Fred McCallister, a whistleblower who claims BP is using dispersants to sink oil and hide it from the pesky media’s cameras, will testify before a Senate investigative panel this week.
For quite some time, many bloggers and journalists following the BP-Corexit story, including me, have made the allegation that BP may have been experimenting by dumping over a million gallons of toxic dispersants into the ocean because they were desperately trying to prevent the oil from hitting the beaches.
(The amount of dispersants used by BP has been contested. Rep. Ed Markey has questioned the validity of BPs numbers, saying on July 31 that a new congressional report shows “BP carpet-bombed the ocean with these chemicals, and the Coast Guard allowed them to do it.”)
Everyone remembers what happened to Exxon’s public image the moment all of those adorable birds became coated in thick crude. And while BP has not been able to prevent oil from hitting all coastal birds, they have greatly diminished their PR liability by using dispersants like Corexit to coagulate the oil and sink it beneath the ocean’s surface where the media cannot photograph it, and BP won’t be fined for beach cleanup.
There, buried in the sea, the dispersants will likely alter the ecosystem – perhaps poisoning and killing ocean life – but by then BP will have fled the area, leaving future coastal generations to clean up their mess.
Perhaps most frustrating is that the media has been assisting BP in shaping the narrative that not much harm was done by BP’s underwater oil volcano. Time Magazine’s Michael Grunwald thinks Rush Limbaugh “has a point” because the extremist right-wing windbag spent weeks dismissing the disaster, and if Professor Limbaugh says thinks things are a-okay, then they must be. Also, I guess all black people are on welfare, and Mexicans are the cause of the Depression, since we’re believing every bit of bile that flies out of Rush’s mouth.
BP seized upon the media’s complacency to give themselves cover as they ready to pull out of the region. Billy Nungesser, President of Plaquemines Parish, LA said unequivocally that it is too soon for BP to scale back its clean-up efforts. The point is: no one can understand the scale of this disaster yet, but it’s definitely too soon to let BP off the hook.
Brad Johnson put it best:
…the only honest take on the BP disaster right now is that this is a calamity, the true scope of which will take years to discover, with many impacts impossible to ever know. No one knows how badly this disaster will affect the dying marshlands of Louisiana. No one knows how badly the toxic oil plumes will affect the spawning grounds of the bluefin tuna, the feeding grounds of the threatened Gulf sturgeon, or the future of the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, whose corpses have been found at 15 times the historical rate this summer. No one knows what the long-term physical and mental health impacts will be on the tens of thousands of cleanup workers.
The only solution in the short-term is to not allow BP to walk away preemptively. They must be forced to make a long-term commitment to the coast. Set up shop there. Go meet the locals. Settle in for the long haul. It takes decades to learn the full consequences of an environmental calamity like the BP disaster. That’s unfortunate, and it will demand the government and media remain vigilant, but it shouldn’t serve as an excuse for the media to get lazy and say, “Guess she wasn’t so bad!” so they don’t feel guilty when they turn their back on Louisianans.
That kind of apathy protects negligent corporations. It allows BP to slip out the back door.
McCallister will make the far-left, extremist fringe statement that BP has an allegiance to its shareholders, and not to the majority of U.S. citizens (and their environment). As a result, the company is doing whatever it deems necessary to protect its bottom line, and if that includes experimenting with toxic dispersants, so be it. At least that icky oil isn’t blackening the beaches, and thereby tarnishing the happy green flower logo.
Update: Where’s the oil? The Upshot answers, “It’s oozing out of the Louisiana ground“
Link to this article:
– Allison Kilkenny