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"The Worst Environmental Disaster in U.S. History!" (One Year Later)

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
"There's just no data to suggest this is an environmental disaster, “said Marine Scientist and former LSU professor Ivor Van Heerden who also works as a BP spill-response contractor. “I have no interest in making BP look good — I think they lied about the size of the spill — but we're not seeing catastrophic impacts. There's a lot of hype, but no evidence to justify it."

In fact these observations came-- not a year after the Deepwater Horizon blew-up -- but a mere three months afterwards, making them all the more blasphemous at the time. By now they’ve been amply vindicated, making the Obama team’s “moratorium” and more recent stonewalling on Gulf of Mexico drilling permits all the more preposterous.

Your loyal servant here grew up in South Louisiana and spends most week-ends along the Louisiana coast hooking, spearing, gaffing, blasting and otherwise assassinating the raw ingredients of his family meals. He also shares the resulting joys and debacles with readers and TV-show hosts. So he had more than a casual concern with the BP oil spill.

The reasons for this “disasters’” fizzling out are many and were apparent to non-hack scientists from the get-go. To wit:

“People don’t comprehend how so much oil could break down in such a short time period,” explains Dr. LuAnn White, a toxicologist with the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, who also serves as Director of the Center for Applied Environmental Health. “But we have natural oil seeps in the Gulf, and over 200 genera of microbes that break down oil already exist there.”

“It cannot be repeated often enough,” says Louisiana Marine Biologist Jerald Horst , Crude oil is a natural substance, its biodegradable. It’s a feast for microbes. And these consumed most of it from the BP spill.”

The horrid black goo that leaked into the Gulf of Mexico from the BP spill last year is certainly toxic—but so are broccoli, beer and salt. It all depends on the dosage. In fact that horrid black goo has spilled naturally into the Gulf of Mexico for millennia— at the rate of two Exxon Valdez spills annually.

A study by the Dept. of Oceanography at Texas A&M found 600 “oils spills,” into the Gulf of Mexico, all ancient if not prehistoric, all antiseptically “natural”, and all courtesy of Earth Goddess Gaia. In fact these “spills” probably saved the survivors of Hernando De Soto’s plucky band of explorers in 1542, who record caulking their boats with the abundant tar balls found along an east Texas beach. The study also reports that in 1909 a genuine gusher was spotted in the same area, shooting crude oil high into the air from the Gulf floor.

Not all these gushers lie below the Gulf of Mexico however. In fact one of Mother Earth’s biggest “spills” is off Southern California’s coast at Coal Oil Point, not far from the homes of ”environmentalist activists” Leo De Caprio, Charlie Sheen, Barbara Streisand, Brad Pitt, Ed Begley Jr and many, many others of their ilk. This spill gushes an estimated 3000 gallons of crude oil daily into the waters off Malibu beach. But none of the above “activists” appear overly agitated over this “disaster.”

Nothing normally soothes the savage beast of an environmentalist like the notion of a substance being “biodegradable.” Indeed, the term “environmentally-friendly,” has become almost its synonym. Well, crude oil is about as biodegradable as substances come, especially when spewed into warm, microbe-filled waters like the Gulf of Mexico. Hence the stratospheric dunce caps crowning so many “environmentalist” heads a mere year after “The Worst Environmental Disaster in U.S. History!”

“The damaging effects of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be felt all the way to Europe and the Arctic!” according to a “top scientist” addressing a congressional panel, as reported by CNN last year.

In fact, the damaging effects were hardly visible in Louisiana itself a few months later. Dr. Van Heerden who spent most of his days inspecting the Louisiana coast found that less than one square mile of coastal marsh had been severely oiled, mostly around Timbalier Bay. That’s out of 5300 square miles of Louisiana coastal marsh and swamp, by the way.

And by last July the “severely oiled” areas were already bouncing back. “Van Heerden's assessment team showed me around Casse-tete Island in Timbalier Bay,” wrote Time Magazine’s Michael Grunwald last July, “where new shoots of Spartina (marsh) grasses were sprouting in oiled marshes and new leaves were already growing on the first black mangroves I've ever seen that were actually black."

“Ah!” you ask. “But what about that poisonous chemical used as a dispersant for the oil?”

You probably ingested traces of this poisonous chemical compound with last night’s dinner, and other traces probably coat your pots, pans, cups, spoons and forks right now. Some people call the dispersant Corexit 9500—and some call it “soap.” Essentially it’s Dawn dishwashing detergent.

“Dispersants are not very toxic.” Explains Dr. Robert Dickey, director of FDA’s Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory. “They are detergents and solvents. And they become rapidly diluted. One square mile of sea water one foot deep is 200 million gallons. We added 1.8 million gallons in the whole Gulf.”

Point is: you add much higher concentration to your kitchen sink to make your dishes “safe” for your family.

After the spill, the FDA’s Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Seafood Inspection Laboratory, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals along with similar agencies from neighboring Gulf coast states have methodically and repeatedly tested Gulf seafood for cancer-causing “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.”

“Not a single sample [for oil or dispersant] has come anywhere close to levels of concern,” reported Olivia Watkins, executive media advisor for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

“All of the samples have been 100-fold or even 1,000-fold below all of these levels, “reports Bob Dickey, director of the FDA’s Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory. “Nothing ever came close to these levels.”

“Fine,” some might say. But kindly define what constitutes this “level of concern.”

“The small amount of hydrocarbons in a seafood meal is much less than the exposure from pumping gas,” clarifies La. Dept. of Health and Hospitals Dr. Jimmy Guidry

“Anyone who smokes one cigarette gets more PAHs than they could get from eating gallons of any Gulf oysters that have been tested,” clarifies Dr. LuAnn White

After the Exxon Valdez “disaster” a NOAA study found that “residents of village communities (near Prince William Sound) became upset when it was pointed out that samples of smoked fish from their villages contained carcinogenic hydrocarbon levels hundreds of times higher than any shellfish samples collected from oiled beaches.”

The proof of the abundance of Louisiana’s the marine life is in the eating, but first comes the catching and spearing. So let’s head to an offshore oil platform a few months after and a few miles away from “The Worst Environmental Disaster in U.S. History!” and take a peek.

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