You can count on BP... to always screw the environment to save a buck

BP’s response to its unprovoked attack on all sea life in the Gulf of Mexico seems focused on six things:

  1. Figuring out how to capture and sell oil exploding out of its oil gusher (rather than plugging the hole)
  2. Lying about BP’s culpability
  3. Lying about the magnitude of the “leak”
  4. Blocking experts from learning or acquiring data about the “leak”
  5. Using chemical dispersants to sink the oil down deep where people can’t see it
  6. Taking highly visible actions — esp. washing oil-soaked birds — that make the company appear to care, even though bird-cleaning has been proven almost completely ineffective at saving oil-soaked birds' lives

A clear pattern emerges: Caring about style (public perception) over substance (saving the Gulf of Mexico).

As if you needed it, here’s more proof.

First, BP not only isn’t using a proven method of sucking oil out of the water but even threatened to sue experts who had done this in Saudi Arabia for suggesting the idea:

As The Politics Blog reported on Tuesday in an interview with former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, the untapped solution involves using empty supertankers to suck the spill off the surface, treat and discharge the contaminated water, and either salvage or destroy the slick.

Hofmeister had been briefed on the strategy by a Houston-based environmental disaster expert named Nick Pozzi, who has used the same solution on several large spills during almost two decades of experience in the Middle East — who says that it could be deployed easily and should be, immediately, to protect the Gulf Coast. That it hasn’t even been considered yet is, Pozzi thinks, owing to cost considerations, or because there’s no clear chain of authority by which to get valuable ideas in the right hands….

The suck-and-salvage technique was developed in desperation across the Arabian Gulf following a spill of mammoth proportions — 700 million gallons — that has until now gone unreported, as Saudi Arabia is a closed society, and its oil company, Saudi Aramco, remains owned by the House of Saud. But in 1993 and into ‘94, with four leaking tankers and two gushing wells, the royal family had an environmental disaster nearly sixty-five times the size of Exxon Valdez on its hands…

JON KING: Well, we went down to the BP headquarters in Houma, Louisiana, and we didn’t have an appointment so they wouldn’t let us in. Then I called the president of BP and I talked to his secretary and she put me in touch with somebody, but the somebody she put me in touch with didn’t know who we should talk to. Nick contacted a gentleman that he used to work with at BP, and he threatened to sue Nick for not going through channels. And I said, “Great. I’d love BP to sue us for trying to help them. That would be wonderful.”

And, second, apparently to save money, BP is using a chemical dispersant that is less effective and much more toxic than available alternatives:

So far, BP has told federal agencies that it has applied more than 400,000 gallons of a dispersant sold under the trade name Corexit and manufactured by Nalco Co., whose current leadership includes executives from BP and Exxon. And another 805,000 gallons of Corexit are on order, the company said, with the possibility that hundreds of thousands of more gallons may be needed if the well continues spewing oil for weeks or months.

But according to EPA data, Corexit ranks far above dispersants made by competitors in toxicity and far below them in effectiveness in handling southern Louisiana crude.

Of 18 dispersants whose use EPA has approved, 12 were found to be more effective on southern Louisiana crude than Corexit, EPA data show. Two of the 12 were found to be 100 percent effective on Gulf of Mexico crude, while the two Corexit products rated 56 percent and 63 percent effective, respectively. The toxicity of the 12 was shown to be either comparable to the Corexit line or, in some cases, 10 or 20 times less, according to EPA.

Posted by James on Tuesday, May 18, 2010