Saturday, 20 April 2013

Three-year anniversary of the BP oil spill: Their take

Three-year anniversary of the BP oil spill: Their take, BP Communications issued a long media release Mon., before the bombings in Boston, to publicize their progress following the most massive oil spill this country has ever seen. Oh yes, tomorrow is the three-year anniversary of that sordid event, the same so-called "spill" that killed 11 rig workers* and thousands of marine life, sickened untold hundreds of Gulf residents and cost fishermen and other businesses millions.

So why not send out a press release.

Here are some of the highlights:

According to BP, tourism numbers from the Fla. Panhandle to the Texas Gulf are "smashing records", with 2012 being one of the best years in New Orleans' history, supposedly. Last year, the city saw a record $6 billion flowing into it, with the average Orleans Parish revenue-per-available-room the highest in 10 years.
BP has coughed up around $1 billion, the company says, to evaluate potential injuries and environmental problems, while all the while supporting the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process. According to BP, even though no one outside of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is supposed to yet know the NRDA findings, "it is clear that the dire predictions many made about the future of the Gulf have not come to pass".
To date, BP has paid $10.7 billion in claims, advances, settlements and other payments as of Mar. 31 of this year, with the majority of these payments having come from the $20 billion trust BP established in 2010; of this amount, Louisiana has received $3.4 billion, Mississippi $0.8 billion, Alabama $1.6 billion, Florida $3.4 billion and federal sources and other states, the remaining billions.
BP has "deep cleaned" Louisiana shores, including Fourchon Beach, Elmer's Island, Grand Isle, Grand Terre I and Grand II. The company claims that despite drilling 13,000 augur holes to detect deeply buried oil, only 3 percent of what they found required cleaning.
The press release or report, if you will, went on for several pages. The communications director implored media to feel free to reach out if we wished to arrange interviews to discuss the three-year anniversary.

However, when this Examiner tried desperately to reach out to them in 2010 and 2011, such attempts were frequently rebuffed. View the video from the Univ. of Ga. "Building Bridges in Crisis" symposium from Jan. 2011. This was a conference where reporters such as myself spoke regarding our coverage, while other panelists of scientists and businesspersons, discussed how we could better communicate after a crisis.

Interestingly, one person had not been on the original program for the conference. Laura Waters Folse, BP Gulf Coast Restoration Organization Director of Science and Technology, answers my question at about 1:12:52 on the Youtube video, uploaded from Univ. of Georgia. Look at what she says.

Note to reader: Folse was never available "in the hall" or in any other way. When she replied by e-mail after the conference, inevitably I was referred to PR and was shot down once again. Other reporters with whom I spoke never got through to BP either.

Their trial to determine gross negligence is now paused as Judge Carl Barbier weighs the evidence.

Happy Third Anniversary, BP.

*The rig workers who died were: Gordon Jones, Blair Manuel, Stephen Curtis, Donald Clark, Jason Anderson, Karl Kleppinger, Dewey Revette, Shane Roshto, Adam Weise, Aaron Dale Burkeen and Roy Wyatt Kemp. The youngest was Weise at 24; the oldest Manuel, at 56. They came from three states: Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.

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