Sunday, December 19, 2010


"Oil from BP PLC's blown-out well has lodged in the sediment of the Gulf of Mexico at levels that may threaten marine life, according to a federal report released Friday." Thus begins a WSJ 12-18-10 article. On the same day our Times Herald prints an AP report, "Coast Guard: Little oil found on sea floor," that starts out, "Federal scientists said Friday extensive sampling of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor found oil in quantities too small to collect and in concentrations below harmful levels, …"

The second article runs 9 paragraphs in the Times Herald. If the concluding 9 paragraphs [from a Washington Post full rendition] had been printed, you'd find this, as part of the rest of the Coast Guard story. "Ian R. MacDonald, an oceanographer at Florida State University, said a recent submarine dive found what appeared to be lots of oil and dead animals on the sea floor at a spot very close to where the government [Coast Guard study] said it barely found any oil. We went to the same place and saw a lot of oil," MacDonald said. "In our samples, we found abundant dead animals. It points out that different people - trained scientists - can get different answers." And different newspapers, divergent emphasis. Giving the benefit of the doubt, our local paper has ever shrinking news space, and full articles are hard to fit in. To complicate matters, the WSJ article does not mention the Coast Guard.

BP Oil on Gulf Floor Draws Concern
Coast Guard: Little oil found on sea floor
The Port Huron Times Herald AP article is the same as this, but excerpted only the first 9 of 18 paragraphs.
These are either easily confused reports released the same day, or different interpretations of the same report. The stories are both worth reading for an idea of the complexity of issues created by the world's biggest oil spill. This one greater than 170 million gallons, while Exxon Valdez was 11 million. Both stories seem to agree that there's not as much oil on the deep sea floor [n.b. oil less dense than water, rises to surface], and that the greater problem is removal of tar & residue imbedded in the Gulf shore sands.
A worker cleaned tar balls from a Waveland, Miss. beach, Dec. 6. Getty images. WSJ 12-18-10

The WSJ also poses the unknown effect of 1.7 million gallons of chemical dispersant dumped into the Gulf to make the spill disappear. Their authors conclude with an almost certain probability—
"The report leaves unanswered many questions about the spill's environmental impact that scientists are likely to be researching—and BP and the government are likely to be fighting over—for years."

And keep in mind the role played by Halliburton, the Texas oil field service company, turned Iraq war promoter, whose defective well sealant cement contributed mightily to this deep sea oil rig disaster. * What does it profit a company if it gains partial control of a geopolitical military machine, but in the process, takes its eye off the ball and can't do its core job properly, spoiling the beaches in its own backyard?

First Gulf War


To get to the bottom of the murky media situation I've sent this letter to the editor/lead writer of the WSJ story. I'll let you know if clarification arrives by email.

Dear Editor Jeffery Ball,

How is the federal report you cite in "BP Oil on Gulf Floor Draws Concern," related to the one also released Friday, reported on by Cain Burdeau of AP, "Coast Guard: Little oil found on sea floor" which appeared in our local paper yesterday, Dec. 18th. Contrasting visions of same report, or different reports? The U.S. Coast Guard is not mentioned in your article.

Thanks for keeping this issue of long term eco-damage in the public view.
Yours truly,
Michael McCarthy PA-C, Port Huron, MI

An ever different "Gloria" -- Artwork by Kathy Brahney

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