Friday, May 6, 2011

TRUTH!!! by Michelle Nix

There is an apparent break down in our governmental regulatory agencies in various aspects, from recognizing the need for new standards, to implementing new standards, all the way to an inability to uphold already existent standards, in safety, human health and environmental regulations.

The government has authorized the use of chemical dispersants, exempted environmental impact statements, and given the categorical exclusions that potentially led to the DWH incident, all the while allowing BP to avoid the full liability for the possible human health and environmental impacts that these authorizations have left behind.

On June 13 of 1979, a rig called the Ixtoc blew in the GOM spewing a thousand barrels of crude oil daily. We used the same techniques in the DWH spill that were used in response to the Ixtoc 32 year prior, from spraying chemical dispersants, using similar capping techniques, deploying miles of boom, all the way down to having a similar blow-out-preventer as the one used in the DWH spill. The drilling at that time was done by a company called Said-Co, Said-CO later became Transocean. The Ixtoc operation was in 200 foot of water and the DWH was at 5,000 feet. We shouldn’t be using the same shallow water oil response regulations from 1979 as we do for deep water drilling now.
  
The DWH rig was flagged under Marshal Islands. When the Coast Guard inspects a (MODU) Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit flagged for the Marshal Islands, the inspection takes only about 4 to 6 hours. Under U.S safety regulations it takes about 2 to 3 weeks. Transocean operates 15 MODU’s in the U.S and all of them are flagged foreign. Transocean’s top executive received a pay raise of more than a million dollars. Transocean distributed bonus’s on safety and called 2010 statistically their best year for safety performance in the company’s history.
  
BP avoided doing an environmental impact statement, they lobbied for the GOM project and got approval without doing the proper planning to put an environmental statement in place. The MMS exempted BP from environmental reviews, inspections and even the development of a comprehensive oil spill response plan. In an analytical exploration plan, BP called a spill at the DWH site unlikely, so when BP sought permission to drill the DWH site, the MMS went along with BP and gave the company a quote; “categorical exclusion from a more strenuous environmental impact study.” The MMS exempted the DWH rig only days before the explosion occurred taking the lives of the 11 men aboard that vessel on April 20 2010.
  
President Obama has stated himself that for years there has been a scandalously close relationship between oil companies and the agencies that regulate them. And that quote, “industries cozy and sometimes corrupt relationship with government regulators has meant little or no regulation at all.“ President Obama stated that the “Administration has decided to separate the people who permit the drilling, from these who regulate and insure the safety of the drilling.” The MMS was collecting revenue that was generated by oil drilling as well as issuing the permits for safety regulations. So they were able to regulate the oil industry and at the same time profit from it. Why was it only after this spill that the problem was acknowledged ?

It was reported in the NY Times September of 2008 that the MMS was implicated in cocaine use, sexual misconduct, and excepting gifts from the energy companies they regulate. The Inspector General Inquiry posted in the NY Times states the industry officials would fill out their own inspection sheets in pencil and then regulators traced it over in their own pen, before submitting them. The regulatory arm that approves or denies new drilling wells should never be the same arm responsible for collecting the rent on those wells.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) records show that in the 3 to 4 years prior to the DWH incident, BP had 760 willful egregious safety violations. Exxon Mobile only had 1 violation during this same time period. That means Exxon could receive 70 times the egregious safety violations, and would have still been 90% safer than BP. What is the reasoning behind allowing these kinds of safety gaps?
  
BP leads the U.S. refining industry in deaths over the last decade. In September of 2004, at BP’s Texas City refinery, a faulty pipe killed 2 men and seriously injuring a third. On March 23, 2005, a fire and explosion occurred at the same Texas City refinery, killing 15 workers and injuring more than 170 others. “The fact that Texas City has had repeated fatalities and repeated fines is a sign of potential trouble within BP,” said Charles Jeffress, a former director of OSHA. OSHA accused BP of a "willful" violation of its rules that led to the accident. More than 10 times as many people have died in BP refineries then in those owned by Exxon Mobil Corp., considered the company's major U.S.-based peer.
OSHA has an Enhanced Enforcement program that "zeroes in on employers with the gravest violations who have failed to take their safety and health responsibilities seriously," said Jonathan Snare, then Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA.“BP is the only major oil company on that list.“ stated John Miles, OSHA’s then regional director. All of this has transpired, yet BP still receives exceptions and exclusions for environmental impact, oil spill response, resulting in the lose of lives and potentially endangering Human Health and the environment.

BP did not release the footage of the oil spill until 3 weeks after the spill occurred, and even then they did not release the High Def footage they had in their possession since the beginning of the disaster, making it harder for scientist to figure out the a scope of the flow rate, and extent of the spill. They did however release a High Def version of their commercials to inform the public of how prompt the efforts are and how BP will make it right.

There were giant oil plumes that BP denied the existence of, but the government confirmed that there were plums of oil found thousands of feet below the surface as deep as 32,000 feet. Some were as wide as 6 miles, 22 miles long and 3,300 feet thick. On May 31 of 2010, then CEO Tony Hayward stated that the oil was on the surface and there weren’t any plumes. BP’s COO Doug Suttlels denies the existence of plums and said quote, “ they haven’t found any large concentrations of oil, and that it may be down to how you define what a plume is.”

All the while BP has spent millions upon millions, on PR campaigns, and purchasing search terms on major search engines such as Goggle and Yahoo. Yet NONE has been spent for testing or treatment of gulf residents suffering from possible chemical exposure. Oil companies are allowed to privatize profits while transferring risk to the public.

Prior to the DWH incident there were no scientific documented evidence that dispersant would work on a spill of this magnitude. BP choose the petroleum-based dispersant Corexit, one of the most toxic and least effective on Louisiana sweet crude spills according to the EPA’s own pre-approved list.

The National Academy of Sciences issued a report in 2005 on the Efficacy and Effects of oil spill dispersants. It outlined numerous aspects of oil dispersants that are inadequately understood, such as quote “the mechanisms of both acute and sub-lethal toxicity from exposure to dispersed oil.” The National Academy of Science went on to state quote, “the current understandings of key processes and mechanisms is inadequate, to confidently support the decision to apply dispersants.”

Why did the EPA have no base line levels of toxicity? NOAA only recently has started recording baseline in response to the DWH spill. Why did EPA not take into account the acute and chronic effects from dispersant and dispersed oil on human health and the environment? And who has sole liability for the use of these dispersants in response to the DWH incident.

Corexit is 2.61 in toxicity which means it’s very highly toxic, and it has an effectiveness rate of 54.7 on south La oil spills. Dispersit, also from the EPA’s pre-approved list, is 7.9 in toxicity which means it’s a lot less toxic, and it has an effectiveness rate of 100%. Mare Clean 200’s toxicity rate is 42 it’s effectiveness rate is 84%compaired to Corexit’s rate of 54%

Who decided which dispersant to use? And was the decision to use this dispersant based on the corporate relationship between BP and Nelco . For instance Forbs.com lists Rodney F. Chase, the lead director for Nelco Holding Company. And who was also the Former Deputy Group Chief Executive and Managing Director from 1992- 2003 of BP P.L.C. I say that because, It is obvious that Corexit is the 2nd worse dispersant on the EPA’s list.

BP is clearly the responsible party in the GOM. However, it is up to us as American citizens to make sure that BP is unable to evade liability or cause the tax payers of the gulf communities to have to foot the bill for needed health care due to the DWH spill.

The purpose of and, the use of dispersants were not to get the oil out of the water but to get it out of sight. We know the dispersant does not eliminate the oil from the water but works to push it down throughout the water column settling at the bottom of the gulf, making it harder to skim and remove.

A Bill needs to be added to the Oil Pollution Act that covers human health as a recoverable damage. And this Act does not deal adequately with the dangers posed by the use of dispersant. 311 B & C of the Clean Water Act make no reference of safety in the guide lines in reference to dispersants, this needs to be addressed.

311D of the Clean Water Act requires that “the Federal Government determine the amount of dispersant that can be used QUOTE “safely” in the water in response to an oil spill. The Previsions 3l1 D of the Clean Water Act have been ignored! And if this dispersant is as safe as proclaimed, then there should be no problem in proving so. It is apparent that the EPA failed to do an analysis before pre-approving this dispersant to their list or before authorizing it’s use in the GOM. The EPA should have to determine whether or not it is safe to use these dispersants, not just which one listed is safest, but rather if they are safe to use at all. The lives of recovery workers, the residents, aquatic life and the food chain should have not been endangered. Massive quantities of this dispersant should not have been used until proven safe! Congressman Nadler belives this to be the sole purpose for 311D of the clean water act.

Lisa Jackson, administrator for the EPA, has stated herself that quote “the long term effects of dispersant on aquatic life is unknown, and the amount used in the gulf was unprecedented.” I’m sure the same applies for the human health effects.

EPA ‘s former administrator under the first president Bush and now co-chair of the presidential commission investigating this oil spill expressed concern about the use of dispersants. He said he didn’t allow the use of dispersants after the Exxon Valdez because he was concerned for the hatcheries in Prince William Sound. He said quote “We didn’t want the dispersants to get in to the water column where they (the fish) would have to ingest it.” He also expressed his desire for the commission to look into the dispersant policy.

The government authorized the use of these dispersants and is saying that everything is safe, 75% of the oil is gone, and there was no need for respirators in the oil spill response, and everyone knows this defies logic. Tony Hayward had the nerve to say the sickness that plagued some workers was food poisoning, while OSHA seemed to think it was just the heat, all the while BP denies liability.

People are sick whether it’s the Corexit, crude oil or the combination of the two, people are getting sick. On May 27, 2010, 7 people were admitted into West Jefferson Medical after having contact with the dispersant. In Louisiana alone the Department of Health reported 162 incidences as of July 1, 2010 related to chemical exposure 128 of those were clean up workers, the rest were general population. . There is a name for the illness that plagues gulf workers and residents, it’s called TILT, Toxic and Induced Loss of Tolerance. In which people loose the ability to tolerate exposure to everyday household chemical products, medications and sometimes even food.

I fear that the same mistakes that were made after 911 were repeated. Where thousands of responders & residents are now sick due to the federal governments failure to provide adequate oversight and enforcement to prevent the toxic exposure to chemicals in the air, and in the DWH incident, the air and water.

Studies need to be conducting, and available to the general public addressing illnesses and possible reactions to Corexit & oil. These tests and protocols should be transparent, and available for independent study also. Adequate health care should be provided for those who are exposed. Especially in cases where illness was due to their occupations (example, responders, clean up crews).

The haunting examples of the past are not only still present, but have a great potential for plaguing our future. State standards for measuring the safety of seafood after oil spills were lowered by FDA for the Gulf of Mexico after the DWH incident. The FDA defends setting a standard of about three times and higher expectable PAH detection for Gulf coast shellfish than those standards used for West coast spills. Saying that during the time between those spills and the BP oil spill, the EPA came out with updated cancer-risk data for PAH.

A survey of 547 coastal residents in the four Gulf states by the Natural Resources Defense Council found they had seafood consumption rates far higher than those being used by federal and state regulators to determine if contamination levels pose a risk to human health.

According to the FDA formula, Gulf Coast residents eat approximately 16.4 seafood meals per month, including 9.1 meals of fish, 2.9 of oysters and 4.4 of shrimp and crab. The portion size is set at 5.6 ounces of fish, 4.2 ounces of oysters and 3.1 ounces of shrimp or crab. Gina Solomon of NRDC, stated “When we looked at those parameters back in April, we realized the portion size for shrimp was about four jumbo shrimp eaten four times a month, But when we asked our partners on the Gulf Coast what they thought, they hooted and laughed, because they knew four jumbo shrimp won’t even make one po-boy.”

I have tested some oysters from my own state of Florida, in hopes to put some of my concerns to rest, only to find in 40.4g grams of oyster, 251 ppm of PYRIDINE, a toxic component of petroleum with no national standard of comparison, in other words, No studies are available in people or animals on the carcinogenic effects of pyridine. And it is unknown whether pyridine affects the ability of men and women to have children or whether it caused birth defects.

Pyridine evaporates into the air very easily, it is also very soluble in water. Pyridine sticks to soil partials., the information I located from the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry states that Pyridine quote “Probably doesn’t build up in plant and animas” yet I’ve found it in these oysters.

The ATSDR goes on to say that very little information is available on the health effects of pyridine. Animal studies and some limited case reports in people have noted liver damage from exposure to Pyridine. Harmful effects of the liver were seen in rats and mice that were given Pyridine for three months. How much were they given and how often were they given Pyridine, and why is that not listed? The FDA allows pyridine to be used as a flavoring agent in the preparation of food.

The ATSDR list that, Headaches, giddiness, a desire to sleep, quickening of the pulse, and rapid breathing occurred in adults who quote, “breathed an unknown amount of Pyridine for an unknown amount of time.” THE ATSDR states that there are medical tests available to measure the levels of Pyridine in urine and blood. However these tests are not usually preformed in most doctors offices because special equipment is needed.

OSHA has set an occupational exposure limit of 5 parts per million of work place air for an 8-hour work day over a 40 hour work week. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and health (NIOSH) have established the same guidelines as OSHA. NIOSH has recommended that 1,000 ppm be considered immediately danger to life and health. This is the exposure level of a chemical that is likely to cause permanent health problems or death. Yet these toxic components have no national standard of comparison. Why is it that these components are detectable, know to be toxic but still they are not properly tested and regulated. Could it be the FACT that Pyridine and some of the other non regulated toxic components we’ve located are product of petroleum?

It is apparent that action is needed immediately! And that these decisions are truly life or death decisions. These past and present examples of negligence are unacceptable. And I demand action! The best minds in the oil industry and the science world should not work only on getting the oil out in harsh and extreme conditions, but avoiding incident and responding promptly and adequately when incidents occur. Ken Salazar of the MMS stated quote, “that BP is the responsible party for the response and for the recovery without limitation.” I’m still waiting to see this transparency and recovery back to whole we were promised. I feel betrayed and farther from whole that I have ever felt in my life. I know the families, of the 11 men, the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons who lost the people that they love will never be whole.

The First thing in the Hippocratic Oath is to do no harm. Oil corporations have been allowed repeatedly to reap tremendous rewards, while America’s people are left with the tremendous liability. This must stop. A mom of two should not have to take precious time away from family, to bring to light the obvious governmental break downs and apparent relationships between corporate, special interest and the regulatory agencies. That Job should be up to a government that was founded on the greatest ideals and hopes (the freedom for life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.. And I close with the words of Dennis Kucinich, “ Is this the best we can do? If this is the best we can do, then our best isn't good enough and we have to ask some hard questions about our political system: such as Government of the people or a government of the corporations.”

Vibrio Cholera traced back to Apalachicola Bay oysters...

Extracts of Vibrio cholerae were assayed for various enzymatic activities associated with Pyridine nucleotide cycle metabolism

Extracts of Vibrio cholerae were assayed for various enzymatic activities associated with Pyridine nucleotide cycle metabolism
  
Table 2. Michaelis–Menten parameters for the Vibrio cholerae sialidase-catalyzed hydrolysis of pyridinium α-D-N-acetylneuraminides, at pH 5.5 and 37 °C. ...

Soluble pyridine nucleotide transhydrogenase - Vibrio cholerae MZO-2 
Michelle's comments below the FB Note:
Extracts of Vibrio cholerae were assayed for various enzymatic activities associated with Pyridine nucleotide cycle metabolism...Vibrio Cholera traced back to Apalachicola Bay oysters...

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