Sunday, June 6, 2010

Today in BP Oil Disaster: Day 48

Posted By on Sun, Jun 6, 2010 at 8:17 PM

• In an interview with the BBC, BP CEO Tony Hayward reprises one of his signature tunes: "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."

BP said today its cap over the gusher collected 10,500 barrels of oil on Saturday.

Lessons from the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez?:

In Alaskan coastal zones fouled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989, scientists discovered oil, scarcely changed, 16 years later. In some areas, its composition had not altered much from the toxic clumps and goo that had formed just weeks after the spill.

Contrary to early expectations, oil still oozes from Alaska’s beaches, toxins intact, and is expected to remain — perhaps even for centuries. ...

Most of the oil from the 1989 Valdez disaster disappeared in the first few years. Scientists had hoped that almost all the remaining oil would disappear soon after, based on how quickly the oil was degrading in the early 1990s.

But later surveys showed that this oil was much slower to degrade, leading scientists to fear that it may persist for decades. About 100 tons of oil was still in the beaches of Prince William Sound as of 2001, out of more than 20,000 tons deposited there. And it is easily uncovered there today.

• Folks in Pensacola are boiling mad at the befoulment of their beaches ... and at BP's (lack of) response.

• Well, at least somebody's been arrested and held accountable for this nightm ... oh, it's just a guy who went swimming in Grand Isle in defiance of posted signs. Charge: criminal trespass ...

• The L.A. Times continues its streak of terrible reporting on the story. First it was a story headlined "Gulf Oil Spill: The Big Easy Takes the News With a Shrug" -- a headline so insulting that the paper changed it online after getting an earful from "the Big Easy." Last weekend, the Times wrote about the protest in Washington Artillery Park attended by 1,000 people and estimated the crowd at 200, adding dismissively "the crowd crammed into Café du Monde to eat beignets was even bigger than the one at the rally in Jackson Square."

In all this, we somehow missed a Times story this week about Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the commander in charge of the government effort, that was less reportage than hagiography -- if that. The headline on this doozy? "The Government's 'Rock Star' in Charge of the Oil Spill."

Are the following quotes from People magazine or a formerly respected national newspaper?

Whomever you run into, Allen told his ragtag band, treat them like a sister or brother. It is a philosophy that has won Allen wide acclaim, including ceremonial dances in Alaska, a spot on the menu in a New Orleans institution and a mischievous favor from the most successful NFL team of all time.

"Thad Allen is a rock star, and he gained his fame by competence," said David Hayes, the deputy secretary of the Interior Department, who has traveled with Allen to Alaska and works closely with him on spill response. "Whether you're on Bourbon Street in New Orleans or the community center in Nome, Alaska, Thad Allen is a known quantity and respected by all."

Allen has made a habit of collecting friends, almost from the day he graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1971. His first assignment was in Miami, where one of his neighbors was Jim Mandich, a tight end for the NFL's Dolphins. Soon, he was hanging out with members of the team. Allen said he attended every home game of the 1972 season, when the Dolphins became the only NFL team to go undefeated and win the Super Bowl. When he was promoted from ensign, several Dolphins players attended his party — and, at Allen's request, they threw his commanding officer into a pool.

Allen left his commandant post last week. He will continue as national incident commander at least until July 1, when federal rules will force him to retire, at least briefly. He'll spend most of this month on the gulf, where, someone suggested over breakfast, he's a bit of a celebrity.

"A bit of a celebrity." Contrast that gush with Newsweek:

In the past week, [Plaquemines Parish president Billy] Nungesser and [Gov. Bobby] Jindal have stepped up their rhetoric against BP and the federal government, especially the Coast Guard. “We have been frustrated with the disjointed effort to date that has too often meant too little too late to stop the oil from hitting our coast,” Jindal said at a press conference on May 24. Nungesser, for his part, has made a daily sport of lashing out at Admiral Thad Allen of the Coast Guard, calling him “an embarrassment” and “a cartoon character.”

• On the other hand: whatever you think of the political views of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and her producers, they've been documenting the effect of the oil washing ashore in Louisiana with some spectacular reporting, including live broadcasts from the scene. It's all here and worth bookmarking.

• And if you missed the photos, the video and the story from last night's march of the Krewe of Dead Pelicans, get caught up here.

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