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Deepwater Horizon Update August 17, 2010

1st Louisana Shrimp Season Since Spill, Shrimpers Find Oil
Monday marked the first shrimping season since the oil spill. The largest shrimp wholesaler in the U.S., Dean Blanchard told AFP that 4 out of their 1,400 boats went out yesterday and “they’re finding oil. They drag, they find oil, they throw the stuff back in, and they're looking for cleaner waters.”

Several government agencies were apart of the reopening of much of the waters in the gulf and reported that much of the oil had naturally evaporated.

Very few shrimping boats went out Monday as many Louisiana fishermen were still working on the clean-up effort.

Doctors Sarah Janssen and Gina Solomon report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Published online August 16, 2010) that:

"In the near term, various hydrocarbons from the oil will contaminate fish and shellfish. Although vertebrate marine life can clear PAHs from their system, these chemicals accumulate for years in invertebrates.4 The Gulf provides about two-thirds of the oysters in the United States and is a major fishery for shrimp and crab. Trace amounts of cadmium, mercury, and lead occur in crude oil and can accumulate over time in fish tissues, potentially increasing future health hazards from consumption of large fin fish such as tuna and mackerel."

Photo credit: Ed Brame

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Alabama files suit against BP, Transocean
The state of Alabama has filed suit against BP, Transocean and others in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to Alabama Attorney General Troy King.

In a statement announcing the lawsuit filed Thursday, King said,

“As Alabama's lawyer, I say that if, anything, based on BP's broken promises, their history of saying one thing and doing another, and now, new information that they have been secretly working to gain a legal advantage, further delay can only further damage our people.

BP is spending millions of dollars on public relations advertising promising to "make things right." At the same time, BP is retaining all the best expert witnesses, not because they need their services, but so the experts will be unable to testify against BP. They are selling off their assets - perhaps, to divest themselves of assets that American courts could reach to satisfy a judgment. And BP is working to develop a report to argue they were not grossly negligent which would limit their liability. Obviously, BP's ads are working - they have persuaded some newspapers and politicians to call for more delays. Shame on BP for running them, and shame on us if we believe them.”


Photo Courtesy of the Alabama Attorney General's Office

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Waste from BP oil spill cleanup has gulf residents near landfills concerned
The oil from BP's rig explosion in April has already created more than 45,000 tons of garbage -- the solid oil and all the materials used to gather it -- and much more oily liquid waste. The trash is being shipped every day to nine landfills that store household garbage and non-hazardous industrial waste in communities across Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

Residents are concerned that chemicals from the waste will enter the groundwater drinking supply. There is also concern for the workers handling the waste.

The Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency and BP are working to manage the trash and squash residents concerns.

The federal government issued a 34-page plan directing BP to recycle and reuse as much trash as it can and to post information about the trash it is collecting online. BP reports that so far 50 tons of trash has been recycled.

Photo courtesy of WKRG

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BP Litigation: oil spill cases to be heard in New Orleans
A panel of federal judges decided the nearly 300 lawsuits related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will be heard in New Orleans.

U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Barbier of the Eastern District of Louisiana will hear the civil suits filed against BP PLC and other defendants. Plaintiffs include fishing crews, shrimpers, resort owners, restaurant owners and more.

Lawsuits include environmental claims, as well as personal injury and wrongful death on behalf of Deepwater Horizon workers. Judge Barbier will also oversee Transocean Ltd.’s efforts to limit liability.

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Barack Obama swims off Florida Gulf coast after oil spill
Barack Obama visited Panama City Beach with his family this weekend, in an effort to encourage others to visit.

It was the President's fifth visit since the BP oil spill, but this trip was all about boosting tourism. He declared: "Oil is no longer flowing into the Gulf."

He added that he wanted to "let Americans know they should come on down here".

Photo courtesy of The White House, Pete Souza

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BP Cautions Gulf Coast Communities About Scams (BP Press Release)
BP Cautions Gulf Coast Communities About Unauthorized Attempts To Obtain Personal Information Or Fees For Safety Training.

Company representatives do not go door-to-door or charge for training; public is urged to contact law enforcement authorities to report solicitations.

BP today cautioned individuals and businesses to be alert for potential scams - including door-to-door attempts by unauthorized individuals who seek personal information or charge fees for safety training or other purposes in connection with the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill response.

“There have been isolated reports of incidents in which individuals posing as BP employees have gone to people’s homes to scam residents,” said Mike Utsler, Chief Operating Officer of BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization. “We want the community to know that neither BP nor its claims agency go door-to-door to collect personal data. Any data required for the claims process, employment opportunities or other matters is accepted only at BP claims centers and through authorized BP employees or representatives.

“In addition, those seeking spill response jobs need to know that neither BP nor its contractors are charging fees for any safety instruction or other training,” Utsler said. Utsler said that BP is committed to restoring the Gulf of Mexico and helping affected communities recover from the spill. “We also want to ensure that everyone along the coast remains safe from any predatory or illegal actions that could diminish ongoing restoration efforts under way.”