The worst natural disaster to hit the Gulf Coast is likely to reach local coastlines by the weekend, according to Chief Climatological Officer Michael Stubbs, who said a shift in wind patterns is expected to propel the oil slick towards The Bahamas.
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian yesterday Stubbs said that in pervious weeks weather conditions have kept the oil slick contained in the Gulf of Mexico.
“As it stands now the wind is not supporting movement out of the Gulf. It’s keeping the oil particles that are floating along the surface in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Stubbs.
“However as Friday approaches we see the weather pattern changing and what would happen then is the winds in the area would be flowing clockwise, making it possible for oil floating on the surface to make it to the notorious loop current. So once the particles move into the loop current the chances are [higher] for it [the oil] to reach our area.”
Stubbs, who heads a meteorological task force set up by the Ingraham administration to monitor the oil spill, said once the surface winds shift, oil sediments will most likely reach the Cay Sal Bank, Bimini, and western Grand Bahama – key fishing areas for the marine industry.
He said for this reason the government has already been warned to prepare for the likely arrival of oil in Bahamian waters.
On Monday, Minister for the Environment Earl Deveaux told The Nassau Guardian that the government is doing all it can to tackle the issue which has persisted for more than a month.
However, just five days earlier in a press conference, Deveaux admitted that The Bahamas is not prepared for the level of calamity that the growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could cause the country.
Four weeks ago today, British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and sank, breaking the pipe connecting to the wellhead a mile below on the floor of the Gulf in Mississippi Canyon Block 252, referred to as the Macondo Prospect.
Former EPA Criminal Division Special Agent Scott West led a 2006 investigation of British Petroleum following a major oil pipeline leak in Alaska’s North Slope that spilled 250,000 gallons of oil on the Alaskan tundra. His story hopefully will not prove to be somewhat prophetic for BP’s prospects following the Deepwater Horizon environmental catstrophe, but it is very much worth hearing and reflecting upon.
As Jason Leopold wrote yesterday May 19 in a very detailed historical and investigative article at Truthout.org:
Mention the name of the corporation BP to Scott West and two words immediately come to mind: Beyond Prosecution.
West was the special agent in charge with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criminal division who had been probing alleged crimes committed by BP and the company’s senior officials in connection with a March 2006 pipeline rupture at the company’s Prudhoe Bay operations in Alaska’s North Slope that spilled 267,000 gallons of crude oil across two acres of frozen tundra – the second largest spill in Alaska’s history – which went undetected for nearly a week.
West was confident that the thousands of hours he invested into the criminal probe would result in felony charges against the company and the senior executives who received advanced warnings from dozens of employees at the Prudhoe Bay facility that unless immediate steps were taken to repair the severely corroded pipeline, a disaster on par with that of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill was only a matter of time.
In fact, West, who spent more than two decades at the EPA’s criminal division, was also told the pipeline was going to rupture – about six months before it happened.
In a wide-ranging interview with Truthout, West described how the Justice Department (DOJ) abruptly shut down his investigation into BP in August 2007 and gave the company a “slap on the wrist” for what he says were serious environmental crimes that should have sent some BP executives to jail.
He first aired his frustrations after he retired from the agency in 2008. But he said his story is ripe for retelling because the same questions about BP’s record are now being raised again after a catastrophic explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers and ruptured an oil well 5,000 feet below the surface that has been spewing upwards of 200,000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf waters for a month.
Today Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of DemocracyNow.org interviewed Scott West about his experiences investigating and attempting to bring criminal charges against BP:
One month after the BP oil spill, we speak to Scott West, a former top investigator at the Environmental Protection Agency who led an investigation of BP following a major oil pipeline leak in Alaska’s North Slope that spilled 250,000 gallons of oil on the Alaskan tundra.
Before West finished his investigation, the Bush Justice Department reached a settlement with BP, and the oil company agreed to pay $20 million. At the same time, BP managed to avoid prosecution for the Texas City refinery explosion that killed fifteen workers by paying a $50 million settlement.
Fmr. EPA Investigator Scott West:
US Has Told BP “It Can Do Whatever It Wants and Won’t Be Held Accountable”