Tag Archive: Gulf of Mexico


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Phys.org

Study: Dispersants did not help oil degrade in BP spill

November 9, 2015 by By Seth Borenstein
Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, studies the oil plumes generated by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout. Credit: Todd Dickey/University of Georgia

The chemical sprayed on the 2010 BP oil spill may not have helped crucial petroleum-munching microbes get rid of the slick, a new study suggests.

And that leads to more questions about where much of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill went. If the new results are true, up to half the oil can’t be accounted for, said the author of a new study on the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

After the 172 million gallon (650 million liter) spill, the chemical dispersant Corexit 9500 was applied by airplane on the slick to help it go away and help natural microbes in the water eat the oil faster. The oil appeared to dissipate, but scientists and government officials didn’t really monitor the microbes and chemicals, said University of Georgia marine scientist Samantha Joye.

So Joye and colleagues recreated the application in a lab, with the dispersant, BP oil and water from the gulf, and found that it didn’t help the microbes at all and even hurt one key oil-munching bug, according to a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The dispersants did a great job in that they got the oil off the surface,” Joye said. “What you see is the dispersants didn’t ramp up biodegradation.”

In fact, she found the oil with no dispersant “degraded a heckuva lot faster than the oil with dispersants,” Joye said.

 

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Dispersants Did Not Help In BP Spill, Half Of Oil Not Accounted For: Study

bp_wave_001By Joe Wright

The fallout continues from the Deepwater Horizon explosion that directly killed 11 workers and ravaged the food chain and the environment more than 5 years ago.

Since then we have seen little accountability, despite a nominal fine against BP for its role in unleashing 4 million barrels of oil (approx. 200 million gallons). In fact, the EPA lifted a ban which subsequently resulted in BP being awarded $40 Billion in new contracts, essentially erasing all that was “lost” by BP from their criminality.

Running in tandem with BP’s negligence was the use of Corexit 9500 oil dispersant (owned by Nalco, a Goldman Sachs subsidiary) as a supposed means to drastically minimize the impact. Contrary to that assertion, evidence continues to mount that it did the exact opposite.

Early on, reports began to surface of health anomalies that many believed were attributable to the spraying of the chemical dispersant. Corexit was not only sprayed over the water, but over houses as well. One family documented how all of them became sickened, and afterward tested very high for chemical poisoning. A crew of activists called Project Gulf Impact were on the scene to expose what was taking place, and similarly reported sickness to their own crew, as well as suppression of their media coverage.

 

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Oil firm agrees to abide by EPA monitoring arrangements for five years, allowing it to bid for drilling contracts in Gulf of Mexico
BP

BP is still awaiting a US court ruling about whether it was grossly negligent over the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

BP is closer to restoring its operations and reputation in the US after agreeing a deal with environmental protection authorities that it will enable the oil firm to bid for new drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico.

The British-based group had started legal proceedings against the US environmental protection agency (EPA) which had banned BP from new contracts on the grounds that it had failed to correct problems properly since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.

BP said it had now dropped its law suit after resolving outstanding problems with the EPA but the firm will have to abide by monitoring arrangements with the agency for the next five years.

“After a lengthy negotiation, BP is pleased to have reached this resolution, which we believe to be fair and reasonable,” said John Mingé, head of BP America. “Today’s agreement will allow America’s largest energy investor to compete again for federal contracts and leases.”

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March 18, 2014

Huffpost Business

Government Declares BP a ‘Responsible’ Contractor: Workers and Taxpayers Beware

A scant five days before the Department of Interior opens a new round of bids for oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, the EPA has blinked, pronouncing BP, the incorrigible corporate scofflaw of the new millennium, once again fit to do business with the government.

To get right to the point, the federal government’s decision that BP has somehow paid its debt and should once again be eligible for federal contracts is a disgrace. Not only does it let BP off the hook, it sends an unmistakable signal to the rest of the energy industry: That no matter how much harm you do, no matter how horrid your safety record, the feds will cut you some slack.

Back in 2012, the agency’s intrepid staff had finally gotten permission to pull the trigger on the company, de-barring it from holding any new U.S. contracts on the grounds that it was not running its business in a “responsible” way. Undoubtedly under pressure by the Cameron government and the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, BP’s most loyal customer, the EPA settled its debarment suit for a sweet little consent decree that will try to improve the company’s sense of ethics by having “independent” auditors come visit once a year.

To review the grim record: BP, now the third-largest energy company in the world, is the first among the roster of companies that have caused the most memorable industrial fiascos in the post-modern age.

  • Its best-known disaster, the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig moored in the Gulf of Mexico that BP had hired to develop its lease of the Macondo well, killed 11 and deposited 205 million gallons of crude oil along the southern coast of the United States — the worst environmental disaster in American history.
  • In a troubling precursor, another explosion killed 15 and injured 180 at the company’s Texas City refinery in July 2005. This incident happened even after the plant manager there had gone on bended knee to John Manzoni, BP’s second in command worldwide, to plead for money to address severe maintenance problems that jeopardized safety at that plant after a consultant surveying refinery workers reported that many thought they ran a real risk of being killed at work. Those fears were warranted, it turned out.
  • Also in 2005, 200,000 gallons of oil spilled from a BP pipeline on Alaska’s North Slope.

 

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Study links BP oil spill to dolphin deaths

US government scientists have for the first time found direct evidence of toxic exposure in the Gulf of Mexico

A dolphin is seen swimming through an oil sheen from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

A dolphin is seen swimming through an oil sheen from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off East Grand Terre Island, where the Gulf of Mexico meets Barataria Bay, on the Louisiana coast, July 31, 2010. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

US government scientists have for the first time connected the BP oil disaster to dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico, in a study finding direct evidence of toxic exposure.

The study, led by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found lung disease, hormonal abnormalities and other health effects among dolphins in an area heavily oiled during the BP spill.

A dead bottlenose dolphin that was found on Ono Island

An Institute for Marine Mammal Studies veterinary technician examines a dead bottlenose dolphin that was found on Ono Island. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

The diseases found in the dolphins at Barataria Bay in Louisiana – though rare – were consistent with exposure to oil, the scientists said.

“Many disease conditions observed in Barataria Bay dolphins are uncommon but consistent with petroleum hydrocarbon exposure and toxicity,” the scientists said.

Half of the dolphins were given a guarded prognosis, and 17% were expected to die of the disease, the researchers found.

“I’ve never seen such a high prevalence of very sick animals – and with unusual conditions such as the adrenal hormone abnormalities,” Lori Schwake, the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

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LiveScience

BP Oil Spill May Have Contributed to Dolphin Deaths, Study Finds

 

The 2010 BP oil spill contributed to an unusually high death rate for dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, a new study suggests.

Between January and April 2011, 186 dead bottlenose dolphins washed ashore between Louisiana and western Florida. Most alarmingly, nearly half of these casualties were calves, which is more than double the usual proportion of young to old dolphins found dead. Scientists now blame both natural factors and human catastrophe for the unusual die-off.

“Unfortunately, it was a ‘perfect storm’ that led to the dolphin deaths,” study researcher Graham Worthy, a biologist at the University of Central Florida, said in a statement. “The oil spill and cold water of 2010 had already put significant stress on their food resources. … It appears the high volumes of cold freshwater coming from snowmelt water that pushed through Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound in 2011 was the final blow.” [Gulf Oil Spill: Animals at Risk]

Cold water and spilled oil

The winter of 2010 was a cold one, the researchers reported July 18 in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. Oil began spilling into the Gulf in April 2011, after the Deepwater Horizon platform exploded following a blowout.

The unusually harsh winter of 2010 already dealt wildlife a disadvantage, Worthy and his colleagues wrote. Finfish, marine birds, sea turtles and manatees had been hit hard, with about 6 percent of the U.S. population of manatees lost to cold weather.

Just before the baby dolphins began washing ashore in January 2011, meltwater from an unusually heavy Mobile Bay watershed snowfall hit the Gulf. A comparison of dolphin stranding sites and water conditions revealed that the discovery of the carcasses followed temperature dips from meltwater by two to three weeks, indicating that the dolphins were stressed, died, washed ashore and were eventually found and recorded.

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(C) Desert Rose Creations/Family Survival Protocol  2013Ethanol Sign 2 photo ethanolsign2_zps0d43f94d.jpg

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The Associated Press is running a terrific and long investigative article, “The Secret, Dirty Cost of Obama’s Green Power Push,” on the environmental downsides of the ethanol fuel mandate. From the AP…

…the ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today.

As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted water supplies, an Associated Press investigation found.

Five million acres of land set aside for conservation — more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined — have vanished on Obama’s watch.

Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil.

Sprayers pumped out billions of pounds of fertilizer, some of which seeped into drinking water, contaminated rivers and worsened the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where marine life can’t survive.

The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy. But the Obama administration stands by it, highlighting its benefits to the farming industry rather than any negative impact.

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Earth Watch Report  –  Storms

 Active tropical storm system(s)
Name of storm system Location Formed Last update Last category Course Wind Speed Gust Wave Source Details

Ingrid (AL10) Gulf of Mexico 12.09.2013 14.09.2013 Tropical Depression 15 ° 93 km/h 111 km/h 2.74 m NOAA NHC Details


 photo TropicalDepressionIngrid-GulfofMexicoSeptember14th2013_zps03150d98.jpg

 Tropical Storm data

Storm name: Ingrid (AL10)
Area: Gulf of Mexico
Start up location: N 19° 42.000, W 94° 0.000
Start up: 13th September 2013
Status: Active
Track long: 82.88 km
Top category.:
Report by: NOAA NHC
Useful links:

Past track
Date Time Position Speed
km/h
Wind
km/h
Gust
km/h
Category Course Wave Pressure Source
Current position
Date Time Position Speed
km/h
Wind
km/h
Gust
km/h
Category Course Wave
feet
Pressure Source
14th Sep 2013 14:23:21 N 19° 48.000, W 95° 0.000 6 93 111 Tropical Depression 15 ° 9 991 MB NOAA NHC
Forecast track
Date Time Position Category Wind
km/h
Gust
km/h
Source
16th Sep 2013 00:00:00 N 22° 18.000, W 97° 30.000 Hurricane II 130 157 NOAA NHC
17th Sep 2013 00:00:00 N 22° 24.000, W 99° 6.000 Tropical Depression 65 83 NOAA NHC
18th Sep 2013 00:00:00 N 22° 0.000, W 100° 0.000 Tropical Depression 37 56 NOAA NHC

(Photo: National Hurricane Center)

Story Highlights

    • Could become a hurricane shortly before hitting land near Tampico sometime late Sunday or early Monday
    • Tropical Storm Ingrid lashed Mexico’s Gulf Coast with heavy rains on Friday
    • State officials imposed an orange alert, the highest possible, in parts of southern Veracruz

Tropical Storm Ingrid, which formed in the southern Gulf of Mexico on Friday morning, is bringing heavy rains and flooding to Mexico’s Gulf Coast.

Ingrid could become a hurricane shortly before hitting land near the Gulf coast port city of Tampico sometime late Sunday or early Monday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

It is the ninth named storm of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. So far, eight of the nine named storms have been tropical storms, with only one hurricane (Humberto).

Early Friday, Ingrid had winds of 60 mph and entered about 60 miles east of Veracruz, Mexico. The storm was stationary.

The greatest impacts from Ingrid will likely be heavy rainfall, flash flooding and mudslides in eastern Mexico, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

A wide swath of eastern Mexico near and inland of the Gulf Coast has the potential to pick up 10 to 15 inches of rainfall, with isolated amounts over 25 inches, AP reported.

The flooding could be “life-threatening,” according to the hurricane center. State officials imposed an orange alert, the highest possible, in parts of southern Veracruz.

At least three major rivers in the eastern state of Veracruz were flooding or close to overflowing their banks and hundreds of people were evacuating low-lying areas, AP reported.

The storm could also bring needed rainfall farther north along the Mexico coast and perhaps as far north as South Texas, depending on its track, AccuWeather reports. “Any reasonable rainfall will be welcomed by many residential and agricultural interests over the Rio Grande Valley,” Sosnowski says.

There are now three active, named systems in the Atlantic basin. Ingrid joins Tropical Storm Humberto and Tropical Depression Gabrielle, which are both spinning in the open Atlantic Ocean and are expected to continue to weaken on Friday.

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Researchers seeking clues in ‘unprecedented’ dolphin die-off // VIDEO, MAP, PHOTO GALLERY

Dolphin mystery

Dolphin mystery

Bottle-nosed dolphin Roux, right, clowns around with his friend Jett at Gulf World in Panama City Beach. Roux was rescued from Louisiana and participates in a few of the dolphin shows, while Jett was born at the marine park.

Heather Leiphart | The News Herald

Published: Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 18:03 PM.

PANAMA CITY BEACH — For the last three years, dolphins have been dying at an unprecedented rate in the Gulf of Mexico, and experts say there’s still no end in sight.

“The length and the severity of this event is unprecedented in the Gulf,” said Chris Robbins, a scientist and senior manager for restoration planning with Ocean Conservancy. “More than 1,000 animals have stranded and more than 95 percent of those have been dead. … The mortalities we’re seeing are far above what the historical average has been.”

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) in December 2010 for dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico, the area from the Texas/Louisiana border to Franklin County.

Since the event began in February 2010, 1,026 strandings have occurred through July 21. The event is the most severe ever recorded in the Gulf, with 95 percent of strandings ending in mortality.

“It’s the longest in duration and highest number of strandings in the UME program,” said Erin Fougeres, Marine Mammal Stranding Network Program administrator for NOAA. “In this case, this unusual mortality event has been going on since just prior to the oil spill.”

By NOAA definition, a UME is “a stranding that is unexpected, involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population and demands immediate response.”

But, response is difficult when the cause of the UME is still unknown.

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Interactive map

Oil’s role

Although the UME began two months prior to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, researchers are not ruling out oil dispersant as a factor.

“This unusual mortality event actually started before the oil spill in February 2010, but when the oil spill happened there was a spike in strandings, and they’ve been high ever since,” Robbins said. “It does raise aquestion to the extent of which the oil spill has exacerbated the UME.”

Robbins said many of the symptoms observed in the stranding events are consistent with those of marine mammals that have been exposed to oil.

“What they’re seeing in these animals is a compromised immune system,” Robbins said. “It may be like a cancer patient with a compromised immune system coming down with something else because they’ve been exposed to a virus or some other type of contaminant.”

Experts are investigating what role brucella bacteria may have in relation to the UME. Thus far, 27 out of 107 dolphins were positive or suspected to be positive for brucella, a common cause of abortions in the marine mammals.

Some animals also are showing signs of pneumonia and adrenal gland abnormalities, Fougeres reported.

“We don’t have any definitive cause of the mortalities at this point,” Fougeres said. “There may not be any one thing that’s killing off the animals. There may be more than one factor involved.”

NOAA has formally recognized 59 marine mammal UMEs in the U.S. since 1991, but has determined cause for just 25 of them.

In the same timeframe, the Gulf of Mexico has seen 11 UMEs involving dolphins. Fougeres reported the most common cause of the previous events was morbillivirus, a highly infectious virus that includes agents of measles and canine distemper.

“We’re trying to rule out the most common causes of UMEs that have happened in the Gulf in the past,” Fougeres said. Morbillivirus “doesn’t appear to be the case.”

The highest number of strandings has occurred in Louisiana, followed by Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

“Fortunately, for the Florida Panhandle, they haven’t really been too much above average since 2010,” Fougeres said.

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File:Bottlenose dolphin with young.JPG
File:Bottlenose Dolphins.jpg
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File:Bottlenose Dolphin KSC04pd0178 (cropped).jpg
Author : NASA

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Earth Watch Report  –  Hazmat

( HANDOUT, Reuters / July 24, 2013 )

Handout photo showing a cloud of natural gas rising from the Hercules 265 drilling rig located 55 miles off the coast of Louisiana

24.07.2013 HAZMAT USA Gulf of Mexico (Louisiana), [Hercules 265 oil rig] Damage level Details

HAZMAT in USA on Wednesday, 24 July, 2013 at 03:30 (03:30 AM) UTC.

Description
Forty-four workers evacuated a jack-up rig in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday and two Houston-based companies worked to curb uncontrolled flow of natural gas from a well on which the rig was working. Hercules Offshore said its Hercules 265 rig is operating for Walter Oil & Gas Corp. No one was injured in the evacuation, and no oil was spilled, said Tim O’Leary, a spokesman for Walter Oil & Gas. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the well is 55 miles off the coast of Louisiana in 154 feet of water. Walter Oil & Gas reported the loss of well control to the safety bureau Tuesday morning, the agency said. Bureau inspectors reported a dissipating light sheen on the Gulf surface, 50 feet by one-half mile in size. The rig was working on a sidetrack well – drilled adjacent to an existing one – in preparation for production, the safety bureau said. Earlier this month, a 40-year-old well owned by a subsidiary of Houston-based Talos Energy well leaked natural gas into the Gulf for four days before responders plugged the leak and permanently sealed the well with cement.

HAZMAT in USA on Wednesday, 24 July, 2013 at 03:30 (03:30 AM) UTC.

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Updated: Wednesday, 24 July, 2013 at 17:04 UTC
Description
A shallow-water Gulf of Mexico drilling rig on fire because of a ruptured natural gas well has partially collapsed, U.S. regulators said on Wednesday. The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said beams supporting the derrick and rig floor on the Hercules Offshore rig collapsed over the structure. BSEE also said a third firefighting vessel was enroute to the scene, though no sheen was seen on the water’s surface during overflights conducted on Wednesday morning.

Gulf rig partially collapses in fire off Louisiana

A fire broke out on a gas well in the Gulf of Mexico late Tuesday, hours after dozens of workers were evacuated due to an out-of-control leak. No injuries are reported. Officials haven’t said how or when they’ll attempt to put out the blaze. (July 24)

HOUSTON (Reuters) – A shallow-water Gulf of Mexico drilling rig has partially collapsed off the coast of Louisiana after catching fire because of a ruptured natural gas well, U.S. regulators said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said beams supporting the derrick and rig floor on the Hercules Offshore jackup rig had crumpled over the rig structure.

A third firefighting vessel was en route to the scene, though no sheen was seen on the water’s surface during overflights conducted on Wednesday morning, the regulator said.

The fire ignited shortly before 11 p.m. CDT on Tuesday. The Walter Oil & Gas-owned well had ruptured hours earlier as Hercules worked to prepare it for production. The well released natural gas, but no oil, according to BSEE.

No one was on board when the rig caught fire, BSEE said. Hercules said 44 people were evacuated after the rupture and no injuries were reported. The rig is in 154 feet of water about 55 miles south of the coast of Louisiana.

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Gulf platform experiences blowout southwest of Grand Isle

44 people evacuated on 2 life boats; all OK

UPDATED 11:43 AM CDT Jul 23, 2013

Hercules Rig 265 map

Hercules Offshore logo

Hercules Offshore logo >

The blowout happened about 9:50 a.m. on Hercules Platform No. 265, which is located about 40 miles south and 10 to 15 miles west of Grand Isle, according to the Coast Guard.

Officials told WDSU that 44 people were evacuated on two life boats, and all are said to be OK.

An environmental assessment has not yet taken place. Initial reports indicated the platform was designed for oil exploration, but a Jefferson Parish official describes it as a natural gas platform.

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BP Tries to Overturn Gulf Oil Spill Settlement

Is Anyone Surprised?

By Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

BP’s massive 2010 Gulf oil spill virtually destroyed the Gulf of Mexico economy. Fisheries, tourist-related enterprises, and the businesses dependent on them went belly-up in the hundreds of thousands. Yet as business owners quickly found, the only way they could get compensation for losing their livelihood was to sue BP in federal court. In 2012, the oil company finally agreed to a settlement reimbursing business owners who could demonstrate a loss of income during or after the spill. Federal District Court Judge Carl Barbier, who oversees the settlement, appointed Louisiana attorney Patrick Juneau to evaluate and process all spill-related claims. Thus far Juneau’s office has received a total of 186,000 claims.

Now, after paying nearly $4 billion on 48,487 eligible claims, BP is back in court trying to wriggle out of the deal. As of February 2013, this and other criminal and civil settlements and payments to a trust fund had cost the company $42.2 billion. Because there is no cap on the 2012 settlement they signed, the oil company is seriously concerned that covering all 186,000 claims could cut into their profits. They assert that many of the claims are exaggerated or relate to circumstances other than the spill. They give as an example businesses hundreds of miles from the coast that have been reimbursed. They also question companies using 2010 as the base year for their losses if their 2010 income was significantly higher than prior years.

Although Judge Barbier disagrees with their reasoning, he has appointed former FBI director Louis Freeh to investigate Juneau’s office to determine whether there have been any ethical breeches or misconduct in processing the claims. This follows the recent resignation of one of Juneau’s staff attorneys over allegations of “impropriety”.

Meanwhile BP is appealing Barbier’s ruling in the US Fifth Court of Appeals. In preliminary hearings, the Fifth Circuit judges are questioning whether BP has a legal right to challenge the terms of the settlement they agreed to. They point out it did not require businesses to establish causation – owners merely had to show a revenue loss. Moreover the settlement specifically states that losses needed to be calculated in such a way to maximize reimbursement. The judges also question whether the appellate court even has jurisdiction to alter the terms of the settlement. There is no provision in US law for a court to overturn a settlement, which is like a binding contract, once both parties have signed it.

Intimidation Tactics

BP has asked the appellate court to suspend payouts pending the outcome of Freeh’s investigation. They have also sent claimants warning letters that they may have to give some of the money back. The attorneys for the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, James Roy and Stephen Herman, have responded to BP with a “strongly worded” letter reminding them that no legal process exists to alter the amount of an award after it has been paid. They also accuse BP of violating the settlement agreement by discouraging claimants from pursuing claims.

In a press statement, Herman admitted the BP letter didn’t surprise him, given that the oil company was suspended from doing business with the US government after pleading guilty to lying to the federal government about the spill.”

 

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Earth Watch Report  –  Flash Flood  –  Storms

1,900 Homes Damaged by Torrential Rains in Cuba

1,900 Homes Damaged by Torrential Rains in Cuba

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Flash Flood Cuba Province of Pinar del Rio, [Pinar del Rio-wide] Damage level Details

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Flash Flood in Cuba on Sunday, 09 June, 2013 at 16:47 (04:47 PM) UTC.

Description
The torrential rains in western Cuba over the past week caused “severe losses” to agriculture and damaged more than 1,900 homes in Pinar del Rio province, the hardest hit by the storm, official media said Saturday. Though authorities have not yet reported the total amount of damage, the local press estimated Saturday that more than 1,900 homes were damaged and another 437 are still underwater, while more than 2,600 people remain evacuated because of the floods. Corn, sweet potato, cassava, melon and cucumber crops suffered the principal losses, though still not quantified, while tobacco crops seem to have had no outright losses but have suffered “the ill effects of excess dampness,” according to the state-run National News Agency. Growers in Cuba’s so-called land of tobacco, Pinar del Rio, fear that over 13,000 tons of the leaf could be lost to damage from the humidity and the possible collapse of storehouses where the tobacco is dried.

Authorities of the province, located on the extreme west end of the island, called for immediate “recovery” action and eliminated the “alarm” phase established Wednesday due to the intensity of the rains that began last week as part of a wide low-pressure area over the extreme southeastern Gulf of Mexico. The downpours, which were later associated with the path of Tropical Storm Andrea to Florida, left an accumulated 422 millimeters (17 inches) of rain in six days, 188 percent more than the historical average of rainfall during the month of June in the region. Meanwhile dams in the province showed a rise in water level from 50 percent to 85 percent of capacity after the rains. Cuban media said this Saturday that there are no longer areas left incommunicado by the floods, and a large number of the more than 600 electrical outages reported have been fixed. Besides Pinar del Rio, rainstorms affected the western provinces of Artemisa, Mayabeque and La Habana.

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HISPANICALLY SPEAKING NEWS

1,900 Homes Damaged by Torrential Rains in Cuba

Photo: Torrential rains in Cuba

The torrential rains in western Cuba over the past week caused “severe losses” to agriculture and damaged more than 1,900 homes in Pinar del Rio province, the hardest hit by the storm, official media said Saturday.

Though authorities have not yet reported the total amount of damage, the local press estimated Saturday that more than 1,900 homes were damaged and another 437 are still underwater, while more than 2,600 people remain evacuated because of the floods.

Corn, sweet potato, cassava, melon and cucumber crops suffered the principal losses, though still not quantified, while tobacco crops seem to have had no outright losses but have suffered “the ill effects of excess dampness,” according to the state-run National News Agency.

Growers in Cuba’s so-called land of tobacco, Pinar del Rio, fear that over 13,000 tons of the leaf could be lost to damage from the humidity and the possible collapse of storehouses where the tobacco is dried.

 

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