the gift from BP that keeps on giving

•Thursday, April 21, 2011 • Comments Off on the gift from BP that keeps on giving

Gambit Weekly did an in-depth review of the health effects on coastal oil spill workers in this week’s paper. If BP thinks we’re gonna lay down and die without a fight, they are gravely mistaken.

Links to the NIH study mentioned in the article by Alex Woodward are here and here

Gulf Coast Syndrome”
On the one-year anniversary of the oil disaster, Alex Woodward talks to coastal residents who say they’re coming down with mysterious and frightening illnesses
by Alex Woodward

Paul Doom, a 22-year-old from Navarre, Fla., says despite blood screenings indicating chemical exposure, doctors can’t explain why he suffers seizures after swimming in the Gulf of Mexico last summer.

This is the best-hidden secret perhaps in the history of our nation.”

Dr. Mike Robichaux speaks into a microphone while standing on a truck bed parked in the shade of a massive tree in his yard in Raceland, La. He’s wearing a blue polo shirt and jeans, and his white-gray hair is parted neatly. The former state senator, known affectionately as Dr. Mike, is an ear, nose and throat specialist in Lafourche Parish and self-described “too easygoing of a guy.” Today, he’s pissed. “Nobody is fussing about this,” he says.

Robichaux invited his patients and dozens of others to speak about their situations. Outside of The Houma Courier, The Daily Comet and The Tri-Parish Times, their stories exist solely on blogs and Facebook — unless you visit Al Jazeera English, or sources in Germany, Belgium and elsewhere in Europe. A Swiss TV crew asks me why U.S. media aren’t talking about this. It’s a good question.

In the wake of the BP oil disaster, thousands of Gulf cleanup workers and residents have reported illnesses, with symptoms as tame as headaches or as violent as bloody stools and seizures. Nonprofit groups and teams of scientists are looking for answers using blood tests, surveys, maps, and soil and seafood samples. The National Institute of Health (NIH) began its “Gulf Long-Term Follow-Up Study for Oil Spill Clean Up Workers and Volunteers” (GuLF Study) to follow the health of 55,000 cleanup crew members over 10 years. It’s the largest study to monitor the disaster, but it won’t be treating its participants. Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB), a nonprofit environmental group, recently completed its survey of coastal Louisiana residents and found a dire need for medical attention. GuLF Study leader Dr. Dale Sandler says the illnesses “need to be taken seriously.”

“People are sick, and they have concerns,” she says. So where is the help?

Behind Robichaux, cars line a gravel drive along the bayou. Guests pull up chairs around the truck bed, cameras are rolling, and members of the media outweigh the guests 10-to-1. One year after the April 20, 2010 wellhead explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers, spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf for more than 100 days and closed fisheries and businesses along the Gulf Coast, people are listening.

“We wanted to be proactive and go out there and get it cleaned up as fast as we can, and do whatever it takes,” remembers charter boat captain Louis Bayhi, who worked for BP in the early days of the disaster. When his crew made it to shore, he went through a triage tent where doctors asked how he was feeling — but his complaints of headaches were brushed off as seasickness, he says.

Months later, Bayhi still hasn’t been paid for his work as a Vessels of Opportunity participant, a sum he says is $255,000. He’s visited hospitals for severe abdominal pains, but he doesn’t have health insurance, and no insurance provider will take him on, he says. He lost his home, and he and his family — his wife and his 2- and 3-year-old daughters — now live with his wife’s grandmother. The family visited Grand Isle beaches in August, where his kids swam in the water and played in the sand.

“My little girls now have more toxins in their blood than I have. That hurts more. I blame myself,” he says, fighting back tears. “I let them go and swim and play in the beach, but at the same time those sons of bitches said it was safe.”

Bayhi’s story is not uncommon for many living on the Gulf Coast.

One of the first “whistleblowers” in south Louisiana, Kindra Arnesen, a fisherman’s wife in Plaquemines Parish, became a public face of mysterious diagnoses and chemical exposure symptoms in south Louisiana last summer. Others have come forward, like 22-year-old Paul Doom from Navarre, Fla., who says he swam in the Gulf last summer and now experiences daily seizures and is in a wheelchair following a stroke, yet the hundreds of doctors he has seen can’t explain why, he says.

Clayton Matherne is a former professional wrestler of 15 years, and at 295 lbs., he looks it. “When I first met him, he was dying. Literally dying,” Robichaux says.

Matherne was an engineer on a support boat near the Deepwater rig when it exploded and says crews sprayed dispersants directly on top of him. Matherne wasn’t provided a respirator. Since May 30, 2010, he’s suffered paralysis, impaired vision, severe headaches, and he frequently coughs up blood. “I don’t know why things are happening like this,” he says through tears in a YouTube video dated March 25. “It seems to get worse every day. … It’s driving me crazy. … I prayed that God last night would let me die. I’m tired of suffering, and tired of watching my family suffer.”

Matherne’s wife Becky says her parents are supporting the family after they lost their house. She says she and her husband have been approved for a home through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“It’s really not like anything I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been doing this 25 years,” says Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) director Marylee Orr. LEAN started receiving health complaints from Gulf workers and residents in the explosion’s aftermath. The group purchased $10,000 worth of respirators (about 200) and protective gear for oil cleanup responders, but BP wouldn’t allow the workers to use them, she says. Stuart Smith, the group’s attorney, argued that the Master Vessel Charter Agreement, a contract to hire fishermen to perform cleanup operations for BP, didn’t account for the health and safety of the workers.

Smith has served as lead counsel against more than 100 Big Oil cases and currently represents at least 1,000 clients along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida tackling BP and others involved with the Deepwater rig. His clients include the United Commercial Fisherman’s Association, the Gulf Coast Charter Captain Alliance and hundreds of sick Gulf workers. (The firm is scheduled to face Transocean Ltd. — the company that owned the rig — in court in February 2012.) “They did what they did,” Smith says. “My job is make them pay for it.”

Working with LEAN and Smith is a team of researchers and scientists across the Gulf Coast led by environmental scientists and toxicologists William Sawyer and Marco Kaltofen. The team has collected seafood samples for safety tests and sent blood work to Metametrix, a clinical laboratory in Duluth, Ga. Results from one patient’s volatile solvents blood screening show higher-than-average levels of ethylbenzene and xylene, two compounds present in oil. According to Metametrix, adverse effects that can follow exposure to the compounds include “brain fog,” hearing loss, headache and fatigue; continued exposure to xylene can affect kidneys, lungs, heart and the nervous system. The patient’s blood work also showed the presence of hexane, 2-Methylpentane and 3-Methylpentane and isooctane — compounds present in oil and gas.

LEAN also reported three divers from EcoRigs, a nonprofit marine science group, found high levels of ethylbenzene and xylene in their blood tests after diving in the Gulf near Grand Isle and the Mississippi Canyon, the site of the Deepwater rig explosion. Their symptoms include bloody stools, bleeding from the nose and eyes, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps and dizziness.

From July to October 2010, LABB and Tulane University’s Disaster Resiliency Leadership Academy performed 934 health surveys of residents in Terrebonne, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes at seven survey sites. The results show three-quarters of respondents reported an increase in coughing, eye irritation, headaches and sinus irritation. Grand Isle resident Betty Dowd, who suffers a persistent cough, says its residents need blood work “to find out what exactly is causing these problems — whether it’s BP or not, we just need to know where it’s coming from.”

Pointing to the health and lack of long-term studies of Exxon Valdez victims, 9/11 cleanup workers and FEMA trailer residents, LABB director Anne Rolfes says she hopes the survey results serve as a warning sign. “We don’t want to be in a situation 10 years from now … where we wish we would’ve done something,” she says. The data should be used “not just to study people but treat their problems,” she says. “We don’t want to end up in 10 years with data on a bunch of dead bodies.”

The report recommends the government provide better access to health care (including mental health services). Only 54 percent of respondents had health insurance, and just 31 percent sought treatment.

“The money’s another situation, that’ll come, the good Lord will take care of me and my family,” Bayhi says. “But without your health, you don’t have nothing. I just praise God every day that I’ll be able to wake up and continue to watch my little girls grow up.”

Many cleanup workers and coastal residents blame the dispersants and an oil-dispersant mix for their illnesses. Sprayed by planes and pumped into the Gulf, more than 1.8 million gallons of the dispersant Corexit were used to break up the oil — though the product is banned in the U.K., and in May 2010, the EPA provided BP with a list of less harmful dispersants. BP stuck with Corexit.

Douglas Blanchard, a third-generation fisherman (“I got my degree on the back deck of a shrimp boat,” he says), was hired to handle dispersants, but he says he wasn’t allowed to use a respirator. “They never gave us no nothing to breathe, no protection,” he says. “It was a bad smell — it’d burn your nose, your eyes, your throat, headaches. Take pills like they’re candy, all day.”

He was flown via helicopter to West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero where he says he was scrubbed with soap by workers clad in hazmat suits. “Afterward, they told us it’s not harmful,” he says. “We made good money, but the money’s not worth it.”

Tate Cantrell also remembers bringing a respirator on board his boat before handling dispersants and says he and his crew would be fired if they were caught wearing them. He says he now has trouble breathing. “It feels like an elephant on your chest all the time, like your lungs want to collapse,” he says. “I made a little bit of money, but everything I have now I’m trying to sell just to stay alive.”

The dispersants Cantrell and others were exposed to are a product of Nalco Holding Company, which has several high-profile oil industry ties. Exxon Mobil former president Daniel Sanders now sits on Nalco’s board of directors, and its audit committee chairman, Rodney Chase, served as BP’s chief executive and managing director from 1992 to 2003.

Deepwater Horizon Response, the multi-agency oil response team helmed by BP, says it halted dispersant use in July, but both residents and cleanup workers say dispersant still was being sprayed months later.

Dr. Sandler with the NIH GuLF Study says one of the aspects of the study is a look at the effects of dispersants versus the effects from oil exposure. “I think the exposure people have had varied quite a bit, depending on where they were and when, and when things during the spill were happening,” she says. “The issue is, what is the source of the chemicals in their blood, and how to interpret it? By starting with the workers, we can see who among them gets sick. It will be easier to draw conclusions, (and) we’ll understand the full range. If one person gets sick, that’s not a trend. One of the concerns people have is if you measure someone’s blood today, it does not reflect exposure they received from the oil spill, unless there are ongoing exposures. As best I know, that oil well is capped. There may be other ongoing sources of oil in the community or other things to cause the [levels of contaminants in the blood] to go up, but until you’ve done studies like ours, you just don’t know what to make of it. But we do have concerns for these people. They need to get medical care. They need to be seen.”

What puzzles Robichaux and others, however, is that many blood screenings show no sign of chemicals despite the patients’ illnesses. Commercial fisher and marine toxicologist Riki Ott believes chemicals may have “parked” in fatty tissue, and other tests are necessary. “If you go get a blood test now, it might not show any oil in your blood,” she says. “It’s not a clear reflection of what’s in your body.”

  Ott closely studied the environmental and health effects following the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, after which she wrote two books, Sound Truth and Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Since 2004, she has helped shift oil-dependent communities to more sustainable resources. She arrived in the Gulf in May 2010 and has been here since.

“I witnessed the emergence of a public health epidemic,” she says. “I think 6 million people, conservatively, were overexposed to dangerous levels of chemicals,” accounting for residents along the coast and its tourists. Ott believes Gulf residents deserve long-term medical attention, an overlooked need in Alaska, where workers who cleaned up following the Exxon disaster continued to suffer long after their jobs were finished.

  Sandler says the GuLF Study will examine long-term health effects and chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. She points to the 2002 Prestige disaster that spilled 20 million gallons of oil into the Atlantic Ocean off the Spanish coast. A Spanish Navy study five years later found those involved with cleanup suffered from lung and cardiovascular diseases.

“I’m very happy they want to put resources in documenting the workers’ health, but that’s not enough,” says Orr with LEAN. “Where’s someone to help them with all this?”

After the testimonies, Robichaux’s patients and their families and reporters swarm him. He smiles and shakes hands before going inside the house to see his daughter before she leaves for a dance.

  In a private conversation, Robichaux confides, “I’ve been working for this community for 40 years. These are my people.” He sees about 60 patients, he says, though most from a distance. His wife Brenda is principal chief of the United Houma Nation.

  ”We don’t have answers,” Brenda tells the audience in Raceland. “But we’re trying to come together, get a really good handle on what’s happening — the illnesses and all the consequences — and stand together to see what we can do to see something happen.”

  Clayton Matherne’s wife Becky echoes Brenda. “We all need to stick together as one,” she says. “Without us being a whole, we can’t fight, we can’t do nothing.” Becky lowers her voice before she leaves the microphone. “I hope you all aren’t that sick,” she says. “And our prayers go out to you if you are.”


mother earth is still bleeding around the mouth of the river

•Thursday, March 24, 2011 • Comments Off on mother earth is still bleeding around the mouth of the river

Its like she has all these open sores from the abandoned wells that she cannot close off – and all the while our coast continues to die from it

Here is one west of the mouth of the river, near Grand Isle

Shallow Gulf well is source of mysterious oil sheen near Grand Isle, state official says
Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 6:22 PM Updated: Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 11:00 PM
By David Hammer, The Times-Picayune

A large sheen of oil that has confounded the Coast Guard and state officials for days has been traced to a well-capping accident about 20 miles southwest of Southwest Pass, a state official said.

Meanwhile, environmentalists reported new, unconfirmed sightings Tuesday of what appeared to be surface oil over several miles in Chandeleur Sound, all the way on the other side of the Mississippi River’s delta.

A state official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of a continuing Coast Guard investigation, said the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries traced the emulsified oil on the west side of the river to its apparent source at West Delta Block 117. He said tests by a state-contracted lab confirmed that was the source of the oil.

Three discharges of oil from Anglo-Suisse Offshore Partners’ Platform E facility were reported to the Coast Guard, records show. The first came Friday, with a report of a “downed platform” and half a gallon of spilled crude during operations to plug and abandon the well. Another report Sunday said the same incident had spilled 1.33 gallons of oil. A third report on Monday of 1.89 gallons of spilled oil was classified by the Coast Guard as “operator error.”

Late Tuesday night, Houston-based Anglo-Suisse issued a statement acknowledging that the Coast Guard believes it may be responsible for the spill and accepting responsibility for cleanup. Anglo-Suisse said it was surprised because the well is “non-producing and has been monitored closely for the last six months.” The company said it had reconnected the wellhead structure Tuesday morning and fully shut it in by 8:30 p.m.

The company said it was the 12th well in the area to undergo plugging and abandonment operations. Crews have been monitoring the site since September and didn’t report any oil discharge until the end of last week.

Wildlife and Fisheries officials found the source of the oil Monday evening and encountered workers in a boat trying to restore a cap on the well using a remotely operated submarine. “Well-capping went out of control,” the state official said.

The well in question is in shallow water, about 210 feet deep, but the specter of any well-capping accident comes at the worst possible time for federal regulators, who have just approved the first four deepwater drilling projects since last spring’s BP oil disaster — mostly predicated on the oil companies’ assurances that they can now cap their wells quickly in case of a blowout.

Environmental groups pounced on the symbolism of the latest spills.
“We have thousands of spills every year. The BP spill just called attention to it, but it’s really the Wild West out here,” said Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “There are laws on the books that are unenforced. The record is clear that we don’t have the situation under control. It’s taken several days to figure out where (the spill west of the river) is coming from, and if we don’t have the technology to do that, then we shouldn’t be drilling new wells at all.”

According to federal government data, several wells in that 3-square-mile block were operated by Anglo-Suisse Offshore Partners LLC. A news release from the former federal Minerals Management Service said in 2006 that five wells in that drilling area had platforms damaged in Hurricane Katrina. The state official said the spilling well is one that used to have a platform over it, but lost it during Katrina.

The Coast Guard, meanwhile, still isn’t ready to say where the spill originated. “We don’t have any report of it actually being identified,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Leeman.

At a news conference earlier Tuesday, Coast Guard officials said only between ¼- and ½-mile of beach was directly affected by oily material within the 30-mile stretch between Grand Isle and West Timbalier Island where the sheen and emulsified oil has been seen.

Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, told reporters during a break in a conference in New Orleans earlier Tuesday that while officials with is agency had conducted a flyover of the affected area, the Coast Guard was handling the response and “exploring all possibilities.”
“I think right now, it remains a mystery,” Bromwich said.

and another east of the Mississippi near the fragile Chandeleur Islands courtesy of Anglo Suisse Offshore Partners, located in Houston, Texas.

New sightings of apparent oil near Chandeleur islands reported from flyover
Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 7:26 PM Updated: Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 11:35 PM
By David Hammer, The Times-Picayune

Even as officials tried to determine the source of weathered oil near Grand Isle, whole new swaths of what could be fresh surface oil have popped up on the other side of the Mississippi River, in the open water between the delicate coastal bayous and the sandy crescent-shaped Chandeleur barrier islands.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Leeman said the Coast Guard had received no reports of oil-like material east of the river, but a group of environmentalists, engineers and scientists flew over Chandeleur Sound on Monday and Tuesday, and shared photographs and detailed descriptions with The Times-Picayune showing black, streaky plumes over a 20-mile stretch from just east of Quarantine Bay to just west of the shoal remains of Curlew Island.

That expedition was led by Bonny Schumaker, founder of the California environmental nonprofit group On Wings of Care Inc. It included Jim Franks, a scientist at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, and mechanical engineer Don Abrams.

“I lived on Chandeleur Island for seven weeks before the (BP) spill and I have never seen anything like this, other than what happened with the Deepwater Horizon,” said Abrams, who took photographs during the flyover.

“It’s too early in the season for this to be an algal bloom. It’s just not the color of the algae I’ve seen. I try to approach this very rationally and as a serious skeptic, so I’m not willing to say 100 percent conclusively it’s oil. But I’ve been out to the islands during the BP spill and stepped in it and it looks very much like oil to me.”

Schumaker’s log of the trip Tuesday described the sheen as larger than the day before and darker in color than the weathered oil to the west of the river, suggesting it may be fresher. Abrams said it appeared to be very close to the surface.

Coast Guard checks out dark-stained water in Chandeleur Sound
Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2011, 11:20 PM
By Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune

The Coast Guard began an investigation of a large area of dark-stained water in the Chandeleur Sound on Wednesday to determine whether it might be oil, even as the agency was overseeing a separate cleanup of oil near Grand Isle, to the west of the Mississippi River.
“We have a crew out there sampling it and trying to identify what it is,” Petty Officer Stephen Lehmann said of the suspect water stretching from just east of Curlew Island to just west of Quarantine Bay along the east side of the Mississippi. “We’ve done some overflights with helicopters to gauge how big a thing this is and what it is.”
Test results should be complete by Thursday afternoon, he said.
John Arenstam, the Coast Guard’s New Orleans deputy sector commander, said Wednesday that his agency had received reports of oil-like material east of the river from officials with the state Department of Environmental Quality, who flew over Chandeleur Sound on Tuesday. The 20 miles of black streaky plumes were first spotted by environmentalists and scientists during flights over the area Monday and Tuesday.

Arenstam said there’s a good chance the dark water may be an algae bloom, though it’s still early in the year for such events. “We’ve had extreme high water increases in the Mississippi River,” and rapidly rising water full of sediment could spark such a bloom, he said. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard confirmed that it has notified Anglo-Suisse Offshore Partners that preliminary samples suggest oil samples collected from Elmer’s Island, to the west of Grand Isle, match those from the company’s West Delta 117 well, which sits in about 210 feet of water 30 miles southeast of Grand Isle. The well is also a few miles east-southeast of the mooring point for tankers unloading at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port.

The Coast Guard said Anglo-Suisse agreed to aid in the cleanup, pending further tests of samples that might confirm where the oil is from. But the Coast Guard has not determined that the company is the legal “responsible party.”

“We do not believe the spill along the coast is the result of our operations, however, when the Coast Guard informed us that this might be the case, the responsible thing to do was mobilize,” said Anglo-Suisse CEO John Sherwood in a news release issued by the Coast Guard.

The company said it reported to the Coast Guard on Friday “a discharge of less than five gallons of oil from a non-producing well that was in the process of being plugged and abandoned in accordance with federal regulations.” The company said the well was fully shut in by 8 a.m. Tuesday, and is no longer capable of flowing. The plug-and-abandon operation involved a well that has been shut in since 2005.

An offshore construction and dive vessel have been at the site since September, with crew members monitoring the well continuously on the surface and at the wellhead under water, the company said. Anglo-Suisse is a privately held company based in Houston. It received Safe Operator Awards from the former Minerals Management Service in 2005 and 2007. The company has hired O’Brien’s Response Management to supervise the cleanup.

The Coast Guard said an overflight from just east of Grand Isle to the eastern end of Timbalier Island and 12 miles offshore found no oil Wednesday. No oil was visible at the West Delta wellhead, either.
About 8,400 feet of containment boom has been deployed to prevent damage to beaches and wetlands, and eight skimmers and 10 barge boats are in the area.

Over the weekend, the Coast Guard reported test results of a third area of suspicious water stretching south from off Grand Isle, saying small quantities of oily substances were below the state DEQ’s water standards.

The reports about the potential oil releases has some environmentalists concerned. “I’m frustrated by the lack of solid information about these incidents,” said David Muth, coastal Louisiana state director for the National Wildlife Federation and former chief of planning at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. “Do we know for sure how many separate incidents we’re dealing with? Do we have a handle on how much oil is involved?

“If several simultaneous events are taking place, are they freak occurrences or are they routine?” he said. “If we can’t be sure what’s going on, how can we be sure how to respond? And is this indicative of the fact that we are a long way from having an effective response capability for offshore drilling?”

Fat City, New Orleans

•Wednesday, March 16, 2011 • Comments Off on Fat City, New Orleans

Posted this over at NOLAFemmes, check it out

still craving Gulf seafood?

•Friday, February 25, 2011 • Comments Off on still craving Gulf seafood?

I don’t know if I’ll be partaking, what with all the dead dolphin calves washing ashore

‘Trying to find out what’s going on here’
Infant dolphin deaths are up on Gulf Coast and scientists want to know why


GULFPORT — Four baby dolphins lay dead in the sand on the south side of Horn Island and one on Ono Island off Orange Beach, Ala., Tuesday.
That’s more dolphins dead in one day than all the dolphins, of any age, found dead in Alabama in 2008.
And those that are washing up this week along the shores of Mississippi and Alabama are all babies, either stillborn or very young. The total is 19 calves from mid-January to present, nine of those in just the last 10 days.

“With some, we’re not sure if they actually took a breath,” said Dr. Delphine Shannon. Shannon handles strandings for the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, the agency that collects data on dolphins and sends daily reports to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries division.

This is all happening early in the birthing season, which gets into full swing in March. The early deaths indicate something is wrong, said Moby Solangi, director of the institute.

With the Coast living in the shadow of the BP oil spill, the deaths bring an acute awareness to the situation. But scientists aren’t laying any blame until test results come back, and tissue samples haven’t even been sent to a laboratory yet.

The spike in infant dolphin deaths has the attention of both NOAA and the state Department of Marine Resources.

“Our antennas are up,” Solangi said. “I believe we’re going to see a correlation with something. This is too big a shift.”

So far, four calves in January and 15 in February have been found dead along Mississippi and Alabama shores.

Compare that with the two years before the oil spill, when one death each was reported in Mississippi — both in February.

The numbers for carcasses of all ages of dolphins found in the two states by year, according to Solangi and Marine Fisheries data, is 29 in 2006, 13 in 2007, 21 in 2008 and 45 in 2009. Then 89 were reported in 2010, and 28 in just the first two months of this year.

Blair Mase, NOAA’s stranding coordinator for the region, said her agency is watching the situation and comparing previous years’ data, “trying to find out what’s going on here.”

“We’re trying to determine if we do in fact have stillbirths,” Mase said.
The BP oil spill spewed more than 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf during dolphin mating season in 2010 and through months of the early gestation period, which is about a year. Thousands of gallons of dispersant was used to break the oil into droplets and suspend it in the water column.

But scientists are not jumping to conclusions.
Solangi’s crews have collected skin, blubber, muscle and organ tissue from six to eight of the calf carcasses that were fresh enough for good test results. Solangi said he was hoping to coordinate with government agencies and select the best labs for very specific testing.

Some will be university labs, others will not. They will be testing skin samples for genetics and DNA, the blubber layers for heavy metals, and organs and muscle layers. Tissue will be tested for hydrocarbons, insecticides and pesticides as well.

“We normally don’t do such broad testing,” Solangi said. He said he hopes the federal government will pick up the tab.
On Tuesday, only one of the calf carcasses that washed ashore on Horn Island was in good enough condition to bring back for a necropsy, which is an animal autopsy. It was a little male that had been dead for only a day or two and had just begun to bloat.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Megan Boldenow had reported all four on the island while doing her daily beach walks and bird surveys. Her job is to oversee BP oil-recovery workers as they sift the sand on Horn Island for tar and oil residue.

Three of the calf carcasses were badly decomposed. They were left on the beach after a team of four from the institute took tissue samples, photographed the bodies and tagged them.

Boldenow wondered if the high number of baby carcasses reported might have something to do with more eyes being on the beaches since the spill.

The Gulf and the Mississippi Sound is the nursing, breeding and birthing area for the bottlenose dolphin.

Solangi called them a biological indicator in the environment and said when something is wrong in the population, being at the top of the marine food chain, it could be a warning sign. The young are the most vulnerable, he said.

Bill Walker, head of the Mississippi’s DMR said this week, “Yes, something’s going on …. For some reason it looks like the mothers are aborting these youngsters before they can survive”.

Of course the culprit could be a number of things or a combination of things, including biotoxins, water temperature, infections and feeding patterns, scientists have said.

“I’m just trying to stay abreast of this,” Walker said. “Could be environmental. Could be anything.

chicken with olives

•Sunday, February 13, 2011 • Comments Off on chicken with olives

Now that I have all kinds of time on my hands, I’ve been going through my collection of cookbooks and trying new recipes. I found this one in Mediterranean Cooking by Paula Wolfert. It was extremely pungent and the house will probably smell like this dish for a week!

The name of this dish is Djej Bil Zeetoon or chicken with olives, Tangier/Moroccan style

2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken pieces (I used leg quarters)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt (although don’t overdo this cause there is salt in the olives)
1/2 olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 ripe tomatoes (I used a can of Rotels)
Coriander & Parsley (recipe calls for fresh, I used 1 teaspoon each dried)
1 preserved lemon diced (lemons in salt brine, skin and all)
1 cup green Spanish olives (sliced in half)

Salt & pepper chicken, then brown in oil. Add chopped onions and stir 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, ginger and turmeric & stir over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes & 1/2 cup water and cook until liquid reduces, 10 minutes. Add rest of herbs, another cup water, stir then bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Uncover for last 15 minutes, add olives and lemon and cook until liquid is reduced. Serve with whatever you like – rice, quinoa, pita, etc.

spaghetti al limone

•Sunday, February 6, 2011 • Comments Off on spaghetti al limone

I made this dish a few days ago, with the last lemon to be found on the tree. This recipe can be found in this month’s Cooks Illustrated. I was reading about the story how the author tasted this dish on the Isle of Capri in Italy, and how it was one of the best tasting dishes of pasta she had ever eaten. Her imagery made me salivate and her quest to find the proper combination of ingredients resulted in the recipe below.

it is delicious

try it for yourself


1 pound cooked spaghetti (or vermicelli)
1 medium shallot or 1 small bunch green onion tops, minced (3-4 tablespoons)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice plus 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 ounce grated Parmesian cheese
Black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil (less if using dried)

Boil spaghetti according to package directions in Dutch oven, reserve 1 3/4 cups cooking water, drain pasta in colander and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt in now empty Dutch oven and saute shallot/green onion. When soft, whisk 1 1/2 cups reserved pasta water and cream in the pot; simmer and cook 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat, add pasta and toss until coated. Stir in remaining olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest, parmesan cheese and pepper, then toss. Cover and let sit 2 minutes, tossing frequently, adding more of the pasta water if needed. Serve immediately drizzling more olive oil and cheese over serving.

I had leftovers and tried to reheat them, and the dish lost the citrus flavor that was so prevalent when the dish was first made. A good dish for a dinner party where it will be eaten at one sitting. Enjoy…


•Saturday, January 1, 2011 • Comments Off on purge




purge everything in your life that is old, broken, and anxiety provoking

move on lighter, freer, liberated

it is a thing of beauty when you are done with it all, to pile it up onto the curb and watch it as the garbage trucks take it all away

happy new year

happy new decade


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