BP Oil Slick to Make Landfall Here Sunday
by Glynn Wilson
DAUPHIN ISLAND – We arrived on the scene here before sunset on Friday at the point where the massive BP oil slick is supposed to hit Alabama first, the Western tip of Dauphin Island south of Mobile.
There’s already a black streak in the sand on the primary dune line here from routine pollution on this side of Mobile Bay.
So far, the readiness to handle a disaster of this magnitude appears not just inadequate, but non-existant. There are only 60 miles of boom to cover 300 miles of coast, according to a spokesman for the town of Dauphin Island, and it is useless with waves of three feat or higher.
With storms coming in over the Gulf for the next few days out of the southwest, the waves could top six to eight feet or more. There are no plans in place to do ANYTHING to try and stop the oil from coming ashore here.
The clouds on Friday looked like the sky over Mordor in the final episode of Lord of the Rings, a harbinger of a looming disaster of epic proportions. This will no doubt dwarf the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William’s Sound Alaska in March of 1989, and without exaggeration, will be called the largest and worst environmental disaster in American history.
Did I mention no plan?
British Petroleum once downplayed the possibility of a catastrophic accident at an offshore rig that exploded, according to AP. In the company’s 2009 exploration plan and environmental impact analysis for the well, BP suggested it was unlikely, or virtually impossible, for an accident to occur that would lead to a giant crude oil spill and serious damage to beaches, fish and mammals.
The Mobile Press-Register apparently broke the story on a confidential government report which makes clear the Coast Guard now fears the well could become an unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf.
As for the cause of the blast and the leak, according to the New Orleans bureau of the Associated Press, oil services contractor Halliburton Inc. said in a statement Friday that workers had finished cementing the well’s pipes 20 hours before the rig went up in flames.
Halliburton, the company of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is named as a defendant in most of the more than two dozen lawsuits filed by Gulf Coast people and businesses claiming the oil spill could ruin them financially. One lawsuit filed by an injured technician on the rig claims that Halliburton improperly performed its job in cementing the well, “increasing the pressure at the well and contributing to the fire, explosion and resulting oil spill.”
Remote-controlled blowout preventers designed to apply brute force to seal off a well should have kicked in. But they failed to activate after the explosion.
Scott Bickford, a lawyer for several Deepwater Horizon workers who survived the blast, said he believes a “burp” of natural gas rose to the rig floor and was sucked into machinery, leading to the explosion.
If that’s not enough, BP has knowingly broken federal laws and violated its own internal procedures by failing to maintain crucial safety and engineering documents related to one of the firms other deepwater production projects in the Gulf of Mexico, a former contractor who worked for the oil behemoth claimed in internal emails last year and other documents obtained by Truthout.
Then, the American Bird Conservancy, the nation’s leading bird conservation organization, released a list of key bird sites they say are most immediately threatened by the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf.
The pelicans, like the one above, are going to have a hard time of it, especially at the Gulf Coast Least Tern Colony; the Lower Pascagoula River – including the Pascagoula River Coastal Preserve; the Gulf Islands National Seashore; Breton National Wildlife Refuge – including the Chandeleur Islands; Dauphin Island; Fort Morgan Historical Park; Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge; Eglin Air Force Base; Delta National Wildlife Refuge; and Baptiste Collette Bird Islands.
This is the kind of disaster that changes mens’ souls. It will turn many Republicans into environmentalists, and get the Democrats in Alabama talking about the environment finally, without a doubt, in the midterm elections just one month down the road on June 1.
We are on the scene and will document it the best we can over the next few days.
The scene appeared entirely routine at the gas wells along Alabama’s Gulf Coast on Friday, two days before BP’s destructive oil slick is scheduled to virtually shut down this part of the world, killing tourism, devastating commercial and recreational sea food harvesting, and covering the coast and inland estuaries in black, gooey oil.
© 2010, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.