Tag Archives: science

Big pharma takes aim at deadly counterfeits

 

By Katie McQue [Source]

GATEWAY TO AFRICA | In Africa the cost of all medications, including generic drugs, exceeds the means of most and many people are faced with a grim choice: purchase counterfeit medications, ingredients unknown, or go without treatment.

With 30% of the total available pharmaceuticals in Uganda believed to be counterfeit, the country, like many others, is struggling to keep control of a business that is both deadly and lucrative.

“A lot of deaths occur. But nobody reports these and nobody is going to investigate,” said Suraj Ali, a partner at the Ugandan legal firm Muwema & Mugerwa.

The situation in Uganda is typical in much of sub-Saharan Africa, and the reasons are economic. In regions of high prevalence of poverty the cost of all medications, including generic drugs, exceeds the means of most. Few people have medical insurance, and they are faced with a grim choice: purchase counterfeit medications – ingredients unknown – or simply go without treatment.

The big pharmaceutical firms are worried. “When you visit a market in Tanzania, you see that they are being sold everywhere,” Ed Wheatley, AstraZeneca’s investigations director for the region, said at June’s Visiongain Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeiting conference, in which representatives from major drug makers gathered to deliberate the problem.

This big problem is also a big business – it is widely estimated that counterfeit drugs have an annual turnover of US$75 billion worldwide, with a profit margin of about 70%. This means that the global share of counterfeit medications is 10% of the pharmaceutical market. Around the world 200,000 people die annually due to counterfeits.

Most of the fakes hail from factories in China, India and Pakistan, and counterfeiters are more concerned with matching the packaging than the ingredients of the original. Criminals steal hospital vials with branded labels, print their own hologrammed boxes – even buy tablet-making presses on eBay.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 32.1% of these drugs do not contain any active ingredients; 20.2% have incorrect quantities of active ingredients; 21.4% include wrong ingredients and 8.5% have high levels of impurities or contaminates.

The loss of sales and reputation is significant, as users of the fake drugs may still associate their illness with the genuine article. In some countries, drug makers can also be liable for harm caused by fakes.

In Germany, for example, a company can be called to account if it can be proven that it did not utilise all the possibilities provided by state-of-the-art technology to prevent counterfeiting. In most US states, any part of the manufacturing and sales chain can be liable for damages to the consumer arising from faults in a product’s construction, manufacturing or labelling.

Given this risk it is understandable why pharmaceutical companies are keen to intervene in the African counterfeit market. Some assist local governments with on-the-ground intelligence, leading to raids and prosecutions. This assistance is necessary in countries where awareness is low, resources devoted to the problem are scarce and corruption is high.

“There is a lot of corruption,” Ali said. “A lot of the magistrates are underpaid and they get bribed.

“We have a national drug authority that is supposed to prevent counterfeiting, but it is underfunded,” he added. “There are very few inspectors; they don’t have the equipment to check drugs properly… Things find their way into the country – the borders are very porous.”

 


Nazi Mission Impossible · The New York – London Apartment of the IMF

 

[read more]
The links between U.S. and Great Britain: London, Queen Elisabeth, Rothschild, IMF, Federal reserve, Brown Brothers Harriman -the Nazi bank, William Averell Harriman, Pamela Harriman married to Randolph Churchill

Brown Brothers Harriman -a Nazi Bank
Pamela Harriman married to Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill´s son
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Reflected+Glory:+The+Life+of+Pamela+Churchill+Harriman.-a019100545
http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Pamela+Harriman
http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/biographies/MainBiographies/H/Harriman/1.html
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,985913,00.html

Brown Brothers Harriman -a Nazi Bank
http://www.bbh.com/index.html
http://www.bbhluxembourgrecruiting.com/

William Averell Harriman member of Skull and Bones
http://politicalgraveyard.com/group/skull-bones.html

Brown Brothers Harriman -a Nazi Bank here is the evidence
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar
http://www.georgewalkerbush.net/bushnazidealingscontinueduntil1951.htm
http://www.rense.com/general42/bshnazi.htm
http://www.mbpolitics.com/Bush2000/VestingDetail.htm
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,100474,00.html
http://www.gatt.org/bushhitler.html
http://www.augustharper.com/page/how-bushs-grandfather-helped-hitlers-rise-to-power.html
http://reallies.org/40.aspx
http://watch.pair.com/reich.html
http://emperor.vwh.net/articles/randy/swas5.htm
http://www.topix.com/forum/state/wa/T8KPSU7TQ36ESE925
http://www.politicalfriendster.com/showPerson.php?id=1368&name=Union-Banking-Corporation-
http://current.com/items/88960457_prescott-bush.htm
http://www.wiseupjournal.com/?p=767
http://www.northstarcompass.org/nsc0312/bushnazi.htm
http://www.mindcontrolforums.com/bush-nazi-link-confirmed.htm
http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/reinventing-government/bush-hitler.htm
http://www.illuminati-news.com/bush-nazi-connection.html

“ E. Roland Harriman–3991 shares ”
http://www.tarpley.net/bush2.htm
http://hnn.us/articles/1811.html
http://www.rtmark.com/bushhitler.html
http://killtown.911review.org/bushbio/chapter2.html

W. Averell Harriman CFR Study Group on Contending Visions of International Order
http://www.cfr.org/project/1238/w_averell_harriman_program_in_european_studies.html

Global governance monitor
http://www.cfr.org/publication/18985

George Bush’s grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany. The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Politicians/Bush_Nazi_Dealings.html

America trading with the Nazis
http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/wall_street/
http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/llt/51/pauwels.html
http://www.timeenoughforlove.org/HitlerCarlyle.htm
http://eqsviews.net

The White house coup 1933

http://www.veteranstoday.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=7925
http://www.thecarlylegroup.com

Pilgrims society, uniform commercial code
International Monetary Fund, IRS, UK
The IRS is not a U.S. Government Agency. It is an Agency of the IMF.
The IMF is an Agency of the UN. British imperialism rules. Think of their colonisation of India. Rothschild banking group rules the British government but they simply don´t tell.

List of about 30 of the more important privately-funded globalist institutions which have been established either by Pilgrims Society members, by people connected to the Rockefeller-Kissinger-Rothschild triumvirate, or a combination of these interests.
http://www.isgp.eu/AppendixB.htm

Transatlantic law firms top players
http://www.thelawyer.com/the-transatlantic-elite-2009-the-sweet-sixteen/1000698.article

the pilgrims uniting the crown with corporative america
http://www.isgp.eu/introduction.htm
http://www.royal.gov.uk/MonarchUK/Honours/OrderoftheBritishEmpire.aspx

IRS, IMF
http://www.imf.org

http://richardlalancette.wordpress.com/category/irs-is-a-fraud

Cracking The Code Of Commerce, Part Two – Jordan Maxwell

Uniform commercial code the code of commerse
http://www.gs1us.org/Default.aspx

The law of business on earth. The law is based on the roman code of canon law UCC – Admiralty, Maritime & Civil Laws – Birth Certificates
http://www.loveforlife.com.au/book/export/html/6487

WORLD MONEY POWER CHARLES SAVOIE:
http://www.silver-investor.com/charlessavoie/cs_dec04.pdf
http://www.silver-investor.com/charlessavoie/cs_jan05.htm
http://www.silver-investor.com/charlessavoie/cs_jan05_worldmoneypower3.htm

THE PILGRIMS:
http://www.silver-investor.com/charlessavoie/cs_may05_pilgrims.htm
http://www.silver-investor.com/archives/index.html
http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/sociopol_pilgrimsociety03.htm
http://www.reformation.org/bank-of-england.html
http://www.pogledi.rs/diskusije/viewtopic.php?p=123341&sid=d6f17bb54e89f4dd9c2636fdb2fdf925

Guide to the worlds leading financial law firms
http://www.iflr1000.com/jurisdictionfirm/1601/130/Paul-Weiss-Rifkind-Wharton–Garrison.html
http://www.foxrothschild.com
http://www.rothschildbklaw.com/CM/Custom/Firm-Overview.asp
http://www.stblaw.com
http://www.slaughterandmay.com
http://www.paulweiss.com
http://www.deweyleboeuf.com
http://www.21cpat.com
http://www.cgsh.com
http://www.cravath.com
http://www.lw.com
http://www.shearman.com
http://www.skadden.com
http://www.davispolk.com
http://www.sullcrom.com
http://www.cahill.com
http://www.gibsondunn.com
http://www.sidley.com
http://www.weil.com
http://www.debevoise.com
http://www.ffhsj.com
http://www.kirkland.com
http://www.mayerbrown.com
http://www.milbank.com/en
http://www.mofo.com
http://www.omm.com
http://www.bakerbotts.com
http://www.jonesday.com
http://www.kslaw.com
http://www.velaw.com
http://www.wsgr.com
http://www.cliffordchance.com
http://www.freshfields.com
http://www.linklaters.com
http://www.herbertsmith.com
http://www.allenovery.com
http://www.bakernet.com
http://www.lovells.com
http://www.mallesons.com
http://www.nortonrose.com
http://www.paulhastings.com
http://www.whitecase.com

House Of Rothschild
http://pakalert.wordpress.com/2009/11/10/house-of-rothschild-no-one-can-understand-what-has-happened-to-the-planet-without-reading-this/
http://rothschilddiamond.com
http://www.rothschilddiamonds.com
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/baron-elie-de-rothschild-460791.html

The City of London is a private corporation owned by N.M Rothschild group, but not officially. All big law firms and banks have offices here.
http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation
http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/committees/committee/selectCommittee.aspx

The Chatham house in London
Chatham House concentrates on the relationship between the US and the rest of the world
http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/research/americas

The International Bar Association in London
The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies.
http://www.ibanet.org

The Royal Society in London
http://royalsociety.org

The Parliament in London
http://www.parliament.uk/visiting/onlinetours/virtualtours/lords-tour/index.htm

Henry kissinger Forrester Rothschild mutual friend
http://www.wmagazine.com/artdesign/2008/01/rothschilds

The battle of waterloo 1815, WAR OF 1812
http://www.ojczyzna.pl/BOOKS/the-money-changers-ch10-14.htm

Will the Real Government Please Stand Up
http://www.civil-liberties.com/books/index.html

Skull & Bones
http://www.theforbiddenknowledge.com/hardtruth/skull_and_bones.htm

Queen Elizabeth controls and has amended U.S. Social Security
http://www.apfn.org/apfn/queen.htm
http://www.nogw.com/finance.html
http://oldsecretsandlies.blogspot.com/2008/10/great-britain-owns-usa.html

Queen Elizabeth II speech to parliament 2008

George Bush has received an honorary knighthood from the Queen
This shows that her position is above his.
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/culture/articles/931213/archive_016255.htm
http://www.apfn.net/Messageboard/05-16-07/discussion.cgi.114.html

An artificial-person, legal entity,not a human being, recognized as a person in law to whom legal rights and duties may attach – e.g. a body corporate”. Sometimes an artificial-person may be referred to as a CORPORATION.
http://www.natural-person.ca/pdf/Great_Britain_owns_USA.PDF
http://www.natural-person.ca

Birth certificate fraud stock USA crown property
http://insidious-coin.blogspot.com/2007/02/to-all-those-who-care_09.html
http://www.real-debt-elimination.com/bank_fraud/taking_control_of_your_trade_name.htm
Robert Arthur Menard’s book, Bursting Bubbles of Government Deception

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the highest court in the Commonwealth.
http://www.courts.state.pa.us/T/SupremeCourt

the court system in the U.S is a private club, a franchise with the english BAR. It has nothing to do with the united states covernment. Their representatives, attorneys has a permission from the BAR to practise law. They attorneys have paide a franchise fee and are have permission and are authorized to use the copyright protected law and codes. 1912 act birth certificates born.
When parents register their child in the U.S the government creates a corporate entity that is the childs trade name represents the child with the childs name written all in capital letters. EX JOSEPH ANDERSEN.
so all drivings licences, credit cards, houses and property that Joseph Andersen think he ownes are not his belongings. They belong to the corporate entity of of the name JOSEPH ANDERSON. The credit card is issued to his trade name. The trade name has a socia security card, the trade name has a drivers licence, the trade name has a credit card. The computer on the bank can only write your name in capital letters. You are the authorized signature. You are not the owner. If you have personal checks with a line where you have to sign. It´s not a line even if it looks like it. Its a small text that says authorized signatury. It does not say owner. But it´s written so small so you have to magnify it 40 times to see the it. The signature you´re doing on the check you´re doing it on another ones account. It´s not your account. It´s the corporate account.

Paying taxes for your country is something good. There are two parties involwed in this process: you as a taxpayer and your countrys government. But a problem would be if a third party also wanted to be involwed in this process and get a share of the cookie. I´m talking about the international bankers who funded the UN to achive global government. This would be a problem for both you and your country.
All banking systems are chartered by england. England control all banking systems and court systems.
in 1933 the us lost their freedom to the national bankers. the whole system is build on promisary notes. every time you borrow funds, you create more debt in the system.
http://www.blackhistorychannel.org/blackhistory.html
http://www.youtube.com/user/blackhistorychannel

The IRS is not a U.S. Government Agency. It is an Agency of the IMF. (Diversified Metal Products v. IRS et al. CV-93-405E-EJE U.S.D.C.D.I., Public Law 94-564, Senate Report 94-1148 pg. 5967, Reorganization Plan No. 26, Public Law 102-391.)

rothschild According to EIR, the Clintons invited the married couple to spend their wedding night at the White House

The British purpose of these wars was not to win them, but to continue them so that the United States would be bound to Great Britain via debt.
http://www.greghallett.com/pdf/HTTOTW%20Web,%20Chapters,%20low%20res,17.7.08/HOW%20TO%20TAKE%20OVER%20THE%20WORLD-%20C9-%20Current%20Counter-Intelligence-%2017.7.08.pdf
http://www.greghallett.com/pdf/takeoverworld.pdf

http://www.skolnicksreport.com/
http://www.vsubhash.com/writeups/rothschilds.asp

Yukos controversy.
The Russian government had taken over the rich oil conglomerate Yukos for unpaid taxes. It had also arrested Yukos’ owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky for tax fraud, asset stripping, creative accounting and other related crimes. Khodorkovsky stunned everyone by revealing that, following the loss of Yukos, a hitherto unknown clause in the ownership agreement of the Yukos properties had come into play, which reverted the ownership of Yukos to the Rothschilds. All along, Khodorkovsky had ben acting as a frontman/agent! Very few knew about it – not even the Russian government! More bizzarre, support for Yukos came from an unlikely source – Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Communisty Party! Our wonderful comrade appealed to Russian President Putin to settle the matter amicably with the Rothschildts. This was not a case of of a chameleon changing its color but a leopard losing its spots – just unbelievable! Welcome to the House of Rothschilds. Rothschilds intermarried with the Sinclair
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2003/nov/02/20031102-111400-3720r
http://www.bcmchess.co.uk/news/exhibition2003.html featuring Sir Christopher Jeremy Morse, KCMG and Jacob Rothschild. “The match was played on 28 June 2003”
http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/education/fellowships/trustees.htm Jeremy Morse has been Trustee at the Bank of England from 1994-2004. So its Jacob Rothschild, with Edward L. Morse (Oil) and Sir Christopher Jeremy Morse (Cash) who have been at the players table until at least 2005. Who will be in the Rothschild driver seat for the coming years?

http://crashrecovery.org/fischer

Jacob Rothschild, the current head of the Rothschild dynasty, has intermarried with the Sinclair
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2003/nov/02/20031102-111400-3720r
http://www.bcmchess.co.uk/news/exhibition2003.html
featuring Sir Christopher Jeremy Morse, KCMG and Jacob Rothschild. “The match was played on 28 June 2003”
http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/education/fellowships/trustees.htm
Jeremy Morse has been Trustee at the Bank of England from 1994-2004.
So its Jacob Rothschild, with Edward L. Morse (Oil) and Sir Christopher Jeremy Morse (Cash) who have been at the players table until at least 2005. Who will be in the Rothschild driver seat for the coming years?

 


The REAL World of Oil Spills and Warfare [must watch-read]

Uploaded by JogBird on Apr 30, 2010

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).

Must read: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/21/us/21blowout.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

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?

The real world of oil spills

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.

 

 

Komi, FSU 

 

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 IranJust 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.

http://azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/ai102_folder/102_articles/102_oil_chronology.html

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! 

Update:

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”.

Chevron apology

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 

15/12/2011

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 SOURCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.


Oil Spill Sad Facts

 

1. Gulf War Oil Spill
Tons spilled: 1,360,000-1,500,000
In January 1991, Iraqi forces deliberately released more than 240 million gallons of crude oil into the Persian Gulf in an attempt to thwart an amphibious landing by the U.S. Marines. The resulting oil slick ravaged the area’s marine ecosystem, killing thousands of seabirds and endangering other wildlife. To date, it remains the worst disaster of its kind.

2. Ixtoc I
Tons spilled: 454,000-480,000
The exploratory oil well Ixtoc I exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on June 3, 1979, spewing 140 million gallons of oil into the open sea. It took control experts more than nine months to cap the spill and begin cleanup. Thousands of endangered sea turtles were airlifted to safety when the oil slick encroached upon their nesting site.

3. The Atlantic Empress and the Aegean Captain
Tons spilled: 287,000
On July 19, 1979, two gigantic supertankers collided off the Caribbean island of Little Tobago during a tropical rainstorm. The accident killed 26 crew members and dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the sea.

4. Fergana Valley
Tons spilled: 285,000
In March 1992, 88 million gallons of oil spilled from a well in Fergana Valley, a densely populated industrial and agricultural zone in Uzbekistan. It remains the largest inland oil spill in history.

5. Nowruz Oil Field
Tons spilled: 260,000
On February 10, 1983, at the height of the Iran-Iraq War, an oil tanker collided with the Nowruz platform in the Persian Gulf. The slick caught fire when Iraqi planes attacked, and it took Iranian workers more than six months to cap the well. Eleven people died in the process.

6. ABT Summer
Tons spilled: 260,000
The Liberian supertanker ABT Summer exploded off the coast of Angola on May 28, 1991, killing five crew members. Millions of gallons of oil leaked into the Atlantic Ocean.

7. Castillo de Bellver
Tons spilled: 252,000
On August 6, 1983, a fire broke out aboard the Spanish tanker Castillo de Bellver, causing a massive explosion that spilled 78 million gallons of oil off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. A shift in winds pushed the oil offshore, minimizing the disaster’s environmental effects.

8. Amoco Cadiz
Tons spilled: 223,000
On March 16, 1978, the Amoco Cadiz supertanker wrecked off the coast of Portsall, France. Ultimately, 240 miles of France’s Brittany coast suffered oil damage, with millions of dead mollusks and sea urchins washing ashore. This was the first time images of oil-coated sea birds were seen by the world.

9. M/T Haven
Tons spilled: 144,000
The M/T Haven, a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), suffered a huge explosion off the coast of Genoa, Italy, on April 11, 1991. Six crew members were killed, and the Mediterranean coasts of Italy and France remained polluted for the next 12 years.

10. Odyssey
Tons spilled: 132,000
In November 1988, the American-owned Odyssey drilling rig burst into flames and split in two off the coast of Novia Scotia. The accident killed one person and poured 43 million gallons of oil into the sea.

 


Depopulation via Oil Spills: Uninsk,Russia 1994

 

Oct 14, 2006

Russia’s government, keen to show it is not only targeting foreigners for environmental breaches, said yesterday it might strip up to 19 licences from domestic giant Lukoil.

Russia’s outspoken environmental watchdog Oleg Mitvol led the criticism of the nation’s top oil firm while on a trip to the Arctic north of the Komi republic in western Russia, where Lukoil is active.

After listening to villagers’ complaints about pollution, he prodded a frozen pond with a stick to reveal oily-looking water underneath. “In the rest of the world, companies work according to environmental regulations. But here in Russia for the past 15 years people have been doing whatever they wanted,” he said.

Markets were sceptical that Russian environmental authorities, who have waged a fierce campaign against Royal Dutch Shell’s giant Sakhalin-2 project, would actually remove licences from a Russian oil giant.

Lukoil’s shares were up almost 3 per cent at 2,085 roubles 61.71) by lunchtime yesterday, despite Mr Mitvol’s threats.


Oil and gas pipelines social and environment impact assessment from daydev

Mr Mitvol, who works under the Natural Resources Ministry, has also been vociferous in his attacks on foreign companies working on Sakhalin. “Everywhere I’ve been in Russia, I’ve never seen anything as bad as Sakhalin,” Mr Mitvol said.

But he added that foreign firms were more cooperative than Russian firms, which needed to put their house in order too.

In 1994, the republic of Komi, where Usinsk lies 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, became the scene of Russia’s largest oil spill when an estimated 100,000 tons splashed from an aging pipeline.
It killed plants and animals, and polluted up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) of two local rivers, killing thousands of fish. In villages most affected, respiratory diseases rose by some 28 percent in the year following the leak.
Seen from a helicopter, the oil production area is dotted with pitch-black ponds. Fresh leaks are easy to find once you step into the tundra north of Usinsk. To spot a leak, find a dying tree. Fir trees with drooping gray, dry branches look as though scorched by a wildfire. They are growing insoil polluted by oil.
Usinsk spokeswoman Tatyana Khimichuk said the city administration had no powers to influence oil company operations.
“Everything that happens at the oil fields is Lukoil’s responsibility,” she said, referring to Russia’s second largest oil company, which owns a network of pipelines in the region.
Komi’s environmental protection officials also blamed oil companies. The local prosecutor’s office said in a report this year that the main problem is “that companies that extract hydrocarbons focus on making profits rather than how to use the resources rationally.”
Valery Bratenkov works as a foreman at oil fields outside Usinsk.
After hours, he is with a local environmental group. Bratenkov used to point out to his Lukoil bosses that oil spills routinely happen under their noses and asked them to repair the pipelines. “They were offended and said that costs too much money,” he said.
Activists like Bratenkov find it hard if not impossible to hold authorities to account in the area since some 90 percent of the local population comprises oil workers and their families who have moved from other regions of Russia, and depend on the industry for their livelihood.
Representatives of Lukoil denied claims that they try to conceal spills and leaks, and said that no more than 2.7 tons leaked last year from its production areas in Komi.
Ivan Blokov, campaign director at Greenpeace Russia, who studies oil spills, said the situation in Komi is replicated across Russia’s oil-producing regions, which stretch from the Black Sea in the southwest to the Chinese border in Russia’s Far East.
“It is happening everywhere,” Blokov said. “It’s typical of any oil field in Russia. The system is old and it is not being replaced in time by any oil company in the country.”
What also worries scientists and environmentalists is that oil spills are not confined to abandoned or aging fields. Alarmingly, accidents happen at brand new pipelines, said Barenboim.

Other oil sites in the Komi area, close to the town of Usinsk, include Total’s Kharyaga PSA, although it was not in Mr Mitvol’s sights yesterday.

The Natural Resources Ministry in Moscow said eight Lukoil deposits in Khanty-Mansiisk in western Siberia and 11 in Komi could lose licences due to alleged breaches of licensing terms.

“The inspections are a part of a state campaign to strengthen control over the oil and gas sector,” said Valery Nesterov, an energy analyst at Troika Dialog brokerage. But he downplayed the risk that Lukoil might be deprived of valuable licences. “The list of the companies which have been threatened with having their licence revoked is very long but no licences have actually been withdrawn so far,” he said.

[read more]

Russia’s Population Meltdown
Declining birth rates and soaring rates of disease now threaten Russia’s very survival as a nation.

Last July, in his first annual presidential address to the Russian people, President Vladimir Putin listed the 16 Amost acute problems facing our country. Number one on the list, topping even the country’s dire economic condition and the diminishing effectiveness of its political institutions, was the declining size of Russia’s population. Putin put the matter plainly. The Russian population is shrinking by 750,000 every year, and (thanks to a large excess of deaths over births) looks likely to continue dropping for years to come. If the trend is not altered, he warned, the very survival of the nation will be endangered.

Unfortunately, even Putin’s grim reckoning of the numbers may understate the dimensions of the calamity confronting his country. Its birthrate has reached extraordinarily low levels, while the death rate is high and rising. The incidence of HIV/AIDS, syphilis, tuberculosis, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases is soaring, even as the Russian health care system staggers. Perhaps 40 percent of the nation’s hospitals and clinics do not have hot water or sewage. Seventy-five percent or more of pregnant women suffer a serious pathology during their pregnancy, such as sepsis, toxemia, or anemia. Only about 25 percent of Russian children are born healthy. (The rate of infant mortality, however, has declined, at least according to official statistics.) The leading Russian pediatrician Aleksandr Baranov estimates that only five to 10 percent of all Russian children are healthy.

As if these challenges were not enough, Russia bears the burden of decades of environmentally destructive practices that have a direct, harmful impact on public health. Their legacy includes not just conventional pollution of the air and water but serious contamination around many nuclear and chemical sites throughout the country. In Dzerzhinsk and Chapayevsk, two of the 160 military chemical cities that produce chemicals for the military-industrial complex, the rate of spontaneous abortions or miscarriages is above 15 percent of conceptions a strong indication of chromosomal aberrations produced by the environment. Yet a weakened Russia lacks the means to contain ongoing pollution or to begin the monumental task of environmental cleanup. The decline in the size of the Russian population, and in Russians’ general health, vastly increases the difficulty of creating the economic health upon which such a cleanup and so much else depends.

It is not only compassion that should arouse the concern of the West. While some may cheer the weakening of this less-than-friendly power, still armed with large numbers of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, Russia’s sickening decline raises the twin prospects of political disintegration and subsequent consolidation under an authoritarian leader hostile to Western interests. The nation’s problems, in any event, can no longer be thought of as somehow only its own. Last year, an unclassified U.S. National Intelligence Estimate warned that the global rise of new and re-emergent infectious diseases will not only contribute to social and political instability in other countries but endanger U.S. citizens at home and abroad. Deaths from infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS) in the United States have nearly doubled, to some 170,000 annually, since 1980. And Russia’s deteriorating weapons stockpiles pose a threat of unknown dimensions, particularly to the nearby Scandinavian countries.

The broad outlines of Russia’s looming catastrophe can be sketched in stark terms. Russians are dying at a significantly faster rate than they are being born. Gloomy as it was, President Putin’s speech was based on the relatively rosy projections of the Russian State Statistical Agency, or Goskomstat. This scenario assumes an increase in the total fertility rate beginning in 2006, a decline in the mortality rate, and an increase in net in-migration. But only the latter projection is remotely plausible. By 2050, I believe, Russia’s population will shrink by one-third. In other words, it will drop from roughly 145 million today to about 100 million, a blow that even a stable, prosperous country would have difficulty sustaining.

My projections, based on a model developed for West Germany by the Population Reference Bureau, are less apocalyptic than those of some other Russian officials, Duma members, and demographers. A new study produced under the auspices of the Institute of Social and Political Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, for example, predicts that population will decline to between 70 and 90 million by 2045. If one takes the annual 750,000 decrease noted by Putin and multiplies it by 50 years, the result is a drop in population of 37.5 million persons, to a net total of 108 million not far from my estimate of 100 million. The U.S. population, meanwhile, is projected by the U.S. Bureau of the Census to grow by 2050 from today’s 275 million to 396 million, a level almost four times the projected Russian population.

In broad demographic terms, one can say that Russia’s population is being squeezed by two pincers. On one side is the fertility rate, which has been falling since the early 1980s. Russian women now bear little more than half the number of children needed to sustain the population at current levels. In absolute terms, the number of annual births has dropped by half since reaching a high of 2.5 million in 1983. Due to Russia’s rising mortality rates, fertility would need to reach 2.15 births per woman just to reach the so-called simple population replacement level. As of 1999, however, the total fertility rate stood at 1.17 births per woman. That is to say, Russian women bear an average of 1.17 children over their entire fertile life, from ages 15 to 49. Fertility would need to rise by some two-thirds to reach the replacement level.

The Goskomstat projection points to an increase in fertility to 1.7 births per woman by 2006. But this prediction seems to be based on a simple extrapolation of existing trends that does not take into account the deterioration of Russians’ health. The harsh reality is that the number of women in the prime childbearing ages of 20 to 29 is falling, while the rates of sexually transmitted diseases among men and women (which affect fertility) and gynecological illnesses are both rising. The ranks of eligible parents, especially fathers, are being thinned by tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, alcoholism, drug abuse, and other causes. Fifteen to 20 percent of all Russian families experience infertility, with males accounting for 40 to 60 percent of the cases. Even as mortality and disease take more and more young people out of the pool of potential parents, attitudes toward childbearing have changed for the worse. An estimated two-thirds of all pregnancies now end in abortions. It is hard to see how the hoped-for fertility gains will occur. A steeper decline in Russia’s population seems unavoidable.

Mortality rates are also assumed to rise in the official calculation, but much less markedly than I anticipate. Some perspective on the Russian situation is provided by a comparison with the United States, which projects an average life expectancy at birth and survival rates for specific age groups that are far from the best in the world especially among 15- to 19-year-old males, who kill themselves with drugs, alcohol, and motorcycles. But in the United States, a boy who lives to age 16 has an 88 to 90 percent chance of living to age 60. His Russian counterpart has only a 58-60 percent chance. And those chances are shrinking.

Tuberculosis is only one of the maladies whose surging incidence is not reflected in current Goskomstat projections. The disease flourishes among people weakened by HIV/AIDS, alcoholism, and poverty. Findings by the research institute of the Russian Federal Security Service project enormous numbers of deaths from tuberculosis. Whereas only 7.7 of every 100 new Russian tuberculosis victims died in 1985, the death rate is now 25.5 per 100. According to official reports, the number of tuberculosis deaths soared by 30 percent in the 1998-99 period. The 1999 death toll of 29,000 was about 15 times the toll in the United States, or nearly 30 times greater when measured as deaths per 100,000 population in both countries.

The Russian authorities also underestimate the future impact of HIV/AIDS, spread chiefly by sexual contact and intravenous drug use. Vadim Pokrovskiy of the Federal Center for AIDS Prevention, Russia’s leading HIV/AIDS epidemiologist, estimates there will be five to 10 million deaths in the years after 2015 (deaths that, I believe, aren’t reflected in the projections). Most of the victims will be 15 to 29 years old, and most will be males further diminishing the pool of potential fathers.

Moscow reported 2.5 new cases of HIV nationally per 100,000 population in 1998, but the actual rate may be five, 20, or even 50 to 100 times greater, according to Russian epidemiologists and health officials. (The U.S. HIV incidence rate was 16.7 new cases per 100,000 population in 1998.) The Baltic port city of Kaliningrad and its surrounding oblast hold the unhappy distinction of recording the highest official rate of HIV increase, at 76.9 new cases per 100,000. Moscow, however, is currently overtaking it.

Some Russian demographers take comfort from the fact that their country is not entirely alone, since deaths exceed births in a number of European countries. But in countries such as Germany and Italy, the net ratio is close to 1.1 deaths to every birth. In Russia, deaths exceeded births by 929,600 in 1999, a ratio of 1.8:1 . If health trends and environmental conditions are not dramatically changed for the better, Russia could see two or more deaths for every birth in the not-too-distant future.

None of this is to say that there are not some signs of improvement. Childhood vaccination rates for tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, and other diseases have risen since 1995. Vaccination for rubella (German measles), which causes birth defects when contracted by pregnant women in the first trimester, was added to Russia’s prescribed immunization calendar in 1999. (How­ever, no vaccines are produced in the country and none are yet imported; almost 600,000 cases were reported in 1999.) But the larger trends support the vision of looming demographic catastrophe. And a number of other developments also offer dark portents for the country’s future rates of fertility and mortality, and for the general health of its people, especially its children.

Sexually transmitted diseases have seen incredible rates of increase during the past decade. These diseases cripple and kill, damage reproductive health, and are associated with the spread of HIV/AIDS. The causes can be traced to the explosion of pornography and promiscuity; to the growth of prostitution, notably among 10- to 14-year-old girls; and, especially, to drug abuse involving shared needles and syringes. In 1997, the Ministry of Internal Affairs estimated that the market for illegal drugs was around $7 billion, 600 times greater than in 1991.

The Russian Ministry of Health reported 450,000 new cases of syphilis in 1997, and Goskomstat published a figure of close to 405,000. These are the last reasonably accurate statistics we are likely to have, thanks to a 1998 law that imposes prison terms on syphilitics who contract the disease through drug abuse.

Just as one would predict, the number of registered new cases of syphilis declined in 1998 and 1999. However, the explosion in new cases of HIV, and a concomitant increase in the estimated number of drug addicts, belie the latest figures on syphilis. The epidemiological synergy between HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (including gonorrhea, which is vastly under-reported) suggests not only that syphilis is more widespread than reported but that further increases in the incidence of HIV/AIDS can be expected.

The 1998 law that classified drug addicts as criminals ensured that few addicts a group at high risk for HIV will seek treatment. A specialist cited in Komsomol’skaya Pravda in 1998 made this grim prediction: We will see increased risk of complications and overdoses, the death rate among drug addicts will rise, incidence of HIV/AIDS will rise; and…the illegal market of drug-related services will begin to develop quite intensively.

Smoking is a habit among an estimated 70 percent of Russian males and one-third of females, and multinational tobacco companies aim to increase their sales in the country. The World Health Organization estimates that some 14 percent of all deaths in 1990 in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were traceable to smoking-related illnesses; it expects that number to rise to 22 percent by 2020.

Alcohol consumption reflects an epidemic of alcoholism. Russian vodka produced for the domestic market (usually in half-liter bottles) comes with a tear-off top rather than a replaceable cork or screw top because it’s assumed that the bottle, once opened, will not be returned to the refrigerator. An estimated 20 million Russians roughly one-seventh of the population are alcoholics. Russia’s annual death toll from alcohol poisoning alone may have risen to 35,000 in 2000, as compared with 300 in the United States in the late 1990s.

Hepatitis B has sharply increased in incidence, but the sole producer of vaccines for the disease told me in Moscow that only 1.3 million doses are produced annually to meet a total demand of 13 to 14 million doses. Perhaps even more alarming in the long run are increases in the incidence of hepatitis C, an illness that chiefly attacks the liver and requires a very costly treatment protocol. The disease is often fatal.

Micronutrients are in short supply, especially iodine. No iodized salt has been produced in Russia since 1991, and little or none has been imported. In young children, iodine deficiency causes mental retardation.

Avitaminosis is common. A longitudinal study by the Institute of Nutrition of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences finds shortages of folic acid as well as vitamins A, B complex, D, and E among 30 percent of the population.

Heart disease exacts a toll, in age-standardized death rates, more than twice that in the United States and Western Europe. The death rate from such disease per 100,000 population is currently 736.1 in Russia, 267.7 in Belgium, 317.2 in the United Kingdom, and 307.2 in the United States.

Cancer is becoming more common. New cases increased from 191.8 per 100,000 population in 1990 to 200.7 in 1998. The incidence is likely to rise as a consequence of long-term exposure to low doses of radiation from decades of nuclear testing, as well as to benzo(a)pyrene, dioxin, and other industrial carcinogens. As in so many other cases, official statistics understate the problem. There is significant under-reporting of breast cancer, for example, especially among women of Muslim origin, who are reluctant to seek treatment from male doctors.


To all the foregoing challenges to the Russian future we must add a daunting collection of environmental ills. Russia will have to cope with a legacy of industrial development undertaken virtually without heed of the consequences for human health and the environment, just as it will have to contend with the consequences of decades of testing and stockpiling of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

The crises that temporarily focus worldwide attention on these problems, such as the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, only begin to hint at their severity. The news media beamed shocking reports of the 1994 Usinsk oil spill around the world, but it was only one of 700 major accidents and spills (defined as those involving 25,000 barrels of oil or more) that occur every year in Russia, spreading phenols, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and a variety of other toxic chemicals. As Victor Ivanovich Danilov-Danilyan, the former head of the State Committee on Environment, notes, these losses are equivalent to about 25 Exxon Valdez spills per month!

Radioactivity remains a continuing concern. After the 1963 Test Ban Treaty barred open-air atomic weapons testing, the nuclear powers continued to conduct underground tests. But there was an important difference in the Soviet Union. There, many of the nation’s more than 100 nuclear explosions occurred in densely populated regions such as the Volga, as well as in the Urals and Yakutiya (Sakha) regions. After first denying that any of those explosions had been vented into the atmosphere, then Minister of Atomic Industry Viktor Mikhaylov later admitted that venting had occurred in 30 percent of the underground blasts.

What goes on today within the 10 formerly secret nuclear cities devoted to the development and production of nuclear weapons in Russia remains largely a mystery. Around the city of Chelyabinsk, a thousand miles east of Moscow in the Urals, some 450,000 Russians face unknown risks from a series of spills and accidents that occurred from the late 1940s to the 1960s. And area rivers may have been tainted by seepage from nuclear waste directly injected deep underground at the Krasnoyarsk, Dmitrovgrad, and Tomsk sites. Near the Tomsk-7 facility, the site of a serious nuclear accident in 1993, Russian and American environmentalists recently found evidence of phosphorous-32, a radionuclide with a half-life of only about two months. The discovery strongly suggests that radioactive wastewater used in cooling Tomsk-7’s two remaining plutonium-producing plants was illegally dumped.

Chemical pollution is widespread. Even in Moscow, which is home to much heavy industry, there is evidence that pollution has caused genetic deformities in the young [see photo, facing page]. In a study of the impact of chemical, petrochemical, and machine-building industries on human health, the Russian Ministry of Health found that newborns suffered congenital anomalies at a much higher rate (108 to 152 per 10,000 births) in industrial cities than in rural localities (39 to 54 per 10,000).

Alarming cases of mercury pollution, which causes illness and birth defects, have been reported (though aggregate official data have never been published). Three years ago, 16 tons of mercury was released upriver from the major northern city of Arkhangel’sk. In Krasnoural’sk, a city in the Urals that produces car batteries, Russian and American researchers have found that 76.5 percent of the children are mentally retarded. Lead is the cause. Cadmium and arsenic are prevalent in the air and land throughout much of Russia. In the Arctic north, wind-blown heavy metal salts and other pollutants from the city of Norilsk’s nonferrous metal plants have left the land barren and treeless for 75 kilometers to the southeast. Lakes and rivers everywhere are badly polluted by heavy metals dumped by industry and allowed to run off farmland. Estimates by the Yeltsin-era Ministry of Ecology and other observers suggest that only 25 to 50 percent of Russia’s fresh water is potable.

The world has not been blind to Russia’s plight. By late 1998, the United States and other donors had sent more than $66 billion in aid, according to a U.S. government estimate. The list of donors includes even South Korea, and recently officials of the European Union and the World Health Organization have recognized the need to act aggressively. But the aid has been inadequate and piecemeal, and its delivery has been hampered by corruption and inept administration. The frightening reality is that it may already be too late to help. Andrey Iliaronov, an economic adviser to President Putin, has pointed to 2003 as the year of reckoning, when the demographic crisis, the crumbling infrastructure, and the burden of massive foreign debt may combine to deal a crippling blow to Russia’s remaining productive capacity and thus, to its ability to help itself.

Where will the money come from for all the myriad improvements needed in reproductive and child health, for tuberculosis prevention and treatment, for HIV/AIDS cocktails of protease inhibitors? Who will supply the $400 billion needed to clean up the water supply over the next 20 years, or the $6 billion to clean up chemical weapons storage sites, or the hundreds of billions to clean up nuclear waste? The list of needs is depressingly long, and the Russian government has not always taken the right steps to address them. Last year, for example, President Putin abolished Russia’s main environmental agency, the State Committee on Environment, and transferred its responsibilities to the Ministry of Natural Resources, which is in the business of developing the country’s oil and mineral reserves. And yet, despite how daunting the task may seem, and how long the odds of success, we cannot simply ignore the ruin in Russia. The United States and other nations of the world have a profound interest in helping to avert an economic and demographic Chernobyl that would give a fearful new meaning to the word meltdown.
[read more]


Beyond Horror: “Silenced” Oil Spills

 

In 1981 a UNEP fact-finding mission to East Africa identified large-scale erosion, oil pollution, damaged coral reefs, ruined mangrove swamps, pollution from fertilizers and threats to precious marine animals as the major environmental problems in the region.

The list of threats to the environment has changed little since then. A workshop in 1997 listed domestic sewage, solid domestic waste, habitat degradation, agrochemical pollution and industrial waste pollution. The region remains characterized by vulnerable economies, large populations with a high rate of population growth, and areas subject to environmental stress.

Pollution

The important and heavily fished reef zone close to shore is particularly vulnerable to pollution and silting. Oil is a major pollution threat to coastal ecosystems, owing to the heavy use of the tanker route along the East African coast. On any given day there are hundreds of tankers in the Region, many of them Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs). Slicks are brought in from spills in the open ocean by coastal currents, while operational discharges from ships and refineries add to the load.

In recent decades, the growth of industry has brought an increasing volume of effluents to coastal waters. The use of agricultural chemicals has continued to grow, and sewage treatment continues to be inadequate in many parts of the region.

Some species of marine animals are already endangered as a result of human activities, particularly the dugong or manatee, which is often caught in fishing nets and drowned. Marine turtles continue to decrease in numbers as their eggs are poached and the adults are killed for their meat and decorative shells.

Eastern Africa is also undergoing an extraordinary rate of urbanization. As the cities have become overcrowded, water supplies have proven insufficient, and systems for drainage, sewerage and refuse disposal inadequate. Domestic sewage is discharged directly into rivers and in some cases the sea.

Although industrialization remains slow relative to other parts of the world, it takes place without proper environmental impact assessments legislative controls, leading to further pressure on the environment. Rivers, creeks and the sea have become dumping sites for industrial wastes. Industries of major environmental concern in the region include textiles, tanneries, paper and pulp mills, breweries, chemical factories, cement factories, sugar factories, fertilizer factories, and oil refineries. In some countries, slaughter houses near the sea are a serious source of marine pollution.

Desertification

Long drawn out droughts, over-grazing and poor agricultural practices, deforestation and reclamation of wetlands for agriculture are all combining to bring about desertification in the coastal areas of East Africa.

The continued high population growth rate is placing pressure on land beyond its carrying capacity, and driving out the traditional nomadic practices which allowed for environmental recovery. Livestock development is seldom accompanied by proper pasture management, leading to desert conditions in areas of concentration.

When these destructive pressures occur in semi-arid areas with shallow soils, desertification and desert encroachment can becomes irreversible. The semi-arid parts of Eastern Africa are particularly vulnerable.

Coastal degradation and erosion

Human encroachment and activities such as animal husbandry and agriculture are rapidly degrading the coastal environment of Eastern Africa, resulting in deforestation, destruction of mangroves and disappearance of other vegetation; a decline in soil fertility, and the death of wildlife. Marine resources are directly threatened by these activities.

Mangroves were once common in sheltered bays and estuaries, providing shelter to many important fish species and prawns. They are now threatened by intensive cropping to provide firewood, poles, tannin, medicinal products, paper pulp and timber, and to open up new space for aquaculture and salt production. Mangrove swamps are also threatened by fluctuations in the amount of fresh water and sediment reaching them caused by upstream hydraulic works, and indirectly by destruction of protective reefs.poles, firewood and by large-scale clearing for salt production.

Coral reefs have been damaged by excessive siltation resulting from poor agricultural practices, deforestation along riverbanks, and the dredging and and dumping associated with harbour development. Many were damaged by fishing with dynamite and poison, especially before these methods were outlawed in part of the region. Tourists collect coral as souvenirs. More recently the bleaching of corals has become a severe problem.

The shoreline in most of the region is receding as a result of coastal erosion: the shoreline retreat over parts of Tanzania has been estimated at between three and five metres per day. Barrier islands are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Climate change

A task team report on the implications of climate change for the Eastern African region (see UNEP: Potential impacts of expected climate change on coastal and near-shore environment. UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies No.140 (UNEP, 1992.) concluded that the region’s low-lying coastal areas and marine ecosystems, water resources, terrestrial ecosystems and human settlements and coastal infrastructure are at risk as a consequence of climate change impacts.

The economies of the region are dominated by agriculture. Fishing is an important source of food and contributes to the economy of the majority of the countries. Tourism is an important activity.

The effects of climate change will be felt everywhere, perhaps most obviously in altered patterns of rainfall, coastal weathering, atmospheric pressure and evaporation. The spatial and temporal distribution of storms and cyclones will change their paths and frequency, and could well increase in intensity: Some scientists believe the terrible floods of early 2000 in Mozambique are but a taste of worse to come.

Besides the direct toll on human lives, there will be impacts on coastal habitats such as coral reefs, lagoons, and mangroves. The reefs will be vulnerable to wave action and sea-level rise as well as sedimentation. Their destruction will lead to a decline in natural coastal defences and further encourage coastal erosion.

The quality and quantity of water available from rainfall, rivers and ground water will be affected by changes in the distribution and amount of rainfall, evapo-transpiration, surface runoff, river discharge, recharge, and aquifer volumes. Drier and hotter conditions would place an inordinate pressure on water resources.

Ecosystem effects could include latitudinal and altitudinal shifts in plant and animal species as well as, loss of biodiversity due to water scarcity and arid soil conditions. While agriculture might benefit somewhat from a global increase in CO2, moisture deficits would lower crop yields and require additional irrigation. Sea-level rise would increase the intrusion of saline water up river mouths and also decrease the area available for cultivation on low-lying coastal areas and river estuaries.

Fisheries would be affected by changes to the breeding and migratory habits of most fish, hence, year to year variability of stocks could increase leading to a planning and management problems. Socio-economic activities, and infrastructure such as port facilities, waste disposal, roads, are already under stress. Climate change would create additional stress, hence reducing economic performance and growth.

The human factor

A critical problem in the region is the rapid rate of human population growth in some countries. Infrastructure has a hard time keeping up, with resulting strain on educational facilities as well as resources.

Much of the population resides in the coastal areas, employed by the light industry located along the coast and others in the tourist industry. Most of the region’s economies rely on agriculture and tourism which together contribute close to 50% of the gross domestic product. Tourism specifically is a main earner of foreign exchange in the coastal parts of most of the countries in the region.

The population is unevenly distributed over the region. Northern Mozambique and Merca northwards of Somalia are almost uninhabited due to extreme climate conditions.

Both mainland and island populations are concentrated on the coasts, where population growth is higher than average for the region as a whole, largely owing to migration, urbanization and favourable employment opportunities. The majority of these populations are employed by the light industry located along the coast and others in the tourist industry. Most of the economies rely on agriculture and tourism which together contribute close to 50% of the gross domestic product. Tourism specifically is a main earner of foreign exchange in the coastal parts of most of the countries in the region.

The extremely rapid rate of population growth in some of the countries in the region is a critical factor, and the resulting pressure on social amenities, notably in the coastal cities, has become very high. The infrastructure is unable to keep pace with the population growth rate; educational facilities are no longer adequate and the resource base to support the required expansion programme meagre. There is great disparity in per capita income in the countries of the region for a variety of political and environmental reasons.

Oil gushing from an undersea well in the Gulf of Mexico has damaged BP’s reputation and share price but accidents involving other companies in less scrutinized parts of the world have avoided the media glare. Investors have knocked around $30 billion off BP’s value since an explosion at a drilling rig killed 11 people and began an oil spill the London-based major is struggling to plug nearly a month after the accident happened.

The U.S. media and political machine has turned its full force on BP and U.S. President Barack Obama has set up a commission into the leak which is sending an estimated 5,000 barrels per day (bpd) into Gulf of Mexico waters.

In contrast, the international media has largely ignored the latest incidents of pipeline damage in Nigeria, where the public can only guess how much oil might have been leaked. The most recent damage in Nigeria, which has not been attributed to militant attacks that have preyed on Nigerian oil infrastructure for years, forced U.S. operator ExxonMobil to relieve itself from contractual obligations by declaring force majeure on its exports of Nigerian benchmark crude.

The light sweet crude is particularly well-suited for refining into gasoline and is regularly supplied to the United States, the world’s biggest oil burner. Exxon declined the opportunity to give details of the damage, clean-up or repair work.

An industry source, who declined to be named, said 100,000 bpd of oil had leaked for a week from a pipeline that has since been mended.

The Largest Oil Spills in History, 1901 to Present

“If this (the BP spill) were in the Niger Delta, no one would be batting an eyelid,” said Holly Pattenden, African oil analyst at consultants Business Monitor International. “They have these kinds of oil spills in Nigeria all the time.”
Share Price Impact

BP’s share price has fallen around 18 percent since news of the fire at the drilling station on April 20, while Exxon shares were largely unchanged after the force majeure announcement. The largest operator in Nigeria, Royal Dutch Shell has clashed with the Nigerian government for decades following numerous spills in Africa’s largest energy producer.

Shell said in a statement on its website that its Nigerian joint venture cleans up oil spills as quickly as possible, no matter what their cause, but is sometimes delayed by security concerns or because some communities deny access.

The Anglo-Dutch major said the volume of oil spills in Nigeria for its joint venture was almost 14,000 tonnes last year, the equivilant of around 280 bpd, mainly because of militant attacks on facilities.

“It (the U.S.) is without doubt the worse place for BP to lose their political capital,” said James Marriott, oil and gas analyst at environmental organisation Platform.

“If the U.S. administration gets aggressive against BP, then it’s a problem for them offshore, onshore in terms of shale gas, for conventional gas, refining, some cross-border projects with Canada and further afield.” [read more…]

Nigeria’s Ogoniland region could take 30 years to recover fully from the damage caused by years of oil spills, a long-awaited UN report says.

The study says complete restoration could entail the world’s “most wide-ranging and long-term oil clean-up”.

Communities faced a severe health risk, with some families drinking water with high levels of carcinogens, it said.

Oil giant Shell has accepted liability for two spills and said all oil spills were bad for Nigeria and the company.

“We will continue working with our partners in Nigeria, including the government, to solve these problems and on the next steps to help clean up Ogoniland,” Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), said in a statement.

The Bodo fishing community has said it will seek hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.

Nigeria is one of the world’s major oil producers.
‘900 times recommended levels’

The UN assessment of Ogoniland, which lies in the Niger Delta, said 50 years of oil operations in the region had “penetrated further and deeper than many had supposed”.

During a visit to a village in Ogoniland in 2007, I went to a small stream that gave people water for all their daily needs. The effects of oil spillage were clear. On the surface of the water there was a thin film of oil. Villages moved it with their hands before scooping water.

Villagers told me no fish had been seen in the stream for more than five years. They told me people had been killed by oil pipes exploding and others had developed health problems after inhaling fumes from burning oil well heads.

When I visited the village again in 2011, oil spillage had worsened. Villagers no longer drank water from the stream. They walked for up to four hours to get water.

Over the past two decades, successive Nigerian governments have failed the people of Ogoniland. I doubt this report will change anything. In the meantime, the voices of secession in Ogoniland will grow louder.

“In at least 10 Ogoni communities where drinking water is contaminated with high levels of hydrocarbons, public health is seriously threatened,” the UN Environmental Programme (Unep) said in a statement.

Some areas which appeared unaffected were actually “severely contaminated” underground, Unep said.

In one community, the report says, families were drinking from wells which were contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen, at 900 times recommended levels.

It said scientists at the site, which lay close to a Nigerian National Petroleum Company pipeline, found oil slicks eight centimetres thick floating on the water.

This was reportedly due to an oil spill more than six years ago, it said.

The report, based on examinations of some 200 locations over 14 months, said Shell had created public health and safety issues by failing to apply its own procedures in the control and maintenance of oilfield infrastructure.

But it also said local people were sabotaging pipelines in order to steal oil.

The report says that restoring the region could cost $1bn (£613m) and take 25-30 years to complete.[read more]

An equally powerful question: Will the political impact be just as significant?

Clues to this may lie in the Ecuadorean Amazon, whose lands and politics have been transformed by devastating oil pollution wrought by Texaco and the country’s own national oil company, Petroecuador.

Twenty years ago, near the beginning of that transformation, I sat beside a campesino-turned-community activist, Segundo Jaramillo, as our small plane banked low over the company oil town of Lago Agrio.

Below lay the grimy hub of Texaco’s former operation in Ecuador, with its maze of pipelines, pumping stations, and Wild West bars. Mr. Jaramillo gripped his armrests and looked out the window nervously; it was his first flight.

Heartsick and angered by the oil-smeared landscape that surrounded his home and threatened his family’s health, he had come to Quito by an arduous bus ride through the Andes.

In the capital, he met with Texaco critics and antipetroleum activists, who introduced us. Now we were returning to the Amazon so he could show me his homeland.

In the coming days with Jaramillo and local indigenous leaders along the Napo and Aguarico rivers, I began to understand the extent of the damage.

Huge open pools of oil and toxic sludge were scattered throughout the rain forest, dumped unceremoniously by indifferent oil workers. Contaminated water supplies had Jaramillo’s neighbors complaining of skin diseases, nonstop headaches, and internal organ pain.

In the Cofan Indian village of Dureno, the Aguarico – “River of Rich Waters” – was so polluted that villagers could no longer bathe in it.

A young leader called Toribe told me the population of Cofanes in the area, once 70,000, had shrunk to 3,000 since the day “a large and noisy bird” – actually a Texaco helicopter – appeared in the early 1970s, scoping the then-pristine forest for places to drill. “Many fled from here,” the young indigenous activist told me. “The whole structure of our lives has changed.”

In all, according to the book “Amazon Crude Oil,” edited by the environmental lawyer Judith Kimerling, Texaco dumped 19 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into the Amazon, while nearly 17 million gallons of crude – many more than in the Exxon-Valdez disaster – spilled from the main Amazon-Andes pipeline, which feeds tankers bound for the United States. The impact on public health is impossible to quantify, but one study, citing benzene contamination leaking from unlined pits, links oil production to 1,401 cancer deaths in the Ecuadorean Amazon.

The human toll of Ecuador’s toxic oil legacy helped remake the country’s politics.

Alliances among the nation’s indigenous groups, Ecuadorean social justice organizations, and the international environmental movement led to support for emerging leaders who sought to distance themselves from the country’s colonial past.

Ecuador, long the quintessential banana republic whose policies benefitted the US and a corrupt local elite, is now governed by a left-leaning president, Rafael Correa, who declared upon entering office that “many of the oil contracts are a true entrapment for the country.” (Many of the groups that helped bring Mr. Correa to power are now disillusioned with him.) One of Correa’s favorite targets is Chevron, which bought Texaco in 2001 and which is now defending itself against a $27.3 billion class action lawsuit in a Lago Agrio courtroom.[read more]

[2011]A recent oil spill in China’s Bohai Sea has raised concerns about the lasting impacts the incident may have to China’s local fishing industry and the surrounding marine environment. The spill began in early June after a reported failure of the central control system on a main oil platform in the Penglai 19-3 oil field.

In an apparent cover up a press release was not announced by joint owners American based Conoco Phillips and China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) until late June and the spill did not make headline news until early July.

CNOOC announced on July 3rd that the leak of crude oil was under control and that the clean up of the effected 1 square kilometer of ocean was almost complete. China’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA) however reported in mid July that although a clean up was underway the leak was still not entirely under control and that the crude oil directly affected 158 square kilometers of ocean with water quality downgraded in upwards of 3,400 square kilometers of ocean.

Effects of the spill are already being seen in north China’s Hebei province where scallop farmers are reporting unprecedented mortalities of upwards of 70% of their seedlings. Farmers are detecting oil particles in the affected scallops as well as along their local beaches. The economic loss has thus far been estimated at 350 million Yuan or 54 million USD. Some of the scallop fishermen are organizing a lawsuit against CNOOC and Conoco Phillips for the damages they have already incurred from the effects of the oil spill.

The scallop fishery may be the first of many to be adversely affected by this unfortunate event and only time will tell the lasting impacts to the Bohai Sea ecosystem.

Chemical Pollution
Plants and animals produce countless chemical substances as part of their life processes. For the purposes of the Ocean Health Index, ‘chemical’ refers to a compound or substance that has been purified or manufactured by human sources.

More than 100,000 chemicals are used commercially (Daly 2006), and many enter the marine environment via atmospheric transport, runoff into waterways, or direct disposal into the ocean.

Three general categories of chemicals are of particular concern in the marine environment: oil, toxic metals, and persistent organic pollutants.

The total amount of oil entering the ocean has been estimated, but global data on the size and geographic distribution of oil spills are not available, so oil pollution could not be included as a separate category within the Ocean Health Index. However, oil would be among the substances contained in runoff from impervious surfaces and released by shipping and ports.

‘Oil’ is the general term for any thick, viscous, typically flammable liquid that is insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents. Plants and animals produce a variety of natural oils, but the Clean Waters goal is primarily concerned with oil derived from geological deposits of petroleum (crude oil) for use as a fuel or lubricant.

Natural oil makes up 47% of the oil in the ocean. About 600,000 metric tonnes of oil enters the ocean naturally each year by seepage through many cracks in the seafloor (NRC 2003), but input from each is typically slow (Wells 1995) and natural seepage is not considered to be pollution.

The other half of the oil comes from anthropogenic sources, including boats, land-based runoff and, to a lesser degree, oil spills. These sources pose a greater threat to marine environments as the oil enters the ocean in concentrated areas at a high rate of flow.

The largest sources of human oil pollution are urban-based runoff and operational discharge of fuel from boating traffic and port operations. Discharge associated with boats constitutes 24% of the total amount of oil in the ocean (UNEP/GPA 2006).

Only 8% of overall oil ocean pollution is a result of spills during transportation or production. However, the toxicity levels of these spills tend to persist over time and have been linked to highly visible local and regional disasters.

After 20 years, oil pollution from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill persists and, in some areas, is nearly as toxic as initial levels (Exxon Valdez Trustee Council 2009; Raloff 2009).

Nicholas Forte has spent the last year with an array of health issues. Headaches. Migraines. Nausea. Breathing problems so severe they would land him in the hospital.

“We have no idea what it is,” the 22-year-old Battle Creek resident told Michigan Messenger. “Then it escalated to seizures.”

And while the seizures landed him in the hospital — at one point stopping his heart and his breathing — doctors are at a loss to understand why. Tests indicate none of the expected patterns for epilepsy.

Finding out why the formerly healthy young man had suddenly fallen ill drove him and his family to listen to Riki Ott, an environmental toxicologist who has been tracking the health impacts of oil spills on human beings since her home was impacted by the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. Ott was in Battle Creek Wednesday night at the invitation of local activists.

And when Forte asked Ott about his symptoms, she nodded an affirmative.

“We see that in 16-year olds in the Gulf,” she said. And Forte was not the only person she may have given much needed answers to. Nearly 50 people gathered to talk about headaches, nausea, burning eyes, memory loss and rashes. There were young and old, African-Americans and whites, rural residents and city dwellers, all with one thing in common — they live by the Kalamazoo River and were exposed to last year’s Enbridge Energy Partners Lakehead Pipeline 6B.

For Ott, it was a litany list of symptoms and voices of frustration she has heard from Alaska to South Korea to the Gulf Coast and now in Calhoun county. And Calhoun, she says, represents exposures to both tar sands and lighter oils, each with its own chemical make ups and attendant toxins.

“You’ve got the worst of two worlds. You’re getting a fully double whammy,” she says of the Cold Lake Crude Oil. “Peoples’ health problems (from the Enbridge spill) are identical to the Gulf.”

Ott says that studies about health impacts conducted by health officials since last summer are based on 40-year old science.

“We used to be able to use a thermometer and say, ‘yep, you’ve got a fever,’ but we didn’t have an understanding of how that worked on a cellular level,” she said. “Now, we have the tools and the ability to see how these chemicals impact us on a cellular level.”

Ott noted that just this July a peer-reviewed study of oil spill exposure found the same set of symptoms in each location. They are the identical to the ones being seen in Calhoun county. She also noted that the studies have begun to identify toxicity to DNA, as well as reproductive health impacts. She says many of the chemicals of concern to occupational and environmental health officials have been shown to impact fetuses in the first trimester.

Studies by the MDCH released this summer have indicated no risk of long term health effects. The National Wildlife Federation condemned the Aug. 17 report, calling it incomplete.

“By their own admission, multiple chemicals have not been fully tested. No doctor would look at a sick patient, skip doing a full diagnosis, and declare him fit as a fiddle. Officials are prematurely drawing conclusions about the risks of tar sands oil to human health.” said Beth Wallace with the Great Lakes Regional Center of the National Wildlife Federation. “Residents at the meeting, including myself, were extremely skeptical and frustrated when hearing these conclusions from officials with MDCH. A complete study on the make-up of tar sands oil needs to be conducted before we can begin to truly understand the impacts to humans, wildlife and our environment.”

Ott had not had a chance to fully read the report before an interview with Michigan Messenger or the public meeting, but said this determination and realization that specific chemicals of concern have been excluded from a review is not uncommon. Nor is it uncommon for people to be diagnosed with colds and boils, month after month.

The reason, she says, is twofold. First, the doctors are unlikely to be fully versed on the issue of what she calls chemical illnesses. Second, she says, even if they are aware, most insurance companies have no billing code for the diagnosis. This means that if a doctor issues a diagnosis of chemical illness, it is unlikely an insurance company will pay the doctor for the care and time put into making that clinical diagnosis.

Part of the issue, Ott says, is that the science of exposure concerns and health issues is based on research conducted in the 1970s on volatile organic chemicals or VOCs. Those are the chemicals that easily evaporate into the air and can be smelled at long distances. They include things like benzene. But science has science developed a body of literature exploring the impacts of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. She says that while both chemicals may have persisted at significantly lower levels than considered unsafe, they accumulate in the body over the course of continued exposure. [read more]

Rights group Amnesty International has termed investigations by corporate giant Shell into oil spills in Nigeria a “fiasco”, alleging that the company repeatedly blamed sabotage in an effort to avoid responsibility.

“No matter what evidence is presented to Shell about oil spills, they constantly hide behind the ‘sabotage’ excuse and dodge their responsibility for massive pollution that is due to their failure to properly maintain their infrastructure,” Audrey Gaughran, director of global issues at Amnesty, said in a recent statement.

She said that “the investigation process into oil spills in the Niger Delta is a fiasco,” referring to the oil-producing region that is home to Africa’s largest crude industry.

In 2008, a spill caused by a fault in a Shell pipeline caused tens of thousands of barrels of crude oil to spill out into the Nigerian delta.

Four years on, the oil still floats on the waters of Bodo Creek. Local rights and environmental groups say that it is killing and contaminating plants and wildlife in one of Africa’s most bio-diverse regions.

The case, filed by 11,000 Bodo residents against the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, is currently being heard in a London court.

Shell has admitted liability in the 2008 disaster in Bodo, although there remain significant disagreements over the amount of oil that poured into the creeks.

 


Aleksandr Litvinenko,Big Oil and Putin- Documentary

 

PRLog (Press Release) – Apr 23, 2012 –
Why is the 2006 poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko still unsolved today? Media business analyst William Dunkerley looks into that question in a timely analysis just published. Dunkerley is the author of the book, The Phony Litvinenko Murder. He has followed the Litvinenko case closely since 2007. That’s when he was asked by the organizers of the World Congress of the International Federation of Journalists to study and analyze the media coverage surrounding Litvinenko’s poisoning and death. Dunkerley’s book reflects his findings, and further offers his analysis of subsequent developments in the case.

Litvinenko was a British citizen and fugitive from Russia, his original homeland. News of his death became a top world headline in late 2006. Dunkerley says the popular storyline was, “Former KGB Spy Litvinenko was murdered by Russian president Vladimir Putin who poisoned him with radioactive polonium.” But Dunkerley presents evidence that there are virtually no facts to back up that media theme.

Dunkerley also takes a critical look at the role of the London Coroner’s office in the Litvinenko case. Now five and half years after Litvinenko’s death, Dunkerley asks, “Why didn’t the Coroner wrap up the case years ago?” In his new report, Dunkerley describes a litany of contributing problems. He concludes that the case has been irreparably damaged by the Coroner’s handling of it and by what he calls the prevailing non-fact-based media coverage.

The new report can be seen here: http://www.omnicompress.com/plmblog/archives/2012/04/entry_9.htm

William Dunkerley is a media business analyst and consultant based in New Britain, CT. Dunkerley works extensively in Russia and other post-communist countries, and has advised governments on matters of press freedom and media sector development. He has written and spoken widely about media issues related to Russia.

 


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