Attorney-Author Marks BP-Spill Anniversary With Dire Assessment
An environmental attorney from New Orleans has marked this week’s 5-year anniversary of the huge BP with a truly dire assessment of regulatory inaction, warning in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that the region not only remains at risk, but the “cure” of using dispersant may have been worse than the oil itself.
Stuart H. Smith, a high-profile plaintiff’s attorney who turned blogger then author in the wake of the BP disaster, says President Obama said the right things “… but Congress — controlled by Republican lawmakers indebted to their Big Oil campaign contributors — still has not enacted the offshore-drilling safety measures recommended by the president’s Oil Spill Commission. It has not given strong regulatory powers to the agency that replaced the scandal-scarred Minerals Management Service. And it has not raised the ridiculously low cap of $75 million for corporate liability on major spills.”
Smith offers this even more unsettling take on the half-decade: “… on the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon accident, workers continue to clean up tar balls and giant tar mats of weathered BP oil along beaches from Louisiana to Florida. Black crude still clogs the edges of our ever-shrinking wetlands. A recent report by the National Wildlife Federation chronicled significant health damage to some 20 species of marine plants and birds, while people who took part in 2010 cleanup efforts struggle with headaches, nausea and other symptoms.”
He contends that “lax government standards for highly toxic dispersants are yet another problem” and that a “string of scientific studies has suggested that exposure to Corexit [the dispersant famously used in bulk during the BP spill] may have been more damaging to the health of cleanup workers and marine life than the initial exposure to spilled oil.”
Meanwhile, of course, the civil lawsuits continue to have billions of dollars at stake. Check out the excellent Smith blog, with links to his book “Crude Justice” here: http://www.stuarthsmith.com/
Check out the LAT opinion piece here: 5 years after BP spill, little has changed to protect Gulf of Mexico