by Helen Noakes
“They’ve been used at such a high volume that it’s unprecedented. The worst of these—Corexit 9527—is the one they’ve been using most. That ruptures red blood cells and causes fish to bleed. With 800,000 gallons of this, we can only imagine the death that will be caused.”
—Dr. Susan Shaw, Marine Toxicologist, Director of Marine Environmental Research Institute (On BP’s use of chemical dispersants)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—(Weekly Hubris)—7/26/10—“No doubt, quoting BP’s propaganda machine, newscasts are telling us that BP has capped the oil spill. The American public is being assured that the spill is no longer an issue about which we need be concerned. It seems that, according to BP, all is right with the Gulf of Mexico.
I watched Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” on MSNBC and listened to both Admiral Thad Allen, the incident commander representing our government in overseeing the clean-up, and former oil company executive, Bob Cavnar, tell quite a different story. I must admit that I had to pay very close attention to Admiral Allen’s words to hear the real message.
I also checked out BP’s site on the issue and, as I read, the image of Richard Gere doing a shuffle and slide rendition of a double-talking, sleazy defense attorney in the musical, “Chicago,” came to mind. The song he sang is called “Razzle Dazzle” and, although all the lyrics were absolutely on target, “. . . give them the old hocus pocus, bead and feather them . . .” seemed to be a perfect fit. Sadly, BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward, appears to have neither Mr. Gere’s charm nor the talent to bring it off.
Besides the devastation of the spill caused by BP’s inexcusable negligence and greed, the company continues poisoning the waters with the toxic chemicals they are using to “clean up” the disaster, further contaminating the waters of the Gulf.
I remember the day that this spill was announced. I remember feeling horror, sadness and anger. I also remember Jacques Cousteau’s words about the fragile state of our oceans and the dire implications of our continued pollution of the source of our oxygen on this planet. He expressed his concerns in 1973, and we didn’t listen.
Many of us laugh at environmentalists and their warnings, dismissing environmental groups that continue to speak up against the rapacious policies of major corporations.
Lest we think that we on the Pacific coast will not be affected by what’s happening in the Gulf, think again. The fact is that there is only one ocean, no matter what we might imagine, and that once the balance in its ecology is upset, the impact is universal.
Lest we assume that the impact on marine life will not impact humans, think again, as well. Poisoned oceans produce poisoned air and, as one of my oncologist friends commented, “We’ll see a rise in cancer rates along that coast.” And if Corexit 9527 is killing fish, what will it do to humans who come in contact with the toxin-ridden waters of the Gulf?
So, what to do? First of all, don’t rely on one newscast: do your homework. Visit as many sites related to this global disaster as you can and become well-informed. This situation affects you, your family, your neighbors and the world. Second, demand that BP stop its deleterious policies and pay for the cost of the clean-up and the recovery of the Gulf Coast—such demands should be sent to the White House, your senator and congressperson, and BP.
Flood BP with e-mails, letters and telephone calls regarding this matter. Make your statements concise, your demands explicit, and base them on solid information, but never, never, use abusive language. Remember, your protest is civilized, no matter how barbaric BP’s greed.
I’ve been involved with Amnesty International and remember their policy regarding letter campaigns: the more correspondence regarding an issue the better, but always keep your communication civil. It is the sheer quantity of messages that makes an impact.
Here are some suggested sites, there are many more, but these will get you started: 1) MSNBC.com; 2) CNN.com; 3) Bob Cavnar’s Blog: http://dailyhurricane.com/; 4) Marine Environmental Research Institute http://www.meriresearch.org/; 5) BP’s Site related to the spill: http://www.bp.com/bodycopyarticle.do?categoryId=1&contentId=7052055
PS I wrote this column on July 20 towards a July 26 publication. Because of a computer mishap, the column was not published on that date. However, the subsequent news regarding BP’s policies of subterfuge and downright negligence supports the points I raised in the above. I am sure that, by now, many of you have heard the stories of the mysteriously “disappearing” images on BP’s computer screens and their decision, prior to the catastrophe, to turn off alarm systems designed to warn against precisely the disaster that has afflicted the Gulf. I followed the stories on CNN, whose coverage was extensive and thorough.