September 8, 2010

Oil Still Remains in Gulf Despite Promises

The future livelihoods of those who work around the Gulf of Mexico depend on the condition of the Gulf waters following the worst oil spill in U.S. history. While the government heralds that the waters have miraculously cleared themselves of the crude oil, a new report by five marine scientists concludes almost 80 percent of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster remains in the Gulf ecosystem. If true, that means fishermen cannot safely return to work and businesses associated with the Gulf waters cannot safely reopen.

The government said in an August 4 report, that only one-quarter of the oil remained because the rest had evaporated, been skimmed, burned, or recovered.

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August 27, 2010

Will a BP Worker's Check Bounce?

It’s been reported that BP oil cleanup workers are required to take a 40 minute rest after just 20 minutes of work. That’s why it appears they are not doing anything. Reporter, Larry Mendte, who writes for the Philadelphia Post reports that BP crews are everywhere, but with all the rest they have to take, locals have the impression they are not working very hard for their $18 an hour.

Mendte traveled the beaches from Mississippi through Alabama to Panama City and says the workers are doing a very good job. He also says he saw oil covered dead fishdead fish covered in oil and tar balls on the beach. Much of the beach has been combed and manicured. Residents along the Gulf shores say even if they don’t see tar, the water and sand feel different.

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August 26, 2010

BP Workers' Claims Reduced by Guidelines

Under new guidelines it may become more difficult to collect compensation for long-term losses resulting from the BP oil spill. This is good news for BP but very bad news for consumers.

The new rules for oil spill loss claims to be processed were released Friday, August 20. Washington lawyer, Kenneth Feinberg, was picked by President Obama to oversee the $20 billion fund put aside by BP to settle claims.

So now who receives compensation?

The Associated Press reports that a flower shop in Florida probably won’t. Neither will a restaurant in Idaho that had to cut back on fish sales. The closer you are to the Gulf of Mexico, the better the chance that you will see some compensation. That is going to cut out a lot of businesses that rely on the attractions of the beach to make their livelihood, even if they don’t live near the beach.

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August 11, 2010

Long Term Health Effects From Oil Spill

The good news- the underwater camera no longer shows crude oil gushing from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Now the question ahead is what are the long-term ramifications?

The University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Public Health is working with the federal government in answering that question. Researchers have formed an ad-hoc team in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to examine the unprecedented tragedy. The oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon is equivalent to a supertanker spill every week and many have been impacted – from workers who have cleaned up the beach and the Gulf, to children and even tourists who have been exposed. In the short-term, health impacts have been watery and irritated eyes, skin rashes and itchiness, coughs, shortness of breath and wheezing, reports ConsumerAffairs.com. Long-term studies will be launched to understand the physical and psychological impacts.

Then there are the unanswered questions about consuming seafood from the Gulf.

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August 6, 2010

BP Delays Paying Claims

The payout to those financially damaged by the BP oil spill appears to be as messy as the spill itself. ProPublica reports that many damage claims are in limbo and claimants are being kept waiting.

Why?

The answer appears to be within the wording of the Oil Pollution Act, a 1990 federal law that requires companies to be responsible for direct “removal costs and damages” caused by an oil spill. Not all claims are for the costs of removing oil and damages from the oil. ProPublica reports on Duane Sandy, who sells hurricane-proof storage units in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. He submitted a claim in May for $3,500 since he has not sold a single unit since the spill in April. Instead, he got a form letter from BP that said he had not provided sufficient documentation to support the claim. When he called BP he got a different answer. A BP adjuster said the company is not paying claims of lost income based on commissions.

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July 14, 2010

EPA Water Testing

Visitors to Pensacola are getting mixed messages about whether they can go into the Gulf waters or not during the worst environmental disaster there ever. State and local officials are pointing blame at the Obama administration for keeping secret critical safety information about the toxicity of the water from the crude oil which is continuing to leak from the BP oil rig explosion.

In one of the biggest tourist weekends in the Panhandle, the question is whether they should ban swimming altogether. The Escambia County warning stops just short of banning swimming, largely because of the area’s dependence on tourism according to an article in the Palm Beach Post.

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July 1, 2010

Environmentalist Sues for Violations in the Gulf

A man from North Naples, Florida, is suing BP alleging it has violated federal environmental laws and permits in allowing crude oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater oil rig.

According to www.naplesnews.com, Brian Doyle, 50, says the companies involved with the failed oil rig violated the federal Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Oil Pollution Act.

Doyle is asking a federal judge to require BP, Transocean Deepwater Inc., Halliburton Energy Services, and the Department of the Interior to clean up the gooey mess as quickly as possible and cap the well to prevent further contamination. Doyle filed his oil spill lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers.

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June 25, 2010

Judge Blocks Drilling Moratorium

Based on a www.tallahassee.com A federal judge in New Orleans has given the green light to deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. You heard that right. The Obama administration had imposed a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects in response to the tragedy in the Gulf caused by BP and assorted other companies including Halliburton and Transocean.

The president imposed the ban because, as we clearly see, drilling at such depths doesn’t make sense, puts rig workers in danger, not to mention has the potential to pollute the Gulf for the next 20 years. But the judge said the administration acted rashly in imposing the ban just because one rig failed.

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June 21, 2010

BP Sets Aside $20 Billion for Oil Spill Recovery for Workers

Good news for a change concerning the BP oil spill and BP’s commitment to pay for its mess. A News4Jax article reports that BP announced Tuesday, June 15, that it will set aside $20 billion to pay victims of the massive oil spill. That move came after pressure from the White House following a meeting with BP executives Wednesday. The fund will be independent and overseen by lawyer, Kenneth Feinberg. He is the lawyer who oversaw the payments to September 11th terrorist attack families.

Those whose livelihoods have been devastated by the April explosion and subsequent leak of thousands of gallons of crude into the Gulf include fishermen, restaurateurs, oil rig workers, and hotel owners among others. There is no word yet on when claims will be processed and who and what will be covered, but BP is now committed to paying $5 billion a year for four years into an escrow account.

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June 8, 2010

Destin Woman Suing over Gulf Oil Spill

A Destin, Florida woman has filed a lawsuit against BP, Halliburton and Transocean, among others alleging that her vacation rental business is ruined and will cost her thousands of dollars. Vickie Nobles’ lawsuit is a class-action. That means she will head the class on behalf of other who are similarly situated, meaning they likely own beachfront property. According to The Florida Independent, among her claims are gross negligence, trespass, products liability, and liability for an abnormally dangerous activity. The Gulf oil spill, she contends, violates the state’s Pollutant Discharge Prevention and Control Act, which requires the plaintiff to prove that pollution did occur. That will not be tough.

Also named in the action is the maker of the Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer. That was supposed to be the backup but it failed and allowed the discharge of thousands of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Adding to the complaint Nobles says that BP has not done enough to stop the oil from fouling Florida’s beaches and the booms that BP has erected are ineffective. That’s because anything higher than a three-foot wave can clear the boom taking the oil slick with it. Just this past month, the Gulf has had seven to 10 foot-swells, her complaint says.

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May 31, 2010

Oil Spill Economic Damages - BP Prepares for Top Kill

Evidence of the Gulf oil spill have been found in Pensacola in the panhandle where about 100 tar balls were found on an area beach Wednesday, May 26. Testing will show if it is from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Meanwhile an Escambia County official told local Channel 4 that more than 1,000 similar tar balls have been found in Florida and tests have shown that none of them were from the oil rig explosion. A News4Jax article reports that they came from chunks of asphalt from roads, pieces of charcoal or oil from ships. In fact, oil washes up on Florida shores hundreds of times a year, but right now they are being watched more closely than ever as the nation waits and watches BP continue to foul the states that border the Gulf.

Estimates are already in that the British Petroleum (BP) spill is worse than the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989 that spilled nearly 11 million gallons when a tanker ran aground.

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May 21, 2010

Oil Heading to the Keys

The latest report is that scientists predict millions of gallons of crude oil, already in the Gulf of Mexico, could hit the Florida Keys by this weekend, according to a News4Jax report.

Though no one knows how much, it is possible that the oil already spilled can get caught in something called the loop current, which is a ribbon of warm water originating in the Gulf and wrapping around Florida up on the Atlantic side. A University of Miami oceanographer says it’s only a question of when oil in the loop that would bring it to the Keys and beyond that would hurt wildlife and coral reefs. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary draws millions of tourists every year who snorkel, fish and replenish the state’s economy. If the oil continues further up the loop it could even travel as far north as Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. The oil is not expected to go north of Cape Canaveral before it becomes more diluted and is carried out to sea.

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May 20, 2010

BP Oil Will Pay All Legitimate Claims or Will It?

BP or British Petroleum has said it will pay all “legitimate claims” from the oil spill in the Gulf. But BP’s liability is capped at $75 million. Considering all of the potential “legitimate” claims, it is clear that $75 million will not be sufficient for now and certainly not for down the road as subsequent claims for damage comes in.

Some claims will be able to quantify immediately. If the fishing industry can show their expected revenue from year to year, it will be apparent that this year will be different. Then there are other types of claims. How do you claim that your store in a mall near the beach suffered from a decrease in tourism? The best thing for those people to do is to keep careful records of years past and whatever is happening today to make a claim.

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May 17, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill Still Uncapped - Economic Damages Mount

The crude Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster enters its fourth week and there are some hints as to what went wrong on April 20th, according to a NY Times article. A Congressional investigation finds that a safety mechanism that’s supposed to seal the undersea well if there is sudden pressure may have failed. The House Energy and Commerce Committee disclosed the findings on Wednesday, May 12. Henry Waxman of California said the more he hears about the BP Gulf Coast oil spill, the more concerned he becomes. That is because, according to a BP official, the oil giant may have known ahead of the explosion that killed 11 workers, that the well device couldn’t pass the negative-pressure test. A hydraulic leak has been confirmed after underwater robots injected dye into the blowout preventer and it leaked out of a loose fitting. The failure of the blowout preventer is just one of several possible causes of the failure.

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May 13, 2010

BP Told to Stop Circulating Oil Spill Settlement Agreements

As the Gulf oil spill creeps toward shore, BP, British Petroleum is doing all it can to minimize harm in the water and on the shore. And we’re not talking about oil slick barriers. Alabama’s Attorney General says he has told representatives of BP they need to stop circulating agreements that require people to give up their right to sue in exchange for $5,000. AG Troy King says people should seek appropriate legal advice before they sign away their rights.

Reportedly, BP’s efforts were very strong in Bayou La Batre. By the first weekend in May, BP had signed up about 500 fishing boats in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama. Fishermen were put under contract and part of the condition of being hired was that they waive their right to sue BP and agree to a confidentiality clause not to discuss it. After some public embarrassment, BP said it stripped out the waiver requirement and the ones signed would not be enforced.

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May 11, 2010

Mayport Shrimp Will be Affected by Gulf Oil Spill

There is little doubt that there will be some impact to our local shrimp industry say those in the know. Gerald Pack, who owns Safe Harbor Seafood Market and Restaurant, the last remaining fish house in Mayport, says that if the oil from the blown oil platform in the Gulf makes it to Florida’s east coast, it will have a definite impact. Even if the oil doesn’t make it here, the oil spill tragedy will have an impact. That’s because shrimpers in the Gulf will likely find themselves migrating to the east coast of Florida to practice their trade. “They can come to our coast and fish,” he tells the Florida Times-Union. In Louisiana, the shrimping season began just before the oil platform exploded April 20th. In Mayport, the rock shrimp season will begin in June which likely will lure shrimpers here. Fair to say if the oil spill does head to our area it will devastate Mayport and its only industry right at the prime production time. In the meantime, a judge has ruled that Florida and the rest of the U.S. can join in a consortium of groups from six states. The Gulf Oil Disaster Recovery Group plans a class-action against BP on behalf of Gulf and Atlantic shrimpers and fishermen.

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May 6, 2010

Gulf Coast Oil Spill Catastrophe Timeline

While events leading up to the oil spill disaster are still being investigated, it is apparent that the scope of this accident is widespread and has already created detrimental consequences.

Since April 20, 2010, the Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana to Florida has become contaminated with massive amounts of oil from the explosion and sinking of the BP PLC drilling rig. This terrible Gulf Coast oil spill has not only damaged environmental homeostasis, but also placed several workers, family members of missing workers feared to be dead, and various business owners and private contractors in financial, physical, and psychological turmoil.

According to reports, it wasn’t until April 24 that officials announced that there was a valid and serious oil spill. Before this time, the oil spill disaster was brushed-off as minimally damaging. It was declared on April 25 that attempts were being made to stop the flow of oil through robot submarines and that a relief well may take many months to drill in order to cut off the flow. By April 26, the 5,000 foot deep leaking well in the ocean off the coast of Louisiana made an oil sheen and emulsified crude slick with a circumference of about 600 miles and covered about 28,600 square miles.

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