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Should you believe anything BP says?

As gigantic oil plumes form under Gulf, BP recklessly ignores scientists’ pleas: “We’re not going to take any extra efforts now to calculate flow there at this point. It’s not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort.”

If you had any lingering doubts about who was to blame for the disastrous undersea volcano of oil in the Gulf, last night’s 60 Minutes utterly dispels them:

This makes clear that BP’s cost- and corner-cutting caused this disaster. Equally shocking is the story of BP’s willful and “fundamentally wrong” approach to safety on another well, the Atlantis. Part 1 is well worth watching too. A full transcript is here.

The 60 Minutes story is consistent with other reporting (see The three causes of BP’s Titanic oil disaster: Recklessness, Arrogance, and Hubris and Stupak stunner: Oil well’s blowout preventer had leaks, dead battery, design flaws, “How can a device that has 260 failure modes be considered fail-safe?”).

Bottom line: BP is responsible, as Bea says. And Bea “investigated the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster for NASA and the Hurricane Katrina disaster for the National Science Foundation” and “Last week, the White House asked Bea to help analyze the Deepwater Horizon accident.”

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BP’s response to the disaster is as outrageous as its pre-disaster corner-cutting.

The NY Times reported Sunday:

Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”

But what is even more shocking than this fairly predictable observation is BP’s Goldman-Sachs-like hubris and lies. We’ve seen that expert analysis of BP’s video by Purdue Prof. Steve Wereley and others concluded the oil giant’s undersea volcano is spewing 3 million gallons a day “” two Exxon Valdezes a week.

Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The latter figure would be 3.4 million gallons a day. But the government, working from satellite images of the ocean surface, has calculated a flow rate of only 5,000 barrels a day.

BP has resisted entreaties from scientists that they be allowed to use sophisticated instruments at the ocean floor that would give a far more accurate picture of how much oil is really gushing from the well.

“The answer is no to that,” a BP spokesman, Tom Mueller, said on Saturday. “We’re not going to take any extra efforts now to calculate flow there at this point. It’s not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort.”

This is an unconscionable falsehood.

AFP reported this morning:

BP’s Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles told CNN that about 1,000 barrels of oil per day is being suctioned up by the tube, out of about 5,000 barrels that the company believes is gushing out daily.

“I’m really pleased we’ve had success now. We’ve actually had what we call this rise insertion tube working more than 24 hours now,” he told CNN.

“This morning we were producing over 1,000 barrels of oil into the drill ship. So it’s good progress.”

Suttles acknowledged that most of the oil continues to spill into the open Gulf waters, but said he hoped to be able over time to increase the ratio of captured oil….

Uhh, the fact that BP is asserting it it knows what fraction of oil it is collecting is prima facie proof that the flow rate is incredibly relevant to the response — as if that weren’t obvious from the fact that you can’t possibly know what the toxicological risk is if you don’t know the full volume of toxic fluid you’ve put into the ocean.

On ABC’s Good Morning America today, Prof. Wereley made this on-air statement:

I am very skeptical it could collect most of the oil and gas because the connection will be leaky under the tremendous pressure that will be inside the pipe.

The Obama administration needs to insist that BP make available all of its videos of underwater gusher and that independent scientists be allowed to analyze the data.

BP’s falsehoods are apparently going to have very serious consequences for public health.

Marine toxicologist and Exxon Valdez survivor Riki Ott has a shocking piece on HuffPost, which opens:

Venice, Louisiana — Local fishermen hired to work on BP’s uncontrolled oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico are scared and confused. Fishermen here and in other small communities dotting the southern marshes and swamplands of Barataria Bay are getting sick from the working on the cleanup, yet BP is assuring them they don’t need respirators or other special protection from the crude oil, strong hydrocarbon vapors, or chemical dispersants being sprayed in massive quantities on the oil slick.

Fishermen have never seen the results from the air-quality monitoring patches some of them wear on their rain gear when they are out booming and skimming the giant oil slick. However, more and more fishermen are suffering from bad headaches, burning eyes, persistent coughs, sore throats, stuffy sinuses, nausea, and dizziness. They are starting to suspect that BP is not telling them the truth.

And based on air monitoring conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a Louisiana coastal community, those workers seem to be correct. The EPA findings show that airborne levels of toxic chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, and volatile organic compounds like benzene, for instance, now far exceed safety standards for human exposure.

The answer to the headline question is an unequivocal “no.”

BP is clearly guilty of gross negligence and outright falsehoods. They must be held accountable.

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