BP’s vast oil spill may be out of the headlines, but its oil isn’t out of the Gulf. Reports the Associated Press:
Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a scientist’s video and slides that demonstrate the oil isn’t degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor.
Showing slides of the devastation at the sea bottom at a conference, the scientist, Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia, described the scene in blunt terms: “This is Macondo oil on the bottom … This is dead organisms because of oil being deposited on their heads.”
Meanwhile, fishing communities that have lived off the Gulf’s bounty for generations are complaining of petroleum-related illness, Truthout reports. “Independent blood testing by environmental groups and independent scientists along the Gulf is finding exceedingly high concentrations of these [oil-related] chemicals in people’s veins,” write Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld.
And according to Reuters, dead dolphins are washing up on Gulf shores at 10 times the normal rate:
The bodies of 26 infant and stillborn dolphins have been discovered since January 20, on islands, in marshes and on beaches along 200 miles of coastline from Louisiana east across Mississippi to Gulf Shores, Alabama, officials said.
Amid the ongoing devastation, BP’s $20 billion cleanup fund is turning into a boondoggle. Reports Associated Press:
An Associated Press review that included interviews with legal experts, government officials and more than 300 Gulf residents found a process beset by red tape and delay, and at the center of it all a fund administrator whose ties to BP have raised questions about his independence.
Indeed, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier recently ruled spill-fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg, appointed by Obama last year, “isn’t truly independent.” Bloomberg reports:
The judge ordered Feinberg to tell spill claimants that he’s acting in BP’s interest and they should consult independent lawyers before signing away their rights to sue BP or other companies for spill-related damages.
As for BP, it’s doing fine. Its share price has doubled since it hit bottom during the spill; and with events in the Middle East pushing up oil prices, the company is minting money. While BP shareholders cash in, Gulf residents are left to ponder the wisdom of Mississippi’s greatest writer, William Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”