US Gulf oil disaster: Surface oil vanishing rapidly, but scientists, fishermen & others still concerned about oil below, dispersants

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Article
30 July 2010

BP to set aside $100 million for unemployed rig workers

Author: Anna Driver, Reuters

BP Plc said on Friday it will establish a $100 million fund to help drilling rig workers in the Gulf of Mexico who are unemployed as a result of the company's oil leak. After BP's Macondo well ruptured on April 20..., the U.S. government halted deep-water drilling for six months. The moratorium...has idled dozens of rigs in the Gulf and companies are moving vessels to work in other parts of the world. The funds will be administered through the non-profit Baton Rouge Area Foundation in Louisiana and are not part of the company's $20 billion compensation fund...

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Article
29 July 2010

Gulf Coast Residents File Personal Injury Suit Over Oil Dispersant

Author: Tresa Baldas, National Law Journal

The first personal injury lawsuit involving the chemical dispersant Corexit 9500 has surfaced in Alabama…In Wright v. BP…the plaintiffs claim BP has dumped millions of gallons of toxic chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico to disperse…crude oil… The plaintiffs allege that one method by which the company has applied Corexit 9500 -- spraying it from airplanes in the middle of the night -- has caused Gulf Coast residents to suffer breathing and gastrointestinal problems, as well as property damage. The lawsuit also names Nalco, which manufactures Corexit 9500...The personal injury suit comes one month after a group of Louisiana oystermen filed a federal class action against BP and Nalco…

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Article
28 July 2010

Criminal probe of oil spill to focus on 3 firms and their ties to regulators [USA]

Author: Jerry Markon, Washington Post

A team of federal investigators known as the "BP squad" is assembling...to conduct a wide-ranging criminal probe that will focus on at least three companies and examine whether their cozy relations with federal regulators contributed to the oil disaster...Scott Dean, a spokesman for…BP, said the company "will cooperate with any inquiry the Justice Department undertakes, just as we are doing in response to other inquiries that are ongoing."…Although lawyers familiar with the case expect that environmental-related charges -- which have a low burden of proof -- will be filed, some doubted that investigators can prove more serious violations such as lying or falsifying test results…The official said that no decisions on criminal charges are imminent [also refers to Transocean, Halliburton]

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Article
27 July 2010

On the Surface, Gulf Oil Spill Is Vanishing Fast; Concerns Stay [USA]

Author: Justin Gillis & Campbell Robertson, New York Times

The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected...[but this]...does not end the many problems and scientific uncertainties associated with the spill... Fishermen along the coast are deeply skeptical..., expressing concern about the long-term effects of the chemical dispersants used to combat the spill and of the submerged oil... [The] Obama administration, in conjunction with BP, will soon have to make decisions about how quickly to begin scaling down the large-scale — and expensive — response effort... The response itself has become the principal livelihood for thousands of fishermen and other workers... [F]ishermen are unconvinced that the gradual disappearance of oil on the surface means they will be able to return to work soon...Mickey Johnson, who owns a shrimp boat in Bayou La Batre, Ala., point[ed] out that shrimpers trawl near the sea floor. “Our whole big concern has always been the bottom,” Mr. Johnson said.

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Article
16 July 2010

[PDF] Consensus Statement: Scientists oppose the use of dispersant chemicals in the Gulf of Mexico

Author: Dr. Susan Shaw, Marine Environmental Research Institute

We oppose the use of chemical dispersants in the Gulf, and urgently recommend an immediate halt to their application. We believe that Corexit dispersants, in combination with crude oil, pose grave health risks to marine life and human health, and threaten to deplete critical niches in the Gulf food web that may never recover. We urge federal and state agencies to fund independent research immediately to produce transparent, timely information that will inform us about the damage to the ecosystem and protect the health of Gulf response workers, residents, and wildlife... The properties that facilitate the movement of dispersants through oil also make it easier for them to move through cell walls, skin barriers, and membranes that protect vital organs, underlying layers of skin, the surfaces of eyes, mouths, and other structures. Crude Oil & Corexit Combined Are More Toxic Than Either Alone [refers to Nalco]

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