Deepwater Disaster: Day 108

The Gulf in simpler, less oily times. Photo: DJ Struntz

The Gulf in simpler, less oily times. Photo: DJ Struntz

"Desired outcome." That's how BP described it's so-far successful, static-kill procedure, which has more completely stopped the oil well that gushed from April 20 until a temporary cap first stemmed the flow on July 15. But they're not finished yet. Not until an 18,000-foot relief well is completed and more mud and cement can be pumped as part of a "bottom kill" approach. That won't be until at least August 11, which is why even as the government's top cleanup dog, Admiral Thad Allen says the current fix "shouldn’t be a cause for premature celebration."

We'd argue it shouldn't even be called the "desired outcome" either. Our version includes a complete halt on expanding offshore drilling altogether — or at least for the years or decades it takes to gauge the full impact of this disaster, and we see just how Big Oil and Big Gov handle the current mess. And we've already got an idea, as BP began scaling back cleaning efforts last week, even as the remaining oil swirls about unseen (though hardly gone). In fact, a federal task force revealed that roughly 205.8 million gallons spewed out of the seafloor, as the well gushed 12 times faster than the BP and government "experts" originally estimated. Of that, 33 million gallons got skimmed, burned or contained, leaving 172 million gallons, which is a whole heap of Texas tea.

So now everyone wonders: Where'd it all go? According to NOAA, the big slicks are all broken down or dissipated. They just issued a report saying only 26% of the oil remains in any large form, most of it sheen. But remember, these are the same "experts" who said "no worries" about the original spill. Meanwhile, at least one reporter's found some serious leftovers right under folks' noses — or perhaps feet — as just poking holes in certain beaches can cause tiny geysers of bubblin' crude. Plus, even the government remains "concerned about the ecological damage that has already occurred and the potential for more," specifically with regard to the larvae and eggs of fish, crabs and shrimp.

And let's not forget the Gulf's annual "dead zone," which forms every summer, depleting the ocean of oxygen and foreshadowing the impending red tide and its associated breathing problems and eye stinging. Always depicted as the size of Rhode Island or some New England state, this year's is weighing in at around Massachusetts, one of the largest ever measured — though scientists can't say if there's a connection to the spill. But even if your eyes aren't burning, you might want to stay out of the Gulf. An Oregon State University team sampled sites off all four states where the water looked clear of oil and showed that by June 7, concentrations of the toxic chemicals had risen to 40 times higher the levels on May 1. And while an EPA study is saying that the much-feared dispersants are less toxic than oil, they conducted tests on just one species of shrimp, and one species of small fish, and only examined how much would kill them immediately. The did no research on the long-term effects.

Which is just fine with BP. They'd rather settle things right now, offering lump sum payments in exchange for victims' waiving future rights to sue. Sounds like another drill-industry screw job. But maybe if you were one of the 6000 Exxon Valdez victims who died waiting 20 years for Exxon to pay up — or just think BP might run out of cash — you'd say, "Take the money and run." Especially since Congress's much anticipated legislation meant to would raise the liability cap got pushed off 'til after the August recess.
So what's a fella to do to help? Well, you can always save a few animals. In the case of Jack Rudloe — who looks suspiciously like Dr. Seuss's famous Truffula-tree-hugger, the Lorax' — that means launching Operation Noah's Ark, which keeps more than 350 oil-threatened species alive in hopes of re-introducing them later Or, do what PETA-lover (and former Slater lover) Pam Anderson did: Visit New Orleans and pick out a couple mutts from the roughly 50 abandoned dogs. (No word on whether Pam took part in the surging topless oil wrestling circuit that's been entertaining clean-up workers after hours and will likely stay busy for a long time to come. Much longer than the news will continue to cover this story once the oil stops spilling.
And that includes us. Yes, like the mainstream media has celebrity sex tapes to reveal, we have surf stuff to post. And that's the saddest part of this whole exercise. Watching how our attentions fade and disperse like so many droplets of oil until we forget what we were so worried about. Just like the '69 Santa Barbara spill, '79's Ixtoc 1 and '89's Valdez, by 2020 the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe — currently considered America's largest environmental disaster ever — will ultimately be called a rare, tiny "oopsie" in an otherwise safe industry, just so future lawmakers and oil execs can shill our precious coasts while bribing inspection workers and ignoring safety regulations. That's why it's more important than ever to make sure they don't get the chance. Call The White House now (202-456-1111) and ask Obama to bring back the moratorium before everyone forgets. We won't ask you again. (Until it's too late.)