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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More oil disaster implications

Two recent news items stick out. Exxon Valdez disaster clean up workers are all dead. Many died within ten years of working on the clean up. The second news item is more accurately described as a lack of news issue. Normal reporting, First Amendment Rights, have been criminalized in the Gulf. BP and the government are doing all they can to keep a tight lid any oil disaster news. A true journalist, trying to do a job, will run into no fly zones, armed security guards, belligerent sheriffs, stonewalling corporations, and sanitized government press releases.

Perhaps it's time to ask yourself, is the first news item the reason for the second news item?

Is the Gulf of Mexico becoming so toxic that the government is keeping a lid on it to prevent panic?

In every way imaginable, the oil disaster is much worse than the Alaskan oil spill:

-It's much bigger.
-It's still going on.
-The oil leak is in very deep water. The true extent of the problem is out of sight.
-Toxic dispersants are being used in abundance.
-Gulf waters are much warmer. There's more volatile chemicals becoming airborne.
-The hurricane season is upon us and the Gulf is getting stormy.
-A huge amount of our food comes from the area. Not just seafood is in danger. Toxic fumes and rain could damage cropland.
-The disaster is happening over a huge highly populated area.
-Much of our energy infrastructure is at risk.

There are plenty of other things at risk here. We are just beginning to see how the disaster has impacted the tourist industry. Everyone can see it's bad, and that's in spite of local governments and Chamber of Commerces doing all they can to downplay the problem. There's no money in bad news.

The national real estate market is shaky. Property on and near the Gulf is dropping and will continue to drop in value. The insurance industries will not be able to make good on their promises. The Gulf economic problems could severely damage the national economy.

Back to the example of the health problems for the Exxon Valdez clean up crews. Health problems in oil workers were downplayed. Every effort was made to deny health problems were oil related. Yet here we are, twenty years later, and everyone is dead.

Another data point. After the 911 attacks in New York, the EPA said the air was safe when it wasn't. Rescue and clean up crews have suffered terrible physical problems ever since. Many of those people have died young.

Chemical exposures are hard to document and prove. I'm not a chemist, just a retired Firefighter with damaged lungs caused by chemical exposure. It takes a number of disciples to discover how bad chemical exposures can be. A chemist many be able to understand the initial chemicals involved. Now take those starting chemicals, combine them in a variety of conditions -under water pressure, in low and high oxygen environments, add a variety to heat and solar exposure, set them on fire and they form new chemicals, then try and guess what other chemicals already have been dumped into the environment. It would take a huge number of test samples from all over the Gulf, from deep under water to high in the atmosphere to get a realistic idea what's happening. If those tests are being done, the results aren't being make public.

There are plenty of reasons for BP and the government to keep quiet. Let's imagine that toxic exposure would kill all exposed Gulf residents within 20 years. It's a reasonable enough assumption judging from the Alaskan experience. Would you leave if you knew the odds were close to 100% that living near the Gulf would kill you? Death from chemical exposure can be a slow painful process. How many of those Alaskans would have chosen to do the clean up if they knew before hand what it would do to them?

By keeping everyone in the dark, most of the workers will stay in the Gulf. People will man the refineries and other industries along the Gulf. The economic game will keep going a bit longer. By the time someone notices the increase in mortality, executives will be retired and the current crop of politicians out of office.

Make your own decisions. Just realize the efforts and incentives to keep facts away from the general public. Ask yourself why and who benefits.


1 comment:

  1. Benzene is one of the worst things coming out of that stuff. Absorbs right into your skin, so unless you're wearing a space suit... All that stuff should have evaporated by the time any oil gets here, it "flashes off" very quickly.