By even the lightest estimates, the British Petroleum (BP) oil catastrophe can be counted as one of the greatest man-made environmental disasters of all time. There is little argument that the spill is a calamity that has blighted the livelihoods of millions, but according to many environmental studies the worst is yet to come. The lost lives of the workers on the rig, a detestable horror in its own right, that has played itself out again and again may be dwarfed by the daily environmental poisoning of those left behind.
The corporation BP, while projecting a fantasy image of themselves as conscious caring concerned members of the community, has time and time again proven that their projections are merely their own self-vanity hiding their callous unconcern for the people to the point of malicious intent. Those that openly disregard future generations and those around them by no eloquent digressions can claim to merit by any stretch of the imagination the title of conscious members of the community. The Gulf of Mexico is a fragile environment upon which millions of Americans draw their dependency. According to the researchers from Oregon State University, “the numbers for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (many known carcinogens or cancer-causing agents) were ‘40-fold’ of the numbers they found between May and June” (1). In Louisiana, the ocean in which they swim and the tap water they drink might be putting their lives at risk.
In addition to the threat of infiltrating the water supply, “Kim Anderson, an OSU professor of environmental and molecular toxicology found that Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons can easily move up the food chain turning fish into bundles of toxic exposure (2). Such a voracious danger is known to the scientific community as bio-accumulation and was the fundamental reason for the banning of various pesticides. Conceding to pay out pathetically small fines to aid the community, British Petroleum claimed to be acting with responsibility. However, how can mere pennies reimburse families for cancer treatment? With fish populations in the gulf thoroughly decimated by the savage sabotage of British Petroleum, many fishermen can no longer work the ocean as generations have before them. As told to a Louisiana Bucket Brigade surveyor in Plaquemines Parish,
“I’m waiting for money from BP. I don’t have any work. I’m cutting grass to make ends meet. I’ve got two little girls; one needs a bone marrow transplant. Haven’t gotten a check since July; nothing for August or September. My girl turned 17 this month and I couldn’t give her anything. I’m hurting, and I need help” (3).
Like so many other victims of the bourgeois exploitation of the environment, his desperate plight will be simply ignored by the insatiable power of corporate America. The symptoms facing the residents of the Gulf are by no means mundane:
“Key findings were all too typical of communities exposed to environmental toxic chemicals. Nearly three-quarters of those who believed they were exposed to crude oil or dispersant reported symptoms – typically coughing, skin and eye irritation and headaches. To treat these symptoms, almost a third of respondents used over-the-counter medication ‘more often that usual.’” (4)
Flammable and poisoned water created from natural gas extraction and victims of petroleum production are merely the tip of the iceberg. Chronic exposure to such carcinogens and environmental toxins has been scientifically proven to cause cancer and other conditions. Such symptoms often become constant and worsen as time goes on. The detestable truth is that the devastation unleashed upon the Gulf of Mexico by the abhorrent safety regulations of BP is an inexcusable fact of life for the people of the Gulf, and an incredible crime of gross negligence upon the people of the United States of America. According to Solve Climate News (5), up to 40% of the oil spill was methane gas. Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas and this will obviously have many long-term effects on the environment. Private energy would like to paint British Petroleum as a “bad apple” when it is merely a particularly bad example of the general rule. While the CEOs of the world consistently ignore or minimize the consequences of their thoughtless policies and remain safe and protected from any harm personal or financial, the “unintended” negative consequences are absolutely disastrous to the working class. While an oil company boss retreats on his private ranch, isolated from the poisonous by-products of his industrial base, those without the financial ability to flee are stranded in toxic wastelands often unbeknownst to those living in them.