Friday, October 12, 2012

New Oil Slick Linked To BP Deepwater Horizon 2010 Spill

Oct 10: The Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in New Orleans issued a Notice of Federal Interest (NOFI) to BP and Transocean. Coast Guard Capt. Duke Walker issued the NOFI following sample results from an oil sheen located in the vicinity of where the Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded and sank more than two years ago. The sheen was first reported to the National Response Center September 16 by BP based on satellite images from the 9th and 14th overpasses in the Mississippi Canyon, block 252, approximately 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The Coast Guard said the sheen is not feasible to recover and does not pose a risk to the shoreline.

    The Coast Guard, in concert with BP and NOAA, has conducted regular assessments of the sheen by aircraft and boat since its discovery. The observed sheen size has varied over time depending upon the conditions present. Samples of the sheen were taken by Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Morgan City Sept. 26 and sent to the Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab in New London, Conn. The Marine Safety Laboratory results indicate the sheen correlates to oil that originated from BP's Macondo Well. The exact source of the sheen is uncertain at this time but could be residual oil associated with wreckage and/or debris left on the seabed from the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010.

    The NOFI effectively informs BP and Transocean that the Coast Guard matched the sheen samples to the Deepwater Horizon spill or sunken drilling debris and that either party or both may be held accountable for any cost associated with further assessments or operations related to this sheen. 
    Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources Committee, who was the leading investigative force into the BP disaster in 2010, called for a full undersea survey of the Macondo site carried live on the internet so independent scientists can examine the activities as they happen. He said, "One can only hope that the nightmare well has not come back to haunt the people of the Gulf. The federal government should order BP to immediately deploy undersea rovers to examine the well site, the wreckage of the sunken rig, the drill pipe, and the surrounding area. BP must also bring back the Spillcam, so the world can see in real time what is going on at the bottom of the Gulf. There is no room for error, and no room for obfuscation, when it comes to this matter."
    During the 2010 BP oil spill, Rep. Markey successfully called for the release of a live internet feed of the undersea rovers. Spillcam, which was first hosted on Rep. Markey's committee website, and footage released by BP at his request, aided scientists in determining the size and rate of the spill. Rep. Markey indicated that the return of Macondo oil also raises the issue of BP's outstanding fines and damage assessments from the 2010 spill. Additional oil and residual effects continuing from the spill years later should be considered in the final judgment, including provisions for additional fines and damages if recurring seeps and leaks are determined to be possible.
    Rep. Markey said, "BP must do everything in its power to ensure this well does not rupture or leak, and they should be held responsible if it does. BP still has billions to pay to the people of the Gulf and the U.S. government, but the Gulf region also deserves the peace of mind that this well is dead once and for all."
    National environmental organizations including Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society and National Wildlife Federation issued a joint statement saying:

"BP's continued attempts to dodge responsibility for the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history must not continue. Despite a costly advertising campaign claiming that the gulf has bounced back from the 2010 oil disaster, the gulf is still reeling, both environmentally and economically. We may not know the full impact of the spill for years to come, but we do know that BP must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, stop stalling, pay up and make the gulf whole.

"This latest slick shows us once again that the oil is still taking a toll on the gulf. The sooner full payment happens, the sooner environmental and economic restoration can begin for this region. We owe it to the Gulf of Mexico -- one of our national treasures -- to make sure BP does right for the people, wildlife and habitat of this region.

"Drilling experts are claiming it's unlikely that BP's Macondo well is leaking again and the Coast Guard feels the residual oil 'does not pose a risk to the shoreline,' but the slick is nonetheless a cause for concern for the wildlife and ecosystem of the gulf -- especially considering recent media reports suggesting BP has proposed a settlement offer that is significantly less than what it would face at trial.

"Alarmingly, BP has purportedly offered a sum less than $20 billion. An amount so low would be inadequate to repair the gulf and would allow the oil giant -- which netted $25.7 billion in 2011 -- to escape paying what is required by law, what it can afford and what is fair in a case with such egregious environmental damage."

"BP must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. It's time for BP to stop stalling, pay up and make the gulf whole."

    Access the release from the Coast Guard (click here). Access the statement from Rep. Markey and link to related information (click here). Access the release and statement from the environmental groups (click here). [#Energy/OilSpill]
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