danos continues, “when the BP rep came around on his speed boat, I asked, ‘Hey, what’s the deal with that stuff that was coming out of those planes yesterday?’ He told me, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ I said, ‘Man, that s–t was burning my face—it ain’t right.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ I said, ‘Well, could we get some respirators or something, because that s–t is bad.’ He said, ‘No, that wouldn’t look good to the media. You got two choices: you can either be relieved of your duties or you can deal with it.’”
Perhaps the single most hazardous chemical compound found in Corexit 9527 is 2-Butoxyethanol, a substance that had been linked to cancers and other health impacts among cleanup workers on the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska. According to BP’s own data, 20 percent of offshore workers in the gulf had levels of 2-Butoxyethanol two times higher than the level certified as safe by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Cleanup workers were not the only victims; coastal residents also suffered. “My 2-year-old grandson and I would play out in the yard,” says Shirley Tillman of the Mississippi coastal town Pass Christian. “You could smell oil and stuff in the air, but on the news they were saying it’s fine, don’t worry. Well, by October, he was one sick little fellow. All of a sudden, this very active little 2-year-old was constantly sick. He was having headaches, upper respiratory infections, earaches. The night of his birthday party, his parents had to rush him to the emergency room. He went to nine different doctors, but they treated just the symptoms; they’re not toxicologists.”
“It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.” Ever since the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, that’s been the mantra. Cover-ups don’t work, goes the argument. They only dig a deeper hole, because the truth eventually comes out.
But does it?
GAP investigators were hopeful that obtaining the NALCO manual might persuade BP to meet with them, and it did. On July 10, 2012, BP hosted a private meeting at its Houston offices. Presiding over the meeting, which is described here publicly for the first time, was BP’s public ombudsman, Stanley Sporkin, joining by telephone from Washington. Ironically, Sporkin had made his professional reputation during the Watergate scandal. As a lawyer with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Sporkin investigated illegal corporate payments to the slush fund that President Nixon used to buy the silence of the Watergate burglars.
Also attending the meeting were two senior BP attorneys; BP Vice President Luke Keller; other BP officials; Thomas Devine, GAP’s senior attorney on the BP case; Shanna Devine, GAP’s investigator on the case; Dr. Michael Robichaux; Dr. Wilma Subra; and Marylee Orr, the executive director of LEAN. The following account is based on my interviews with Thomas Devine, Robichaux, Subra, and Orr. BP declined to comment.
BP officials had previously confirmed the authenticity of the NALCO manual, says Thomas Devine, but now they refused to discuss it, even though this had been one of the stated purposes for the meeting. Nor would BP address the allegation, made by the whistleblower who had given the manual to GAP, that BP had ordered the manual withheld from cleanup work sites, perhaps to maintain the fiction that Corexit was safe.
“They opened the meeting with this upbeat presentation about how seriously they took their responsibilities for the spill and all the wonderful things they were doing to make things right,” says Devine. “When it was my turn to speak, I said that the manual our whistleblower had provided contradicted what they just said. I asked whether they had ordered the manual withdrawn from work sites. Their attorneys said that was a matter they would not discuss because of the pending litigation on the spill.” [Disclosure: Thomas Devine is a friend of this reporter.]
The visitors’ top priority was to get BP to agree not to use Corexit in the future. Keller said that Corexit was still authorized for use by the U.S. government and BP would indeed feel free to use it against any future oil spills.
A second priority was to get BP to provide medical treatment for Jamie Griffin and the many other apparent victims of Corexit-and-crude poisoning. This request too was refused by BP.
Robichaux doubts his patients will receive proper compensation from the $7.8 billion settlement BP reached in 2012 with the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, 19 court-appointed attorneys who represent the hundreds of individuals and entities that have sued BP for damages related to the gulf disaster. “Nine of the most common symptoms of my patients do not appear on the list of illnesses that settlement says can be compensated, including memory loss, fatigue, and joint and muscular pain,” says Robichaux. “So how are the attorneys going to file suits on behalf of those victims?”
At one level, BP’s cover-up of the gulf oil disaster speaks to the enormous power that giant corporations exercise in modern society, and how unable, or unwilling, governments are to limit that power. To be sure, BP has not entirely escaped censure for its actions; depending on the outcome of the trial now under way in New Orleans, the company could end up paying tens of billions of dollars in fines and damages over and above the $4.5 billion imposed by the Justice Department in the settlement last year. But BP’s reputation appears to have survived: its market value as this article went to press was a tidy $132 billion, and few, if any, BP officials appear likely to face any legal repercussions. “If I would have killed 11 people, I’d be hanging from a noose,” says Jorey Danos. “Not BP. It’s the golden rule: the man with the gold makes the rules.”
As unchastened as anyone at BP is Bob Dudley, the American who was catapulted into the CEO job a few weeks into the gulf disaster to replace Tony Hayward, whose propensity for imprudent comments—“I want my life back,” the multimillionaire had pouted while thousands of gulf workers and residents were suffering—had made him a globally derided figure. Dudley told the annual BP shareholders meeting in London last week that Corexit “is effectively … dishwashing soap,” no more toxic than that, as all scientific studies supposedly showed. What’s more, Dudley added, he himself had grown up in Mississippi and knows that the Gulf of Mexico is “an ecosystem that is used to oil.”
Nor has the BP oil disaster triggered the kind of changes in law and public priorities one might have expected. “Not much has actually changed,” says Mark Davis of Tulane. “It reflects just how wedded our country is to keeping the Gulf of Mexico producing oil and bringing it to our shores as cheaply as possible. Going forward, no one should assume that just because something really bad happened we’re going to manage oil and gas production with greater sensitivity and wisdom. That will only happen if people get involved and compel both the industry and the government to be more diligent.”
And so the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history has been whitewashed—its true dimensions obscured, its victims forgotten, its lessons ignored. Who says cover-ups never work?
Mark Hertsgaard is a fellow at the New American Foundation and the author, most recently, of HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth. This article was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.
After getting nuked on the plane ride to Mexico, I ended up having a major health emergency. Thanks to a cab driver named Julio everything turned out ok. However, the plants there show definite genetic damage and something else that seems to be ongoing…I know from measurements this is less likely to be ongoing Fukushima radiation and more likely to be Corexit rain-out…whatever it is, something is f@cking up the plants big-time. Lots of pics shown.
Mary Osbourne (The Mutation Lady from TMI) makes a special appearance and gives us an on the scene report of the TMI drill.
This lady is doing a lot in her area to expose BP contamination and the poisonous gas expulsion in Ft Walton Fl, if you live in the area it looks like she could use help informing locals about the dangerous Hazmat conditions existing in the environment. Flyer flashmobs would be an excellent way to get the word out!
Chemicals used to disperse Gulf of Mexico spill blamed for marine deaths and human illness
Hundreds of beached dolphin carcasses, shrimp with no eyes, contaminated fish, ancient corals caked in oil and some seriously unwell people are among the legacies that scientists are still uncovering in the wake of BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill.
This week it will be three years since the first of 4.9 billion barrels of crude oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, in what is now considered the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. As the scale of the ecological disaster unfolds, BP is appearing daily in a New Orleans federal court to battle over the extent of compensation it owes to the region.
Infant dolphins were found dead at six times average rates in January and February of 2013. More than 650 dolphins have been found beached in the oil spill area since the disaster began, which is more than four times the historical average. Sea turtles were also affected, with more than 1,700 found stranded between May 2010 and November 2012 – the last date for which information is available. On average, the number stranded annually in the region is 240.
Contact with oil may also have reduced the number of juvenile bluefin tuna produced in 2010 by 20 per cent, with a potential reduction in future populations of about 4 per cent. Contamination of smaller fish also means that toxic chemicals could make their way up the food chain after scientists found the spill had affected the cellular function of killifish, a common bait fish at the base of the food chain.
Deep sea coral, some of which is thousands of years old, has been found coated in oil after the dispersed droplets settled on the sea’s bottom. A recent laboratory study found that the mixture of oil and dispersant affected the ability of some coral species to build new parts of a reef.
Doug Inkley, a senior scientist for the US National Wildlife Federation and author of a report published this week on wildlife affected by the spill, said: “These ongoing deaths – particularly in an apex predator such as the dolphin – are a strong indication that there is something amiss with the Gulf ecosystem.”
Scientists believe that the 1.8 million gallons of dispersant, sprayed as part of the clean-up, have cemented the disaster’s toxic effect on ocean life and human health. The dispersant, called Corexit, caused what some scientists have described as “a giant black snowstorm” of tiny oil globules, which has been carried around the ocean in plumes and has now settled on the sea floor. A study last November found the dispersant to be 52 times more toxic than the oil itself.
Larry McKinney, director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, said: “Before we depend on dispersants to get rid of oil and get it out of sight, we need to understand what it can do in the open ocean. We’re told to keep oil off the shore and away from estuaries, but we’ve not dealt with something like this before, that’s in the open ocean and gone from top to bottom, affecting the whole water column.”
Scientists believe the addition of dispersants to the oil made it more easily absorbed through the gills of fish and into the bloodstream. Dr William Sawyer, a toxicologist, has studied concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbon (PHC) in edible fish and shellfish in the region. Samples before the spill had no measurable PHC in the tissue, whereas fish tested in recent months show tissue concentrations as high as 10,000 parts per million, or 1 per cent of all tissue. He said: “The study shows that the absorption [of the oil] was enhanced by the Corexit.”
BP says the dispersants it used are “government approved and safe when used appropriately”, and that extensive testing has shown seafood in the Gulf states is safe to eat.
Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences has found sea life in the Gulf with lesions and deformities that it believes may be linked to the use of dispersants. These include shrimp with no eyes and crabs with no eyes or without claws. BP claims these abnormalities are “common in marine life”, had been seen in the region before, and are caused by bacterial infections or parasites.
In a blow to the region’s tourism, tar balls continue to wash up along the affected coastline, which now stretches from the beaches of Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Marco Kaltofen, a chemical engineer at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, said: “We have a reservoir of petroleum and petroleum-contaminated sediment that lies just offshore of several Gulf beaches. Every time we have a storm, all of a sudden you’re getting these tar balls washing up.”
It is not just wildlife that scientists believe has been affected. Michael Robichaux, a Louisiana doctor, has documented 113 patients who he thinks were made ill by exposure to chemicals associated with the spill. Their most common symptoms include headaches, memory loss, fatigue, irritability, vertigo, nausea, blurred vision and insomnia.
One of Dr Robichaux’s patients, Jorey Danos, 32, is a formerly healthy father of three. Since working for BP on the clean-up, he says he has experienced serious ill health, including severe abdominal and joint pain that has left him walking with a cane. Several doctors, including a neurologist, have put his condition down to the neurological impact of exposure to the chemicals related to the spill.
Mr Danos said: “I worked 21 days in one of the boats skimming the oil and we were sprayed directly with Corexit from above on three occasions. My skin came out with bumps and burning and I started having breathing problems. When a speedboat with BP representatives came by I asked for a respirator but they said no, because it would lead to bad media attention. Now I’m still dealing with it three years later.” BP said all workers were provided with safety training and protective equipment and would have had the opportunity to join a class action settlement.
Geoff Morrell, BP’s head of US communications, said: “No company has done more to respond to an industrial accident than BP has in the US Gulf of Mexico.”
Warning to people living in these areas, if you see bubbling don’t hang around long without a gas mask. The daily list of “apparent” hydrogen sulfide incidents on jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com is growing, one of the website pages also lists preventative measures to protect yourself and loved ones.
The oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon disaster three years ago killed off millions of amoeba-like creatures that form the basis of the gulf’s aquatic food chain, according to scientists at the University of South Florida.
The die-off of tiny foraminifera stretched through the mile-deep DeSoto Canyon and beyond, following the path of an underwater plume of oil that snaked out from the wellhead, said David Hollander, a chemical oceanographer with USF.
“Everywhere the plume went, the die-off went,” Hollander said.
The discovery by USF scientists marks yet another sign that damage from the disaster is still being revealed as its third anniversary looms. Although initially some pundits said the spill wasn’t as bad as everyone feared, further scientific research has found that corals in the gulf died. Anglers hauled in fish with tattered fins and strange lesions. And dolphins continue dying.
The full implications of the die-off are yet to be seen. The foraminifera are consumed by clams and other creatures, who then provide food for the next step in the food chain, including the types of fish found with lesions. Because of the size of the spill, the way it was handled and the lack of baseline science in the gulf, there’s little previous research to predict long-term effects.
The disaster began with a fiery explosion aboard an offshore drilling rig on April 20, 2010. It held the nation spellbound for months as BP struggled to stop the oil, but the spill has largely faded from national headlines. The oil is still there, though.
Weathered particles of oil from Deepwater Horizon are buried in the sediment in the gulf bottom and could be there for as much as a century.
“These are not going away any time soon,” Hollander said.
USF researchers dug up core samples from the gulf bottom in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and they plan to return this year and next to compare what they found. Their examination uncovered the massive die-off, according to researcher Patrick Schwing. They also noted an absence of microscopic worms that are normally seen in those areas. The researchers could not estimate how many square miles the die-off covered.
In the core samples, they could see that most of the grayish sediment on the bottom built up gradually over centuries, said Isabel Romero, a researcher working with Hollander. But on top they found a large, dark clump of sediment from the time of the 2010 disaster. The amount registered as 300 times the normal amount of oil-based particles found on the bottom.
The oil in the sediment samples definitely came from the 2010 disaster, Hollander said. The substance bears the same chemical signature as Deepwater Horizon oil.
Effects on fish
That’s also the chemical signature of the substance that has clogged the livers of red snapper and other fish found with lesions. The fish livers were trying to screen out the impurities but could not cope with the quantities, he said.
“We’re seeing lots of connections with fish diseases,” Hollander said. “We’re seeing compromised immune systems.”
The diseased fish began turning up a few months after BP was able to shut off the flow of oil in July 2010. The discovery of fish with lesions faded out the following year, said Steve Murawski, a USF fisheries biologist who has overseen a project that examined 7,000 fish caught in the gulf.
Scientists are now looking for more subtle effects in red snapper, such as reductions in the number of large fish and a decline in the total population, Murawski said. They are looking for any genetic mutations, too, he said.
“If they get sick, that’s one thing,” Murawski said. “But if it changed their genes so that they’re less resistant to disease or have lower weights, that’s a big deal. That would be a real game-changer if true.”
BP spokesman Craig Savage said, “No company has done more, faster to respond to an industrial accident than BP did in response to the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010. As a result of our $14 billion cleanup effort, BP-funded early restoration projects as well as natural recovery processes, the gulf is returning to its baseline condition – the condition it would be in if the accident had not occurred.”
But USF oceanographers and biologists are finding lingering effects of Deepwater Horizon. That’s no surprise to the biologists, who recall that eight years passed after the Exxon Valdez oil spill before the herring population crashed from immune system problems.
“I spent a lot of time in the marshes in Louisiana,” Murawski said. “You can still find a lot of oil in there.”
Why soiled sediment?
One intriguing question is why some oil settled into the sediment on the bottom of the gulf a mile deep and stayed there. Hollander says that may be the work of two factors. One is the dispersant called Corexit that BP used to try to spread the oil out so it wouldn’t wash ashore. The other is the Mississippi River.
BP sprayed Corexit directly at the wellhead spewing oil from the bottom of the gulf, even though no one had ever tried spraying it below the water’s surface before. BP also used more of the dispersant than had been used in any previous oil spill, 1.8 million gallons, to try to break up the oil.
Meanwhile, the spill coincided with the typical spring flood of the mighty Mississippi, which sent millions of gallons of freshwater cascading in to push the oil away from the coast.
The Corexit broke the oil droplets down into smaller drops, creating the plume, Hollander said. Then the smaller oil droplets bonded with clay and other materials carried into the gulf by the Mississippi, sinking into the sediment where they killed the foraminifera.
In some areas where the die-off occurred, he said, the tiny creatures came back, but in others the bottom remains bare. Meanwhile, some of the burrowing kind are digging down into the contaminated sediment – and stirring it up all over again.
TRANSACTIONS-GULF COAST ASSOCIATION OF GEOLOGICAL SOCIETIES
Volume XXVI, 1976
Jules Braunstein and Claude E. McMichael
An exploratory well, the Shell Oil Company, State Lease 3956 No. 1, Offshore St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, was completed in 1963 at a total depth of 8538 feet. The last 1300 feet of hole was cored and drilled through volcanic material of Late Cretaceous Age. The location of this well is shown on Figure 1.
Pre-drilling seismic data had revealed the presence on this prospect of intrusive material with a density slightly higher than that of the surrounding sediments. Gravity data defined a weak maximum here, and no salt was believed to be present.
The igneous material consisted of angular fragments of altered porphyritic basic rock. In cores it proved to be evenly bedded and cemented by sparry calcite. Radioactivity age dating fixed a minimum age of crystallization of this rock at 82 m.y. + 8, or middle Late Cretaceous (Austin). Bulk density of the igneous rock ranged from 2.02 gm/cc near the top of its occurrence to 2.53 gm/cc near the bottom of the well.
Three gas accumulations, with an aggregate thickness of 38 feet, were encountered in the Miocene section between 5092 and 6219 feet in the Shell well. Gas-bearing sands were not present in two other wells drilled later on the same structure (Fig. 2).
Although evidence of Late Cretaceous volcanic activity is widespread in northern Louisiana, as well as in Mississippi, and southeast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, the Door Point prospect lies within an area that had been previously designated as being free of volcanism.
Majestic Bluefin tuna migrate thousands of miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico to breed and can grow up to 1,500 pounds during their relatively long lives. But only a small number get the chance to reach maturity.
Although it has been illegal to intentionally fish for Bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico for decades, they are still caught in significant numbers by commercial fishermen, said Tom Wheatley, an environmental advocate with the Pew Charitable Trusts.
That’s largely due to the use of longlines, a commercial fishing technique that uses long fishing lines that stretch for up to 30 miles across the surface of Gulf waters, towed behind ships, and holding up to 750 hooks.
Though these longlines are intended to catch yellowfin tuna and swordfish, they end up hooking and killing up to 80 different unintended species—called bycatch—such as sea turtles, marine mammals and Bluefin tuna, Wheatley said.
But there may be a “light at the end of the tunnel,” according to Wheatley.
The National Marine Fisheries Service, which sets rules for fishermen in American waters, is considering a new rule to limit the use of longlines in the Gulf, the only spawning ground for the western stock of Atlantic Bluefin (which, like other populations of Bluefin worldwide, have been “overfished for decades,” he said).
Although the rule isn’t expected until this summer, a draft version presented last fall suggested that longline fishing could be prohibited in the Gulf, at least at certain times and in specific areas.
At the same time, researchers—collaborating with commercial fishermen—have shown that two new types of fishing gear can be used to catch yellowfin and swordfish while snaring far less unintended bycatch, said Wheatley, who’s the manager of Pew’s Gulf surface longline campaign.
The first method targets swordfish. Used only at night, when swordfish are active, the system consists of a line of about 15 buoys, each outfitted with a hook and often illuminated. If a fish hits one of the hooks, the buoy moves out of line, and the fisherman pulls it in to see what he’s caught.
This allows fishermen to set free fish that aren’t targeted, or aren’t big enough to legally hold. That stands in stark contract to longlines, which are often let out as long as 18 hours. During this time, the hooks can drown animals like sea turtles and Bluefin tuna, which need to swim to breathe, and fight themselves to the bring of death after being hooked, Wheatley said.
The second promising method is called greenstick gear and targets yellowfin tuna, using a short line of squid-like bait. At the end of this is a fish-shaped weight, which keeps the line taught and makes the whole assemblage look like a fish chasing a group of prey. The lures, set just at the surface or slightly above, mimic squid or flying fish, some of the yellowfin’s favorite foods. It’s designed to appeal to yellowfin, and is brought in often to collect hooked fish, Wheatley said.
These methods are being tested by two commercial vessels in the Gulf, in a research program initiated by David Kerstetter, a researcher at Nova Southeastern University.
So far, these techniques have caught far fewer unintended animals than longlines. More than 90 percent of the tuna caught using the greenstick gear were yellowfin or other tuna species, not including Bluefin tuna, according to Pew. The fishermen have also caught zero sea turtles or marine mammals, and are able to remove unintentionally-hooked Bluefin before they die, Wheatley added.
Wheatley thinks this could help improve the health of the ecosystem, as well as that of the local economy, by providing more jobs. The quality of fish caught is likely to be higher, he said, since fewer fish are killed as the hooks are pulled in almost immediately. (With longlines, for example, about half the swordfish caught are discarded because they are dead by the time they are pulled in, and thus worthless, he said.)
These types of gear also require less gasoline. A typical longline fishing trip uses up about $10,000 to $12,000 worth of fuel. A trip in a smaller vessel would use much less, he said.
Bluefin losses from longlines were exacerbated by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, 2010, right at the peak of Bluefin tuna spawning season. He thinks that some of the money paid out by BP ought to be used to help provide Gulf fishermen with some of these new types of fishing gear.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, which runs the fisheries service, has enough money to begin doing this now, although more funds could be allotted from BP in the future. “They could do it now,” he said.
After the proposed rule comes out, there will be a short comment period to petition NOAA to outlaw longline fishing in the Gulf.
“I think there’s a good possibility for all of this to happen, ” Wheatley said. “We’ve been putting together a strong case that there’s a win-win possibility—good for the fishermen and the fish. That’s a pretty amazing thing that doesn’t happen with many environmental issues every day.”
Three years after the BP Macondo well disaster, the Gulf of Mexico is still covered in oil and barely sustaining visible life above or below the surface. Undisclosed white matter is appearing and leakages with other drill sites appears to be problematic. With such a massive dead zone, it makes you wonder how long oil rigs have negligently been spewing toxins and the rig disaster wasn’t part of a long term plan to expand the dead zone to include the entire Gulf of Mexico; all aimed at turning the entire region into a vast wasteland of oil rigs leaking oil, Corexit and other toxic chemicals into the core engine of the oceans converter belt.
To keep the sheen suppressed under surface water, spraying Corexit is still a daily routine on behalf of BP. So, below where it mentions the Macondo well looks good after one week, it took thousands of gallons of Corexit to break up the sheen and sink the toxic goo below the surface.
2013 March 16 Saturday
Gulf of Mexico – Macondo prospect, Taylor Energy, Breton Sound
(Today’s Gulf overflight was made possible by donations from the listeners of the radio station ThePowerHour.com. Thank You Joyce Riley and all of your listeners for putting us back in the air to bring you the facts!)
We jumped at another day of clear skies and calm seas to make a quick flight to check on some of the fifteen oil pollution sites we documented and reported from last Friday’s flight over the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. We were particularly interested to see the status of the extensive sheen we saw in the Macondo area last Friday. To our surprise, that area looked mostly clear today — clear of surface oil, and void of life. The water was beautifully calm, even 50 miles off the coast. Plenty calm enough to see sharks and fish who do not need to break the surface. And yet we saw no bait balls, no flying fish, no seabirds hunting, no rays, turtles, sharks, dolphins, whales. Nada; nothing alive was seen along our flight route today.
The Taylor Energy site — that chronic oil pollution debacle about 12 nm off the coast of Louisiana that has been spewing oil into the Gulf since Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004 — continues to horrify. We filmed plenty of thick rainbow oil, even some brown weathered crude hanging in a portion of it. The thickest part of the slick has moved a few miles northward from where it typically has been in the past, perhaps due to prevailing strong southerly winds of late. But it’s never difficult for us to find it; we usually can spot it more than ten miles away, even on cloudy days.
In addition to the Taylor site, we reported another of what we have seen and reported before and presume to be a natural seep, this one about 12 nm west-southwest of MC252. We also saw and reported a substantial slick (over a mile long) along Louisiana’s eastern coast, east of Empire, LA at the south end of California Bay. These comprised our three NRC reports, detailed below in our Flight Log. Here are a few sample photos. Many more follow, in the galleries below.
Three bizarre deaths at U.S. nuke plants in the last 30 days, uncontrolled gas flow on the Gulf of Mexico seabed and a rise in spontaneous combustion deaths….now that’s hard news you won’t get from mass media. Friends, I hear to tell you there’s no one covering environmental news like Christina Consolo, if you haven’t listened to her show PLEASE take the time to listen.Then share, share, share and tell your contacts to do the same…mass media will NOT cover this story until mushroom clouds appear in the background, because they’re owned by the power industry.
Christina really needs help getting this message out to as many people as possible, this is thorough investigative reporting that covers the most important environmental issues affecting the safety, health and well being of every living thing on the planet.
Also a link below to her discussion at the end of the show about the sudden rise in spontaneous combustion deaths and vehicular incidents,last week around the time of the Kansas City restaurant explosion. It’s beginning to sound like someone needs to devise an “affordable” meter to detect increased levels of BOTH methane and hydrogen sulfide….ahhh heck, come to think of it they need to add radon and radioactive elements to the detection meter to cover the atmospheric hazards. Think about it, breathing air is getting as bad as eating food from the toxic, contaminated food supply!
Well the first thing we can do is ENTIRELY eliminate “fear” of any of these elements and deal with it as best we can by boosting our immune system and rasing our conscious vibration out of fear mode, there are plenty of excellent recommendations on the right under the category Radioactivity from Fukushima, Radiation Anti-dotes and Remedies.
Some crazy weather for the middle of the country and down south (a pattern that seems to be repeating) as well as a discussion about the mysterious corium and what it might be doing. Spontaneous combustion reports in people (2 possible cases the same day??) and furniture, cars, buildings, etc…why this is significant and what releases at the sinkhole can tell us.
Wow! If you haven’t seen video’s of the Louisiana sinkhole recently, you’ll be shocked at how much it’s grown in just the last month. Below are two video’s, the first is from August shortly after the salt dome wall caved in and the second was taken last week. Yesterday a report came in from Lake Peigneir that long lines of methane bubbles were seen on the water and last week I posted a video from Pink showing what appeared to be some kind of statewide event on radar, quite possibly a massive methane expulsion. There’s a methane hydrate glacier in the Gulf of Mexico that began melting after it was hit with seawater from the BP Macondo oil drilling disaster. Methane melts at an exponential rate, meaning it gains more and more momentum as time goes by. So at this point it’s safe to assume the melt rate is picking up spread as methane breach’s the salt dome cavity’s.
A collapse of the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico is in our near future but all depends on how such will occur. Two possible scenarios have been analyzed and described by several oceanographic institutions including the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) known for its in depth maritime expertise.
The two possible scenarios are either a complete collapse of the ocean floor right above the Deepwater Horizon well and surroundings or a partial collapse in the form of a mud slide on one side of the well.
The first scenario is unlikely at this time but remains a possibility given the number of crevices that have been created naturally due to the high pressure inside the well. This pressure is created by the large amount of methane gasses that is building up inside the well.
Should this scenario occur, then the prediction is that a vast amount of oil and methane will be released immediately into the water and towards the surface. The aftermath would be a tidal wave, caused by the fast displacement of a large amount of water that will reach the shores of all the Gulf States.
The immediate danger will be to cope with the height of the wave along the shoreline and not necessarily the mixture of oil and Corexit. Both products will obviously affect the local population in the aftermath of the tidal wave and during clean up.
The second scenario, a partial collapse of one side of the well in the form of a large mud slide, will cause a similar effect but to a far lesser extent given that the collapse will happen in a more or less slow motion fashion where water will replace oil and methane over a brief period of time.
A wave is expected to form off the Gulf Coast but will cause less damage and will be far less destructive.
Nevertheless, the impact on the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida will be enormous. The tourism industry represents a combined annual income of 150 billion dollars for Alabama and Florida. This industry has been hit hard and may not be able to recover within the next few years after a collapse.
The fishing and shrimping industry that represents the livelihood of small business owners will be affected for at least 10 years and maybe longer.
The ports of New Orleans, Pascagoula and Mobile are and will be inaccessible until the cleanup has been completed. The three ports rely on European and Asian trade for 50% of their annual revenue.
The environmental impact is hard to measure but one thing is certain; 80% of the world’s dolphin population lives in the affected area of the Gulf of Mexico and the whale population migrates to the region to have their babies there.
The BP solution to place relief wells to pump out the oil and methane gas may seem like a good solution but it also represents serious dangers to the integrity of the well’s surface and may cause further cracks and crevices to open.
For the time being this may be the only solution available and let’s hope that the first scenario never occurs.
Note: This article is dated 2010, but is still relevant since much of what was predicted appears to be unfolding at this time. If you haven’t listened to Nuked Radio episode 79 with Early2it, type the title into the search box on the right column to pull up the video. Also, search for Dane Wigington interview on End the Lie for important developments regarding the global methane release. There’s more information archived here under Earth Changes, sub category Methane Hydrate releases. IMO this is the most serious issue confronting humanity at this time….
The unfolding disaster may be about to reach biblical proportions
Ominous reports are leaking past the BP Gulf salvage operation news blackout that the disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico may be about to reach biblical proportions.
251 million years ago a mammoth undersea methane bubble caused massive explosions, poisoned the atmosphere and destroyed more than 96 percent of all life on Earth.  Experts agree that what is known as the Permian extinction event was the greatest mass extinction event in the history of the world. 
55 million years later another methane bubble ruptured causing more mass extinctions during the Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum (LPTM).
The LPTM lasted 100,000 years. 
Those subterranean seas of methane virtually reshaped the planet when they explosively blew from deep beneath the waters of what is today called the Gulf of Mexico.
Now, worried scientists are increasingly concerned the same series of catastrophic events that led to worldwide death back then may be happening again-and no known technology can stop it.
The bottom line: BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling operation may have triggered an irreversible, cascading geological Apocalypse that will culminate with the first mass extinction of life on Earth in many millions of years.
The oil giant drilled down miles into a geologically unstable region and may have set the stage for the eventual premature release of a methane mega-bubble.
Ryskin’s methane extinction theory
Northwestern University‘s Gregory Ryskin, a bio-chemical engineer, has a theory: The oceans periodically produce massive eruptions of explosive methane gas. He has documented the scientific evidence that such an event was directly responsible for the mass extinctions that occurred 55 million years ago. 
Many geologists concur: “The consequences of a methane-driven oceanic eruption for marine and terrestrial life are likely to be catastrophic. Figuratively speaking, the erupting region “boils over,” ejecting a large amount of methane and other gases (e.g., CO2, H2S) into the atmosphere, and flooding large areas of land. Whereas pure methane is lighter than air, methane loaded with water droplets is much heavier, and thus spreads over the land, mixing with air in the process (and losing water as rain). The air-methane mixture is explosive at methane concentrations between 5% and 15%; as such mixtures form in different locations near the ground and are ignited by lightning, explosions and conflagrations destroy most of the terrestrial life, and also produce great amounts of smoke and of carbon dioxide…” 
The warning signs of an impending planetary catastrophe—of such great magnitude that the human mind has difficulty grasping it-would be the appearance of large fissures or rifts splitting open the ocean floor, a rise in the elevation of the seabed, and the massive venting of methane and other gases into the surrounding water.
Such occurrences can lead to the rupture of the methane bubble containment—it can then permit the methane to breach the subterranean depths and undergo an explosive decompression as it catapults into the Gulf waters. 
All three warning signs are documented to be occurring in the Gulf.
Ground zero: The Gulf Coast
The people and property located on the greater expanse of the Gulf Coast are sitting at Ground Zero. They will be the first exposed to poisonous, cancer causing chemical gases. They will be the ones that initially experience the full fury of a methane bubble exploding from the ruptured seabed.
The media has been kept away from the emergency salvage measures being taken to forestall the biggest catastrophe in human history. The federal government has warned them away from the epicenter of operations with the threat of a $40,000 fine for each infraction and the possibility of felony arrests.
Why is the press being kept away? Word is that the disaster is escalating.
Cracks and bulges
Methane is now streaming through the porous, rocky seabed at an accelerated rate and gushing from the borehole of the first relief well. The EPA is on record that Rig #1 is releasing methane, benzene, hydrogen sulfide and other toxic gases. Workers there now wear advanced protection including state-of-the-art, military-issued gas masks.
Reports, filtering through from oceanologists and salvage workers in the region, state that the upper level strata of the ocean floor is succumbing to greater and greater pressure. That pressure is causing a huge expanse of the seabed-estimated by some as spreading over thousands of square miles surrounding the BP wellhead-to bulge. Some claim the seabed in the region has risen an astounding 30 feet.
The fractured BP wellhead, site of the former Deepwater Horizon, has become the epicenter of frenetic attempts to quell the monstrous flow of methane.
The subterranean methane is pressurized at 100,000 pounds psi. According to Matt Simmons, an oil industry expert, the methane pressure at the wellhead has now skyrocketed to a terrifying 40,000 pounds psi.
Another well-respected expert, Dr. John Kessler of Texas A&M University has calculated that the ruptured well is spewing 60 percent oil and 40 percent methane. The normal methane amount that escapes from a compromised well is about 5 percent.
More evidence? A huge gash on the ocean floor—like a ragged wound hundreds of feet long—has been reported by the NOAA research ship, Thomas Jefferson. Before the curtain of the government enforced news blackout again descended abruptly, scientists aboard the ship voiced their concerns that the widening rift may go down miles into the earth.
That gash too is hemorrhaging oil and methane. It’s 10 miles away from the BP epicenter. Other, new fissures, have been spotted as far as 30 miles distant.
Measurements of the multiple oil plumes now appearing miles from the wellhead indicate that as much as a total of 124,000 barrels of oil are erupting into the Gulf waters daily-that’s about 5,208,000 gallons of oil per day.
Most disturbing of all: Methane levels in the water are now calculated as being almost one million times higher than normal. 
Mass death on the water
If the methane bubble—a bubble that could be as big as 20 miles wide—erupts with titanic force from the seabed into the Gulf, every ship, drilling rig and structure within the region of the bubble will immediately sink. All the workers, engineers, Coast Guard personnel and marine biologists participating in the salvage operation will die instantly.
Next, the ocean bottom will collapse, instantaneously displacing up to a trillion cubic feet of water or more and creating a towering supersonic tsunami annihilating everything along the coast and well inland. Like a thermonuclear blast, a high pressure atmospheric wave could precede the tidal wave flattening everything in its path before the water arrives.
When the roaring tsunami does arrive it will scrub away all that is left.
A chemical cocktail of poisons
Some environmentalist experts are calling what’s pouring into the land, sea and air from the seabed breach ’a chemical cocktail of poisons.’
Areas of dead zones devoid of oxygen are driving species of fish into foreign waters, killing plankton and other tiny sea life that are the foundation for the entire food chain, and polluting the air with cancer-causing chemicals and poisonous rainfalls.
A report from one observer in South Carolina documents oily residue left behind after a recent thunderstorm. And before the news blackout fully descended the EPA released data that benzene levels in New Orleans had rocketed to 3,000 parts per billion.
Benzene is extremely toxic and even short term exposure can cause agonizing death from cancerous lesions years later.
The people of Louisiana have been exposed for more than two months—and the benzene levels may be much higher now. The EPA measurement was taken in early May. 
While some say it can’t happen because the bulk of the methane is frozen into crystalline form, others point out that the underground methane sea is gradually melting from the nearby surging oil that’s estimated to be as hot as 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most experts in the know, however, agree that if the world-changing event does occur it will happen suddenly and within the next 6 months.
So, if events go against Mankind and the bubble bursts in the coming months, Gregory Ryskin may become one of the most famous people in the world. Of course, he won’t have long to enjoy his new found fame because very shortly after the methane eruption civilization will collapse.
Perhaps if humanity is very, very lucky, some may find a way to avoid the mass extinction that follows and carry on the human race.
 Ryskin Theory
Huge combustible clouds produced by methane gas trapped under the seas and explosively released could have killed off the majority of marine life, land animals, and plants at the end of the Permian era—long before the dinosaurs arrived.
Somewhere off the eastern coast of North Carolina, a frozen mixture of water and methane gas tucked in seabed sediments is starting to break down. Researchers blame a shifting Gulf Stream — the swift Atlantic Ocean current that flows north from the Gulf of Mexico — which is now delivering warmer waters to areas that had previously only experienced colder temperatures.
“We know methane hydrates exist here and, if warming continues, it can potentially lead to less stable sediments in this region,” says Matthew Hornbach, a marine geologist at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, who led the study that is published online today in Nature. The results suggest that the warmer temperatures are destabilizing up to 2.5 gigatons of methane hydrate along the continental slope of the eastern United States. This region is prone to underwater landslides, which could release the methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Whether that methane would make it to the atmosphere and worsen global warmingis unclear, but scientists think that it is unlikely. “We don’t need to worry about any huge blow of methane into the atmosphere,” says Carolyn Ruppel, a geophysicist at the US Geological Survey in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Rather, she says, Hornbach and his co-author Benjamin Phrampus, also of the Southern Methodist University, have uncovered a powerful new way to use data from the geological record to catch non-anthropogenic climate changes that are already happening.
The authors’ approach combines models of subsurface temperature dynamics with seismic images to directly detect the depth at which the methane hydrate is no longer stable and shifts from a frozen solid to free gas. Because hydrate formation is dependent on temperature, the position of the bottom of this frozen zone can be used to estimate subsurface temperature dynamics.
Using seismic data collected in 1977 to model where they expected the frozen methane to become gaseous in the western North Atlantic margin, they found that the observed interface between the frozen solid and the free gas was much deeper than predicted. After systematically checking every detail, the team ruled out several factors that could have explained their observations — including sea-level changes, increased sedimentation rates or decreased heat flow through the sediments. They eventually realized that the only thing that could cause the discrepancy was that the water was cooler in the past. Phrampus ran the model again using data from much cooler waters 100 kilometers northwest of the Gulf Stream, and got an almost perfect fit.
Next, the authors modeled heat flow through the methane hydrate sediments in relation to time, and estimated that it would take around 5,000 years of warmer waters for all of the methane to sublimate and become gas. “We don’t know where we are in the 5,000-year time frame, but our best approximation suggests we are 800 to 1,000 years in,” says Phrampus.
This work promises to reinvigorate an ongoing debate over the risk of methane release from the oceans and whether destabilized hydrates make the continental slopes more unstable.
There’s an old saying that a penny saved is a penny earned. This sound financial advice is equally true for management of U.S. ocean fish resources. As I’ve said before, conserving our ocean fish populations is a prudent economic investment. The converse is also true: Overfishing is bad economic policy.
Last year, Ecotrust, an Oregon-based economic public policy organization, released a study that estimated that in 2009, commercial fishermen in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico targeting depleted fish populations lost $15.2 million because of decades of overfishing.
Now, in a new report commissioned by the Pew Environment Group, Ecotrust has analyzed the recreational fishing sector’s economic losses associated with historic overfishing, focusing on severely depleted species in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
Annual economic losses were calculated by examining recent average annual trip expenditures directly related to recreational fishing for the period 2005 to 2009 and comparing them with potential expenditures if the fish populations had been at safe levels. In addition to estimating direct losses, Ecotrust also calculated losses to the broader economy, including spending at hotels, restaurants, wholesale businesses that supply the recreational fishing industry, and other downstream businesses. (Note: The results of the two studies cannot be compared, because the methodologies are fundamentally different.)
The short-term economic losses to fishermen from management regulations implemented to restore depleted fish populations, often appear in press coverage. But Ecotrust’s study shows the other side: the broader economic cost of mismanagement of our ocean fish resources. And as the chart above illustrates, direct losses have a ripple effect on businesses such as restaurants and hotels that benefit from recreational fishing. For example, reduced fishing trips for South Atlantic black sea bass, a species that has experienced decades of overfishing, resulted in an average direct annual loss of nearly $53 million and a whopping $138 million in broader losses.
The good news is that these losses need not be permanent. With effective management that prevents overfishing, depleted fish populations can be rebuilt, adding tens of millions of dollars to local economies. Ecotrust’s study makes a strong economic case for the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act’s conservation provisions, which prohibit overfishing and require rebuilding of depleted species.
Conserving our valuable fish populations is like saving money in an interest-bearing account. A fish saved is much more than a penny earned. As fish populations rebuild, they deliver jobs and income, support anglers, boost commercial fisheries and improve the health of ecosystems in the South Atlantic and Gulf regions that draw fishermen, divers and tourists from around the world.
On August 17, 2012, all along the Myrtle Beach coast, beach-goers were finding mixed species of dead fish floating in the surf or washing up on shore – sting rays, pompanos, whitings, flounders… The fish did not have any obvious signs of trauma.
Phil Maier, director of Coastal Reserves and Outreach for DNR office in Charleston, said there were groups of dead fish found between 28th and 68th Avenues North Friday. He said that water conditions are right for Friday’s fish kill to be caused by hypoxia, or low dissolved oxygen in the ocean. There have been light southwest winds, warm water and spring tides. Maier said it is very likely it was the dissolved oxygen levels that killed the fish, but DNR, the Department of Health and Environmental Controls and scientist at Coastal Carolina University continue to take samples and investigate the cause. Another possible reason is the red tide.
The occurrence of red tides in some locations appear to be entirely natural (algal blooms are a seasonal occurrence resulting from coastal upwelling, a natural result of the movement of certain ocean currents) while in others they appear to be a result of increased nutrient loading from human activities. Other factors such as iron-rich dust influx from large desert areas such as the Saharan desert are thought to play a major role in causing red tides.
Red tide is also potentially harmful to human health. Humans can become seriously ill from eating oysters and other shellfish contaminated with red tide toxin. Red tide algal bloom can potentially cause eye and respiratory irritation (coughing, sneezing, tearing, and itching) to beachgoers, boaters and coastal residents. People with severe or persistent respiratory conditions (such as chronic lung disease or asthma) may experience stronger adverse reactions.
Red tide killed more than million fish in Galveston Bay, Texas
Wildlife officials estimate more than a million fish have been killed in Southeast Texas by the algae bloom known as red tide. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offered the estimate after a flyover on August 16 in the Galveston area.Tens of thousands of dead fish began washing up on beaches last weekend. Water samples collected Monday confirmed the red tide at various sites in Galveston Bay. Parts of Galveston Bay have been closed to shellfish harvesting because of the algae bloom, which can cause respiratory problems.
(Credit: Jennifer Reynolds)
The human health effects associated with eating brevetoxin-tainted shellfish are well documented. However, scientists know little about how other types of environmental exposures to brevetoxin—such as breathing the air near red tides or swimming in red tides—may affect humans.
In large concentrations, the algal bloom becomes visible as a brown or red discoloration floating on the surface waters. No visible blooms have been reported though biologists did observe one area of discolored water in Keller Bay near the Alcoa plant and around Aransas Bay.
Red tides in the Gulf of Mexico are mainly a result of high concentrations of Karenia brevis, a microscopic marine algae that occurs naturally but normally in lower concentrations. In high concentrations, its toxin paralyzes the central nervous system of fish so they cannot breathe. Dense concentrations appear as discolored water, often reddish in color. It is a natural phenomenon, but the exact cause or combination of factors that result in a red tide outbreak are unknown.
Four short, ground breaking video’s that will transform the way you see water, yourself and the vital importance of positive thought, prayer and/or meditation upon our body. A body made mostly of water. In addition, through scientific investigation each video illustrates the urgent need to protect Earths waters from fracking and other forms of pollution that have created massive dead zones in our oceans, lakes, streams and aquafirs.
http://oasishd.ca – Water — just a liquid or much more? Many researchers are convinced that water is capable of “memory” by storing information and retrieving it. The possible applications are innumerable: limitless retention and storage capacity and the key to discovering the origins of life on our planet. Research into water is just beginning.
Alright, considering the fact there were forest fires upstream depositing ash into the river and from the looks of the “blackened” water I’m more comfortable accepting the official explanation than usual. Lately authorities have come up with some pretty lame excuses for these mass wildlife kills, especially around the Gulf of Mexico where it’s obvious what’s killing marine life.
What is beginning to get worrisome is this tropical depression heading north over the Gulf and what it will pick up from the water only to drop off over the land in the wind and rain. Some kind of deadly microbe was spawned from the tornado’s in Joplin, my question is: was it picked up in the jet stream from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico? Which is nothing less than one very large lab experiment with a massive blob of toxic-goo-scum brewing at the bottom of the sea creating a massive dead zone. Now a little over one year later, people all along the coast are literally dropping dead as health authority’s at the CDC appear to be ignoring the “Blue Plague”.
So when a hurricane or tropical storm hits these waters, what nasty little microbial bacteria might it carry over land? It’s amazing, actually notable that last year not one tropical depression or hurricane entered into the Gulf. Now it’s not even hurricane season yet and a tropical depression is spontaneously forming over southern Mexico?! Last night when Dutch posted the first video on this I noticed that there was a defined portion of a scalar square in the storm that he didn’t mention – so it appears to be man made.