New Report Shows BP Gulf Oil Spill Fishing Waters Opened To Soon

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A new article on FishNews.eu says a new report backs claims that Gulf fisheries have been reopened too quickly.

The article cites the Wenonah Hauter, the Executive Director of Food and Water Watch who says that a new report has confirms that the US Government should have taken a more “cautious and responsible approach” to testing BP Gulf Oil Spill seafood before opening the Gulf for fishing.

The food and water watch web site has published the following bibliography for Wenonah Hauter.

Wenonah Hauter is the Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. She has worked extensively on energy, food, water and environmental issues at the national, state and local level. Experienced in developing policy positions and legislative strategies, she is also a skilled and accomplished organizer, having lobbied and developed grassroots field strategy and action plans. From 1997 to 2005 she served as Director of Public Citizen‚ Energy and Environment Program, which focused on water, food, and energy policy. From 1996 to 1997, she was environmental policy director for Citizen Action, where she worked with the organization’s 30 state-based groups. From 1989 to 1995 she was at the Union of Concerned Scientists where as a senior organizer, she coordinated broad-based, grassroots sustainable energy campaigns in several states. She has an M.S. in Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland.

Here is the article as published on the Fish News website.

New report backs claims that Gulf fisheries reopened too quickly, say grouping

MORE claims that the US Government have moved too fast to reopen Gulf fisheries in the wake of the BP oil spill have surfaced in the US.

For the Executive Director of Food and Water Watch has said that a report has confirmed that the US Government should have taken a more “cautious and responsible approach” to testing marine life before opening the Gulf for fishing.

Wenonah Hauter said that a recent report by the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center, a collaboration between the federal government and BP, claiming that only 25 percent of spilled oil remains in the Gulf has been refuted by researchers with the Georgia Sea Grant and University of Georgia, who have released a report concluding that in fact nearly 80 percent of the oil remains in the Gulf.

Hauter went on: “The report confirms the fact that the federal government should have taken a more cautious and responsible approach to testing marine life before opening the Gulf for fishing.”

“The report affirms what many have thought: that the oil could not have realistically vanished like ‘sugar dissolves into water’ — a ludicrous statement the federal officials used to describe what happened to the millions of gallons spilled into the Gulf.”

“This independent analysis of the regulators’ claims raises some important questions about the Joint Information Center’s report. Is BP’s influence at play in presenting the findings in a more positive light? Was the report an attempt at crisis communications that simply backfired?”

“The FDA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are the two regulatory agencies charged with protecting consumer health after the spill. NOAA is one of the many federal agencies involved in BP’s Joint Information Center. Unfortunately, these agencies have been anything but forthcoming and transparent in notifying consumers and the Gulf fishing communities about safety concerns resulting from the spill.”

“Every day that the Gulf is closed to fishermen is a day BP must pay out additional claims to them. Is this why regulators opened the Gulf for commercial fishing, despite warnings from fishermen and documented cases of oil in marine life? Unfortunately, this hasty decision is currently jeopardizing not only consumers but the future reputation of the Gulf fishing industry.”

“Prematurely opening the Gulf is not the only incidence of poor decision making. Rather than employ careful microbiological testing of seafood, the federal agencies continue to predominantly use sniff tests to determine the presence of oil. And instead of immediately testing seafood for contamination by Corexit, the controversial dispersant banned in Europe but used widely in the Gulf by BP, they feed the media a vague date for future testing.”

“At this point, it appears that FDA and NOAA oversight is as lacking as the Minerals Management Service’s ’oversight’ that led to the initial Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.”

“Ultimately, it is this regulatory negligence that would be responsible for any widespread consumer illness resulting from the unprecedented effects of oil and dispersant on the Gulf and its marine life – effects that would go undetected due to poor testing regimes.”

“In order to restore the public’s trust, NOAA and the FDA must perform more comprehensive and timely tests and present us with reliable and unbiased findings rather than continue in their attempt to sweep millions of barrels of oil and controversial dispersants under the proverbial rug. The Gulf should not have been opened for fishing until this occurred.”

Wenonah Hauter is also a Huffington Post contributor where she has published several articles.

Those articles include calls to clean up the MMS, the Federal Government agency whose lack of oversight due to widespread corruption is said to have contributed to the BP Gulf Oil Spill.

“If we find they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way appropriately.”

These words were spoken by U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar in a briefing to reporters last month regarding BP’s inability to stop oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico 33 days into the disaster.

Now, 52 days into the disaster, BP still hasn’t done their job. Secretary Salazar hasn’t done his, either.

Salazar’s inability to oversee an end to the disaster despite his “boot on the neck of BP” rhetoric, and confusing statements about the offshore drilling moratorium are unsettling. But what is unconscionable is that the DOI — and its Minerals Management Service, in particular — continues NOT to regulate disasters waiting in the wings.

If members of Congress, multiple BP employees, and the company’s own Ombudsman have concerns over the safety on the Atlantis rig, why doesn’t Salazar? There’s only one thing left for Salazar to do if he isn’t willing to shut down this platform immediately: resign.

There is something else that Secretary Salazar has said about the MMS (days before the resignation of Elizabeth Birnbaum as head of the agency): “We need to clean up that house.”

Mr. Salazar, we couldn’t agree with you more. But the housecleaning isn’t done. It’s time for you to step aside and let someone else regulate these deep-water platforms — someone who is willing to get the job done.

Wenonah Hauter has also been a leading advocate to shut down BP’s oil rig The Atlantis.

The calls to shut down the rig are due to allegations from whistleblowers that BP is carelessly and recklessly running the rig, allegations which Wenonah and many others say the Federal Government is ignoring.

Many details surrounding the spill in the Gulf remain a mystery. We don’t yet know how much oil is freely gushing through the ocean floor; the extent of the damage to affected wildlife; or how long fishermen and other communities dependent on the Gulf will suffer. But there is one thing we do know: Unless President Obama intervenes now, it could happen again on another BP deep-sea oil platform called Atlantis.
BP’s Atlantis platform became active in October 2007. Located over 150 miles off the coast of Louisiana in “Hurricane Alley” at a water depth of more than 7,000 feet, Atlantis is one of the deepest moored semi-submersible oil and gas platforms in the world and it poses a serious, immediate and potentially irreparable threat to the Gulf of Mexico’s marine environment, oil workers and communities.

In June 2009, a BP whistleblower named Kenneth Abbott informed Food & Water Watch that BP was operating the massive Atlantis platform without proper up-to-date and engineer-approved safety documentation. We began writing and calling the Minerals Management Service (MMS) to urge them to take action. It took the agency six months to agree to meet with us.

10 days after the Horizon spill on April 20, MMS responded to our most recent information request, but it appears that the agency has done nothing and it plans to continue doing nothing. It is clear that the cozy relationship between BP and MMS is resulting in irresponsible and dangerous practices.

Food & Water Watch filed a lawsuit last Monday against the Department of the Interior (DOI) because it has failed to enforce its own safety regulations regarding oil drilling in the Gulf.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion was not a freak accident, but a result of a history of negligent behavior, and Atlantis is no small threat: An internal BP email characterized the situation as having the potential for “catastrophic Operator errors.” A worst-case scenario spill from Atlantis would be many times larger than the spill from the Horizon explosion.

President Obama must take immediate action to shut down BP Atlantis until it can be proven safe. We have announced our Spill the Truth Campaign, which includes a TV ad that will air soon in the Gulf region.

President Obama can and must act now to prevent another accident and order the immediate shutdown of BP Atlantis. He must also require an independent review of safety documentation and procedures for all operating deep-sea platforms, beginning with those operated by BP.
Go to www.spillthetruth.org to learn more and tell President Obama to shut BP Atlantis down now.

Categories: BP GULF OIL SPILL

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