Not the #BPocalypse: The Biggest Spill You Never Heard Of

A year ago, during the #PriceOfOil news bonanza about Big Oil corruption and harm in Canada (and Saskatchewan), a few prominent journalists including a couple at @CBCSask got very snippy with me. They insisted they do all they can to bring us those stories.

Have you heard of the Taylor Energy spill, the (soon to be) biggest in the Gulf of Mexico? Google doesn’t have anything about CBC Sask talking about it only 14 years ago (and still going today). The #BPocalypse blowout in the Gulf had a Hollywood movie made about it.

Our news media simply isn’t set up to properly inform Canadians, and warn them of long-term disasters like oil spills that will go on for 100 years, and have been spilling for 14 years. With this information, Canadians would oppose off-shore drilling (in the Arctic).

Instead, we hear them covering the Premier as if he’s sincere about reducing emissions with his own “plan”, while his party is funded by oil companies. His track record as Environment Minister was to raise emissions in Saskatchewan.

#skpoli is Petrostate politics, without the politically ordered assassinations of dissidents. We should stop the control of Big Oil over our political processes before it comes to that point, and that means voting out the Sask Party, and ending corporate donations to parties.

That is even harder to do when journalists don’t find ways to present the climate crisis and related stories in context of today’s important, but fleeting news. Do I have the solution right now to offer them? Maybe not, but they sure as heck haven’t found it, or have had bosses that allowed them to implement it. And it’s their job to find a way.

BP Doesn’t Pay

BP isn’t repairing the damage it caused in the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, it was easy to predict that. Enbridge didn’t clean up the huge spill in Wisconsin. Yet these sorts of companies get billions of dollars in government subsidies, despite huge profits they are allowed to keep even though they cost the government billions in lost economic potential from destroyed environments.

Oil companies have become the worst neighbours imaginable. They party all night long, keep bonfires going all night, trash the neighbourhood, and if you call the police on them, the police come to your door instead. They also ran over your pet duck, and blamed you for not keeping better tabs on it.

BP Gulf Disaster Continues

I’ve been avoiding shrimp for close to two years because I expected this.

deformed BP shrimp

Do you remember how the EPA said it was safe for New Yorkers to return to the area around Ground Zero, despite the obvious hazard to respiration from asbestos dust? The government’s action around the BP oil geyser is equally negligent and harmful to humans. My friend Kyle noted recently that if radiation had caused these deformities, there’d be a lot more outrage. Given the media silence on radioactive seawater spreading out from Japan, I’m not so sure.

Here’s what I said in 2010:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a joint release Sunday, “We will not rest until BP permanently seals the wellhead, the spill is cleaned up, and the communities and natural resources of the Gulf Coast are restored and made whole,” they said.

Good luck putting the genie back in the bottle. Making the communities and natural resources whole again could take a decade, or ten decades. It’s a little hard to go without rest that long.

Do you see Napolitano resting? I do. Are those deformed shrimp a sign of a restored Gulf Coast? How much compensation is BP paying this year to fishermen (at least fishermen if not more people from more impacted industries)? How much is going to the resort industries where if you swim on their beaches, you get skin problems from the Corexit and oil?

On April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded, and began the release of at least 4.9 million barrels of oil. BP then used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersants to sink the oil.

Keath Ladner, a third generation seafood processor in Hancock County, Mississippi, is also disturbed by what he is seeing.

“I’ve seen the brown shrimp catch drop by two-thirds, and so far the white shrimp have been wiped out,” Ladner told Al Jazeera. “The shrimp are immune compromised. We are finding shrimp with tumors on their heads, and are seeing this everyday.”

Made whole? More like made wholly into an ongoing catastrophe. And BP and deep water drilling keeps rolling on…

“I will not be alive to see the Gulf of Mexico recover,” said Cake, who is 72 years old. “Without funding and serious commitment, these things will not come back to pre-April 2010 levels for decades.”

Send some money to the region through Defend New Orleans if you like.

2010 in memoriam

– RIP Jon Swift

Many people were born in 2010, and I don’t know any of them (yet). Many others died in 2010, and I knew a few of them, and others I would have liked to know. My grandfather’s last living sibling passed away in her 90s. The Conservatives lost their 10%er mailbox spam propaganda. I appeared on TV dissing Brad Wall’s opposition to the world working out a means to scale back our out of control pollution, before the Copenhagen conference failed miserably.

Many famous, and not famous people died last year. Several bloggers passed away, Jon Swift among them and I learned of his passing today by reading Miss Cellania’s year end roundup. I’d spoken with Jon (Al) by email and he had me on his generous and open blogroll. Al was right when he wrote that many live fast and die young.

My blog suffered over 12,222 spam comments in 2010, according to an email sent me yesterday. It was also incorrect about world food stocks collapsing in 2010, and fortunately that won’t happen in 2011 either. The most popular post was about Stephen Colbert saying, “Sarah Palin is a Fu*king retard“, and my various posts on WikiLeaks were by far the most popular search hits. It’s been more than a year now that I’ve not had my years of blog archives online, and I miss them regularly.

2010 wasn’t all bad though, even though there were significant disasters that befell the world. The BP oil spill, the arrest of Julian Assange, and the G20 mass arrests in Toronto were low points. On a more personal level, I made several wonderful trips to the US and Mexico, got engaged, and remained healthy for another year. My father recovered from life saving heart surgery, and most of my family is well too. 2011 holds a lot of promise, and this is going to be a fascinating decade!

String of Pearls

Last week, April and I went to a play at the University of Regina, String of Pearls. It was very entertaining, and told a fictional story of women who possessed a necklace, through a connected series of unlikely events. The play’s most striking feature is that only women are on stage in the ~90 minutes.

I’m in the credits of another film, with the actress doing the monologue in this scene.


Everyone, I think, can sympathize with this description of social interaction. I often worry if I fall into some of the more catastrophic categories.


And back to products of the sea…
Is the Gulf of Mexico safe to be around? It’s probably not the best place to be eating from, or swimming in right now.

How Do You Know Obama Is Lying?

…His lips are moving.

The Taliban are hopelessly outnumbered. So why are more American and NATO troops needed in Afghanistan?

The troops are needed in the Gulf (of MEXICO), to finish cleaning up the mess BP and TransOcean started this Spring. It will take as long as the Iraq War to get that region back to normal, if it even can be done.

[P]people like Chef Chris Sherrill feel abandoned.

“It’s amazing how quickly the American public forgot that this was one of the worst manmade disasters in U.S. history,” he said. His wedding catering and event business in Gulf Shores, Ala., is teetering because few brides are still coming to the beach for weddings.

I’m nervous about eating any shrimp, or seafood that might come from the Gulf of Mexico. I’m giving up shrimp for the next decade, unless I find a source I trust.

The slight isn’t necessarily intentional. Walking with his girlfriend in a park in Des Moines, Iowa, Michael Gauthier said he wonders about the oil’s lingering impact on the environment, and he fears for Gulf residents.

“It’s not in your face every day so you forget about it. Who doesn’t have bills to pay and work to go to? Who has time to think about what’s going on in Louisiana?” said Gauthier, 26.

What’s going on is the continued arrival of oil washing ashore, although in lesser amounts than during the summer. Dire predictions of environmental Armageddon have yet to materialize, but there’s also no consensus on how badly the ecosystem has suffered.

At first, no one could agree on how much oil was spilling into the Gulf; now there’s disagreement over how much remains. A commission this week faulted Barack Obama’s administration for multiple missteps, including an effort to block scientists from telling the public how bad the spill could be early on.

“If someone could say it will affect this, our shrimp are going to be poisoned for 10 years, people would think this is a bigger deal maybe,” said Scott Peterson, 37, also of Des Moines.

Not Toxic: Government: Toxic

Both the American and Canadian governments have problems determining when toxic contamination of the environment is toxic.

Here’s a handy reference guide to determine if an oil spill is toxic or not.

  • If oil’s earning the oil industry record profits: not toxic
  • If it’s in your driveway or under a gas station, home, or school: toxic
  • If it’s on a ball diamond: not toxic
  • If it’s under the ocean with millions of gallons of toxic detergent attached to it: not toxic
  • If that oil shows up under special lighting: toxic again
  • If it’s on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico: toxic
  • If it’s visible on your beach: toxic
  • If oil’s on your beach but you can’t see it: not toxic
  • If the spill was “contained”: not toxic
  • If the spill was not “contained”: not toxic (as soon as it’s off the front page news)

Scientists should examine the chemical and political properties of this “not toxic” oil, and determine if all oil can be converted to the not toxic variety. We owe it to our oil companies to ensure they can continue to fuel our economy and governments with the money needed to make oil not toxic.



“Scientists are questioning the claim by the White House that most of the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has largely dispersed, Channel 4 News’s science correspondent Julian Rush learns.
“There clearly remain an awful lot of oil products that are unknown at the moment,” George Crozier, Director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, told Channel 4 News.

He worries that the low oxygen levels in the deep waters could mean toxic compounds in the oil will have time to accumulate in the gulf ecosystem – eventually working their way into the food chain.

But Crozier, like many Gulf coast scientists accepts that the Gulf is well suited to dealing with the oil: “This is not the end of the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf has the capacity to detox this exposure. But the question is, is it going to take days, weeks, months or years,” he says.”