This is all the American public really wanted in the end, just someone to step up and tell us when this greatest of human-caused environmental disasters would be over – period. Don’t bog our lives down with endless media reports and guilt. Finally, thanks to Kenneth Feinberg, independent administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) we can finally go back to the rest of our lives. The Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Coast are nearly healthy once more.
“By that time, most of the harmful effects of the worst offshore oil spill in US history will have dissipated and the economy should have picked up,” said Feinberg.
Thank god it’s over!
In an unrelated story:
“This year  Cordova [Alaska, in the bull’s eye of the Exxon Valdez disaster] opened shrimp fishing for the first time since 1989”
Assuming Feinberg actually was independent and cared, he would be wise to read a BBC article from last July that considered the “healing” after a disaster; one considerably smaller than BP, a mere 11 million gallons of crude. “Before the BP accident in the Gulf of Mexico, America’s worst offshore oil leak was the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. Twenty-one years later, the BBC’s Rajesh Mirchandani went to a nearby fishing village to see how its people had recovered – and found not all of them had. … 21 years after one of the worst environmental disasters in US history, it remains scarred.”
Independent is the operative word here. Mega-corporations facing mega-fines don’t leave anything to the vagaries of an “independent administrator.” Considering BP is paying the man in charge of overseeing its $20 billion victim compensation fund for its devastation of the Gulf of Mexico over $10 million a year, his independence is conflicted at best. So outlandish is independent administrator Feinberg’s compensation from BP that it has even come under critical fire from normally oily politicians like Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) – better know for his dubious listing on the “D.C. Madams” phone records.
In the slogan sappy effort to “make it right” BP has so far disbursed around $3.5 billion of the $20 billion it agreed to “set aside”, in a pact with the Obama Administration. The question now appears to be who defines “right” and when is over over? Just as recently as last November chemist Wilma Subra of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network in testing for chemical markers, hunted down BP’s crude fingerprints out in the field all along the coast, in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida’s panhandle.
“I’ve found there’s still huge amounts of BP crude oil on the sediment soils, in the wetlands, on the vegetation, and in the tissue in the oysters, crabs and mussels.”
That BP crude fingerprint contained dangerously high levels of volatile organic chemicals including Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and Hexane. That’s the same seafood declared safe that month – only three months ago – by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, jointly with the Food and Drug Administration, saying that after a second round of testing they again found no harmful traces of the chemical Corexit, the dispersant used to contain the spill that was feared to be even more toxic than the oil itself. The results were that fish, oysters, crab and shrimp from the Gulf are safe for consumption.
More recently Supra spoke to a forum in New Orleans about testing she has been conducting in both coastal fisheries and humans, (reported on Nola.com) she said, “The effects will be felt for generations,” ticking off a wide range of symptoms she said result from exposure to crude oil and Corexit. “This is what we have to look forward to.”
Subra said the Food and Drug Administration declared in September that Gulf seafood was free from contaminants, but later modified its statement to state only that the level of toxins found was below levels of danger set by the agency. The problem, Subra said, was the methodology used to set the toxicity threshold. “They said a normal seafood diet would be four jumbo shrimp a week,” she said. “How many of you, when you eat jumbo shrimp, only eat four?”
A division of the National Institutes of Health has started a program to track the long-term health effects of the spill [found here]. According to an online description, the study began with telephone interviews with more than 55,000 people — Gulf Coast residents, Coast Guard and National Guard members — who were involved in the cleanup. The long-term tracking will focus on about 25,000 of them.
Subra said the study, financed in part with $10 million from BP, is fundamentally flawed because it doesn’t include the broader Gulf Coast population and, more important, doesn’t offer care to those being studied.
In three blog postings I am scrambling to get up here we have bottle-nosed dolphin deaths, weathered oil surfacing on beaches, and marshes that will need to be ripped out if BP is to “make it right” the stubborn and lingering oil pollution. All coming after I flew last week over the barrier islands and coastal marshes of Louisiana only to see the ever-present BP cleanup crews raking beaches, filling plastic bags, and huge machines still ripping up beach sands because last April’s crude oil won’t “dissipate.” Maybe Mr. Feinberg should venture out there and remind the disaster it only has until 2012 to “right” itself.