Impeach BP!

There’s enough information about the Gulf Oil Spill to make your head spin, your heart heavy and your stomach turn. It’s been suggested more than once that I “stop reading so much about it”. And I would love to, but someone has to hold BP accountable, and since it’s obviously not going to be the government, then I guess it’s going to have to be us. The only way I know to do that is to get and stay informed, and to share the vital information BP tries to neatly sweep under the rug.

This morning I’m still reeling over the fact that BP has been left in charge of the oil spill – both assessing the damage and then making the decision regarding the best way to clean it up. We are well aware that BP got us into this situation through blatant lies and cutting corners. Why would we trust them to clean it up in a way that is sensitive to both our environment and our own health? The answer? We absolutely cannot. And yet, they are still running the “show”, and is it ever a show. My favorite quote this week is from this NPR article, outlining BP’s “restatement” about the spill size once it became impossible for them to continue that lie:

“Too much information is now in the hands of BP’s many lawyers, and too little is being disclosed to the public,” said Larry Schweiger. “The Gulf of Mexico is a crime scene, and the perpetrator cannot be left in charge of assessing the damage.”

Indeed. We have a lot of highly educated, well-trained talent in our country, in our world. We should assemble a team of scientists and engineers who are top experts in this field (and NOT on the payroll of any oil company) and put them at the top of the chain of command. BP should be forced to accept what this team finds, findings that are FULLY disclosed to the American people, and to implement the remedies this team outlines as the best and most appropriate for finally securing the leak and for cleaning the gulf. Basically, someone without profits as a motivating factor should be telling BP what to do, and BP should simply be writing checks and doing what they are told.

This CNN video alone should tell you that BP is either playing out its own agenda while paying mere lip service to the people of the United States or is grossly incompetent and cannot oversee this matter, or more likely, BOTH. I didn’t realize until a few days ago that the EPA “order” to BP to stop using the toxic chemical dispersant Corexit was merely a “suggestion” – you know, you guys should really stop using that stuff, unless you just think you can’t find anything better, that is. To the EPA, and to the rest of our elected officials – kindly I say, grow a pair. Somewhere along the way it seems BP earned a seat in our government. I’m not sure how they managed that but they are definitely there, with all the pull of a top Washington official. It’s time to impeach BP.

As the above video shows, hundreds of thousands of gallons of a much safer dispersant have been sitting in the Houston sun for over a week, waiting for BP to pick it up and use it, all the while BP is dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of highly toxic Corexit into our precious Gulf waters (see the last post about the problems with Corexit). Here’s the problem – people seem to want to believe that BP actually gives a damn about what happens to the Gulf, to the people, about cleaning up their mess. So let’s get this straight right now: BP cares about one thing: PROFITS. Period. Don’t get me wrong – I do not deny BP the desire or right to earn profits. Private enterprise exists to make money, and I have no problem with that. My problem is that you cannot allow an organization who created a problem the size of the Gulf oil spill in pursuit of profits to remain in charge of cleaning up that mess. They now have conflicting goals, and the goal of profits will ALWAYS come first.

We now KNOW that BP 1. will cut any corner to save a buck and 2. will lie right to our face even when everyone knows it’s a lie. And even our Coast Guard doesn’t appear to have authority over BP. Since when does BP control maritime law and the airspace overhead?  According to the USCG, boaters cannot visit the area of the spill, which rules out a massive section of the Gulf of Mexico by the way, and private pilots cannot fly overhead. And the USCG says those are “BP’s orders”. If those last two sentences didn’t make you so mad you’d like to punch Tony Hayward in the throat (and kick at least ten government officials in the groin), then you had better re-read.

BP has indeed created a massive crime scene in our waters. And as it grows in size by the miles every day, BP tries harder to throw it’s shroud over the mess, grin and say: “Oh, it’s not that bad. The Gulf will clean up easily. There won’t be that much damage.” And it seems too many Americans and politicians sit there wide-eyed and dazed, staring at BP’s swinging pendulum, absent-mindedly nodding in agreement. This is your wake-up call, folks. Hear me snapping my fingers and pulling you out of the trance. Know that virtually every word out of the mouths of every BP executive is a colossal lie, told to placate you and to keep you off their backs.

We have to demand more. It’s time to remove BP from office. BP is not capable of replacing their profit goal with that of putting the health of the people and marine life first. And they shouldn’t be expected to do so. BP should be forced to hire independent consultants from the private sector (BP does NOT get to choose them – we do), and they should have ZERO influence over this team’s findings and recommendations. And I do NOT mean a mealy-mouth task force hastily put together by Obama, who apparently took more than 30 days to decide something needed to be done here. I do NOT mean more people from Washington, and I definitely don’t mean the EPA. I mean men and women with backbones, people with no personal agenda except to save our earth, marine life, our health, our fleeting precious resource that is clean water.

Potential Human Hazard: High

(See new update since below was posted)

That’s the official safety description for the dispersants that our government approved for use in the gulf oil spill. By BP’s own admission they have conducted no studies on the material and acknowledge that this stuff could make a lot of people ill, or dead. And yet, our government, which is supposed to represent the people, quickly put their stamp of approval on it. We already know that BP has and will lie their way right through this entire ordeal. And if you question that, have a look at what Marine Toxicologist Riki Ott tells us about the long-term health of Alaskans who were exposed to both the oil and dispersant toxins following the Exxon Valdez spill. This is from her article: At What Cost? BP Spill Responders Told to Forgo Precautionary Health Measures in Cleanup:

During the 1989 cleanup in Alaska, thousands of workers had what Exxon medical doctors called, “the Valdez Crud,” and dismissed as simple colds and flu. Fourteen years later, I followed the trail of sick workers through the maze of court records, congressional records, obituaries, and media stories, and made hundreds of phone calls. I found a different story. As one former cleanup worker put it, “I thought I had the Valdez Crud in 1989. I didn’t think I’d have it for fourteen years.”

In 1989 Exxon knew cleanup workers were getting sick: Exxon’s clinical data shows 6,722 cases of upper respiratory “infections”–or more likely work-related chemical induced illnesses. Exxon also knew workers were being overexposed to oil vapors and oil particles as verified through its air-quality monitoring program contracted to Med-Tox. The cleanup workers never saw results of this program. Neither did OSHA, the agency supposedly charged to oversee and independently monitor Exxon’s worker-safety program.

Alarmed by the “chemical poisoning epidemic,” as expert witness Dr. Daniel Teitelbaum would later call it when he testified on behalf of sick workers, Exxon created a partial release form to indemnify itself from future health claims. Exxon paid its workers $600.50 to sign it, as I discovered in court records.

As I understand it, the point of the extra $.50 was to force everyone who signed a waiver to have to claim it on their taxes (anything over $600 must be reported to the IRS), so that if someone filed a claim Exxon could quickly access their tax returns and know if that individual signed the waiver or not. My stomach turns just writing about that.

And now:

BP is assuring [local fisherman] they don’t need respirators or other special protection from the crude oil, strong hydrocarbon vapors, or chemical dispersants being sprayed in massive quantities on the oil slick.

Fishermen have never seen the results from the air-quality monitoring patches some of them wear on their rain gear when they are out booming and skimming the giant oil slick. However, more and more fishermen are suffering from bad headaches, burning eyes, persistent coughs, sore throats, stuffy sinuses, nausea, and dizziness. They are starting to suspect that BP is not telling them the truth.

And based on air monitoring conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a Louisiana coastal community, those workers seem to be correct. The EPA findings show that airborne levels of toxic chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, and volatile organic compounds like benzene, for instance, now far exceed safety standards for human exposure.

Now, of course we know that BP will say whatever it takes to make a buck. If you still aren’t sure about that fact, check out this article, where BP told feds it could handle oil spill 60 times larger than Deepwater Horizon. It’s pretty obvious that was one giant “misstatement” of fact. But, and this is the REALLY important part of the article, even if the press did tuck it away all neatly at the end:

A safety data sheet about the principal dispersant that the company has reported using during the ongoing spill says “no toxicity studies have been conducted on this product,” and labels “the potential human hazard: High.”

I suppose if you’re a BP executive living in Europe, or for that matter a politician in Washington who vacations in The Hamptons on weekends, well you probably just want this whole mess to go away, no matter how it’s done. After all, you and your family will not be affected, will not be made sick and hey, if a few hundred thousand people get and stay sick for the rest of their lives as a result – well it was worth it to get the press off our backs about this nightmare.

Few question the fact that our politicians have been in bed with big oil for decades. Few question that big oil has made these elected officials their b****’s, and that we have a Capitol full of (to quote Charlie Daniels) “lily livered, pantywaist, forked tongued, sorry excuses for defenders of The Constitution”. I couldn’t have said it better.

This is our nation and it’s time we got together, took a stand and said that it’s not for sale, neither is our health, neither are our waters, our land, or any other precious resource. If these pushovers in Washington aren’t willing to stand up for what’s right, even (and especially) if that means to the companies that put money in their pockets then we need to find men and women who will. But right now, we need to come together and take our nation back!

Remember the words of Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

UPDATE (10:30a.m.) EPA informs BP to use less toxic chemicals to break up oil spill Wow, what must they have seen in the last couple of weeks during application of these chemicals? I shudder to think, but I’m so happy to hear EPA has stood up and put a stop to it.

I encourage you all to stay informed and demand answers, information and the highest level of care for health and safety throughout this process.

Learn From The Past – Gulf Oil Spill Volunteers MUST SEE

My husband’s family is from Alaska. They lived through the Exxon Valdez oil spill 21 years ago. Or rather, they’ve been living through it for the last 21 years. As it becomes glaringly apparent the BP oil “spill” will soon eclipse the Exxon Valdez in terms of size (if it hasn’t already – depending on whose data you believe), my mother-in-law, Gayle Roth, is supplying me a steady stream of information that is vital for gulf coast residents to read and understand, NOW – not later. Due to the extent of information available I’m going to prioritize and share what I can as I can. By the way, for information on the spill, I like SkyTruth’s site.

The first is this video that any volunteer considering working for BP in the clean up must see. Gayle says the health of those volunteers who worked to clean up Exxon’s mess is still an ongoing discussion in Alaska. Gayle has a friend staying with her now who was one of those volunteers. He was just telling her last night how lucky he was not to have worked the coastline where they used the dispersants; many are dead or very ill.