The government and BP have said that no dispersants have been sprayed in the Gulf since the well was partially capped on July 15th.
However, local residents have been saying for weeks that Corexit is still being sprayed.
Admiral Allen wouldn’t unequivocally deny this allegation as of August 9th.
On August 10th, the Destin Log reported:
Lt. Cmdr. Dale Vogelsang, liaison officer with the United State Coast Guard, told The Log he had contacted Unified Command and they had “confirmed” that dispersants were not being used in Florida waters. “Dispersants are only being used over the wellhead in Louisiana,” Vogelsang said. “We are working with Eglin and Hurlburt to confirm what the flight pattern may be. But right now, it appears to be a normal flight.”
Vogelsang also said Unified Command confirmed to him that C-130s have never been used to distribute dispersants, as they “typically use smaller aircraft.”
But according to an article by the 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office, based in Youngstown, OH., C-130H Hercules aircraft started aerial spray operations Saturday, May 1, under the direction of the president of the United States and Secretary of Defense. “The objective of the aerial spray operation is to neutralize the oil spill with oil dispersing agents,” the article states.
A July Lockheed Martin Newsletter states that “Lockheed Martin aircraft, including C-130s and P-3s, have been deployed to the Gulf region by the Air Force, Coast Guard and other government customers to perform a variety of tasks, such as monitoring, mapping and dispersant spraying.”
Neither of the articles specify the operations have taken place in Florida.
After The Log spoke with Vogelsang Friday morning, he once again reiterated that “no dispersants were being used in Florida waters,” and no dispersants have been used anywhere since mid-July. When The Log asked Vogelsang about the two articles, which state C-130s have been used for dispersant spraying, he said “if they were being used here locally to spray dispersants, then Unified Command didn’t know about it.”
In fact, there are photos and video of C-130s dropping dispersant in the Gulf.
On July 4th, marine biologist and toxicologist Dr. Chris Pincetich – who has an extensive background in testing the affects of chemicals on fish – said that the Coast Guard was spraying Corexit at night over the Gulf:
Dr. Pincetich made this allegation before the well was partially capped on July 15th.
However, on August 9th, award-winning journalist Dahr Jamail wrote:
Dean Blanchard, one of the most important seafood purchasers in Louisiana, recently attended a Town Hall Meeting with a BP representative in Grand Isle, Louisiana.
In the meeting, Blanchard stands up and addresses the BP representative at length.
Blanchard had clearly heard enough of BP’s propaganda. To the representatives’ request to have someone explain to him why BP would not want to clean up the oil, Blanchard angrily obliged:
“Because it’s more cost effective for ya’ll to come at night and sink the son-of-a-bitch! When the oil’s coming around, they call ya’ll, they tell ya’ll where the oil’s at, and the first thing ya’ll do is tell them to go the other way, ya’ll send the planes, and ya’ll fucking sink it! [Spray dispersants from the air] That’s what ya’ll are doing, come on man!” He sits back down angrily. “Let’s quit playing over here and tell the truth. Ya’ll are sinking the oil, Jason! You know ya’ll are sinking it. You know what ya’ll are doing. Ya’ll are sending all the boats, you’re putting them all in a group at night, we all hear the planes, and the next morning there’s nothing but white bubbles! What do you think, we’re stupid? We’re not stupid! Ya’ll are putting the oil on the bottom of my fishing grounds! Ya’ll not only messing me up now, ya’ll are messing me up for the rest of my life! I ain’t gonna live long enough to buy anymore shrimp!”
Today, Jamail reports that several people working with BP’s Vessels-of-Opportunity program have confirmed this allegation. Here is an excerpt from the must-read essay (this is one of the most important stories about the oil spill, worth taking the time to read word-for-word):
[PhD marine biologist Ed Cake, who has worked for the past couple of decades growing the Gulf oyster industry along side the oil business, usually working for both industries simultaneously] wrote of the experience: “When the vessel was stopped for sampling, small, 0.5- to 1.0-inch-diameter bubbles would periodically rise to the surface and shortly thereafter they would pop leaving a small oil sheen. According to the fishermen, several of BP’s Vessels-Of-Opportunity (Carolina Skiffs with tanks of dispersants [Corexit]) were hand spraying in Mississippi Sound off the Pass Christian Harbor in prior days/nights. It appears to this observer that the dispersants are still in the area and are continuing to react with oil in the waters off Pass Christian Harbor.”
A resident, who has a yacht in the harbor, spoke with Truthout on condition of anonymity due to fears of reprisal from BP. “Last week we were sitting on our boat and you could smell the chemicals,” he explained. “It smelt like death. It was like mosquito spray, but ten times stronger. The next day I was hoarse and my lungs felt like I’d been in a smoky bar the night before.”
Truthout spoke with another man, who was recently laid off from the VOO program. He also spoke on condition of anonymity. “Just the other day one of the Carolina Skiffs passed us spraying something,” he said. “We went west instead of east as we turned and a group of Carolina Skiffs was spraying something over the water.”
A Carolina Skiff is a type of boat, usually between 13′ and 30′ long, very versatile and can function well in shallow or deep waters. They are known for having a large payload capacity and a lot of interior space.
Alarmed by what he saw, the former VOO worker called the Coast Guard to report what he believed was a private contractor company spraying dispersants. “We were later told by the Coast Guard they’d investigated the incident and told us what we saw were vacuum boats sucking oil, and they were rinsing their tanks,” he said. “But we know this is a lie and that BP is using these out of state contractors to come in and spray the dispersant at night and they are using planes to drop it as well.”
He worked in the VOO program looking for oil. When his team would find oil, upon reporting it, they would consistently be sent away without explanation or the opportunity to clean it. “They made us abort these missions,” he said. “Two days ago I put out boom in a bunch of oil for five minutes, they told me to abort the mission, so I pulled up boom soaked in oil. What the hell are we doing out there if they won’t let us work to clean up the oil?”
He told Truthout that as his and other VOO teams would be going out to work on the water in the morning, they would pass the out-of-state contractors in Carolina Skiffs coming in from what he believed to be a covert spraying of the oil with dispersant in order to sink it. He believes this was done to deliberately prevent the VOO teams from finding and collecting oil. By doing so, BP’s liability would be lessened since the oil giant will be fined for the amount of oil collected.
“BP brings in the Carolina Skiffs to spray the dispersant at night,” he added, “And they are not accountable to the Coast Guard.”
James Miller, who had taken the group out into the Mississippi Sound that found the oil/dispersants on August 11, told Truthout that the Carolina Skiff teams spraying dispersants were “common” and that it “happened all the time.”
Miller, who was in the VOO, is an eyewitness to planes spraying dispersants, as well as the Carolina Skiff crews doing the same.
“We’d roll up on a patch of oil ½ mile wide by one mile long and they’d hold us off from cleaning it up,” Miller, speaking with Truthout at his home in D’Iberville, Mississippi, said. “We’d leave and the Carolina Skiffs would pull up and start spraying dispersants on the oil. The guys doing the spraying would wear respirators and safety glasses. Their boats have 375 gallon white drums full of the stuff and they could spray it out 150 feet. The next day there’d be the white foam that’s always there after they hit the oil with dispersants.”
Some nights VOO crews would sleep out near the work sites. “We’d sleep out there and some nights the planes would come in so close the noise would wake us from a dead sleep,” Miller added. “Again, we’d call in the oiled areas during the day and at night the planes would come in and hit the hell out of it with dispersants. That was the drill. We’d spot it and report it. They’d call us off it and send guys out in the skiffs or planes to sink it.”
Mark Stewart, from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, was in the VOO program for 70 days before being laid off on August 2. The last weeks has seen BP decreasing the number of response workers from around 45,000 down to around 30,000. The number is decreasing by the day.
Stewart, a third generation commercial fisherman, … like Miller, is an eyewitness to planes dispensing dispersant at night, as well as the Carolina Skiff crews spraying dispersant. “I worked out off the barrier islands of Mississippi,” Stewart said. “They would relentlessly carpet bomb the oil we found with dispersants, day and night.”
Stewart, echoing what VOO employees across the Gulf Coast are saying, told Truthout his crew would regularly find oil, report it, be sent away, then either watch as planes or Carolina Skiffs would arrive to apply dispersants, or come back the next day to find the white foamy emulsified oil remnant that is left on the surface after oil has been hit with dispersants.
Stewart added, “Whenever government people, state or federal, would be flying over us, we’d be instructed to put out all our boom and start skimming, acting like we were gathering oil, even when we weren’t in the oil.”
There is a clear pattern that VOO workers in all four states are consistently reporting:
- VOO workers identify the oil.
- They are then sent elsewhere by someone higher up the chain of command.
- Dispersants are later applied by out-of-state contractors in Carolina Skiffs (usually at night), or aircraft are used, in order to sink the oil.
- The oil “appears” gone and, therefore, no additional action is taken.
If Corexit is, in fact, being sprayed at night after being “called in” once oil is spotted, this would be one of the most important stories on the oil spill.