PROTECTING ACCESS TO ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION

RTKnet: Spills

Louisina Police Are Working for BP (Mother Jones)

The ACLU has given Louisiana police a warning after they stopped members of the public from filming at sites impacted by the Deepwater Horizon spill on behalf of BP. "No one...has the legal right to interfere with public access to public places or the recording of activities that occur there. Nor may law enforcement officials cooperate with private companies in denying such access to the public."

(01 Jul 2010)

Louisiana Governor Won't Disclose Oil Spill Records (New York Times)

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed an amendment to a state bill that would have given the public access to all records from his office regarding the Deepwater Horizon spill. Gov. Jindal alleged that “Such access could impair the state’s legal position both in responding to the disaster that is unfolding and in seeking remedies for economic injury and natural resource damage.”

(01 Jul 2010)

Health of Exxon Valdez Clean-Up Workers Never Studied (McClatchy)

More than 20 years after the Exxon Valdez spill, scientistists are unaware of the long-term health effects that the thousands of workers in the Gulf may face. Also startling, BP is not taking note of the majority of workers' complaints of illness. An Anchorage lawyer asserted the need for a study of workers' health with recorded links between illness and oil exposure. "If you're the oil industry, you may or may not have this data. Lord knows, you're not going to want to publish it."

(30 Jun 2010)

Data Reveal Colorado Oil Spills Exceed 5 Million Gallons (denverpost.com)

Using a state database of industry reports of oil spills, the Denver Post reveals that there have been nearly 1,000 oil spills in the past 2 1/2 years in Colorado, totaling approximately 5.2 million gallons, or nearly half of the oil released from the Exxon Valdez spill. The National Wildlife Federation asserts, "It's about the public's right to know and what's going into the streams and aquifers around the state."

(28 Jun 2010)

Flawed Emergency Response Plans Endemic in the Gulf (Dallas Morning News)

Oil companies drilling off the coast of Texas at depths far greater than BP's Deepwater Horizon are relying on similarly inadequate emergency response plans. Evidently, "the Minerals Management Service has not increased its scrutiny when companies sought to drill at extreme depths."

(28 Jun 2010)

BP Continues to Use Surface Dispersants Despite Directive (NY Times)

BP is still applying dispersant Corexit 9500 to the surface of the Gulf even after the EPA issued a directive ordering the company to desist. Scientists are concerned about the dispersant's impact on marine life and the health of workers who are exposed to the chemical daily. 

(25 Jun 2010)

Louisiana Police Pull Over Activist at Request of BP (Mother Jones)

Louisiana police continue to restrict media coverage of the BP spill cleanup despite government directives. Mother Jones reports that Louisiana police are collaborating with BP to prevent citizens' access to information. An environmental activist was filming near the Deepwater Horizon response command building when a police officer asserted that "BP doesn't want any filming" and strongly suggested he "get lost."

(22 Jun 2010)

Gulf Oil Full of Methane, Adding New Concerns (The Associated Press)

The crude oil gushing from the destroyed BP rig contains approximately 40 percent methane. Scientists have found that the water surrounding the spill contains methane concentrations up to 10,000 times higher than normal, with oxygen levels depleted by over 40%. The combination could lead to hypoxic "dead zones" that are uninhabitable by marine wildlife and plants. David Garrison, Program Director of the National Science Foundation, stated that "This has the potential to harm the ecosystem in ways that we don't know." 

(21 Jun 2010)

BP Chief Offers Answers, But Not to Liking of House Committee (New York Times)

BP CEO Tony Hayward refused to directly answer questions or take responsibility for the spill when testifying to the oversight and investigations panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Chairman Waxman (D-CA) accused Hayward of "stonewalling" and criticized his responses by asserting, "Your evasion will make our job more difficult and impede our understanding of what went wrong."

(18 Jun 2010)

As Mess is Sent to Landfills, Officials Worry About Safety (New York Times)

Although BP's environmental unit claims that oily waste material is not hazardous, environmental lawyers, local officials, and residents surrounding landfills are worried about health risks. Chemist Marianne L. Horinko of the EPA asserts, "I think these communities are properly concerned...If you have a sufficient concentration [of oil waste], it will exhibit the characteristics of toxicity."

(17 Jun 2010)