Animation: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Growth and Movement
By Dan Swenson,All Antemedius stories about BP's Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico spill are here.
New Orleans Times-Picayune
Click image to watch animation >>
This animation of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was created using actual overflight information and forecast models from the NOAA and Unified Command.
The red dot is the location of the Deepwater Horizon oil well, which exploded on April 20, releasing oil into the Gulf near the Louisiana coast that has yet to be contained. Eleven rig workers are missing and are presumed to have died in the explosion.
The animation begins April 22, the day the first image of the spill via flyover was released.
And this from Marian Wang at ProPublica... It is the Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service that is the "regulator" in these things...
MMS was in quite a bit of trouble for ethical violations by its officials. The scandal involved sex, drugs and (quite literally) sleeping with the very industry it was regulating. Here's how The New York Times summarized the government's investigation:
The investigation also concluded that several of the officials "frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives." The investigation separately found that the program's manager mixed official and personal business. In sometimes lurid detail, the report also accuses him of having intimate relations with two subordinates, one of whom regularly sold him cocaine.
That hasn't been the end of MMS's troubles. According to an audit earlier this month by the Government Accountability Office, the regulator has hardly been a straight shooter on offshore drilling and the risks involved. The GAO found that MMS withheld data on offshore drilling in Alaska from regional staff members at the agency involved in environmental analyses. The report also found that MMS lacked sufficient guidelines to properly analyze the risks of drilling in the region.
"We found considerable variation among MMS's ... regions in how they assess what constitutes a 'significant' environmental impact," reads the report. And on the withholding of data: "Some of its own scientists have alleged that their findings have been suppressed." (In a formal response to the report, the Department of the Interior said it "generally agrees" with the findings.)
The Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog, told us regulation wasn't a priority for MMS.
The Huffington Post points out that MMS did not require BP-which owns the well that blew up-to file a plan for reacting to a "potential blowout," meaning an uncontrollable spill. According to The Huffington Post's reporting, the more limited plan BP filed with MMS predicted that if worse came to worst, a spill would release 162,000 gallons of oil. The Deepwater Horizon spill has already exceeded that prediction.
And this... BP Had Other Problems in Years Leading to Gulf Spill
British Petroleum (BP) has broken federal laws and violated its own internal procedures by failing to maintain crucial safety and engineering documents related to one of the firms other deepwater production projects in the Gulf of Mexico, a former contractor who worked for the oil behemoth claimed in internal emails and other documents obtained by Truthout.
The whistleblower, whose name has been withheld at the person's request because the whistleblower still works in the oil industry and fears retaliation, first raised concerns about safety issues related to BP Atlantis, the world's largest and deepest semi-submersible oil and natural gas platform, located about 200 miles south of New Orleans, in November 2008. Atlantis, which began production in October 2007, has the capacity to produce about 8.4 million gallons of oil and 180 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
It was then that the whistleblower, who was hired to supervise the company's databases, discovered that Atlantis had been operating without a majority of the engineer-approved documents it needed to run safely, leaving it vulnerable to a catastrophic disaster that would far surpass the massive oil spill that began last week following a deadly explosion on a BP-operated drilling rig.
BP, the global oil giant responsible for the fast-spreading spill in the Gulf of Mexico that will soon make landfall, is no stranger to major accidents.BP Enjoys Lobbying Strength, Close Ties to Lawmakers as Federal Investigation Looms by Cassandra LaRussa, May 01, 2009, CommonDreams.org
In fact, the company has found itself at the center of several of the nation's worst oil and gas–related disasters in the last five years.
In March 2005, a massive explosion ripped through a tower at BP's refinery in Texas City, Texas, killing 15 workers and injuring 170 others. Investigators later determined that the company had ignored its own protocols on operating the tower, which was filled with gasoline, and that a warning system had been disabled.
The company pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and was fined more than $50 million by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Almost a year after the refinery explosion, technicians discovered that some 4,800 barrels of oil had spread into the Alaskan snow through a tiny hole in the company's pipeline in Prudhoe Bay. BP had been warned to check the pipeline in 2002, but hadn't, according to a report in Fortune. When it did inspect it, four years later, it found that a six-mile length of pipeline was corroded. The company temporarily shut down its operations in Prudhoe Bay, causing one of the largest disruptions in U.S. oil supply in recent history.
During the 2008 election cycle, individuals and political action committees associated with BP -- a Center for Responsive Politics' "heavy hitter" -- contributed half a million dollars to federal candidates. About 40 percent of these donations went to Democrats. The top recipient of BP-related donations during the 2008 cycle was President Barack Obama himself, who collected $71,000.
BP regularly lobbies on Capitol Hill, as well. In 2009, the company spent a massive $16 million to influence legislation. During the first quarter of 2010, it spent $3.53 million on federal lobbying efforts, ranking it second (behind ConocoPhillips) among all oil and gas industry interests.
Its registered lobbyists include a number of former federal government and high-ranking political campaign officials, including longtime political operative Tony Podesta, former congressional chief of staff Bob Brooks, former congressional legislative director David Pore and vice presidential aide Michael S. Berman, the Center's research shows.
In 2009, BP also lobbied on the Oil Spill Prevention Act of 2009 and the Clean Water Restoration Act.
The oil spill, which has yet to be remedied, was caused by an explosion on a BP-leased oil rig on April 20.
A state of emergency has since been enacted in Louisiana, and the White House has designated it an event of "national significance." The oil well is reportedly leaking between 1,000 and 5,000 barrels a day, and rescue crews are trying to eliminate the oil by setting it on fire, breaking it up with chemicals and skimming it off the surface of the ocean. Already, questions are being asked about cause and responsibility.
Upon hearing the cry for help in the Gulf of Mexico, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Cal.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called for a "full blown investigation."
In 2009, individuals and political action committees associated with BP donated $16,000 to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
In addition, five of the all-time top 10 recipients of BP money in the House of Representatives sit on the House Energy Committee: John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) Joe Barton (R-Tex.), Ralph M. Hall (R-Tex.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Fred Upton, (R-Mich.).
All have received upward of $13,000 from BP-related individuals and political action committees during the past two decades. Dingell, the second most favored recipient of BP money in the House, has received $31,000.