Mississippi, Oct. 2010. Professor Steiner picked up what looked like a large bovine bowel movement and dumped it into my hands. It was a glop of BP’s spume with, he explained, “hydrogen sulphide in it, heavy metals but also the polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons, very highly toxic, they’re carcinogenic….It doesn’t kill immediately but lasts, you know, things like nerve damage, physiological injury, behavioral changes, reproductive changes, leukemia.”…
But this just can’t be! Fully two months earlier, in August 2010 Dr. Terry Hazen of the UC Lawrence Livermore Lab announced in the Washington Post: “We’ve gone out to the sites, and we don’t find any oil.”…Badpenny and I discovered the problem: in February 2007 there had been an oil spill in Dr. Hazen’s lab: BP had squirted half a billion dollars into his laboratory to pay for studies of the biology of oil spills….Hazen’s can’t-see-no-oil-plumes study was signed by 32 scientists and printed in Science magazine. Drill deep down in the footnotes (we did) and you’ll find that 31 of the 32 co-authors were suckling at the laboratory’s BP money teat. Therein lies your problem, professors. No need to panic, you’re not blind! You have BP’s dollars taped over your eyes. pp. 126-7
While walking the smeared beach Dr. Steiner told me he had asked to go along on BP boats to take samples with their scientists and look at their raw data. In other words, to keep the science honest.
Forget it. No way. They weren’t going to let Steiner and his sampling bags anywhere near the test sites. Rogue scientists, not to mention reporters, are banned from these beaches, supposedly for our own safety. It’s locked off like Area 51. Now I understood why Steiner had us invade from the sea, unannounced….
Steiner told me that bacteria were indeed eating up some of the hydrocarbon from the blowout “but mostly the methane, not the heavy crude.”…As the bacteria feast they breathe, as all creatures do. The result: not much oxygen left in the water for fish. The fish can’t breathe and they drown….After BP’s 32 scientists said they could not find these oil and bacteria plumes, Steiner’s submarine arrived. BP wasn’t expecting that. He found the killer plumes as distant as 300 miles from the well head….
I approached one (oil/tar all over the beach) scooper man who gave his name as Raphael Gill. How deep can you get with that equipment? “A quarter inch. They want you to do it like this. Skim the top. The deeper you dig, the more you find.” But he didn’t dare dig. They catch you digging, he said, and you lose your job. And there are no other jobs. pp. 128-31
There are damn good reasons why BP grabbed science by the balls and kept independent experts like Steiner off this beach, barred from the crime scene.
After the Exxon Valdez crack-up the government put Professor Steiner and a bunch of other PhDs on a team to investigate the oil’s harm to Alaska’s ecosystem. Their research put a harpoon through the oil companies’ nonsense excuses and tiny hearts. It cost the BP-Alyeska consortium plenty for the safety upgrades on the Alaska tanker route Steiner’s team recommended: double hulls, escorts, all that….
Steiner had taught there at the University of Alaska for three decades. He had tenure. He is an international star. How do you fire a tenured professor? He testified before Congress against offshore drilling. He told the Congressmen not to trust BP, nor Shell nor Chevron nor Exxon….The university charged Steiner with unacademic “advocacy” for using the words tragedy and disaster to describe the tragic Exxon Valdez disaster….The feds cut off his funding, the university just smiled, and Steiner and his sample bags were forced out on the street. pp. 133-4 -G. Palast: Vultures’ Picnic, Dutton, Ny, 2011.