Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster Summary

residents’ desire to flee region

From the good folks at NRDC.
Today’s summary
There’s progress on the regulatory front for safer oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. The US offshore drilling agency is planning to start conducting surprise inspections of oil rigs, a practice that has fallen off in the last five years. It’s a good sign for the better policing of oil exploration that has been sorely needed. Would a surprise inspection have spotted a disaster in the making on the Deepwater Horizon? We’ll never know, but it is one solid step forward in better oversight of oil rigs in the Gulf. Meanwhile, the US has sent its’ 7th bill to BP for cleanup work for the Gulf disaster. This one is for nearly $63 million. BP has already paid more than $517 million for the cost of the cleanup. There are still kinks in the system to give payouts to Gulf coast victims. Dozens of claimants have told ProPublica they are having trouble getting information about their submissions. Claimants say they cannot get explanations for their status, for delays in processing, or for the size of their checks. Claims czar Ken Feinberg promises to do better.

Quotable Quote
“I think unannounced inspections should and must play a significant role in an integrated inspections policy” – Michael Bromwich, who heads the government oversight agency on oil drilling.

And this one
“We have responded to that valid criticism that there’s no way transparency-wise for somebody to get information about their particular claim or calculation” – Claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg

National News

Reuters: Government to conduct surprise rig inspections
Oil rigs in the Gulf better be on their toes! The U.S. offshore drilling agency will begin conducting surprise inspections on oil rigs as part of a new aggressive enforcement effort adopted by the Obama administration since the BP oil spill.

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Propublica: Claimants kept in dark by Gulf fund
There’s still plenty of headaches for Gulf coast residents seeking payments from the BP $20 billion victims’ fund. It’s possible to check the status of applications on the website of the operation run by claims czar Kenneth Feinberg, but claimants say they cannot get explanations for their status, for delays in processing or how much money they should be getting. Feinberg tells Propublica that his operation should be doing a better job of providing enough information to claimants. He said he has been making changes to improve transparency and responsiveness.

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Dow Jones: US sends 7th bill to BP: this time it’s for $62.6 million
There’s nothing worse than getting a bill from the federal government. And for BP, the headache is far worse. It’s just received its 7th bill from the US for recovery operations in the Gulf oil spill. This one is for $62.6 million. To date, BP has paid $517.4 million to the feds on time and without protest.

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Bloomberg: BP gets sued over another issue
BP is keeping plenty of lawyers in jobs these days. Lawsuits by workers claiming BP’s North American unit mismanaged their retirement savings plan will be sent to the Texas federal court already handling investor claims prompted by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

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Press Release: 16,000 workers still on Gulf
The work on the Gulf coast has not slowed down, according to the Unified Area Command for the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Approximately 16,292 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline, wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines. More than 31,000 water and sediment samples have been taken from the Gulf for testing. Four vessels are conducting sampling operations. The well has been killed, but the work goes on.

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AP: BP gas stations courted by other brands
It’s still a liability to be a BP gas station. In interviews with the AP, station owners from Wisconsin to Virginia say BP dealers are being courted by other brands or are approaching them on their own.

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Times-Picayune: Oil spill at center of La. Senate race
It’s getting close to the midterm election, so close that the gloves are coming off in the Louisiana Senate race. Democrat Charlie Melancon fired the latest salvo with a 30-second add that accuses Republican David Vitter of proposing a cap on BP’s financial liability. That’s a pretty sore subject for the Gulf coast residents right now.

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Regional Sen. Sessions wants answers from Feinberg
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions wants claims czar Kenneth Feinberg to clarify the process of filing claims and appeals related to the Deepwater Horizon incident. Feinberg was appointed by President Obama to administer the $20 million claims fund set up by BP. Sessions sent a letter to Feinberg with his list of questions based on the senators’ conversations with coastal mayors, individual claimants and small business owners.

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AP: Oil spill fuels residents’ desire to flee region
The oil spill has traumatized so many Gulf residents that they want out of the region. A new poll of residents in southern Mobile County has found that it has left about one-third with a desire to leave.

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Tampa Bay Times: Florida still getting bad rap about oil
Oil is long gone from Florida beaches. But many travelers don’t believe it, and the fallout from the tourist industry continues.

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Press-Register: Gulf coast scientists drool over $500 million in research money
Gulf Coast university researchers and scientists are optimistic about their chances of getting a fair share of the $500 million in grant money to study the effects of the oil spill.

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Mississippi Press: Citizen group fights back
A new citizens coalition called the Gulf Restoration Network is being launched in Alabama with a set of recovery and restoration guidelines to underscore the fact that the oil in the Gulf of Mexico is not gone and its impact continues to be felt along the Gulf Coast.

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Huffington Post: Is it too soon to take any lessons away from the oil spill?
Okay, so the well is dead. Now what? Where do the scientists go to study the Gulf and where will this beautiful body of sea be in 5, 10 years and beyond? To simply take a “snapshot” of the Gulf today is an immense task, involving careful measurement of contaminants in the land, sea and air, as well as health impacts — short-term and long-term — on wildlife and on affected populations. So how do scientists and students evaluate what happened? And how fast do they have to move to make sure crucial evidence does not disappear?

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