< class="art-postheader">U.S. Gov’t Helps BP Censor Censor Oil Spill Data?

According to Rikki Ott, marine toxicologist, Exxon Valdez survivor, and Huffington Post contributor, BP and the government may be in cahoots to censor data pertaining to the Gulf Oil Disaster. Read it in her own words here.

The way she sees it, BP went into spin mode right off the bat. Since penalties are imposed based on spill volume, BP immediately tried to limit damages by underestimating flow rates. When that failed thanks to the “spill cam,” BP attempted to prohibit other types of photography in affected areas. “I was literally flying with a pilot from New Orleans to Orange Beach, Alabama one day early June,” Ott told fair.org. “And the pilot all of a sudden says, ‘Look at that,’ and he had just been telling me stories about, you can’t believe how much oil is out there, if only the public could really see the amount of oil out there. . . BP does not want pictures taken of the oil when it hits the Gulf Coast.”

Then, Ott says, she began to witness the clean-up workers becoming ill. She said they asked for respirators, but BP refused to provide them. Not only that, when the clean-up workers procured their own respirators, BP refused to allow the workers to use them. “Fisherman go out with the respirators and they come back and they say, ‘BP says if we wear these respirators, our jobs will be terminated. BP is still saying this. This is controlling the image of how toxic this oil really is.'”

As clean-up continued, Ott says workers witnessed horrible atrocities which they were forbidden to document. “People are coming in from this cover-up, from this response operation, and they’re saying ‘my god, these islands, they have dolphins on them, dead, too numerous to count.” But she says BP routed response workers through metal detectors to prevent them from even bringing cell phones onto work sites. As a result, photo documentation is almost non-existent.

Meanwhile, Ott says, BP is recovering and destroying carcasses of dead dolphins, sea turtles, and other sea-life, which makes it difficult for anyone to gather evidence and prosecute them under the Clean Water Act. “I though Exxon was really heavy-handed back then,” Ott says. “We had flight restrictions. However, we did have citizen volunteers going out and collecting wildlife and bringing them back to facilities–freezer vans and labs–that were under lock and key, chain of custody control, because these carcasses are evidence for the federal government and the state to build their case under the Clean Water Act. . . This case still needs to be built. Well, it’s hard to build a case if the carcasses are disappearing.”

Ott says some of the whistle-blowers with whom she is working are government employees. “I will say that some of our whistle-blowers do come from the government. This is not only fishermen we’re getting this story from. This is very upsetting to people who live and call their home this area, and it’s not only upsetting for them to see this, it’s upsetting for them to be treated like this by a corporation and have the government be part of it.”

For more from Riki Ott, read her articles on Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/riki-ott/. You can also visit her web site at http://www.rikiott.com.

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