READ THIS: Dick Cheney’s deregulation agenda is the real (underlying) reason / cause behind the US oil spill by British Petroleum (BP) in 2010 off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. Deregulation coupled with lax government oversight (lackies appointed by Dick Cheney at the helm) lead to the omission of key safety features and protocols, a free pass for drilling licenses, emphasis on profit over safety, and absolutely NO PLAN for containment of blowouts. In addition, the courts in the Gulf States, are completely stacked with Republican appointees (like Feldman) with major investments in or connections with BIG OIL (see last paragraph).
For example, George W Bush and Dick Cheney helped block a 2002/03 Bill that would have required the use of acoustic switches as a means to activate the blowout preventer (BOP).
Also, BP did not want to lose an oil well (by activating the BOP); this would have cost them future profit in addition to the costs for exploration and preparation of the well. This is most evident when you look at attempts in the first month and a half: all of the post-blowout efforts have been focused on SAVING the well; it was only after more than a month before BP attempted “TOPKILL”, which would have sealed the well.
Lastly, US District Judge Martin Feldman, who overturned the temporary drilling ban on June 22, owns investments in Ocean Energy (Houston-based), Quicksilver Resources, Prospect Energy, Peabody Energy, Halliburton, Pengrowth Energy Trust, Atlas Energy Resources, Parker Drilling and others. Feldman is also a REAGAN appointee, in 1983. Conflict of interest or institutional corporate control over public policy?
Unfortunately there are places in the world where oil spills are common place and sometimes intentional they are either hidden behind politics or just ignored because the public have grown accustomed to them. With the greed of a few this will probably continue until there is no more oil to exploit.
Maybe if more people in the world know more about this sort of thing then it can change for the better.
The Former Soviet Union (FSU) has over a million miles of gas and oil pipelines, many of them poorly maintained. Every year, up to one fifth of Russia‘s total oil production is lost partly through theft, but much of it through leakage. Komineft, the company responsible for this old pipeline system, has a history of accidents caused by aging and corroded pipelines, they experience hundreds of leaks and ruptures each year, the ground is saturated with oil. Some of the oil has seeped into the water table.
One of the main reasons for the large oil spills is the money made from the oil which drives officials to strain the antiquated infrastructure and to keep it moving despite breakdowns.
October 1st 1994 the oil spill north of the town of Usinsk in the Komi Region of the FSU became the third largest oil spill in history. During the Cold War this area was top secret and no westerners were allowed near it. The pipeline just south of the Arctic Circle had been leaking since February 1994 but the oil was contained behind a dam. These are often constructed to contain spills, but heavy rains on October 1st broke down the dam and allowed the large lake of oil to spread over the tundra. Approx. 102,000m3 of oil began to run over this highly sensitive taigaarea (Exxon Valdez was approx 35,000m3).
Some of this released oil flowed into the Kolva river; the Kolva river is a tributary of the Pechora river, which flows into the Barents sea. Most of the oil spread over an area of approx 187km2. at a time when weather conditions helped the containment and some was recovered the rest proceeded to freeze during the winter months.
The main concern was the next spring thaw, which threatened to release much of the remaining oil into the rivers again. The Kolva and Usa river feeds into the Pechora river which contains large amounts of salmon and other valuable fish species. Teams built or reinforced enormous dams and constructed massive earthworks to hold oil laden flood waters back.
The structure of the top soil in this area differs greatly from site to site. In some places it is a peat bed with the mosses growing on the top, there is a permafrost which even during the summer is approx.1 meter below the surface. In other areas the bed rock is very close to the surface with a fine layer of sand and the peat on top, in these areas the weight of the oil during the spring thaw slid the moss and sand off the rock, this meant that the oil now was mixed with this organic matter and could not be pumped back into the pipeline, so it was put into huge storage pits and set on fire, these pits burned for a couple of weeks they were filled again and the process repeated.
As a part of the clean up operation over the next six months, the oil was deliberately set on fire in different areas in order reduce the quantities that could spread as a result of the warmer temperatures. The smoke plume rose more than 8,000 feet and extended beyond the horizon some 40 miles away.
With low temperatures, oil tends to persist for long periods of time because of the low evaporation rates. The frozen ground prevents the oil from seeping into it, and this allows it spread over large areas. In addition, disturbance to the thin layer of vegetation covering a frozen soil can precipitate a catastrophic and extensive erosion. The effects remain visible for many years. For example, it can take decades for a tree to grow one meter, and tyre tracks in tundra vegetation can remain for up to 100 years.
Birch and Spruce trees growing in the area looked as if they were smothered with thick black shoe polish. Nearby lakes are resting grounds for migrating mallard ducks. There are many species that were likely to be affected by this spill.
This region has one of the largest herds of domestic reindeer, estimated between 65,000-120,000 in the 1980’s. Tundra environments are characterised by rich lichen communities which are susceptible to crude oil which they absorb very quickly. Reindeer are entirely dependent on lichen and are therefore were likely to be severely impacted. Commercial reindeer herding is one of the major industries in the Komi Republic. The Pechorskoye sea within the Barents sea holds some of the largest concentrations of white whales. There were also a number of birds and freshwater fish species that are could have been at risk.
Komineft was fined $600,000 for its pipeline spill. Although the company is unable to pay much of that sum because of its severe financial problems, it did give each resident of Ust-Usa 36,000 rubles about $7 in compensation.
Greenpeace were given an invite to go to the area, they were horrified by what they saw and due to their reports of the damage done and so international money was asked for to accelerate the clean up. This case was handled by the Russian government in terms of cleaning up the oil. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development lent the clean-up operation $25 million and the World Bank provided $100 million. From a cynical point of view most of it disappeared due to corruption and other powerful organisations. Greenpeace were not invited back probably because they had served their purpose.
The attitude is very much ‘so what?‘ spills are the norm rather than the exception in the Former Soviet Union. You can see damage like this all over Siberia and down to the borders with Iran. Just because someone happened to notice some oil floating down the river a couple of days ago, it suddenly makes the headlines, but the sad fact is it is not unusual.
Local villagers have suffered for years from the effects of petroleum pollution from the many oil spills in the region. Most natives are worried about the fish living in the Kolva river. The river used to have lots of fish, now there are hardly any and when we cook them they smell bad, people here survive but they are worried about their future.
I visited the area in June 1996 the clean up had finished but you would not have guessed, on the drive north past the spill area and past the Arctic Circle the oil continues to leak. I went to do some training for Komi Arctic Oil a joint venture of British Gas and a Local company. In their operating area everything had to be to Western standards any spills would be followed by fines starting at $15,000 but when it left their site the new was welded to the old and spills from Komineft pipelines do not incur fines (the joint venture lasted a couple of years before BG pulled out having earned basically nothing).
I was driven around the area which was obviously beautiful before the oil, birch and small spruce trees, lakes, rivers and the different species of moss. Unfortunately the lakes were covered in rainbow sheens the trees just trunks and the smell of crude oil everywhere.
The photographs with booms and skimmers as well as the fires were taken during the spill clean up, the other oil on the ground ones were taken during my visit. The first photo is just one of hundreds of leaking pipelines across the region. It is quite impressive how man and his greed for money can destroy such a beautiful area with little or no thought. Having said that the people who gain the money do not live in the area and probably have never been there.
This area can be seen on Google Earth at (latitude 66°.102400 longtitude 57.100988).
15 years later the area has rock above the surface and no sign of the living mosses that can be seen as in areas near by.
Money is spent but not on infrastucture!
Sept. 10, 2011 photos below show dying trees next to an oil spill near the town of Usinsk, 1500 kilometers (930 miles) northeast of Moscow. Komi is one of Russia’s largest and oldest oil provinces but ruptures in aging pipelines and leaks from decommissioned oil wells make oil spills in the region routine. Environmentalists estimate at least 1 percent of Russia’s annual oil production, or 5 million tons (35 million barrels), is spilled every year. That’s equivalent to one Deepwater Horizon-scale leak about every two months. Crumbling infrastructure and a harsh climate combine to spell disaster in the world’s largest oil producer, responsible for 13 percent of global output. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Here is an aerial photo of the area around Usinsk during the summer showing the lakes and bog land that is being destroyed by oil spill that mostly are not cleaned up.
Who would want to stop the money being generated for the rich few by shutting down the system to make repairs.
It did´nt happen during the communist era and will not happen now the political scene has turned democratic!
We are looking at demonstrations over the move by the USA to explore more in the Arctic region of Alaska.
It has to be said that the regulations there will be better than in the Russian Arctic where exploration has started. I dont see many demonstration happening in this part of the world.
The next question is will the oil field practices and atitudes of the last 40 years change? The answer is probably not.
Response to oil spills on land are much easier than in ice cover seas. Photo left shows a Russian tanker at a loading point in a frozen sea, to get there the tanker needs the ice breaker shown behing as the hull of the tanker is not strong enough to break the ice herself.
Baku, Azerbaijan, FSU
A brief history of the place will allow you to understand that the population has been used to the smell of crude oil on the ground for over one hundred years so its not new, it is common place. The existence of petroleum has been known since the 8th century. In the 10th century, an Arabian traveler reported that both white and black oil were being extracted naturally in Baku. By the 15th century oil for lamps was obtained from hand dug surface wells. First oil well was drilled in Baku in 1846. The Bolshevik revolution started in 1905 and ran through World War I. In 1918 Baku came under the control of Bolshevik’s who inspired and condoned civil warfare in and around Baku. during this period the oil field were set on fire.
Large-scale oil development started in 1872, when the Russian imperial authorities auctioned the parcels of oil-rich land around Baku to private investors. Within a short period of time Various European and American investors arrived in Baku, among them the drilling companies were the Nobel brothers and Rothschild to name but two, the industrial oil area, known as the Black City, which was established in the outskirts of the city. By the beginning of the 20th century the oil fields were the largest in the world. The revolution and civil unrest led to both Rothschild and the Nobel brothers leaving Baku.
The photograph above shows the oil was pumped into reservoirs which was the start of the pollution which still plagues the area today.
The photograph on the right shows an oil well being dug by hand in Azerbaijan during these early days the oil was very close to the surface.
These black and white photographs were taken from the site address mentioned below where an excellent chronology of the oil era up to the Soviet period can be found.
Other information can be found with searches at azer.com
By 1900 the city had more than 3,000 oil wells of which 2,000 were producing oil at industrial levels. Baku ranked as one of the largest centres for the production of oil industry equipment before World War II. During World War II while battle of Stalingrad was fought at the same time as a push was made to control the Baku oil fields the push failed. Fifty years before, Baku produced half of the world’s oil supply.
At the end of the 20th century much of the onshore petroleum had been exhausted, and drilling was extended into the Caspian sea.
At the end of the 1940s the construction of the “Oil Rocks” (“Neft Dashlari”) started. On November 14, 1948 the group of oil workers landed on a group of rocks in the open sea 42 km to the south-east of the Apsheron Peninsular called “Gara Dashlar” (“Black Rocks”). After finishing the construction of a small house on piles and an electric power station, they started drilling the first well and on June 24, 1949. On November 7, 1949 this well at a depth of 1100 m, out gushed the oil at a rate of 100 tons per day. In honour of this event it was decided to rename the “Black Rocks” the “Oil Rocks”.
On February 18, 1951 the worlds first tanker with the first oil was ceremoniously sent to the shore. It was then decided to create series of artificial islands of 7 thousand hectares around the Oil Rocks. Half a million cubic metres of rock and sand were brought from the islands off Zhiloy and Urunos. Breakwaters, moorings and shelters for vessels were built. In 1952 for the first time in the world they started the construction of a pier which connected the artificial islands.
There were times when the length of the pier connecting the numerous areas reached 300 km. In the open sea 110 km off Baku electric power stations, five and even nine-storey buildings including hostels, hospitals, palaces of culture, bakeries and a lemonade factory were constructed, a park with trees was laid out too. Since 1949 there have been 1940 wells drilled, more than 160 million tons of oil and 12 billion cubic metres of gas have been extracted.
The Oil Rocks are the furthest eastern settlement in the country. The facility is poorly maintained, with miles of roads now under the sea. The waterline is at the second-floor windows of some worker’s dormitories. Although one-third of the Oil Rocks complex’s 600 wells are inoperable or inaccessible, operations have continued without a significant increase in investment.
Several action sequences in the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough are set on the Oil Rocks. Today more than 2000 people work there.
The position on Google Earth for this strange place is (latitude 40°17′ 42.42” N Longtitude 50°01′ 00.45” E)
There was a delegation of Azeries who visited an oil field in Dorset, England in the 1990’s they did not believe there was oil production there because they could not smell it or see it.
A BP company representative said the difference in the UK is that if you could see or smell it the oil field would be closed down.
I took these onshore photographs one Saturday in the early 90’s, I could go back tomorrow and take the same ones again. As I said previously approx. 20% of production is on or worse still in the ground. These photographs explain very vividly this fact. This oilfield belongs to the State of Azerbaijan oil company SOCAR so it is alright. Foreign oil companies are fined heavily if they have spills. The main export pipelines from here to the Black sea and Southern Turkey were constructed and paid for by the Foreign oil companies and are built to Western standards.
Unfortunately the old original ones still continue to leak. I guess if this area is ever to be cleaned up it will take Western money but what is the point when the pollution will just continue, it is part of the culture of the city, to smell crude oil is normal, the population has known nothing else for generations.
In 2006 the world bank’s representatives had talks with President Ilham Aliyev and other officials about a multi-million-dollar project to clean an area roughly the size of Malta.
The clean up would focus on oil-soaked areas in the Absheron peninsula, Azerbaijan’s most densely populated region and location of the capital Baku. A clean-up of this size hasn’t been undertaken anywhere.
The World Bank said it would potentially provide a loan of about 50 million dollars for capacity building and an initial clean-up but also expected funding from the Azeri government, which at the time was earning large profits from the current oil boom.
From a sadly cynical point of view this could turn into another Komi bonanza.
The latest news from Baku is that from a distance the contaminated area is beginning to look clean. Unfortunately on closer inspection lorry loads of earth is being tipped at the edges of the oiled areas and are being bulldozed over the oil. This is an out of sight out of mind approach to remediation. Photo right shows the changes it looks good on Google Earth. Oh and the leaks have not been stopped!
This area can be seen on Google Earth at position (latitude 40°32′ 44.21”N Longtitude 49°83′ 65.27”E).
Lebanon-Jiyye Oil Spill July 2006
It can be difficult trying to clean up a spill when the war is still going on!
On July 12, 2006 Israel declared war on Hezbollah in Lebanon. During conflicts it is normal to destroy enemy communication centres but on July 13 and 15, 2006 during the first days of the war Israeli forces bombed the Jiyyeh power plant, located on the coastline, 30 km South of Beirut, causing a major oil spill, two tanks at Jiyyeh caused approx. 25,000 m3 to burn for more than three weeks smoke and vapours affected an area that is inhabited by approx. three million people. On the longer term, this may lead to increased respiratory and other health problems.
Approx.15,000 m3 heavy fuel oil to spilled into the Sea. It became one of the largest environmental incidents in Mediterranean history The wind was from the South West and Northerly current pushed the oil spill northwards along the coast of Lebanon. The affected area within Lebanon spread for more than 100 km of rocky shores and sandy beaches, marinas, ports, fishing harbours, and tourist resorts; from Jiyeh all the way up to the Syrian boarders. The oil entered Syria for approx 50 km.
Sensitive fish spawning and nursery areas as well as valuable sea turtle nesting sites were in one of the affected areas.
The spill could have reached neighbouring countries such as Cyprus, Turkey and Greece depending on water currents and weather conditions.
The impact of the the oil spill caused tremendous negative environmental, social and economical impacts both for the short term and long term. It damaged marine ecosystems, damaged fishermen’s livelihoods and rendered coastal areas lifeless. Heavy fuel oil, is among the most difficult oils to cleanup. Its viscous nature leads to prolonged persistence in the marine environment, such oils have the potential to cause widespread contamination of sensitive environmental and economic resources which will take many years to recover.
The total direct economic cost of this oil spill has been estimated at more than 200 million dollars.
The long term costs are not determined yet and are likely to be much more. Even a month after the attacks oil was still entering the sea. The oil settled deep into the sand, rocks and seabed. Cleanup operations could not start until the ceasefire was enforced. Delaying the start of cleanup operations made this spill harder to clean up. Despite the danger local NGOs, private sector and the Ministry of Environment started to cleanup certain sensitive and highly impacted areas.
The delay caused the highly viscous heavy fuel to solidify; it emulsified with sea water, formed tar balls, lumps or emulsions, settled on the seabed and traveled further along the coast line. This makes clean up efforts and costs of clean up greater and mobility of experts and essential equipment nearly impossible. The absence of a pre-spill contingency plan made the job more difficult to allocate high and low priorities for the cleanup effort.
Local volunteers and a number of environmental activists formed an oil spill working group to follow on this issue and where among the first on the ground. Assessment operations and documentation of the damage started on the 17th of July covering the Lebanese coast from Beirut, northwards. Cleanup plans, scientific and economic research of the oil spill to determine the cost of the damage and how to minimise its impact as much as possible were carried out. The Lebanese Ministry of Environment, REMPEC (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Center, Barcelona Convention, international NGOs and experts from around the World were contracted in. The cleanup had problem in mid 2007 due to lack of funds.
This was approx 25,000 m3 Exxon Valdez was approx 35,000 m3 which was seen by the whole world and is still talked about today, many people think it was one of the largest tanker spills (it is actually the 35th largest to date). This on the other hand is a spill that hardly anyone knew about. I guess if it was anyone other than Israel this would be classed as environmental terrorism.
It is somewhat ironic that the main backer of Israel, the USA are paying the most towards the cleanup cause by the friends.
The power plant can be found on Google Earth at Latitude 33°64’65.37”N longtitude 35°39’85.50”E.
Unfortunately on the American Google Earth there is no sign of what Israel did, unlike the other places in this section.
Thankfully we still have NASA also an American company who do tell the truth as can be seen at Beirut on the right.
Mikati calls for intl. tribunal to try Israel for 2006 Lebanon oil spill
June 22, 2012 11:23 AM
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati called Thursday for the creation of an international environmental tribunal to try Israel for causing the 2006 oil spill on Lebanon’s shoreline, and criticized the Jewish state’s refusal to comply with U.N. resolutions.
“Lebanon proposes establishing an international environmental tribunal following the environmental consequences of the 2006 war – primarily the oil pollution crisis over which Lebanon has not received any compensation from the Israeli enemy,” Mikati said during his speech at the U.N. conference for Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Mikati was referring to Israel’s bombing of Lebanon’s Jiyyeh power station during the 34-day conflict in July and August of 2006. The bombing caused the power station to release 15,000 tons of unrefined fuel oil into the Mediterranean sea.
In an assessment of the economic damage released a year later, the World Bank estimated Lebanon’s overall losses at being between $527 million and $931 million. The report added that the average of these two figures, $729 million, constitutes 3.6 percent of Lebanon’s gross domestic product in 2006.
The U.N. has repeatedly urged Israel to assume responsibility and provide adequate compensation to Lebanon’s government.
During his speech in Brazil, Mikati also accused Israel of repeatedly contravening U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 which ended the 2006 war, saying that Israel constantly violates Lebanon’s land, airspace and maritime waters.
“The painful reality of Israel’s refusal to comply with international resolutions is not limited to this environmental case but extends to Israel’s continued occupation of valuable parts of my country: the Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shuba Hills as well as the northern part of Ghajar,” the prime minister said.
He added that Lebanon reserves the right to regain those parts of its territory under Israeli occupation and to stop Israel’s hostile practices via all available means within the framework of international agreements and treaties.
Mikati, who met with Lebanese expatriates in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, also addressed the U.N.’s program for sustainable development. He said developing countries such as Lebanon require time, technological and financial support as well as international partnership to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. He added that the U.N. program would be unsuccessful if all countries fail to come together.
Mikati also stressed the need to achieve Millennium Development Goals by 2015 to create a roadmap for a better future.
Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2012/Jun-22/177750-mikati-calls-for-intl-tribunal-to-try-israel-for-2006-lebanon-oil-spill.ashx#ixzz1z5vghGty
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)
1991 Gulf War
The Gulf (to please both sides) whether you call it the Persian or the Arabian is up to you. Geographically it covers 233,100 km2 is a kidney-shaped water body. It is approx. 917 km long with its greatest width being 338 km. The Tigris and Euphrates, two of the largest rivers in the Middle East, merge to form the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, the Gulf’s main source of fresh water, flows primarily from Iraq into the northern end of the Gulf.
Fresh water in the Gulf region comes from rain mainly in the winter months, which is also the lowest period of evaporation.
The region’s high summer temperatures, and the high evaporation rate make the Gulf water nearly one and a half times more saline than the oceans.
The Gulf’s counterclockwise current moves through the Strait of Hormuz along the Iranian coast past the Shatt-al-Arab then along the very shallow Saudi coastline. These shallow areas have been the resting place for oil spills. Anually approx 40,000 m3 of oil is spilled in the Gulf. The Gulf’s water circulation takes more than five years to return to Strait of Hormuz.
On January 21st, 1991, a few days after the start of the air campaign against Iraq, the Iraqi military in Kuwait opened valves at the Sea Island oil terminal near Kuwait City and released massive quantities of crude oil into the Gulf, as an act of environmental warfare (if we can’t have the oil then neither can you). The oil moved southwards with the current and began to accumulate on the north coast of Saudi Arabia, where it endangered the fragile intertidal zones, mangrove forests and wildlife habitats such as bird feeding grounds and fish and shrimp nurseries.
The first oil was spotted on January 24th the main source of oil appeared to be Kuwait’s off-shore Sea Island terminal.
The U.S. Air Force bombed the terminal’s shore side pipelines and manifold complex in an attempt to stop the oil flow. This bombing did not completely stop the flow and it was realised that other sources were contributing to the spill. Tankers near Mina Al Ahmadi, a damaged refinery south of Mina Al Ahmadi, the Iraqi Mina Al Bakr terminal, and tankers anchored north of Kuwait’s Bubiyan Island.
As Iraqi troops withdrew from Kuwait at the end of the first Gulf War, they set fire to over 650 oil wells and damaged many more, just south of the Iraq border (yellow line).
These Landsat images left show before, during and after the release of 1.5 billion barrels of oil into the environment, the largest oil spill in human history.
(Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)
For the initial two weeks the winds were soft and from the southeast which slowed the oil from moving to the southwest and provided valuable time to prepare for it.
The oily plumes extended three to five kilometers up into the atmosphere and hundreds of kilometers across the horizon.
Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory
The Saudi governmental agencies together with oil companies from home and abroad started the difficult task of evaluating the amount and location of the oil using satellite imagery and mathematical models in order concentrate response resources.
In February, 1992, an international team of scientists started a 100 day survey of the Area, mapping the shallow marine habitats around Abu Ali Island, a portion of the study area. The team found an asphalt pavement on the beaches of the island as well as along sections of the north of the island. The asphalt surface was approx. 0.2m thick. This pre-dated the 1991 War and indicated the long term effect on the Gulf.
Saudi Arabia relies on desalinated sea water for its fresh water supply, sea water is also used for the cooling of electric power station and oil refineries. The object of the Iraqi exercise was to shut down all of these operations.
Fortunately the amount of boom and response personnel protected all of the sea water intakes by deflecting the oil past them. Abu Ali Island and Ad Daffi Bay which jut out into the Gulf approx. half way down the Saudi coast experienced the greatest pollution, with the main effect of the spill concentrated in the mangrove areas and shrimp grounds. Large numbers of marine birds, such as cormorants. The beaches around the entire bay shoreline were covered with oil and tar balls.
Many of the mangrove pneumatophore breathing roots became covered with oil resulting in the death of the trees. In some collection areas the oil was over a meter thick.
Huge quantities of oil were removed and temporarily stored in huge pits built in the sand like this one, to give it scale the trucks on the right bottom are forty foot road tanks.
Much of the liquid oil was re refined while large quantities were used, it was said to stabilise sand dunes in the desert as you can imagine there is no oil to be seen. a difficult task holding millions of tons of sand against the wind. So its buried what’s the problem this is Saudi where you do as you are told or it hurts!
In 1991, Landsat captured the devastating environmental consequences of war. As Iraqi forces withdrew from Kuwait, they set fire to over 650 oil wells and damaged almost 75 more, which then poured crude oil across the desert and into the Gulf.
Fires burned for ten months. According to a 2009 study published in Disaster Prevention and Management, firefighting crews from ten countries, part of a response team that comprised approximately 11,450 workers from 38 countries, used familiar and new technologies to put out the fires. When the last one was extinguished in November, about 300 lakes of oil remained, as well as a layer of soot and oil that fell out of the sky and mixed with sand and gravel to form ‘tarcrete’ across 5 percent of Kuwait’s landscape. Emergency responders and scientists in Kuwait used Landsat and other satellite data to locate and monitor the plumes of smoke and burning wells. The three images above from Landsat 5’s Thermal Mapper show Kuwait in August 1990 before the fires, June 1991 while the fires were burning, and January 1992, two months after the last fires were put out. In this 3-band composite (7-4-2), Landsat-5’s shortwave infrared band (band 7) easily detected the flames burning at over 1300°F (700-800°C). The fires were so hot that the detectors overloaded temporarily, turning the saturated red dots into saturated lines visible in the June 1991 image.
Subsequent studies used Landsat to look at the before and after effects of the fires and to monitor the changes to the oil lakes over the past 22 years. The lakes are visible in the 1992 image around the area of the former fires.
An estimated one to 1.5 billion barrels of oil were released into the environment. After most burned, 25 to 40 million barrels ended up spread across the desert and 11 million barrels in the Gulf, according to a 2012 paper published in Remote Sensing of Environment. For comparison, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill into the Gulf of Mexico is estimated to have released nearly 5 million barrels of oil. Kuwait’s landscape has recovered somewhat. Clean up efforts have removed 21 million barrels of oil from the desert, but an estimated 1 million barrels still remain.
NASA and the U.S. Department of the Interior through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) jointly manage Landsat, and the USGS preserves a 40-year archive of Landsat images that is freely available over the Internet. The next Landsat satellite, now known as the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) and later to be called Landsat 8, is scheduled for launch in 2013.
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia
Code-named Operation Allied Force this military operation against the federal Republic of Yugoslavia lasted from 24 March to 10 June 1999. The bombing of the oil refinery in Novi Sad heavily contaminated the Danube river and its sediments, as well as the surrounding soil and groundwater.
The destruction of the factories released approx. 73,000 m3 tons of crude oil of which 90% was incinerated, 560 tons reached the Danube river, and the remainder was spilled onto the soil.The contents of oil and oil derivatives in the soil were in the range of 3 to 42,000 mg/kg. The first soil layer contained an average of 67,000 mg/kg of crude oil and oil derivatives. The layers beneath it, above the groundwater table, contained 56 ml/l of oil derivatives in the water.
The dates that refineries were bombed are April 13th, 15th, 18th, 21st, 24th, 27th, and 29th then again on June 8th and 9th.
It is not a big refinery, so why it took so much bombing is beyond me.
On one of these days the river jetties were bombed with precision, just the ends where the vessels tie up. Incredibly no one working in the refinery died during this time, especially when they were trying to put the fires out.
On June 9th Milan Bajić (42 years old) returned to his home which he left after the first bombing raid, he was killed when for some unknown reason it was deemed by NATO necessary to bomb the refinery again especially when they knew the war would end at noon the next day.
On the 10th June, I arrived in Belgrade with a group from the World Wildlife Fund to report on the oil pollution from the two refineries, We had flown down the Romanian boarded with the Danube the week before to the first dam system (Iron Gates) downstream left, where we expected to find floating oil it was not as bad as we had expected the area was clean. It became clear that the majority of the oil was now mixed into the sediments.
The following day we went to the Novi Sad refinery right this was built by an American oil company so they had the plans and knew where it was. There was only one tank in the refinery that had no damage. The rest were blast damaged or burnt down to chest height.
We visited the town of Panchevo chemical plant located 15 kms northeast of Belgrade. We saw the oil from this refinery in the river system, we were not allowed into the refinery but were given a series of postcards by the towns mayor, they were photographs of the plants during the bombing.
The chemical complex included a fertiliser processing plant, oil refinery, petrochemical plant and a vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) plant among others. Residential buildings are 150 meters away.
The plants stored volumes of ethylene-dichloride (EDC), ethylene, chlorine, chlorine-hydrogen, propylene and vinyl chloride monomers. During NATO attacks on April 18th, these were released into the atmosphere, water and soil and now pose a serious threat to human health, local ecological systems as well as the broader Balkan region. According to Yugoslav estimates, some 70,000 people were endangered locally – poisoned, injured and/or evacuated. Many dead fish were observed 30 kilometres downstream of Pancevo where fishing is now forbidden.
It is estimated that 1,400 tonnes of EDC were released directly into the Danube River. According to BBC News, workers at the complex decided to release tons of carcinogenic EDC into the Danube to avoid an explosion. Some 3,000 tonnes of a 40 percent solution of natrium hydroxide and 1,000 tonnes of a 33 percent solution of hydrogen chloride leaked into the Danube. Tonnes of liquid chlorine were released, as was toxic chlorine gas after bombing. there was evidence that the oil had been released on various occasions as the water levels fell as can be seen with the lines on the fence right.
Mercury was probably released after destruction of the chlorine-alkaline electrolysis plant where some 100 tonnes of mercury were stored. Fifty tonnes of oil emulsion and more than 100 tonnes of liquid ammonia also leaked into the Danube. Belgrade, with roughly 2 million inhabitants, was faced with a potentially serious health emergency on April 18th after the Pancevo bombing. Had winds been Southerly, all the air-borne toxic substances and poisons would have blown into Belgrade. Luckily, the winds were westerly and this, coupled with rain, helped in reducing air pollution.
Polluted clouds created by the bombing carried the products of combustion of VCMs (phosgene, chlorine, chlorine oxides and nitrogen oxides) as well as ammonia, petroleum and petroleum products. The Pancevo VCM plant was completely destroyed and more than 1,000 tonnes of VCM were released. This plant burned for hours, creating a whitish smoke that moved toward Belgrade. The cloud was carried by low air currents and merged with another cloud formed when a storehouse full of fertiliser was hit.
The Times of London quoted the Yugoslav environment minister as saying the amount of carcinogenic matter in the air over Pancevo was 7,200 times above permitted levels. According to a press release from Belgrade’s Institute of Public Health, a VCM concentration of 10,600 times above permitted levels was recorded near Pancevo.
War in this case was necessary as diplomacy was impossible, thousands of people had lost their life and many more lives were at risk. But how many peoples healths have been damaged due to the constant bombing of chemical plants. The unknown environmental damage is more difficult to access as the Danube flows through Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria on its way to the Black sea. With all the contaminants how many fish, birds, animals and humans have died and will die due to this damage.
These fairly rare aerial photos of before, during and after the raid can be seen at full size with right click and save as
The refinery can be found on Google Earth at Latitude 45°27’53.41”N longtitude 19°86’33.14”E.
Here we are 10 years later and the refinery is less than half built.
Exxon Valdez update
Exxon Vadez was an accident some say which was waiting to happen due to company pressure and crew cutting. The rest in this section are intentional spills due to war or greed.
In the days that followed, impact inventories revealed the lethal outcome: 250,000 sea birds had been died, along with 22 Orca’s or killer whales, nearly 3000 sea otters, 300 harbour seals.
20 years later there are health problems with the clean up workers, oil still remains on many shorelines and will continue to be a problem for many more years
The Exxon Valdez was repaired in the Seattle shipyard where she was originally built. When she left she was named Exxon Mediterranean and was not allowed to return to Alaska by American law (Oil Pollution Act 90). With another name change the Sea River Mediterranean, she started work in Europe but was hounded by Greenpeace and the like, every time she came to a terminal. Due to the public no pressure group pressure she is now mothballed at anchor in an unreleased area in Asia.
I find it strange that groups of adults including the American political and justice systems, actually think this piece of steel ran aground on its own and would probably do it again if the pressure was not kept up. I thought for a ship to operate you needed humans and that is the problem, humans cause accidents not ships.
Exxon representative Tom Burnett said at a Valdez town hall meeting (you have had some good luck and you don’t realise it. You have Exxon and we do business strait) We have never had a claim that took 20 years to pay.
Film and looking in retrospect are useful when you see that you were taken for a fool.
Exxon managed to reduce the amount they needed to pay for the Valdez spill in March 1989.
In 1994 the courts awarded 32,000 Alaskan plaintiff’s US$ 5 billion.
In 2006 this was halved to US$ 2.5 billion.
In 2009 the US Supreme Court cut this amount to US$ 507.5 million, one tenth of the original award.
How is the rest of the money split up? According to the Anchorage Daily News, native villages will receive four percent of the take. Lawyers will get 22 percent. Forty nine percent goes to affected fishing companies who split the award based on the size of their business. By example, fisherman in Cook’s Inlet will receive $160,000 on average per permit.
Exxon claims they have already paid out $3.4 billion in penalties, clean up costs and damages. Businesses are especially happy with this ruling because it appears to limit the amount of damages juries can award in maritime cases.
As you can imagine Alaskans are not happy but Exxon are laughing all the way to the bank.
During this time over 2,000 plaintiffs have died, so too have the fisheries and livelihoods of the local Alaskan people.
The moral of the story is do not take an American oil company to court in the USA as they will keep it rolling through the “justice” system until you die.
Cartoon from Seppo.net
Texaco in Equador
It is up to you to decide but here are both sides of the argument.
This is the Texaco version from their site.
Texaco Petroleum (Texpet) was minority partner in an exploration and production venture with Petroecuador, Ecuador‘s state-owned oil company. The production operation took place primarily on government lands and was conducted in compliance with Ecuadorian laws and regulations. Roughly 1.7 billion barrels of crude oil were produced, with the Government of Ecuador (GOE) receiving 95 percent of the total financial proceeds.At the conclusion of the venture’s twenty-year concession, the area and facilities of the former consortium were subjected to a government-supervised audit, which, together with other Government data, became the basis for a settlement agreement under which Texpet was required to conduct environmental remediation with respect to sites in proportion to its one third interest in the venture. To that end, Texpet executed a $40 million remediation and public works program under close GOE supervision; Texpet’s remediation was fully inspected, certified and approved by the GOE; and the GOE granted Texpet a full and complete release of all further claims, liabilities and obligations associated with Texpet’s operations in Ecuador.
The release documents were signed by GOE’s Minister of Mines & Energy, the President of Petroecuador, and the General Manager of Petroproducción–the operational division of Petroecuador. Texpet has had no role whatsoever in exploration and production operations in Ecuador since 1992.
Petroecuador, on the other hand, the operator and sole owner of the oil fields for 15 years, never fulfilled its responsibility to remediate its share of the venture’s production sites and, since Texpet’s exit from Ecuador, has compiled an atrocious and well-documented record of environmental neglect and misconduct. The environmental degradation present in Ecuador today is the result of Petroecuador’s poor operations and the Ecuadorian government’s unwillingness to fund adequate remediation.
Texaco has been embroiled in a long-standing legal dispute lead by U.S. based contingency-fee trial lawyers working in partnership with NGOs and local activists whose goal is to extort a large financial windfall from Chevron. These lawyers’ efforts to bring these cases in U.S. courts have resulted in a string of dismissals, most recently in a case where the court found that these lawyers had fabricated their clients’ health claims. The court in that case described the lawsuit as part of a broader scheme against the company. The current controversy, however, involves a suit that these same lawyers commenced in Ecuador.
In 1999, seven years after Texpet ceased to have any involvement in the operations in Ecuador, the government of Ecuador enacted a new environmental statute – the 1999 Environmental Management Act ( EMA)- that purports to allow any Ecuadorian resident to file suit for environmental reparations on behalf of the collectivity. While the 1999 EMA created new substantive rights that did not previously exist, the new law cannot be used to challenge pre-1999 conduct,as per Article 7 of the Civil Code of Ecuador, which expressly prohibits retroactive application of Ecuadorian substantive law. Nevertheless, in 2003 the very same U.S. lawyers who have waging this campaign since 1993, filed suit against Chevron in Ecuador using that same 1999 law.
The litigation in Ecuador has followed the typical pattern for such suits. The lawyers retained a consultant to devise an astronomical estimate of financial liability, which the plaintiffs have attempted to use to frighten the company into a settlement. The expert in question made only a cursory examination of a small handful of sites and did not seek to distinguish between damage caused by the Texpet/Petroecuador consortium and damage caused by Petroecuador over the 15 years since Texpet left Ecuador. Simultaneously, the plaintiffs have mounted a continuous assault on the Company’s reputation – including media campaigns, shareholder proposals, etc. – with the stated goal to pressure the company into a settlement, while at the same time, refusing to acknowledge Petroecuador ongoing record of environmental mismanagement and clean up obligations.
To their credit, the courts in Ecuador initially observed the rule of law, insisting upon a rigorous process of evidence collection and analysis. The court ordered the judicially supervised inspections of 122 sites, with evidentiary submissions by both parties to be evaluated and reconciled by to a panel of five “settling experts” appointed by the court (47 judicial inspections have been conducted to date). These evidentiary submissions, including the reports of the court’s settling experts, were to form the basis of a second round of expert analysis by the same court-appointed experts to determine the extent and cause of any environmental damage proven by the plaintiffs.
The initial evidentiary phase of the litigation in Ecuador went disastrously wrong for the plaintiffs. Of the 172 drinking water samples taken at sites Texpet remediated, 99% met Ecuadorian, US EPA and World Health Organization standards. Similarly, more than 99% of all soil samples collected from Texpet-remediated areas confirm that the remediation met the standards set by the GOE. These findings demonstrated that Texpet’s remediation was done properly and that there was no significant impact to the environment or to the health of the local people. Of significant interest, high levels of bacterial contamination from human or animal waste were found in 90% of drinking water samples indicating widespread microbial contamination of the water sources.
The judicial site inspection process came to a head, with the production of the first and only report submitted by the five independent court-appointed settling experts for the Sacha-53 site. The experts concluded that Texpet’s remediation was conducted in accordance with the required parameters and that there is low health risk to humans from oil at that site. That event marked a tuning point in the case and changed the course of the litigation.
Thereafter, the plaintiffs began an intense campaign to abort the evidentiary process and increase the circus of protests designed to bring pressure on the court. They ceased paying their share of court ordered settling expert fees, bringing their work to a standstill. They “waived” the inspection of the remaining 64 sites, while contending that they should still be allowed to claim damages from these un-inspected sites, without first substantiating their claims with proof. And, most importantly, they demanded that the court proceed directly to a liability determination phase and that it appoint a single expert of their choice – not the same settling experts initially appointed by the court – to perform the entire assessment.
With the election of a new government in Ecuador and the appointment of a new judge, plaintiffs’ wishes have come true. Having completely abandoned the evidentiary process required under Ecuadorian law and observed by the court for over three years of litigation, the new judge terminated the evidentiary phase and assigned a single Ecuadorian mining engineer to assess all of the alleged environmental damage. Moreover, the new executive branch of the Ecuadorian government now has abandoned even facial adherence to the rule of law, having formed an open working partnership with the plaintiffs to use the full force of the Ecuadorian government to hold Chevron responsible for the 17 years of environmental damage caused by its own state oil company, Petroecuador. Senior members of the GOE have spoken on-record through official GOE channels and even taken high visibility trips to the region to exhort the court to find Chevron liable.
In short, this case has now descended into a judicial farce. Chevron is left with no alternative other than to speak openly about the denial of justice that is occurring in Ecuador. In our view, this proceeding no longer has any legal validity, and our company will fight this embarrassing display of hometown injustice in every conceivable forum.
Here is the Chevron Toxico version from their site.
In 1964, Texaco (now Chevron), discovered oil in the remote northern region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, known as the “Oriente.” The indigenous inhabitants of this pristine rainforest, including the Cofán, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa and Huaorani, lived traditional lifestyles largely untouched by modern civilization. The forests and rivers provided the physical and cultural subsistence base for their daily survival. They had little idea what to expect or how to prepare when oil workers moved into their backyard and founded the town of Lago Agrio, named for Texaco’s birthplace of Sour Lake, Texas. The Ecuadorian government had similarly little idea what to expect; no one had ever successfully drilled for oil in the Amazon rainforest before. The government entrusted Texaco, a well-known U.S. company with more than a half-century’s worth of experience, with employing modern oil practices and technology in the country’s emerging oil patch. However, despite existing environmental laws, Texaco made deliberate, cost-cutting operational decisions that, for 28 years, resulted in an environmental catastrophe that experts have dubbed the “Rainforest Chernobyl.”
Unlike the Exxon Valdez disaster that spilled over a billion gallons of crude during a one time cataclysmic event, Texaco’s oil extraction system in Ecuador was designed, built, and operated on the cheap using substandard technology from the outset. This led to extreme, systematic pollution and exposure to toxins from multiple sources on a daily basis for almost three decades.
In a rainforest area roughly three times the size of Manhattan, Texaco carved out 350 oil wells, and upon leaving the country in 1992, left behind some 1,000 open toxic waste pits. Many of these pits leak into the water table or overflow in heavy rains, polluting rivers and streams that 30,000 people depend on for drinking, cooking, bathing and fishing. Texaco also dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic and highly saline “formation waters,” a byproduct of the drilling process, into the rivers of the Oriente. At the height of Texaco’s operations, the company was dumping an estimated 4 million gallons of formation waters per day,a practice outlawed in major US oil producing states like Louisiana, Texas, and California decades before the company began operations in Ecuador in 1967. By handling its toxic waste in Ecuador in ways that were illegal in its home country, Texaco saved an estimated $3 per barrel of oil produced.
Here is a nice incriminating memo from the chairman of the board in 1972. I found this at huffingtonpost.com
A new iniative
Ecuador plans to sign an agreement today with the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) that will open an international trust fund to receive donations supporting the government’s proposal to keep some 900 million barrels of oil in the ground. The heavy crude is found in three oil reserves beneath the fragile Yasuni National Park – the Ishpingo, Tambococha, and Tiputini (ITT).
Three tumultuous years in the making, the deal with UNDP finally spares a significant area of the Park from oil drilling. Initial donor countries include Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, and Switzerland which have collectively committed an estimated US $1.5 billion of the US$3.6 billon that the Ecuadorian government seeks.
The plan will keep an estimated 410 million tons of C02 – the major greenhouse gas driving climate change – from reaching the atmosphere. This precedent of avoided CO2 emissions could factor into future climate negotiations.
In 2007, Ecuador’s President Correa launched the Yasuni-ITT initiative, seeking international financial contributions equaling half of the country’s forgone revenues if the government left Yasuni’s oil reserve untouched.
The proposal seeks to strike a balance between protecting the park and its indigenous inhabitants, while still generating some revenue for Ecuador, a country dependent on oil for 60 percent of its exports. Covering nearly 2.5 million acres of primary tropical rainforest at the intersection of the Andes and the Amazon close to the equator, Yasuni is the ancestral territory of the Huaorani people, as well as two other indigenous tribes living in voluntary isolation, the Tagaeri and the Taromenane.
As a result of its unique location, Yasuni is an area of extreme biodiversity, containing what are thought to be the greatest variety of tree and insect species anywhere on the planet. In just 2.5 acres, there are as many tree species as in all of the US and Canada combined.
“We welcome this long sought after final step to protect an important part of Yasuni National Park,” said Kevin Koenig, Amazon Watch Ecuador Coordinator who has been closely monitoring the initiative since its inception. “This is a big win for Ecuador, and the world. Now we need more countries to contribute, and for President Correa to keep his word.”
The landmark proposal was an uncertain three years in the making, and on several occasions appeared dead in the water. From the outset, the government insisted on a one-year deadline to raise close to $4.5 billion, which was viewed as an impossibility by potential donors and undercut the proposal’s perceived viability. Political turnover led to three different Foreign Affairs ministers and three distinct negotiating teams, while the government implemented seemingly contradictory environmental policies that continued to allow drilling inside the park and expanded mining concessions
throughout the Amazon.
Correa’s public rebuke of his negotiating team after the Copenhagen Climate Summit were the trust fund was originally set to be signed, led to the resignation of the entire team as well as the Foreign Minister and confidant, Fander Falconi.
But Ecuador’s civil society organizations, as well as the Huaorani themselves, kept the proposal alive by pressuring the government and continuing to increase the proposals popularity nationally and internationally.
The environmental organization, _Acción Ecológica_ with its “Amazon For Life” campaign collected tens of thousands of signatures of support and kept the initiative in the news during times when the government’s commitment appeared to wane. The Huaorani continued to raise their voices on the importance of the park, the perils of oil extraction,
and the need to keep out extractive industries from areas where the nomadic Tagaeri and Taromenane are present.
Although there is cause for celebration, some of Ecuador’s indigenous groups are concerned by the Correa administration’s announcement this week to open up areas of Ecuador’s roadless, pristine southeastern Amazon region, as well as re-offering older oil blocks that were unsuccessful due to indigenous resistance.
“We hope that the success of the Yasuni proposal doesn’t mean a defeat for the forests and people of the southern rainforests,” said Marlon Santi, President of the powerful national indigenous confederation CONAIE. “We don’t want Correa to offset his lost income from leaving the ITT oil in the ground by opening up other areas of equally pristine indigenous lands.”
A new report has uncovered 90 oil spills by Pluspetrol in northern Peru’s Amazon rainforest over the past 3 years. Covering two oil blocs—1-AB and 8—the report, complied by the Federation of Indigenous Communities of the Corrientes River (FECONACO), recorded 18 major oil spills in just the last year.
“A week after the landmark ruling against Chevron in Ecuador for $9 billion of damage from operations in the 1970’s and 80’s, this new report highlights the ongoing devastation caused by the oil industry on the fragile Amazon ecosystem and the people that live there,” said Atossa Soltani, Executive Director at Amazon Watch, in a press release.
In June of last year a tanker spilled 400 barrels of oil into the Maranon River, which led to a blockade where indigenous protested called for Pluspetrol to pay them compensation for the pollution in the form reforestation, food, medicine, and cash payments.
Using community monitoring of oil operations along the Corrientes River, the report also documents over 90 contamination sites left from over previous oil operator Occidental Petroleum that were not made apart of a clean-up agreement taken on by Pluspetrol. For its part Occidental Petroleum is currently embroiled in a lawsuit brought to court by members of the indigenous tribe Achuar for contaminating the region.
Peruvian health studies have found that 98% of Achuar children have high levels of cadmium in their blood, and two-thirds suffer from lead poisoning.
“[The report] raises serious concerns about Peru’s aggressive development strategy to open the Amazon to oil drilling,” said Gregor MacLennan, Amazon Watch Peru Program Coordinator, also in a press release.
The government of Peru, led by President Alan Garcia, is currently pushing an oil boom. Around 70% of the Peruvian Amazon has been opened for oil and gas exploration and drilling, and a number of foreign companies have heard the call, including Talisman Energy, Petrolifera, ConocoPhilips, and Hunt Oil.
The conflict between indigenous people living the region and big oil turned violent in 2009. A standoff between indigenous protestors and government police ended with 23 police officers and at least 10 protesters dead, though indigenous people say that bodies of protesters were dumped in rivers to hide the numbers killed.
Chevron used secret lab to hide dirty soil samples from ecuador court, say company documents
Dec. 20, 2011
NEW YORK — In an ever more stunning expose of Chevron’s fraud before the Ecuador court, a U.S. federal judge has ordered the disclosure of documents that demonstrate Chevron used a secret lab in the United States to hide the existence of dirty soil samples taken from the company’s contaminated former well sites in the Amazon.
The documents also show that Chevron’s scientific experts in the Ecuador trial — one of whom is a respected professor at the University of California — executed a scheme that guaranteed the company would find only ‘clean’ soil samples from contaminated well sites while all ‘dirty’ samples would be sent to a lab called NewFields, where they would not be disclosed to the court.
The existence of the NewFields lab, which is based in Atlanta, was not disclosed by Chevron to either the plaintiffs or the Ecuador trial court before it ruled in February that the company was liable for $18 billion in clean-up damages. Even though Chevron tried to present a false picture of the evidence to the court, the Ecuador judge found that scientific samples from the plaintiffs and other court-appointed experts clearly demonstrated extensive pollution at all of the 94 former Chevron well sites and production stations inspected during the trial.
Chevron executed its deceptive sampling plan by secretly and unilaterally pre-inspecting well sites in the days before court-supervised judicial inspections of the same sites, which were attended by both parties and the judge. Chevron used the pre-inspections to plot areas on ground higher than the contaminated waste pits where soil samples would come up ‘clean’ during the official inspections process. See here and here.
As a general matter, the documents show that only Chevron’s ‘clean’ soil samples were submitted to the Ecuador court despite rampant pollution on the ground and in streams and rivers near all Chevron well sites that were inspected by the parties during the trial, which lasted from 2003 to 2011. As an example, see this photo of Shushufindi 38, a former Chevron well site where Chevron in contrast to the plaintiffs reported that it found no contamination in its soil samples.
Other documents (here and here) show Chevron committed fraud by lying to some of its own technical experts so they would laud the company’s deceptive sampling practices even though they were designed to mislead the court.
Lawyers for the rainforest communities immediately submitted the new documents – one called ‘The Judicial Inspection Playbook’ and written by a Houston-based environmental consulting firm — to the Ecuador appellate court that will determine whether to uphold the $18 billion judgment against Chevron for discharging billions of gallons of oil-laced toxic waste into the Amazon rainforest, decimating five indigenous groups and causing an outbreak of cancer. The judgment was handed down on February 14 after an eight-year trial that produced 220,000 pages of evidence.
The new documents were not part of the evidence presented to the Ecuador trial court. U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hagarty in August 2011 ordered them disclosed as part of a discovery action in Colorado against Bjorn Bjorkman, a Chevron expert. They were included in a legal filing last week made before a New York federal judge. See here for all the documents.
‘The stunning 11th-hour disclosure of these in-house documents clearly proves Chevron went through a meticulous planning process to defraud the Ecuador court and in fact defrauded the Ecuador court in a systematic way during the judicial inspections process,’ said Pablo Fajardo the lead Ecuadorian lawyer in the case.
‘The document also closes the loop on what we long suspected — that Chevron’s scientists were systematically hiding from the court the existence of extensive contamination at all of Chevron’s former well sites,’ he added.
Completed in 2006 by Chevron experts at GSI Environmental in Houston, ‘The Judicial Inspection Playbook’ indicates that during the trial Chevron planned to hide or minimize the extent of the toxic threat at each of its 378 former well sites and production stations. Dozens of those sites were inspected during the trial, with soil and water samples being submitted to laboratories for analysis with the results becoming part of the main body of evidence relied on by the court.
The newly disclosed documents demonstrate that:
- Chevron secretly pre-tested its former well sites to guarantee results the company sought during the judicial inspections process;
- Chevron directed its experts to only test areas that had been pre-determined ‘clean’ during the secret pre-inspections;
- Chevron directed its experts to send its ‘dirty’ samples to the undisclosed lab, called NewFields;
- To whitewash its rigged sampling procedures, Chevron made false representations to the Ecuador court;
- Chevron attempted to thwart the ability of the Ecuadorian communities to obtain the new documents on the grounds they could cause ‘substantial harm’ to Chevron.
The Ecuador court never received lab results from NewFields, which markets its ability to help corporations manage human rights violations involving contamination. ‘Clean’ samples were sent to the Severn Trent lab, Chevron’s laboratory of record during the trial but one that also has come under attack for not being independent.
Evidence also emerged that Chevron altered the ‘Judicial Inspections Playbook’ document to remove references to parts of its deceptive sampling plan before giving it to Douglas M. MacKay, Ph.D, a Chevron expert who teaches at the University of California at Davis. Based on the altered plan, MacKay was induced by Chevron to submit a robust defense of Chevron’s sampling plan to the Ecuador court — a blatant act of fraud by Chevron, according to the plaintiffs.
In his submission to the Ecuador court, MacKay and two other experts, Pedro J. Alvarez, Ph.D and Robert E. Hinchee, Ph.D, concluded ‘there is no foundation for the serious allegations … that [Chevron’s] sampling program deliberately hides or minimizes the existing contamination.’ The allegation has been made by the plaintiffs in a report submitted by their own U.S. technical experts, Dr. Ann Maest and Bill Powers.
‘Chevron’s decision to withhold this information from the Ecuadorian court, to defend its otherwise indefensible sampling methodology, and to submit expert reports that rely on altered documents is a fraud on the Ecuadorian justice system,’ read a brief filed recently by the plaintiffs before a New York federal court in a related matter.
The Chevron ‘playbook’ for the judicial inspections instructed the company’s experts that ‘locations for sampling should be chosen to emphasize clean points around pits’. Chevron also directed its experts to ‘collect soil samples at 4 or more locations surrounding the site, using locations the PI (Pre-Inspection) team has shown to be clean.’
Chevron also created individual ‘playbooks’ for each site to be inspected by the court, based on its undisclosed pre-inspection visits. For example, the playbook for the Sacha North Production Station indicates that of three borings Chevron made during its pre-inspection, one afforded Chevron an acceptable ‘delineation point’ to return to at the subsequent court inspection. The others showed or tested positive for contamination.
During the trial, Chevron issued multiple press releases defending the integrity of its sampling process, all of which contained false information, said Karen Hinton, the U.S. spokesperson for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs.
Chevron’s manipulation of sampling evidence is also consistent with statements made by Chevron contractor Diego Borja that he would swap out contaminated samples collected from judicial inspection sites with clean samples collected at other locations to send to the supposedly independent Severn Trent Laboratory. Borja testified that the Severn Trent Laboratory actually ‘belonged to Chevron’ and was directed by Borja’s wife, Sara Portilla.
The Ecuadorians called on MacKay, Alvarez and Hinchee to disavow their report in light of the new evidence, said Hinton.
“Chevron duped Dr. MacKay and the other experts,’ she said. “We therefore urge them to recant their findings and immediately notify the Ecuador appellate court.”
The new information also increases the pressure on John Conner, Chevron’s lead U.S. technical expert during the Ecuador trial. Conner, the lead partner at GSI Environmental, was paid an estimated $8 million by Chevron for his work in Ecuador and is thought to be the main author of the ‘Judicial Inspection Playbook’ document.
As Chevron’s main technical witness in the Ecuador case, Connor’s credibility has taken several serious blows as of late and he could be sanctioned for participating in the oil giant’s scheme in Ecuador, said Hinton. Last year, Conner was the main Chevron witness at a trial in Mississippi where a jury rejected his scientific analysis and decided in favor of the plaintiffs.
Conner is now Chevron’s main technical witness in a private international arbitration action that the oil giant hopes will shift the $18 billion liability to Ecuador’s government. Without his testimony, Chevron’s prospects in that action certainly look dim, said Hinton.
A list of some of Chevron’s judicial inspection experts, all of whom were presumably guided by the protocols in the ‘Playbook’, included (in addition to Connor): Ernesto Baca, Gino Bianchi, Fernando Morales, Jorge Salcedo, Bjorn Bjorkman, Gregory Douglas, Charles Newell, Jimmy Kirkland, Les Oakes, Thomas McHugh, Burton Suedel, Van Ekambaram, Mala Pattanayek, Bridgette DeShields, Lloyd Deuel, Raymond C. Loehr, Marcelo Muñez, and Gerardo Barros.
Latin America 2011 nothing changes
Brazil is temporarily banning the American company, Chevron, from drilling for oil in its territory.
The National Petroleum Agency (ANP) said it would suspend Chevron’s activities in Brazil until it had established the cause of an oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Chevron has apologised for the leak, but has stressed it acted as rapidly and safely as possible to contain it. The Brazilian government has fined Chevron $28m (£18m) for the spill. Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said Chevron could face further fines if an investigation into the spill revealed more infractions.
ANP also rejected a Chevron request to drill a deeper well in the Frade field in order to reach sub-salt fields, which could hold reserves of more than 100bn barrels of high-quality recoverable oil. It said such drilling would “pose risks to the environment similar to those that occurred in the well where the spill occurred, but bigger and magnified by the greater depth”.
The head of Chevron’s Brazil operation, George Buck, appeared before the lower house of the Brazilian parliament to apologise for the leak. He said the company respected Brazil and the Brazilian people, its environment, laws and institutions.
“We are going to thoroughly investigate the accident and present the results to the Brazilian people… so that this does not happen again either here or in any other part of the world,” Mr Buck said. Brazilian authorities said the spill was now under control and the oil slick had been reduced to two square kilometres.
ANP said the leak released between 200 and 330 barrels a day at the height of the spill. The head of the ANP, Haroldo Lima, said the accident was “serious, but not major”.
He said there was “no comparison” between this spill and last year’s disaster at BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, where 11 people died and about 3,000 barrels a day were leaked. In recent years Brazil has discovered billions of barrels of oil in deep water that could make it one of the wold’s top five producers.
This is why people like Chevron have come to Brasil, to exploit yet another so called third world country.
Facing sharp criticism from Brazilian officials, senior management of Chevron Brazil said that Chevron takes “full responsibility” for an oil spill off the southeastern coast of Brazil that was discovered on November 7. George Buck, Chevron’s chief operating officer in Brazil, told reporters on Sunday that Chevron “takes full responsibility for this incident,” and said that “any oil on the surface of the ocean is unacceptable to Chevron.” The oil spill began when an undersea well operated by Chevron succumbed to pressure from the oil reservoir, allowing crude to escape through a breach in the bore hole wall and up through the ocean floor. According to Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency, up to 110,000 gallons of oil may have leaked into the Atlantic Ocean. On uThursday, Chevron capped the well with cement, but oil is reportedly still leaking from cracks in the seabed. Buck said that storms and ocean swells prevented Chevron cleanup boats from reaching the oil slick for two days after the leak was discovered, but they are now skimming the ocean surface to clean up the spill. Coming on the heels of a long legal battle with Ecuador over contamination in the rainforest, Chevron employees may face $5.5 million in fines and potential prison time in Brazil, according to the environmental minister of Rio de Janeiro state.
Now lets look at the responsibility Chevron is taking for the clean up.
So here we are at ground zero as some people like to call it, there are supposed to be 16 ships collecting, recovering and mechanically dispersing the oil.
Heres one right but needs to be a bit closer to the oil to do any good!
Here is a boom between two ships just a little question where is the skimmer or is this mechanical dispersion Chevron style.
So as you can see nothing changes there are rules at home an no rules when working in other parts of the world.
I can even lay a bet that if the Brasilian government were to fine Chevron on the same scale as the US did to BP then the US government would defend Chevron!
Seeing as the rig was owned by Transocean know doubt the other major players in Deep water horizon were also involved and it looks like they are trying to get their act together at the cost of another country then they do deserve a considerablbly higher fine than they have recieved to date..
Chevron is revered in Wall St. and City of London for its massive abilities as a money machine. Last year Chevron, the United States’ largest oil and gas company after ExxonMobil, boosted its revenues by an impressive 25% over FY 2010 to $245.6 billion. Of even greater interest to Chevron shareholders, profits soared by 41% to $26.9 billion. Little wonder then that Chevron CEO and chairman John Watson strolled home with roughly $25 million in total compensation in 2011, a 52% increase over his 2010 pay, according to Chevron’s securities filing.
2012 now it’s Nigeria
20 January 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – Crude oil spill has been reported from the fire which hit the oil drilling rig, KS Endeavor, early Monday morning offshore Nigeria, with two dead.
The rig, working for Chevron Nigeria Limited, is now partially submerged but continues to burn on Block 86 in the Funiwa field.
Director general of the Nigerian National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Peter Idabor, said some community leaders in Bayelsa State have complained that oil from the accident was already ashore and polluting the environment.
This is also based on a report from NOSDRA’s deputy director, who was part of a helicopter fly over the burning rig together with officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Chevron on Wednesday.
Idabor said: “A crude oil spill from the facility was spotted by the surveillance around the KS Endeavor and along the shoreline,” adding: “This is a very serious explosion. You have drilling fluids and oil seen around the rig itself.”
He stated that complaints have been received by his agency from government officials in some parts of Bayelsa state about pollution washing ashore.
“There are several communities already impacted,” he claimed. “The first one is Koloma towns 1 and 2, the second one is Fishtown and the third is Frupa.”
On Tuesday Chevron had confirmed that “a small sheen was visible in close proximity to the (affected) well,” estimating the sheen at 13 barrels.
3rd World polluter
It looks like there is a company policy for working at home and another for working abroad. It is much cheaper to have oil spills outside the USA!! Just as well, seeing as they are in the bids for the next round of drilling in the Arctic.
The Chevron Toxico logo still fits and will do until they clean up their act.
Nigeria on a normal day
It is estimated that an Exxon Valdez equivalent spill happens every year in Nigeria and most of it is in the delta region.
This is without doubt the worst place I have ever visited.
Bureaucracy and corruption meets you at Lagos airport on arrival at passport control where there is a notice behind the officials which reads “do not bribe the officials” who’s first words are “do you have a present for me?”.
As in all corrupt countries it starts at the top and penetrates through all the officials.
Nigeria is the land of over 250 tribes. The oil rich Niger Delta belongs to 4 or 5 but the government is made up of different ones and of course they do not live in the delta either.
The Nigerian government is the principal share holder of all of the major upstream companies operating in Nigeria. They own 55% of Shell Nigeria, 60% of Agip, 60% of Mobil and 60% of Chevron operations in the country.
The money earned by the government over the last 50 years finds its way to places like Switzerland and little or in truth nothing returns to the Delta Region.
It is not difficult to understand the thinking in the Delta, with the oil flowing in the main in surface pipelines through the Delta region.(photo below right)
The people get some money from Shell by drilling holes in the pipelines or opening valves sometimes even using explosives to steal the oil (known as bunkering) or tocause a pollution problem for which they then require compensation. This is paid by Shell not the Swiss banks.
The explanation for a hole in one crude line which was on the top of the pipe with the steel bent inwards was corrosionwe were told it, it looked more like an explosion as corrosion usually occurs under the pipe, but you don’t argue with the man with the AK47 Kalashnikov.
It is quite a common event for someone to hole a gasoline line then everyone is in line with anything that will hold liquid, from time to time there are huge fires during these incidents it is not uncommon for hundreds of people to die or be badly burn.
The photo above is the result of a gasoline explosion and fire that killed 200 people.
When all your countries wealth is running past your door and you have nothing I suppose it is hard not to try and get something.
The gas flares in the delta region are usually in big pits; the locals cook cassava part of the local diet here (photo left) they usually have black spots made by oil that passes the flare, not very healthy.
In recent years a various ethnic militia groups calling themselves the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF) and Niger Delta Vigilante (NDV) havebeen taking hostage oil workers and damaging the oil infrastructure e.g. Terminals, pipeline, valves and rigs.
As with all of the worlds terrorist organisations recruiting people, raising money and buying arms for the cause is not difficult. The arms in many cases are better than the army and police have.
There are few negotiations for these groups to stop. In the mean time how many people kidnapped, die and how much damage is done to both the oil infrastructure and the environment.
This of course will continue until the Delta Region gets something for what they think is their oil or the government stops being corrupt. I guess it will be a while!
Alang and Chittagong Ship Wreckers
Here is an interesting fact about the longest and heaviest ship ever built which was also a supertanker. built in 1979 at Sumitomo Heavy Industries’ Oppama shipyard as the Seawise Giant.
She had a deadweight of 565,000 metric tons a length of the vessel is 458 meters, a beam of 69 meters and draft of 26.4 meters, when fully loaded, her water displacement was 646,642 tons.
She was the longest ship ever constructed, longer than many of the world’s tallest buildings are tall including the Petronas Twin Towers at 452 metres (1,483 ft).
With these dimensions she was unable to navigate the English Channel, the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal when its load was up to capacity.
Below 14 May 1988, Hormuz Terminal, “Seawise Giant” on fire after the Iraqi Air-attack during the Iraq/Iran war.
As a tanker she also was known as the, Happy Giant, and Jahre Viking.
In 2004, she was renamed Knock Nevis, and converted into a Floating storage tanker (FSO) moored in the Qatar, Al Shaheen oil field in the Arabian Gulf.
So what do you do with a ship like this when her working days are done?
In December 2009, the vessel was sold to Indian breakers and renamed Mont for her final journey.
After clearing Indian customs, she was then intentionally beached at Alang, India. A sad end for some of the worlds most famous ships.
Photo of Mont 29/03/2010 at Alang (www.midshipcentury.com 2010)
Here is a photo before she disappears
A big ship needs a big anchor and they don’t come bigger than this it weights 36 tonnes with 20 links of chain, is 7m long in the shank, 4.45m across the flukes and 1.13m thick.
Gifted to the Hong Kong Maritime Museum by an anonymous donor, it waits for approval from the Central and Western District Council and other stakeholders for its proposed placement near the Central “Star” Ferry Piers as a monument to many generations of Hong Kong seafarers and port workers.
This photo below is from Google Earth of 10 kilometers of the coast at Alang, India
Just to give you an idea of what goes on in Alang here are a few photos. The ships are run aground at high tide and taken apart with gas axes and man power, of course the oil in there tanks is not completely removed as can be seen below. These people are used to that.
You can only imagine with the price for scrapping ships the best in the world due mainly to the cheap labour used, there are more and more ships being sent there to cause more and more pollution.
This link will show more close up photos http://connect.in.com/alang-ship-breakers/photos-1-1-1-e03b95b357b4a7ae01ecccbf1948cdd4.html
It is getting difficult to hide from Google Earth when you know where to look. Below is the Sitakundu coast near Chittagong, Bangladesh here it is only a stretch of coast 8.5 kms that is used. At the end is where the mangroves try to survive.
Debate over Cause of Oil Spill Near Ship Destruction Yards
A 10-kilometre oil slick has been reported in the Bay of Bengal off the Sitakunda upazila area in Bangladesh. Boatmen and passengers crossing the area in the morning said they had noticed the strip, which was around 50 feet wide and spreading to Kadam Rasul from the Kumira coast. Both the reason for and the severity of the spillage so far remain unconfirmed.
A ferry operator on the sea route noticed black burnt oil floating on the surface. Boatmen, fishermen and people travelling between Sandwip and Chittagong said they often see oil spills, for which they blame the ship-demolishing industry. There are over 50 ship destruction yards next to the coast and more than 100 vessels are beached there for dismantling.
Hefazatur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Ship Breakers’ Association, brushed aside the suggestion that scrap ships caused oil spills in the sea. Oil might have leaked from tankers that travel to different parts of the country from the Chittagong port, he said.
An Environment department director from the port city said they had inspected the area in the afternoon and noticed no major spill. They saw a 100-metre layer of oil floating between Kadam Rasul and Kumira, but could not identify its source, he said.
Image Courtesy: SPOT Image/ Google Maps
Just to show how some people live with oil pollution as a daily occurrence below is a satelite photo of an Indian oil field. The white dots are oil platforms where as the black areas are oil slicks which happen daily. without satelites know one outside would know!
My controversy over the flow rate from Deepwater Horizon Spill 2010
A tale of two blow outs.
In a bid to win the world series of oil spills it comes as no surprise that the Deepwater Horizon spill is now said to be the biggest marine accident in the world.
I would like to put the case that it was actually smaller than Ixtoc 1.
The fact is that there is no factual basis for these figures, they are known as a guesstimates.
The total amount from Deepwater Horizon (DWH) is said to be 4,100,000 – 4,300,000 barrels.
When the spill began supposedly when the rig sank on the 22nd of April 2010 it was said the leak was approximately 1,000 barrels per day (160 m3/d).
After many years in this industry a rule of thumb in the early hours of a spill is to add one more zero to the figure therefore making it 10,000 bpd. Outside scientists quickly produced higher estimates.
Official estimates increased from 1,000 to 5,000 barrels per day (160 to 790 m3/d)
On April 29, to 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day (1,900 to 3,000 m3/d)
On May 27, to 25,000 to 30,000 barrels per day (4,000 to 4,800 m3/d)
On June 10, and to between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels per day (5,600 and 9,500 m3/d),
On July 15, 3 months later, the leak was stopped by capping the well. It was then estimated that 53,000 barrels per day (8,400 m3/d) were escaping from the well just before it was capped. It was believed that the daily flow rate diminished over time, starting at about 62,000 barrels per day (9,900 m3/d) and decreasing as the reservoir of hydrocarbons feeding the gusher was gradually depleted.
Official estimates were provided by the Flow Rate Technical Group—scientists from USCG, (NOAA), (DOE), and outside academics, led by (USGS). The later estimates were believed to be more accurate because it was no longer necessary to measure multiple leaks, and because detailed pressure measurements and high-resolution video had become available. According to BP, estimating the oil flow was very difficult as there was no underwater metering at the wellhead and because of the natural gas in the outflow. The company had initially refused to allow scientists to perform more accurate, independent measurements, saying that it was not relevant to the response and that such efforts might distract from efforts to stem the flow. Former Administrator of the EPA Carol Browner and Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) both accused BP of having a vested financial interest in downplaying the size of the leak in part due to the fine they will have to pay based on the amount of leaked oil. So obviously there had to be a big increase in the flow rate.
Here are some photos of the shoreline in Louisiana 41 miles away from the well in May and June
The total amount from Ixtoc 1 is said to be 3,329,000–3,520,000 barrels.
In the case of Ixtoc 1 which on June 3, 1979, the 2 mile deep exploratory well, blew out in the Bahia de Campeche, 600 miles south of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico.
The platform collapsed into the wellhead area hindering any immediate attempts to control the blowout.
In the initial stages of the spill, an estimated 30,000 barrels of oil per day were flowing from the well.
In July 1979 the pumping of mud into the well reduced the flow to 20,000 barrels per day
In August the pumping of nearly 100,000 steel, iron, and lead balls into the well reduced the flow to 10,000 barrels per day until it was finally capped 11 months later on March 23, 1980.
Prevailing northerly currents in the western Gulf of Mexico carried spilled oil toward the U.S.A. A 60-mile by 70-mile patch of sheen containing a 300 foot by 500 foot patch of heavy crude moved toward the Texas coast.
On August 6,15 and 18,1979, tarballs from the spill impacted a 17 mile stretch of Texas beach. Mousse patches impacted the shoreline north of Port Mansfield Channel
On August 24, mousse impacted shoreline south of Aransas Pass.
By August 26, most of North Padre Island was covered with moderate amounts of oil.
On September 1, the entire south Texas coast had been impacted by oil.
Ultimately, 71,500 barrels of oil impacted 162 miles of U.S. beaches, and over 10,000 cubic yards of oiled material were removed.
Here are some photos of the shoreline in Texas 600 miles away in Aug, Sept and Oct
A few simularities:
Sedco rig at Ixtoc who later became Transocean
Both BOP’s failed to work correctly
3% of the oil was recovered at sea in both cases using booms and skimmers
Dispersant were used in both cases mainly on emulsion which was both inefficient and expensive.
Dispersant was used for the first time at the wellhead during DWH its efficiency is questionable.
5% of the oil was burned in-situ at DWH where as the well burned at Ixtoc
Dome placed over the well at Ixtoc called Sombrero at DWH called Top hat both failed
Steel balls forced into the well to stem the flow at Ixtoc DWH Junk shot both failed
Introduction of drilling mud to reduce the flow Top kill tried at both and failed
Plumes of oil in the water column at both
Both resolved with relief wells Ixtoc after 9 months and DWH after 3 months
It seems very strange to me that both these oil spills were of large proportions and the both oils emulsified, one was 41 miles off the coast while the other was 600 miles away yet the shoreline impact was worse from the Ixtoc 1 than DWH. Therefore in my opinion there was more oil from Ixtoc 1 than from DWH.
Every day that passes it looks like, what Tony Hayward said “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest,” along most of the coastline he was probably right.
To go back to the world series statement at the start, it now becomes obvious why the figures have been manipulated to be the supposed biggest marine accident to date. It has now been decided that BP will pay US$1,500 per barrel so the more you up the figure the more the fine becomes.
One thing is for sure the cost will get into the Guinness Book of Records. BP said in November that the cost of the oil spill had risen to $11.6 billion. Total costs are expected to reach about $40 billion, including $20 billion set aside for compensation payments in an agreement signed with the US government. Costing more than all the past oil spills on earth since World War 2.
It has taken until Feb 2012 to find the disparacy in quantities across the different articles about DWH.
We now have a difference between 454,000 – 480,000mt for Ixtox1 and 77,000 – 250,000mt for DWH of course the fines will be based on the highest.