OIL & GAS: Extraction Operations Pollute With Impunity

IMAGE SOURCE: BILLINGS GAZETTE

IMAGE SOURCE: BILLINGS GAZETTE

By Anita Stewart 

Advance warning, none of the following are OIL SPILLS. If they were, that would designate all of these instances of pollution on a grand scale by the corporations as accidents. Like spilled milk. These are not accidents to the corporations who have them, no, it’s merely the cost of doing business. Fines are minimal and being held accountable is non-existant as these corporations that have polluted are still doing business. They pay the fines and keep on polluting.

We The People, Yellowstone Pride

This past weekend, a Montana pipeline burst, rupturing over approximately 50,000 gallons of crude into Yellowstone National Park’s river and waterways. The Bridger Pipeline Company shut down operations and began to assess the clean up. The Extraction Industries call this phase “Recovery” as they expect to recover over 50% of the oil. Extracting the oil, not the actual clean-up is always the priority for the corporate polluters.

Residents in nearby towns were told not to drink the water for safety reasons and they said they could smell a strong diesel odor coming from it.

Montana’s Governor Bullock announced a state of emergency for the two eastern counties affected. The Yellowstone River is the longest un-dammed river in the United States providing water for many communities in addition to the park and the extensive and bio-diverse ecosystems, flora and fauna. 

“Our primary focus right now is on response and cleaning it up as quickly as we can,” said Bill Salvin, a spokesman for Bridger. The cleanup and recovery operations will be difficult as the river is partially frozen.

This is the second oil disaster affecting this river in 4 years. In 2011 Exxon Mobil’s pipeline ruptured causing a lot of damage and the company spent $135 million dollars for the clean up and recovery.

Real Impacts Are Always Unknown

When the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster happened in April of 2010, many residents throughout the Gulf Region quickly became very familiar with the playbook of the big oil companies and conglomerates. The human impact of deaths due to toxic poisoning, the long term medical conditions and illnesses caused by exposure to extraction chemicals, toxic gasses, chemicals and crude oil are impossible to estimate and to date BP has not paid out a single medical claim to anyone in the Gulf Region. The permanent damages made to the environment are still continuing en masse; there is no way to estimate what those will be 20 years from now.

Meanwhile …

… Back In the Courtroom With BP Or Five Things To Know About The Current BP Trial For A Thousand Alex

This trial won’t provide the human victims any closure. This current trial is expected to last 3 weeks. BP has already paid out some $28 billion in cleanup costs and financial claims. Apart from the Clean Water Act penalties which will fine BP approximately $13.7 billion dollars, the company is still in active negotiations with plaintiffs’ attorneys over private businesses and economic claims that could eventually add $10 billion or more to the final payouts. BP is currently asking for the fine amounts to be lowered.

And there’s an entirely separate federal legal process called Natural Resource Damage Assessment. The NRDA sets a price on the damages and the amount of the claims needed for ecological restoration. BP has already promised a $1 billion dollar NRDA down payment. But the government officials who are continuing to study the toll on the environment and are expected to continue to do so for perhaps one year or more, will demand that BP compensate much more than that. Guesstimates of the ultimate NRDA bill range from $5 billion to $20 billion. BP will not settle for that amount. 

The federal government will end up filing a new lawsuit that will fund the full NRDA assessment. This will take years to rectify and we don’t have years. And how does a corporation put a price on humankind’s health and well being and the toxic damages to the water, the air, the soil, the marshes and all flora and fauna? Where is the outrage? Just like with the Exxon Valdez in Alaska many years ago, most of the human victims of the BP tragedy will be dead by the time this case is settled in the courts. For the Exxon Valdez, more than 3,000 claimants died waiting for a legal outcome and compensation. 

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2 responses to “OIL & GAS: Extraction Operations Pollute With Impunity

  1. Pingback: NOTHING IS BLACK AND WHITE: 50 Shades of Grey Surrounding Death of “Grey State” Filmmaker David Crowley | Challenging the Rhetoric·

  2. Pingback: Sex and [National] InSecurity | Challenging the Rhetoric·

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