An opinionated prose poem about the current oil spill befouling the Gulf.
|April 20 of 2010 brought
explosions, fire, and death
to the Deepwater Horizon rig
positioned forty-two miles
off the Louisiana coast.
It was drilling in 5,000 feet of water
and 13,000 feet under the seabed.
My, that’s deep!
Eleven men on the rig died;
the Gulf itself remains imperiled.
It appears British Petroleum (BP)
in its uncontrolled corporate greed
simply refused to use caution,
simply failed to heed confirmed reports
of several safety controls being damaged.
My, the result is increasing despair!
Oil poured forth by the thousands
and thousands of barrels.
(1 barrel = 42 gallons)
BP estimates of the flow have proven
to be woefully too low.
BP first said 1,000 barrels per day.
No, make that 5,000 barrels daily.
How bad is the flow?
Estimates now stand at
12 - 20 thousand barrels daily.
No one seems to actually know.
My, how is it that they don’t know?
All efforts to stop the gushing oil
have failed – lowering a containment
dome over the leak was rendered useless
by clogging with frozen hydrocarbon slush;
inserting a tube into the leaking riser pile
of the well did capture some oil and gas,
but did little to stem the flow;
a "top kill" maneuver to plug the well
with “mud” and cement failed, crushing
any hope for a quick end to this,
the largest oil spill in U.S. history,
already in its 40th day then.
Hopes now in early June involve using
robot submarines to cut off what is left
of the leaking riser pipe, then lowering
a containment cap over the wellhead assembly.
But, the cuts were too jagged for a tight seal.
If this fails, relief may await drilling
of two ‘relief wells’ that can stop the flow
in August. August! Oil will have spilled
into the Gulf for four months by then.
My, four months is such a long time!
There is finger pointing all around.
Does anyone else recall “Big Oil” Bush
and "Halliburton” Cheney making
their energy policies in private meetings
with CEOs of oil/energy companies?
Seems Big Oil bought Washington
with its lobbyists’ hundreds of millions $$
and was in bed for years with its “government
regulators”. Who was protecting the
American public? Who?
My, seems the lobbyists own Congress!
The Republican right has ‘rushed’ in:
Limbaugh says the ocean is big and,
not to worry, it will be self-cleaning.
Sarah Palin used her brain cell to decide
this spill is really the fault of those
“extreme environmentalists”, while
she also still shouts, “Drill, baby, drill.”
BP says there is no evidence of any deep
oil deposits to harm the ocean floor.
“Oil floats on water, doesn’t it?”
One BP representative was quoted:
“Louisiana isn’t the only place
that has shrimp.” I guess this is
supposed to excuse the fact that BP
on safety did scrimp. (Groaner!)
Next, BP will be saying, Florida’s
Gulf Coast looks good with black oil
coating its sugary white sands.
Black and white makes quite a fashion
statement, no? I wouldn’t be surprised.
My, there has been a lot of nonsense!
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal
has aspirations of being President
one day. He espouses the Republican
doctrine of a small federal government
with the states doing things for themselves.
At least he used to preach this.
Now he is demanding the federal government
make BP do right, that the federal government
needs to help protect the Gulf shores,
that the federal government needs to take
a bigger role immediately.
Uh, whatever happened to letting the states
handle their own affairs, Bobby?
My, their anti-federal government plank seems rotten!
Here in early June, the world awaits
the full extent of the damages suffered
by the Gulf. Louisiana’s fishing industries
may be devastated for decades to come.
The Gulf beaches may be oiled for years.
Tourism on Gulf beaches will suffer
hundreds of millions in losses.
Huge areas of the Gulf may be destined
to become oil-induced “dead zones”.
Marine wildlife may be decimated.
The oil may ride the currents around
the Keys and up the Atlantic coast.
It will be months before the worst
is known as to this oil tragedy.
My, just how terrible can this be?
Fellow Americans, we must demand
BP be held accountable for their greed.
We must demand they pay the costs
for all damages and cleanup.
We as a people must demand an end
to corporate lobbyists buying our
government that is supposed to be
working for us, not for corporations.
Housing disaster, financial disaster,
and now an oil environmental disaster.
My, we have suffered enough disasters!
(Written 3 June 2010)
Update on Gulf oil spill on two-year anniversary: (added 24 March 2012)
BP has run a lot of ads saying the Gulf is oil-free and back to normal now after the disastrous BP oil spill in April 2010. Things ARE back to normal for BP itself. In 2011, BP reported its highest profit ever of $25.7 billion. For the oil companies, it IS business as usual in the Gulf. In 2010 there were 103 oil rigs operating in the Gulf, with 37 rigs in deep water. Today there are 113 oil rigs operating in the Gulf, with 40 now in deep water.
However, things are not so rosy for the fishermen and communities along the Gulf. Many of the areas that were closed to fishing by the government after the oil spill have been found to be devoid of the seafood they once produced and unsuitable for new spawning now that these areas are reopen. In both Louisiana and Mississippi, oyster harvesting has collapsed. In 2010 the harvest of oysters was down 55 percent in LA and 34 percent in MS from 2009, and even worse numbers are expected for the final 2011 totals once they become available. In 2010, the shrimp crop declined by 52 percent in MS, 48 percent in Alabama, and 14 percent in LA. As of September 2011 the shrimp crop was down by 80 percent from the Gulf. The Gulf crab harvest declined by 42 percent in LA, 37 percent in AL, and 33 percent in MS from 2009 to 2010. Back to normal? Gulf fishermen of oysters, shrimp, and crab are all still hurting.
The diversity and numbers of different fish species have also declined due to the oil spill. The fish have many more numerous secondary infections, with lesions found on their skin and in their liver, plus the incidence of parasitic infections in the fish is much higher than normal. At some Gulf fishing sites, 50 percent of the fish have lesions and sores.
In February 2011 (during the first calving season for dolphins since the oil spill), dozens of dead baby dolphins and aborted dolphin fetuses washed ashore on Gulf beaches. The normal death rate before 2010 was just one or two deaths a season.
BP oil is still found floating in the Gulf and washing ashore as tar balls and ‘tar logs’ (formed from oil settled and coating the ocean bottom rolling along the sea bottom to form ‘logs’). One has merely to look for it to find BP oil still polluting the Gulf shores. BP oil settled to coat large areas of the ocean bottom.
Despite all the ads BP may run, the Gulf coast is not back to normal. Far from normal, the Gulf still suffers from the disastrous effects of the 2010 BP oil spill … while BP itself prospers as never before.
SOURCE: “BP Oil Spill Still Tars the Gulf” by Antonia Juhasz, pages 21 – 25, The Progressive, vol.76, # 4, April, 2012 issue.