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NOAA Tried to Silence Reports of Undersea Oil Plumes
Speaking of the BP cover-up, there are two very important pieces of news today about the extent to which the real impacts of the disaster have been hidden. In the St. Petersburg Times, Craig Pittman has this scathing report on how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration attempted to silence scientists who discovered the vast undersea plumes of dispersed oil in the Gulf:
A month after the Deepwater Horizon disaster began, scientists from the University of South Florida made a startling announcement. They had found signs that the oil spewing from the well had formed a 6-mile-wide plume snaking along in the deepest recesses of the gulf.
It gets worse; NOAA's top brass confirmed that they tried to keep the reports quiet:
NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, in comments she made to reporters in May, expressed strong skepticism about the existence of undersea oil plumes - as did BP's then-CEO, Tony Hayward.
There's another extremely important piece out today, wherein the Associated Press documents how oil is already finding its way into the food web. Scientists are finding traces of oil in crab larvae:
The government said last week that three-quarters of the spilled oil has been removed or naturally dissipated from the water. But the crab larvae discovery was an ominous sign that crude had already infiltrated the Gulf's vast food web -- and could affect it for years to come.
This, of course, does not help efforts to convince the public that seafood from the region is safe. Not does it help in promoting the idea that the oil is less of a threat because we can't see it, as the government and BP have been busy doing for the past week.
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USF officials draw ire of NOAA over oil
ST. PETERSBURG - Bill Hogarth hopes the "us versus them" mentality is over.
When University of South Florida researchers stood before television cameras and the world in May to announce they had found evidence of vast plumes of invisible undersea oil in the Gulf of Mexico, the dean of the College of Marine Science didn't get kudos from federal officials.
Instead, Hogarth said, he got grief from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"They were concerned about the data and wanted to know if we were sure of what we were saying", Hogarth said this morning. "They felt we were making statements that were not substantiated".
That wasn't the case at all, the dean said. And today, even as the gusher in the Gulf has been capped, he wouldn't change a thing that he and his researchers did.
"We had taken every precaution to make sure what we did was right. As a university, we need to inform the people", said Hogarth, himself a former NOAA employee of 16 years. "We reacted quickly and did what we thought was right and best".
On Monday, Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of NOAA, met with Hogarth and some USF scientists to try to get on the same page. Hogarth described the meeting as productive and said it was something that should have occurred a long time ago.
Hogarth is confident the two sides can work together to share information and help determine the long-term impact of the oil in the Gulf. He and others say that things have improved in their work with NOAA.
But it hasn't always been that way.
"One thing that bothered me is it has seemed it has been the federal scientists versus academia", the dean said. "That's not good for anyone. There's a place for both of us".
USF officials aren't the only ones who have drawn the ire of NOAA.
Samantha Joye, professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia, had a similar experience when she started talking about what she and others had discovered underwater.
"We felt like our wrists were slapped a little bit when we came forward and talked about the plumes", Joye said. "NOAA wanted a vetted, concrete story. We felt we had a concrete story. The plumes were real; the data was very solid".
Joye is critical of the one-way flow of information that she said has plagued the effort. She said university researchers give plenty of data to NOAA or the Unified Command, but very little comes the other way.
"That is bothersome to me", she said. "Everybody needs to be sharing data".
Joye said she also is puzzled why NOAA won't begin checking for submerged methane gases in the deep waters of the Gulf - something she said her studies have proven exist.
"It seems crazy", she said. "There is no reasonable explanation as to why it's not being done. It just doesn't make sense".
Hogarth said the scope of the disaster was one factor that made it difficult for people from various institutions - government or universities - to work together.
"It got to be such a massive event", Hogarth said. "It pitted people against each other. I am hoping we have learned a lot from it".
Ian MacDonald, a biological oceanographer at Florida State University, faults NOAA for not taking advantage of the vast educational resources that made up the state's oil spill academic task force. That group was created soon after the oil started spewing into the Gulf.
"I would have thought there would have been a close working relationship", MacDonald said. "We formed the task force to make our expertise available to anyone who needed it. Nobody at NOAA took us up on our offer".
The FSU professor said it was ironic that NOAA talked of underwater oil in its report last week that said much of the oil could be accounted for.
"They were quite critical and they specifically challenged the veracity of their methods", MacDonald said of NOAA's rebuking of USF efforts. "They questioned the whole possibility. And yet that is what they say in their report.
"That's kind of too little, too late after they have slammed the scientists who were pointing this out quite rightly", the researcher added. "I have no idea what the politics of this are, but in terms of the science, this is irresponsible".
Reporter Rob Shaw can be reached at (813) 259-7999.
American Freedom Radio
Q. Let's go to Matt Smith in the Gulf, ProjectGulfImpact.org. Matt, how have you been?
A. Oh, man. Not good. Let's see. Well, you know, we all got chemical poisoning, the four of us, like a bunch of idiots. No, I'm just kidding. Even with all the precautions, you know, and everything that we do to make sure and ensure that we are healthy, I guess it was inevitable. I'm thankful we're feeling much better now, but quite the story. Basically, about two Saturdays ago, we were on boats, actually, out in Plaquemines Parrish, like, all over the place, Barataria Bay, and I gotta tell you, Shep, it was crazy. I mean, we saw dead fish, we saw fish kills, we saw a dead dolphin, a dead whale. The oil washing up was, according to all of the people we were out with, probably 10 to 12 times thicker and more quantity wise than they had ever seen. Some of the oil that we had pictures of on our Facebook, we put them up about a week ago, I mean, the oil was between 6-inches and 3-feet thick of crude. Not weathered oil - crude, all over. (Note from David: This means fresh oil is still flowing into the Gulf.) I mean, and it was just awful. And that was the first day. And the second day we went out and one of the guys who happened to work for one of the programs that BP contracts out with was in a boat next to us and he was freaking out and he said, "They've just sprayed. They just, just sprayed". And we looked down and, lo and behold, there was dispersant everywhere. But I got a cold and all of our eyes and our throats have been burning, burning, burning. We had our respirators on, it did not matter. We got back in and I got a cold that night. At least I felt like I had a cold. And we were all a little under the weather, but we decided we would get a boat ride and we were doing some other work and we were working in the center that we have down here. About three days later I was doing some volunteer work on our day off to get some furniture to a homeless family. And I was fine the whole day and we got back to our little compound and I made a few phone calls about six o'clock at night and I felt a little tired and thought maybe I should take a nap. I went to sleep and the next thing I know, it was three o'clock in the morning, I woke up and I actually; Shep, and I mean this, I genuinely thought that I was under water. I couldn't breathe, I could not inhale, my right lung was seizing. I mean, literally, I felt like I was gonna have a heart attack or I was having a stroke or I was dying or something. I've never ever felt anything like that in my entire life. My eyes were burning. And so we went immediately to the doctors, and about an hour after that happened Gavin started getting it, and then Heather started getting it, and then Alyssa -- it was right bing, bang, bing, and very, very odd. Within about four hours all of us were extremely, extremely ill, and were in the hospital. And the doctors that worked on us, thankfully, and oddly enough, were doctors that have been doing, uh, the oil rig workers for years, and they knew exactly what to do. And of course we were doing a lot with the blood testing and detoxing, and so we were immediately put through, you know, a litany of tests and what not and I don't have health insurance personally, so that was a bit of a stumbling block, but, thankfully, we have a few people who are very supportive of the group, who were willing to contribute to help us make sure that we got okay. That's the other problem that we and a lot of the residents are facing is money. The people are getting too ill for health insurance. For some reason someone didn't want me to die.
Q. I was talking about this yesterday, Matt. I was talking about how the US government has carried out, you know, chemical, biological, and radiological experiments on the American people. Thousands of nuclear bombs detonated in the Nevada desert alone where the wind drifted downstream somewhere, they didn't really alert anyone this stuff was going on. We've seen this over and over again and it's even openly admitted now that the American government's been involved in this type of testing on the American population. What's crazy, Matt, is people are just not latching onto this Gulf. They're getting totally poisoned. You've now been poisoned. You guys are all not feeling well, you've been there doing a lot of hard work and people are just failing to realize how important and how dangerous this situation really is.
A. And it's getting worse every day. I think that, to me and Heather and Gavin especially, having been here for so many months now, it's really a serious thing. I mean thank God for Intel Hub and for you, Shep, because seriously, I mean, there's not a whole lot of people besides us that are actually doing the reporting and what is absolutely upsetting is, everyone down here knows what's going on -- a media blackout, that's like calling the oil spill an oil spill and it's an oil flood or an oil catastrophe. The media blackout is so deep and so dark, it is just -- it's like the Gestapo. I mean, it seriously feels like we are in some sort of Nazi-like state. I mean, with the media the control is horrifying, but it's so horrifying because things are getting worse, way worse down here, not better. It feels like we live in a different country. We were talking about this in the car yesterday.
Q. Yeah, I figured it would be like that, Matt, it's just going to keep getting worse and worse, but yet the way the corporate controlled media has portrayed it, it's over, everything's fine, it's great, it's back to business as usual, the fishing industry's open; but, I mean, this is scary, scary propaganda.
A. The fishermen aren't even fishing. They're scared to, because they're pulling up crabs with oil in them, they're pulling up shrimp with oil in their gill plates, you know. And it's not consistent but it's enough that people who have been in fishing families for generations just aren't doing it. People aren't eating it. I mean, there are people who, of course, want to turn a blind eye and want to say everything's fine. And that's fine for them, but the truth is that most people down here know there are giant problems. You know, they're still spraying Corexit, Shep. I mean, they're literally out of the planes here still spraying Corexit. People see the planes or they hear about them and they just freak out because even though they know that it's happening, they don't want to believe it.
Q. It almost would feel like you're in a scenario out of Vietnam, getting mustard gas sprayed on you or something. I mean, what a weird reality and environment that our own citizens have to live in now, Matt. You're down there in it right now. It's almost like being in a war zone, if you think about it. You know, constantly you've got to be worrying what you're breathing, what you're eating, you know, where you're stepping, you can't walk outside in your backyard barefoot anymore. I mean, just all sorts of weird stuff coming down. The damage to the crops. I mean, what a nightmare Orwellian scenario.
A. It really is, it's very Orwellian. And it's so shocking. I mean, I got up to a point a few weeks ago where I felt like it was all right and it was not all right. I'm understanding this, and this is really horrible, and I'm gonna do everything and my team is gonna do absolutely everything that we can to make sure that people are getting out and getting help and that's what I mean when I say all right. I'm freaked out again. I just got extremely ill, probably the sickest I've ever felt in my life, and not only did I get sick, but every single person who I was on that boat with got ill. Three of them were in the hospital with me, you know, and it's so scary. This is very, very, very scary. And it's even scarier that they feel that they can keep spraying and they can keep poisoning and -- and they can keep taking over and no one's doing anything.
A. We're so conditioned to, like, sit at home and, you know, watch a sitcom and -- and, you know, eat, eat McDonald's and listen to the news and pretend everything's okay. Well, that's what the heck they were doing in Germany right before the camps started. I mean, they had the camps going, if I recall, from the little bit of history that I know, and a lot of people who lived right next to them didn't even know it.
Q. Yeah, they've got the whole American public just castrated and turned into total garbage junk food eating zombies that just sit on the couch like lazy, fat couch potatoes and just do absolutely nothing. That's just how we're conditioned now. You know, even myself included, Matt, I was trying to watch part of this new series THE EVENT the other night, of course, then I fell asleep halfway through it, but, you know, people latch onto entertainment, they latch onto all these flashy things, the image of Hollywood, but yet when you're reporting the real news, they apparently don't want to listen. Matt, you know, you've been involved in Hollywood. What do you think about this? And have you seen this throughout your career in Hollywood, any predictive programming or anything --
A. Oh, my God. I was just gonna go into that. You know, we haven't really ever talked on here about the fact that, like, I was on the Disney Channel. I've been an actor since I was nine. I mean, this is the career that I had chosen for myself, basically one of being part of the cover-up. I didn't realize it when I was a kid until three months ago; but yes, absolutely. I mean, you would not believe the things that you hear and the things that they tell you to do. I mean, we are portraying an image; We are projecting an image. And I could not even imagine -- I couldn't imagine right now going to L.A. and getting called and being asked to be on something and saying yes. It just feels so stupid and irrelevant and awful compared to what kind of work we could be doing, like I'm doing right now. Not that my work is the absolute be-all end-all, but, I mean, there's this perpetuation of an image in Hollywood, and I lived it, I was part of it, for goodness sakes! I mean, I've broken free, thank God, but there was this sort of idea out there that we have to portray this image of the wholesome America and blah-blah-blah, and it's just not real. And, you know, you don't question it when you're in it because you're so grateful to be in it, because like everything else, they make the process so hard to get into it that once you're in, you feel like, thank God, I'll listen to whatever you say. You want me to let the American public know that everything is just hunky dory and we're all great and fine and you need to sit here and laugh and whatever? Then we'll do that. And you get twisted in your head because, you know, they set up these systems, I think, so that there's an illusion that they're very elite and it's hard to get into and once you do, you're very special, so therefore once you're there, you're listening to everything you hear. And that's what I'm saying. You know, a lot of actors, not everyone, but a lot of them fall into that category. And it's not all their fault, but ... You know, I'm at a point right now, having done that for so many years unconsciously where it is such a wakeup call. It's making me sick to my stomach to even think about being on a TV set right now, just talking.
Q. Yeah, yeah, I mean, you raise a bunch of good points, Matt. And, you know, they do this in our schooling, our school systems. Just everything that you do, you know, they act like you've gotta go to college, you've got to -- I mean, I literally dropped out of high school, Matt. I didn't finish. I didn't get my GED. It never meant anything to me. I owned my first corporation when I was 22 years old. I was just an entrepreneur. School just wasn't teaching me anything. I think I kind of woke up to the fact that what they were teaching me in school is just a bunch of garbage. You know, they were telling me, Columbus came over and discovered America when there was already natives over here. I mean, just all these things that they programmed you with. I was thinking the other day, there's this nursery rhyme, "Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream". You're sitting there singing that when you're a kid. It's sitting there telling you to just -- just row your boat gently down the stream, go through life, you know, don't ever make a mark, just kind of do what's necessary, life's nothing but a dream. All these conditioning programs from day one, even like you said, you were involved with Disney, a lot of these cartoons, all this stuff, programs and, you know, sets the reality for the general public.