US Catholic Faith in Real Life

The return of the son of the Gulf Oil spill?

Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

It's the violation of mother earth that just won't quit. Got to hand it to BP. When they make a mess, they really commit to it. The summer horrowshow that was the Gulf Oil spill debacle already offers up a sequel (they didn't even wait til next year!). When I was down in the Gulf watching unemployed fishermen shovel oil-smothered sand into shiny white plastic disposal bags, BP subcontractors insisted the toxic sludge and contaminated soil and sand would be properly disposed of. One even told me it was likely to end up somehow repurposed at a BP refinery. The last option they mentioned was the possibility that "some" of the material might end up simply getting dumped. 

Turns out tons of those plastic bags and miles of absorbent oil booms and assorted oiled-up, gunky stuff has been sent to local landfills (probably their intended destination all along), but BP has managed to make a mess of its final, responsibilty in terms of the historic oil spill: the safe disposal of recovered, contaminated materials. Turns out some of the landfills BP is using to dump the oily debris have less than stellar reputation among locals. The AP reports:

"State records show two [landfills] are under investigation and one was cited in May
for polluting nearby waters. Some residents and experts question the
wisdom of adding crude-covered refuse to dumps, since it could take
years for potential problems to surface. They worry about the impact on
groundwater if contaminants leach past liners enclosing the decaying

"'Common sense would tell you you probably shouldn't keep
dumping there if there are already problems,' said Eric Schaeffer, a
former head of the EPA's enforcement office who now heads a
Washington-based legal advocacy group. 'EPA needs to be able to say why
despite the violations and discharges these are safe.'"

Here's the good news: A.) BP and the EPA say they will keep a close watch on the sites for evidence of seepage; and 2.) It probably doesn't matter anyway: "In some landfills, the spill waste is being mixed directly with regular
household and industrial trash, which can contain chemicals, plastics
and food. It is too soon to tell if the potential hazards from the
oily waste would be greater than any risks posed by what's already in
the landfills, experts say."

See, it's already a big mess down there. Anyway, it will all come out in the wash ... or the next heavy rainfall. Good luck Gulf state residents! Remember, just hold the well water up to the light before consumption . . .