Journalism in the Public Interest

BP Says Well Is Sealed, but Oily Gulf and Accountability Questions Remain


A clean-up worker with oiled debris found near the marsh on Coffee Island, Alabama, Sept. 12, 2010. (Photo by Annie R. B. Elis, U.S. Coast Guard.)

BP announced on Sunday that its ruptured well in the Gulf has at last been sealed, bringing to a close the five-month struggle of the company — and the Obama administration — to control and permanently plug the “nightmare well” that killed 11 workers and caused the worst oil spill in the history of the United States.

The long-term environmental effects of the disaster remain unclear, but as we’ve noted, research is trickling in. Earlier this month, scientists discovered a thick layer of oil stretching for miles on the floor of the Gulf, and they don’t believe it’s oil from natural seepage.

In some parts of Louisiana, oil is continuing to show up on shorelines, and large quantities have been discovered under the sand. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

While the most dangerous components of the oil -- the volatile organic compounds -- probably were weathered off long ago, what's left still poses a mortal threat to any fish and wildlife that make contact, [LSU professor Ed] Overton said. And oil that was buried in sediments before being heavily weathered could still carry compounds proven to be carcinogenic to humans.

"Oil that is buried in sediments doesn't degrade very quickly, or at all, so whatever properties it had when it was covered, it will still have when it's exposed again," Overton said.

Response to the spill isn’t over yet, either. According to the Financial Times, 25,000 people are still working on spill response, down from the 47,000 working at peak levels in June. About 40,000 square miles of the Gulf remain closed to fishing, according to the Times. (That’s about half of what was closed at the spill’s peak.)

While some preliminary research has been conducted, much remains to done. The St. Petersburg Times reported that the Florida Institute of Oceanography, a consortium of several universities, is starting on $10 million worth of studies on the environmental impact of the oil spill.

Early on, BP committed $500 million in funds to spill research, but most of that money has been held up by political bickering and has not been committed or distributed ($). From that fund, BP recently promised $10 million to the National Institutes of Health to study the long-term health effects of the spill on workers exposed to oil and dispersant.

The disaster also triggered a series of government investigations into the incident, and a particular scrutiny of BP’s safety record elsewhere in the nation and around the world. The Obama administration, in response to the spill, issued a deepwater drilling moratorium, which is expected to end next month. Government regulators are also scheduled to meet with industry representatives this week to discuss response to runaway wells.

BP currently faces about 400 lawsuits, according to Bloomberg. In July, the company said the Justice Department’s probe could lead to prosecution of the company or its employees, suspension of licenses, or debarment from government contracts.

We can’t let bp slither away without paying completely for the damages they caused. It’s time to speak out about this to D.C.

Can propublica please investigate this because if true then we are truly in trouble.

BP is slithering away and so is your Gov’t's agencies. When was the last time you heard Obama utter any words on the Gulf? No Senate or House hearings scheduled. Thad Allen said “it’s effectively dead” what ever that means. Governor of Alabama really side stepped a question if the State would sue BP.

This story is far from over and should never be allowed to collect oil dispersant.

Brian J. Donovan

Sep. 21, 2010, 6:35 a.m.

This article briefly discusses BP’s strategy to limit its liability in regard to the Deepwater Horizon blowout. This strategy includes, but is not limited to, intentionally underestimating the rate of flow of oil that’s being released into the Gulf of Mexico, prohibiting independent measurement of the BP oil gusher by unbiased third party scientists and engineers, the excessive and unprecedented use of dispersants (both on the surface and underwater), systematically and intentionally collecting as small an amount of oil as possible from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and controlling and restricting media access to the areas affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil gusher.

Must add this here:

“WMR learned that BP was able to have several safety checks waved because of the high-level interest by the White House and Pentagon in tapping the Gulf of Mexico bonanza find in order to plan a military attack on Iran without having to be concerned about an oil and natural gas shortage from the Persian Gulf after an outbreak of hostilities with Iran.”

-Wayne Madsen of

Think BP’s still getting away with murder? Or is it the government letting them get away? I suggest Propublica rethink it’s journalistic endeavors and focus that attention on who’s really to blame.

bp should pay for what they did. i dont think its fair.  since they are the ones that spilled it.

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This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

Gulf Oil Spill

The BP oil disaster in the Gulf has had untold health, economic and environmental effects.

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