Released emails have exposed BP's attempts to control research into the environmental impact of the Gulf oil spill:
BP officials tried to take control of a $500m fund pledged by the oil company for independent research into the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, it has emerged.
Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials openly discussing how to influence the work of scientists supported by the fund, which was created by the oil company in May last year.
Russell Putt, a BP environmental expert, wrote in an email to colleagues on 24 June 2010: "Can we 'direct' GRI [Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative] funding to a specific study (as we now see the governor's offices trying to do)? What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies vs the questions?".
Shirley and Don Tillman, residents of Pass Christian, Mississippi, have owned shrimp boats, an oyster boat and many pleasure boats. They spent much time on the Gulf of Mexico before working in BP's Vessels Of Opportunity (VOO) program looking for and trying to clean up oil...
However, not long after they began working in BP's response effort in June, what they saw disturbed them. "It didn't take long for us to understand that something was very, very wrong about this whole thing," Shirley told Truthout. "So that's when I started keeping a diary of what we experienced and began taking a lot of pictures. We had to speak up about what we know is being done to our Gulf."
Shirley logged what they saw and took hundreds of photos. The Tillmans confirm, both with what they logged in writing as well as in photos, what Truthout has reported before: BP has hired out-of-state contractors to use unregistered boats, usually of the Carolina Skiff variety, to spray toxic Corexit dispersants on oil located by VOO workers.
A 70 mile wide, 2 inch thick plume of oil was found on the ocean floor.
Professor Samantha Joye of the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia, who is conducting a study on a research vessel just two miles from the spill zone, said the oil has not disappeared, but is on the sea floor in a layer of scum.
"We're finding it everywhere that we've looked. The oil is not gone," Joye said. "It's in places where nobody has looked for it."...
In some areas the oily material that Joye describes is more than two inches thick. Her team found the material as far as 70 miles away from BP's well.
Residents exposed to to the toxic oil-dispersant mix suffered severe health issues:
Aguinaga and his close friend Merrick Vallian went swimming at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, in July 2010.
"I swam underwater, then found I had orange slick stuff all over me," Aguinaga said. "At that time I had no knowledge of what dispersants were, but within a few hours, we were drained of energy and not feeling good. I've been extremely sick ever since."...
Aguinaga's health has been in dramatic decline.
"I have terrible chest pain, at times I can’t seem to get enough oxygen, and I'm constantly tired with pains all over my body," Aguinaga explained, "At times I'm pissing blood, vomiting dark brown stuff, and every pore of my body is dispensing water."
And Aguinaga's friend Vallian is now dead.
It was reported that the oil / Corexit was responsible for heart trouble, organ damage and rectal bleeding:
Shrimpers who were exposed to a mixture of oil and Corexit dispersant in the Gulf of Mexico suffered severe symptoms such as muscle spasms, heart palpitations, headaches that last for weeks and bleeding from the rectum, according to a marine toxicologist who issued the warning Friday on a cable news network.
Dr. Susan Shaw, founder and director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute, said during a CNN broadcast that after personally diving the oil spill in late May, a "very fiery sore throat" plagued her from inhaling fumes coming off the water. Because she was covered from head to toe in a protective suit, Dr. Shaw was spared direct exposure.
BP paid local police and federal officials to intimidate journalists investigating the incident. Despite the fact that the U.S. has charged BP with violating safety regulations, the Pentagon continues to do business with the oil giant, which supplies 80% of the fuel used in Middle-East operations.
To dodge civil and criminal liability, BP has attempted to control research into the spill's impact, the emails reveal: