(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Last night Mike Malloy interviewed Mike Papantonio, who co-hosts the weekly radio program, Ring of Fire, along with Bobby Kennedy, Jr. Both are prominent trial attorneys, oftentimes representing plaintiffs in environmental damage suits. As one might imagine, they are probably not included on the holiday greeting card list for any of the companies in the Fortune 500.
The opening topic was the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. What follows are some bits and pieces that I can recall from that interview as well as my commentary.
Mike Papantonio is apparently the first U. S. based attorney, along with Bobby Kennedy, Jr., to have already filed a lawsuit against British Petroleum for the ongoing oil spill, which was apparently filed on Wednesday, April 28, 2010.
In the process of discovery, British Petroleum will be forced to disclose a significant amounts of information that they would most surely prefer to keep hidden from the public view.
Although this may seem to be a devastating blow to Big Oil, the corporate media no doubt is dutifully providing cover and will refuse to air the story, instead plying us with 24/7 coverage of the immigrant “crisis” in Arizona and the tabloid story du jour. One of the headlines on the minute-long hourly news flash last night was Tiger Woods shooting 7 under par, a rare occasion when he didn’t make the final cut for a golf tournament. Yes, there is evidently little else of importance to report.
Big Oil’s playbook for situations like this is to underplay the story of an oil spill in the initial stages, delaying the release of factual information until the evidence is so overwhelming that it can’t be denied. Remember the rather benign pronouncements about this spill during the first few days?
Rather than being a leak, this is an absolute gusher of oil, shooting geyser-like from the ocean floor, and from underwater has the appearance of a volcanic eruption. The damage that is visible on the surface of the water is only a small indicator of the total amounts released into the water. Think of an an iceberg, where only about 10% of the mass is visible above the water, only in this case, the differential is undoubtedly much greater.
In almost every other country in the world, except for a few third world countries that apparently don’t care (or are powerless) to enact environmental protections, oil companies are required to install emergency shut-off valves on those rigs (I’m not sure if I’m remembering the terminology correctly), which cost something like $500,000 per unit. Not to be outdone by those third world countries, the Bush-Cheney cabal choose to assure Big Oil that such protections were not necessary off our coastal areas. Of course, the cost of installing these “safety switches” would have a negative impact on Big Oil’s profits, a mortal sin to be sure.
If the oil gusher could have been halted completely as of last night, the damage would last for at least a decade, however, it appears that no appreciable relief will occur for at least several weeks.
If this writer recalls the figure correctly, this submarine gusher is apparently spewing something like 3/4 million gallons of crude oil per day. Although the properties of crude oil are no doubt somewhat different than those of used motor oil, please consider the following information regarding used motor oil disposal, found on the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension website…
Used Oil Disposal:
Small amounts of used oil, grease, antifreeze or any other such compounds can cause large problems when they enter water bodies. For example, some general facts about the pollution potential of oil are:
1-Used oil contains toxic substances such as zinc, benzene and lead,
2-Oil from one oil change (1 gallon) can ruin the taste of a million gallons of water
(1 part per million), enough to supply 50 people with water for one year,
3-One pint of oil when put in water can spread over a surface of one acre,
4-Oil dumped on land will reduce productivity of that land, and
5-Sewage treatment processes can be severely hindered if concentrations of
used oil are as low as 50 to 100 parts per million (50 gallons in 1 million
Usually oil-changing facilities will accept used oil for recycling. If there is no place to take used oil, then mix the oil with an adsorbent such as kitty litter. Make sure there is enough litter available so there is no free liquid after the oil and litter is completely mixed. Once mixed, dispose of the oil and kitty litter in a proper garbage receptacle.
If the same formula applies to crude oil released into waters, then the amount of oil being released is enough to create a sheen covering an area of 9,375 square miles per day. To conceptualize how large an area this is, think in terms of the total area of New Hampshire plus 25 square miles each and every day!
Back to the Papantonio interview…
While the Exxon-Valdez oil spill oocurred close to sandy beaches, where a significant amount of the oil washed up onshore, much of the Gulf area is comprised of swampy areas which in many cases extend as much as thirty miles inland. These areas are ultimately the primary source for much of the fresh water used in the Deep South. The impacts of this horrible, preventable debacle are most likely beyond our imagining.
Back to my commentary…
Estuaries are arguably one of the rarest ecosystems in the world. These are oftentimes swampy areas where salt water from the ocean and fresh water from the land mass mix with each other. These areas support a rich diversity of flora and fauna that does not exist elsewhere. These plants and animals must be able to tolerate periods of submersion in water, as well as dryness for several hours at a time. They must be adaptable to significant changes in salinity, depending upon the ratio of salt to fresh water at any given moment in time.
Although this writer has not been able to locate the data, it seems that estuaries cover something like only 0.1% of the earth’s land mass. Given the richness of these areas, it is likely no accident that 22 of the 32 largest cities in the world are situated in estuarian environments. Those areas, in addition to being some of the most valuable environmental areas on earth, are also among the most fragile. Barring a miracle, the estuaries along the Gulf Coast will undoubtedly suffer devastating losses that will continue throughout our lifetimes, and quite likely for several generations yet to come.
The following photo represents a small portion of our national treasure that is now threatened with utter devastation…
Papantonio’s description of what we are facing was very clear, cogent and convincing. One cannot doubt that Big Oil does not want to see him in front of a jury. The lawsuit against British Petroleum is slated to be one of the topics of discussion today on the weekly radio program, Ring of Fire, scheduled to air in most locations around the country later today and tomorrow. If you are interested in learning more, the following should be of assistance:
Here is a list of radio stations around the country and the air times this weekend.
And if you don’t reside within range of any of those stations, you can stream the program over the internet on these stations. If you reside in another time zone, you will want to take the time zone difference into account.
This writer is not sure if there is a way to access Malloy’s interview with Papantonio last night short of becoming a member on his website. If you wish to check him out, however, you can listen to his broadcasts streaming live on weekday evenings at these locations. If you haven’t heard him before, he is one of the most passionate progressive talk show hosts on the air today. Those who prefer the soothing, monotone quality oftentimes found on public radio stations may find his delivery to be a bit jarring. But if you enjoy listening to someone who absolutely does not pull any punches, you may wish to give him a try.
Please accept this writer’s apologies for the disorganized nature of this essay. Given time constraints and the importance of this matter to our entire nation, and perhaps the world as well, I feel compelled to get the word out as soon as possible so those who are interested can tune into Ring of Fire today and/or tomorrow.
As always, your questions, comments, criticisms or gripes are welcomed.
“You can fool some of the people all of the time and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.” — George W. Bush