It's been a year since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, so we decided to scour the news to find some unique articles about the situation today. From personal accounts of how residents in the Gulf are still struggling to studies of the long term effects of the chemical dispersant used to mitigate the spill, below are seven articles that you might find interesting. You can also check the Center for Justice & Democracy's project, BP Justice Now!, for additional updates particulary regarding the claims situation.
Lest people assume the worst is behind us, Mother Jones lists “10 Reasons to Still Be Pissed Off About the BP Disaster” noting, among other issues: the concern that while some attention is being paid to spill cleanup workers' health, resident health issues are going unattended; that Congress has failed to change any oil or gas drilling laws since the spill; and that fewer than half the people who have filed claims from the spill have been paid.
Alternet's “’The Oil Is Not Gone”: BP Tries to Block Gulf Residents from Shareholder Meeting” shares Antonia Juhasz's account of BP’s first shareholder meeting since the Gulf oil disaster and their refusal to grant access to Gulf Coast residents, who had traveled all the way to London to speak. The residents were refused entry even though they had proxies, which gave them legal access to attend the meeting. Unlike the rest of the delegation, Juhasz, an author and activist, gained access as a guest without voting rights or the right to speak. Regardless, she spoke and shared a statement prepared by the father of Gordon Jones, who died on the Deepwater Horizon.
The Food & Water Watch report, “A Year After the Spill The Consequences of COREXIT”, describes the harmful effects of COREXIT, the highly-toxic dispersant used to mitigate the oil spill. They note that COREXIT is manufactured by Nalco Holding Company, whose board of directors includes a former BP executive and board member. Rather than eliminating oil, dispersants break oil down into less visible particles that remain as toxins as they sink to the bottom of the ocean. The report discusses the potential negative impact on wildlife, the economy, and human health – noting that the average age of death of those who worked with dispersants in Alaska is about 50 years.
The Times-Picayune's “Father of man who died in Gulf oil rig explosion is intent on making sure his son’s death was not in vain” explains that Keith Jones, a lawyer and the father of the late Gordon Jones, who died on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, has devoted the past year to efforts to change the Death on the High Seas Act (which we've covered). This law prevents the recovery of anything but monetary damages (lost wages, funeral expenses) for the families of these workers. Jones, still grieving, testified before congressional committees and paid his own way to Washington multiple times, however lobbying efforts by cruise lines and shipping companies blocked a Senate vote.
The BBC interviewed local fishermen from Delaxcroix Island in Louisiana in “Gulf oil spill: ‘The monster under the water’” The fishermen believe, after the oil spill, their way of life will disappear.
The National Geographic article, “A Year After the Spill, “Unusual” Rise in Health Problems” discusses that “nearly three quarters of those who believed they’d been exposed to crude oil experienced an “unusual increase in health symptoms”" and by early September “more than 2,100 acute health complaints related to the spill across the Gulf and elsewhere had come in.” In addition to the physical impact the spill has had and will continue to have on workers, the mental impact, issues of anxiety and depression, is also a problem.
In “Longtime oil industry champion now calls BP liars, almost a year after oil spill”, the Times-Picayune shares the story of Ryan Lambert, owner of Cajun Fishing Adventures Lodge in Buras, Louisiana. Lambert trusted the oil industry when they said they would take care of any problems that might occur in the region, but he now considers them liars. After receiving an initial emergency payment from BP, he started the complicated and frustrating process of proving additional losses and now intends to sue. He notes there are people in a worse situation than him, those who took BP’s quick final payment because they had no other choice and had to give up all their legal rights. He also discusses his fears for the long-term effects on the ecosystem and BP’s public relations campaign.
By the way, for anyone thinking about joining the federal lawsuit against BP, Halliburton and Transocean, April 20, 2011 is the deadline for including claims against Transocean, the rig owner. (Luckily, anyone can join the lawsuit now by filing out this easy 3-page form, which can be done without an attorney.)