Hundreds of people lined the shores in “Hands Across the Sand” events across southern Australia on May 21 to protest BP's plans to drill for oil in the pristine waters of the Great Australian Bight. Hands are used to symbolise a barrier to oil hitting our shores. Similar events were held around the world to raise awareness of the risks posed by the offshore oil and gas industry.
The fifth anniversary of BP's Macondo well explosion was marked on April 20. The explosion killed 11 rig workers and sent millions of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, making it the worst offshore oil spill in US history. Oil gushed from the site for 87 days, killing wildlife and prompting fishing bans. It also led to safety regulation standards intended to make the offshore oil and gas industry safer.
The huge multinational US oil corporation Texaco operated in Ecuador from 1964 until 1992 (Texaco merged with Chevron in 2001). The corporation poured 72 billion litres of oil waste and 45 million litres of crude oil over 2 million hectares of land in Santa Elena province — land which included the Amazon rainforest, rivers and agricultural land. Texaco just poured the oil into ground-connected pipes which just poured oil directly into the rivers and forests.
Fires were still smouldering on the morning of February 17 as emergency crews assessed the damage after a train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed and exploded near the Mt Carbon area of Fayette County, West Virginia, the day before. About 2400 people have been evacuated or displaced by the derailment, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as the fire burned power lines.
In August, Truthout conducted soil and water sampling in Pass Christian Harbor, Mississippi, on Grand Isle, Louisiana, and around barrier islands off Louisiana’s coast to test for the presence of oil from BP’s Macondo Well. Laboratory test results from samples taken reveal very high concentrations of oil in the soil and water. These results contradict consistent claims by the federal government and BP since August that much of the Gulf of Mexico is now free of oil and safe for fishing and recreational use.
“BP PLC’s long-awaited internal investigation into the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig found that the British oil giant bears some responsibility for the disaster but laid most of the blame on its contractors”, the September 8 Wall Street Journal said.
“An oil platform explosion on September 2 in the Gulf of Mexico forced the crew to jump into the sea and threatened further damage to waters still recovering from the BP disaster”, AFP said that day. The explosion on the platform, owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy, comes in the aftermath of the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the gulf in April, which killed 11 workers. Bloomberg.com said on August 20 that 4.9 million barrels of oil escaped from the leaking well.
The Gulf of Mexico is still threatened with an ecological catastrophe, but the US government and British Petroleum (BP) are trying to cover up the scale of BP’s Macondo oil well disaster. About 4.9 million barrels of oil escaped into the sea after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers. BP capped the well on July 15, but work on the relief well to permanently plug the spill is expected to be delayed until early September, Bloomberg.com said on August 20.
The ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the April 20 explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig has exposed the obscene behaviour of the world’s fourth-largest corporation, British Petroleum (BP). Evidence has come from many sources revealing BP was aware of safety concerns, but did nothing about them.
Australia’s leading conservation groups said in a joint statement on June 21 that concern about lack of action to provide safeguards against large-scale oil spills in Australia will be a high-profile issue in the next federal election. Thirty-two environment groups — including the Australian Conservation Foundation, WWF Australia and Pew Environment Group — have called on all political parties to commit to a network of large marine sanctuaries this coming election to provide safeguards for Australia’s unique marine life.
The world’s worst ever oil spill is also the biggest methane leak in human history, US government scientists have said. The US Geological Survey’s “flow team” has estimated between 4.5 billion to 9 billion cubic feet of natural gas have escaped from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig since it exploded in April, Associated Press said on June 19. John Kessler, an oceanographer at the Texas A&M University, told AP the leak was “the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history”. Scientists think methane makes up 40% to 70% of what is spilling from the damaged BP rig.
Multinational oil companies in Nigeria spill more oil every year than has been spilled by BP in the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike the gulf disaster, most people are unaware of this ecological crime. There have been major spills in Nigeria since BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, but they have received hardly any attention from the international media. A May 12 explosion at a Shell installation turned 39 hectares of the Niger Delta into an oil slick, BBC News said on June 15. Two weeks earlier, an Exxon Mobil oil pipeline ruptured. It spewed a million litres a day for a week.
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