The BP oil spill, the worst environmental disaster ever, has largely disappeared from the front pages of the newspapers amid assurances from public officials that the oil has disappeared. That’s convenient.
Where has five million barrels of oil released into the Gulf gone?
For all the business operators and Gulf workers who claim they have lost their livelihood, that is a convenient out. But it does not make their losses any less, and it may not be true.
Rick Outzen is the publisher and editor of Independent News, the alternative newsweekly for Northwest Florida and his report is republished in the Daily Beast. Read the rest »
Real estate developer St. Joe Co. has filed a lawsuit against BP for failing to cement the Deepwater Horizon well properly, leading to the largest oil spill in history.
Halliburton, known as a major defense contractor, is also an oil field contractor that had sole responsibility for cementing the Macando well which is attached to the rig owned and operated by BP that exploded April 20. In the complaint filed in Delaware, St. Joe said Halliburton was negligent and bears full responsibility for the spill of crude oil that has polluted a portion of the Gulf. The lawsuit accuses Halliburton of “failing at every stage” of the cementing process.
St. Joe Co. has substantial real estate holding in Florida and it claims it will lose a significant amount of money in its value. UPI reports at least 70% of its more than 577,000 acres in Florida fall within 15 miles of the Gulf coast. Read the rest »
Florida’s Gulf waters have been reopened to commercial fishing. The announcement was made in late July by federal officials opening more than 26,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola to commercial and recreational fishing.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg reassured the public that the seafood from the area is safe in an official statement on August 2.
“Through close coordination with our state and federal partners, we are confident all appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that seafood harvested from the waters being opened today is safe and that Gulf seafood lovers everywhere can be confident eating and enjoying the fish that will be coming out of this area.” Read the rest »
Red flags were erected on Pensacola Beach, warning swimmers to stay out of the water, as workers grabbed fist-sized tar balls of oil from the white sand.
The sludge resembled pudding and covered three miles of Pensacola Beach, according to the Miami Herald. One visitor from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said he witnessed quart to half-gallon size pools of oil.
Since then, 1,300 people workers have made progress cleaning up the beach on the 66th day since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent contamination of the Gulf of Mexico. Read the rest »
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has sent a letter to BP’s COO asking for copies of all Florida claims data related to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf, an article on TampaBay.com stated. The state wants to evaluate the process for claims in order to be able to measure the economic impact of individual losses to the state as a whole.
The state’s Oil Spill Task Force decided that was the only way it could gauge the economic impact on the state. The electronic file requested would include every business, individual, and government claim throughout the state and it is to be updated weekly. The data should indicate whether the claim has been approved, denied, or is pending. Read the rest »
A new computer model has residents of the east coast of Florida worried about the effects from the BP Gulf oil gusher, according to an article by the Associated Press. The model from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was released Friday. It shows crude oil hitting the shores of the Panhandle has as high as an 80 percent chance of hitting Miami and the Florida Keys. By August 18th, that model shows the oil could hug the eastern coast of Florida, coming within 20 miles, and traveling as far north as Fort Lauderdale. The chance of that happening is 61 to 80 percent.
What could be seen on shore? Tar balls, oil remnants, and oil sheen, says the forecast. Other areas of Florida are paying attention to the computer model too. It says the western coast of our state has about a 20 percent chance or lower of being hit with the oil. Other parts of southwest Florida, such as Fort Myers, have a less than one percent chance. Read the rest »
Before you consider volunteering to pick up oil off soaked Florida beaches consider this. According to a foxnews.com report, a New Orleans emergency room physician reports that he is seeing many cleanup workers come in with the same symptoms, nausea, headaches and respiratory problems. The workers have been out on the water trying to clean up the oil from BP’s well. Dr. Damon Dietrich says he is seeing a pattern of symptoms he believes are due to breathing noxious fumes from the Coast oil spill disaster, the burning of crude or the dispersants dumped in the Gulf to try and break up the crude oil. There have been too many cases to make it a coincidence, he says. BP has gone so far to blame it on food poisoning. Others believe dehydration may be a factor. But remember when the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska caused workers there to have similar complaints.
Dispersants are known to be toxic to the central nervous system, blood, kidneys and liver. Hundreds of workers have sprayed dispersants along the Gulf trying to break up the oil before it hits the shores and the sensitive marshlands. One man says he was completely unable to function. He was onboard a boat that was burning oil and he says the dispersants were sprayed at night. BP says that didn’t happen. Workers are being told to wear protective gear such as goggles, gloves, respirators, and safety clothing. Read the rest »
It’s surprising we haven’t seen more of these in our area. According to a News4Jax article, a protest ordered by the Jacksonville MoveOn Council was held at a BP gas station in Jacksonville Beach, Saturday, June 12. Carrying large signs with an anti-oil message, the protesters waved at passing cars to try and share the message – that BP is only technically on the hook to pay $75 million in damages to the Gulf of Mexico and beaches.
President Obama says he will hold BP accountable for the total dollar cost of the cleanup and the BP CEO has said it will pay “all necessary and appropriate clean-up costs” not mentioning who will determine which claims are “appropriate.” Read the rest »
Homeowners in the Gulf coast areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida may be seeing some relief from foreclosure on their home if they have their mortgages through Citigroup Inc. Citigroup, which offers mortgages through CitiMortgage, plans to suspend home foreclosures through September 17th while Fannie May says the companies representing their home loans may suspend or reduce payment up to 90 days. In order to qualify, the homeowner must have a first time buyer loan through CitiMortgage. Based on an Associated Press report, homeowners with loans serviced by Fannie May could expect to have their loan suspended or reduced up to 90 days or beyond. Certain criteria must be met such as being within 25 miles of the coastal areas. Homeowners need to contact Fannie May or Freddie Mac to see what special relief is offered them if they are in the service area.
And for travelers, travel giant Orbitz is trying to persuade them to come to the Sunshine State. If you had a reservation within 20 miles of the oil slicked coast at one of 120 Florida hotels, you can have your hotel costs refunded if a beach is closed or declared dangerous. Consumers must have made their reservation between June 14 and July 31 on Orbitz and the travel company may expand the guarantee to hotels in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Read the rest »
Alex Sink is Florida’s chief financial officer but it doesn’t take a state official to figure out that the state should sell off its 15 million shares of BP stock. The stock is plunging as the Gulf of Mexico is filling with crude oil. Florida has already lost more than $21 million from selling the BP stock it owned that was devalued since the April 20th Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. The state had the rest in the state pension fund which has lost more than $64 million or about 40% of its value, says The Palm Beach Post. The BP stock accounts for about one-tenth of one percent of the total pension fund value. The State Board of Administration manages the state’s $114 billion pension fund, and Gov. Charlie Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum are SBA trustees along with Sink. No one wants to force a sale of BP stock preferring to leave it up to fund managers. The pension systems heavily invested in BP – Louisiana Municipal Police Employees Retirement System and the New Orleans City Employees Retirement system – have both filed suit against BP.
As of Wednesday morning, June 16, the stock’s value sank to a near 14-year low of $29.58 with the value rising slightly at the end of the day to $31.85. Read the rest »